Social Networking Strategy

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Rock Island Chocolate Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shubhra
Singhania

ICT 4005 – Technical
Foundations

January 14,
2018

 

Company Profile

Rock Island
Cholate Company (RICC) was founded in 1997 by Seymour Burris, Jr. In late 2000,
Seymour inherited different Belgian style chocolate recipes. In 2001, RICC
began to manufacture its own brand of chocolates. By 2002, RICC began to
wholesale their line of chocolates to many stores throughout the country. By
2009 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 be
a $2.5 billion in annual sales. RICC was envisioned to reach $50,000,000 in
revenue over the coming years. (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326)

 

The Problem

In around
2010, Burris came across a blog which had negative comments about the company.

He came to me (Charlie Tunista, Director of Information Systems) with this
problem and asked me to find a solution for it and also come up with strategies
for social networking (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326).

 

Analysis

Since the
dawn of the internet, user discussion forums and blogs have been gaining
popularity little by little. By the turn of millennia in the year 2000, social
networking sites have been drawing people’s attention in their day to day
activities. It has been growing at an exponential pace. New initiatives will
have to be strategized to take advantage of these new platforms. In a survey in
2009, less than 50 among the top 100 ranked e-tailers had social networking
presence, but in another article, it said two-thirds online shoppers used
social media sites (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326). In a recent research effort,
it was discovered these social networking websites had over 50 million
registered 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 my
research for social media, I came across many findings. The best that describes
the key reasons to engage in social networking are (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326)

•    Building brand awareness and increasing
sales

•    Customer Service

•    Helping customers and business partners

•    Online market research

Building
brand awareness is a very powerful tool in social networking. Starting
conversations 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 Vice
President of Marketing, Will Rush, social media can attract many customers and
help increase sales. He also mentioned that we should target corporate groups
for their specialty products (Brown et al. 2011, 321-326). Also, since RICC
focuses on the Belgian process of making chocolates, it is likely to develop a
big following.

Customer
service plays a very important part in the growth of the business. With access
to more options in communication like messaging and chatting technology, it is
possible to serve the customers better. Better service results in good word of
mouth for the company. With the rise of social networking sites, individual
opinion and word of mouth matter a lot. One can be easily heard by thousands or
hundreds of thousands.

Social
networking also gives us the advantage to adhere to our business associates too.

Microblogging features provided by Facebook, Twitter can help us educate our
customers about upcoming products, offers, special products, etc. We can also
share links and reports with our customers and business partners. This way they
feel more connected to the company.

Online
market research can be conducted by the company using social media. We can
share a survey link or ask for customer feedback through tweets or posts on
Facebook. We can incentivize the customers by offering them a discount coupon
for their next purchase on completing the survey. This will help us gain
business analytics.

There are
other small advantages like sourcing people from LinkedIn. The HR team can post
their requisitions and will save time in the hiring process. Similarly, if the
HR team come across a talented profile they can approach them. Another leverage
is that we can track the marketing strategies of our competitors. This will
help us gather more information about the market and our industry as a whole.

Rush, in our conversation, mentioned that Einstein Bagels through their
Facebook page offered to give away free bagel and a smear to any new friends
that 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 and
use to our advantage.

There are
concerns also that arise with connecting with the social networking sites. One
of the biggest is the cost of setting up the social networking strategy. The
initial 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 we
will be able to cover the cost. If we successfully implement the strategies we
will gain the return on our investment. A fellow student in my MBA class mentioned
that her company is actively involved in promoting its products and building
relationship with customers. She also said that the CEO of her company is
convinced that this has helped in revenue growth in the last two years (Brown
et al. 2011, 321-326).

Other
concern that arises is employees wasting their time on these websites. I think
dedicating a team for this task will prevent from happening that and also it
will minimize the threat of data leakage. Only a dedicated community relations team
and few at the upper management will have access to manage company’s social
media accounts. With the growth of social media, we might have to face more
negative comments like the one we are dealing with now. We should be prepared
to answer them and deal with the negative comments.

While
making a good strategy, we should keep in mind interests of key areas such as
marketing, sales, customer service, corporate communication, HR, finance, risk
and legal. The team handling it should be properly trained in order to achieve
social media goals. We should also make sure that representatives from legal,
human resources (HR), finance, and risk management are involved in the
development the social networking strategy in order to minimize the risks
involved (Thomas and Barlow 2011, 11).

 

Conclusion

I suggest
we should take an aggressive approach towards targeting social networking
platforms, as follows –

·     
Consult with legal, HR, finance and risk
management

·     
Hire experts to build a strategy and train the
team

·     
Set goals keeping in mind the key interest areas
and the four main reasons to engage in social media

·     
Monitor blogs and other forums

·     
Be active in participating in conversations, answering
questions and responding to customers and business partners

Regarding the negative comment problem on the blog, I suggest that we
should monitor the blog and let it not gather any heat and resolve the issue.

 

References

1.    
Brown, Carol V., Daniel W. DeHayes, Jeffrey A.

Hoffer, E. Wainright Martin, and William C. Perkins. 2011. Managing Information
Technology. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

2.    
Zuckerberg, Mark. 2010. 500 million stories. https://www.facebook.com/facebook/videos/10150238694155484/

3.    
Schonfeld, Erick. 2010. Costolo: Twitter now has
190 Million users tweeting 65 Million times a day. TechCrunch Web site, https://techcrunch.com/2010/06/08/twitter-190-million-users/

4.    
LinkedIn. 2015. A brief history of LinkedIn. https://ourstory.linkedin.com/

5.    
Thomas, David B., and Mike Barlow. 2011. The
Executive’s Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy. Hoboken, New Jersey John
Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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