Social Networking Strategy for Rock Island Chocolate Company        ShubhraSinghaniaICT 4005 – TechnicalFoundationsJanuary 14,2018 Company ProfileRock IslandCholate Company (RICC) was founded in 1997 by Seymour Burris, Jr. In late 2000,Seymour inherited different Belgian style chocolate recipes. In 2001, RICCbegan to manufacture its own brand of chocolates. By 2002, RICC began towholesale their line of chocolates to many stores throughout the country. By2009 company had steadily grown and the profit for the year was around$2,000,000. Chocolate industry at that point in time was broadly believed to bea $2.5 billion in annual sales. RICC was envisioned to reach $50,000,000 inrevenue over the coming years.

(Brown et al. 2011, 321-326) The ProblemIn around2010, Burris came across a blog which had negative comments about the company.He came to me (Charlie Tunista, Director of Information Systems) with thisproblem and asked me to find a solution for it and also come up with strategiesfor social networking (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326).

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 AnalysisSince thedawn of the internet, user discussion forums and blogs have been gainingpopularity little by little. By the turn of millennia in the year 2000, socialnetworking sites have been drawing people’s attention in their day to dayactivities. It has been growing at an exponential pace. New initiatives willhave to be strategized to take advantage of these new platforms.

In a survey in2009, less than 50 among the top 100 ranked e-tailers had social networkingpresence, but in another article, it said two-thirds online shoppers usedsocial media sites (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326). In a recent research effort,it was discovered these social networking websites had over 50 millionregistered users: Facebook (500,000,000) (Zuckerberg, 2010), MySpace (65,000,000)(Brown et al.

2011, 321-326), Twitter (190,000,000) (Schonfeld, 2010), LinkedIn(90,000,000) (LinkedIn, 2015).During myresearch for social media, I came across many findings. The best that describesthe key reasons to engage in social networking are (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326)-•    Building brand awareness and increasingsales•    Customer Service•    Helping customers and business partners•    Online market researchBuildingbrand awareness is a very powerful tool in social networking. Startingconversations by posting comments on blogs and forums, answering questions on Facebook,Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, etc. we can build a relationship with existing users.This will also help in building a new customer base. According to RICC’s VicePresident of Marketing, Will Rush, social media can attract many customers andhelp increase sales.

He also mentioned that we should target corporate groupsfor their specialty products (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326). Also, since RICCfocuses on the Belgian process of making chocolates, it is likely to develop abig following.Customerservice plays a very important part in the growth of the business. With accessto more options in communication like messaging and chatting technology, it ispossible to serve the customers better. Better service results in good word ofmouth for the company.

With the rise of social networking sites, individualopinion and word of mouth matter a lot. One can be easily heard by thousands orhundreds of thousands. Socialnetworking also gives us the advantage to adhere to our business associates too.Microblogging features provided by Facebook, Twitter can help us educate ourcustomers about upcoming products, offers, special products, etc. We can alsoshare links and reports with our customers and business partners. This way theyfeel more connected to the company.Onlinemarket research can be conducted by the company using social media.

We canshare a survey link or ask for customer feedback through tweets or posts onFacebook. We can incentivize the customers by offering them a discount couponfor their next purchase on completing the survey. This will help us gainbusiness analytics.There areother small advantages like sourcing people from LinkedIn.

The HR team can posttheir requisitions and will save time in the hiring process. Similarly, if theHR team come across a talented profile they can approach them. Another leverageis that we can track the marketing strategies of our competitors. This willhelp us gather more information about the market and our industry as a whole.Rush, in our conversation, mentioned that Einstein Bagels through theirFacebook page offered to give away free bagel and a smear to any new friendsthat hooked up.

They had 205,000 takers in the first 24 hrs. (Brown et al. 2011,321-326). By looking at others strategy we can modify them for our own good anduse to our advantage.There areconcerns also that arise with connecting with the social networking sites. Oneof the biggest is the cost of setting up the social networking strategy. Theinitial investment is $100,000 with an annual recurring cost of over $100,000(Brown et al.

2011, 321-326). Since our company is growing at a steady pace wewill be able to cover the cost. If we successfully implement the strategies wewill gain the return on our investment. A fellow student in my MBA class mentionedthat her company is actively involved in promoting its products and buildingrelationship with customers.

She also said that the CEO of her company isconvinced that this has helped in revenue growth in the last two years (Brownet al. 2011, 321-326). Otherconcern that arises is employees wasting their time on these websites. I thinkdedicating a team for this task will prevent from happening that and also itwill minimize the threat of data leakage. Only a dedicated community relations teamand few at the upper management will have access to manage company’s socialmedia accounts.

With the growth of social media, we might have to face morenegative comments like the one we are dealing with now. We should be preparedto answer them and deal with the negative comments. Whilemaking a good strategy, we should keep in mind interests of key areas such asmarketing, sales, customer service, corporate communication, HR, finance, riskand legal. The team handling it should be properly trained in order to achievesocial media goals. We should also make sure that representatives from legal,human resources (HR), finance, and risk management are involved in thedevelopment the social networking strategy in order to minimize the risksinvolved (Thomas and Barlow 2011, 11).

 ConclusionI suggestwe should take an aggressive approach towards targeting social networkingplatforms, as follows – ·     Consult with legal, HR, finance and riskmanagement ·     Hire experts to build a strategy and train theteam ·     Set goals keeping in mind the key interest areasand the four main reasons to engage in social media·     Monitor blogs and other forums·     Be active in participating in conversations, answeringquestions and responding to customers and business partnersRegarding the negative comment problem on the blog, I suggest that weshould monitor the blog and let it not gather any heat and resolve the issue. References1.    Brown, Carol V.

, Daniel W. DeHayes, Jeffrey A.Hoffer, E. Wainright Martin, and William C. Perkins. 2011. Managing InformationTechnology.

7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.2.    Zuckerberg, Mark. 2010.

500 million stories.

    Schonfeld, Erick. 2010. Costolo: Twitter now has190 Million users tweeting 65 Million times a day. TechCrunch Web site,    LinkedIn. 2015. A brief history of LinkedIn.    Thomas, David B.

, and Mike Barlow. 2011. TheExecutive’s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy. Hoboken, New Jersey JohnWiley & Sons, Inc.


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