The Not So Quiet Revolution of Consumer 2 Consumer Business

The digital mobile revolution has transformed consumer behaviours. Over the last decade there’s been a shift in how consumers are finding and purchasing products and services. Many start ups have capitalized on this trend and have created businesses centered around mobile apps and social media. Think of Airbnb, Taskrabbit, Uber, Taobao, etc. It’s these two items that have paved the way for the next generation in consumer to consumer (C2C) business. With features such as customer reviews, ratings and engagement; buyers now have a greater level of transparency than in typical business to consumer (B2C) models.

airbnb_hosting

The success of the new C2C model has challenged many static B2C industry models forcing them to modernize their service offerings or risk losing market share. Let’s take a look at two examples to gain more insight in how they’re revolutionizing the way we buy.

Uber

One of the most controversial examples of the new C2C model is Uber. Operating in over 58 countries Uber and has shaken the foundation of the traditional taxi B2C service model.

Uber is an on-demand car service that allows a consumer to request private drivers through their mobile app. The service utilizes dispatch software to send the nearest driver to the location[1]. By using the Uber software app drivers are connected to consumers through a service request. People can sign up to become an Uber driver using their own vehicles.

In my opinion there are four main things that Uber did to evolve the C2C model:670px-Use-Uber-Step-9-Version-2

  1. Rate your driver- The ability for passengers to rate their drivers and read reviews. Transparency about service from real reviewers provides a higher level of authenticity and trust.
  2. Pay for Performance- Drivers are empowered to get a 4 star rating or greater. This keeps service levels high and increases earning potential.
  3. Pay through your phone. Payments are made through the credit card linked to your Uber account, on your phone. No cash accepted.
  4. Contact Your Driver– Once the trip is booked on the app, the passenger will receive the cell phone number of the driver and can watch them approach on their mobile device.
  5. BYOC– Drivers can bring their own car to work! All they have to do is lease the mobile app. and be adequately insured.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin_Digital_Currency_LogoBitcoin is a digital payment system that enables peer to peer transactions without having to go through an intermediary financial institution. Bitcoins can be purchased through an electronic trading system using a smart phone. This video is a great short summary of how Bitcoin works. Since its launch in 2008, bitcoins have gained significant traction, with more than 45,000 transactions ($48.5 million dollars) handled through its network each day[2]. It’s introduced the concept of a decentralized virtual currency where value is determined by its users.

In my opinion Bitcoin that evolved the C2C model in four ways:

  1. Universal Currency- No need to convert to various currencies. Value is determined by its users- globally.
  2. Lower Merchant Fees- Fees for retailers are much lower than the 2-3% typically imposed by the credit card companies.
  3. Real Time Payment- Once the bitcoin transaction is complete the digital currency is transferred directly from the consumer to the vendor’s digital wallet. No middle financial companies required.
  4. Peer to Peer Money Transfers– Money can be wired directly to others through the digital wallet.

bitcoin_2bitcoin_1bitcoin_3

The new C2C model is not only convenient but lucrative. In 2014, C2C had a recorded $105 billion dollar market size compared to $71billion dollars for B2C e-commerce[3].  A testament that consumers have embraced it.

With this new model, the traditional work model is also changing. Services like Taskrabbit and Uber offer freelance opportunities where you can define your own hours and accept the jobs you want. Motivators for incentives and rewards are geared to work/lifestyle balance or earnings potential. Is this the laying the foundation for the way we define the way we work? As C2C continues to become more lucrative, companies may need to rethink work arrangements, incentives and rewards to remain competitive and retain its workforce.

What does C2C mean for your company?

Like what you see? Follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter @annzaliebarrett, or subscribe to my blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

Blog:  https://sailorann.wordpress.com

_________________________________________________________________________________________________
[1] http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Uber

[2] http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/bitcoin-questions/

[3] http://article.sapub.org/10.5923.j.ijnc.20140402.01.html

How Twitter Is Changing the Way We Interact

I have a confession to make…I’ve become a bit of a Twitter junkie. If you had asked me eighteen months ago why Twitter is such a popular tool I would have shrugged by shoulders in bewilderment. At the time, I too was puzzled as to why so many people were using this channel to read “tweets” about what people were doing all day. I thought aren’t people already using Facebook for that?

As a social media professional I kept circling back to how we could leverage Twitter as a strategic channel for engagement and marketingimagesCAPM27TL. I often struggled with how I could use this channel for recruitment. Earlier this year I attended a Brainstorm conference which had one day dedicated to how to use social media for campus recruitment. Although I am not a campus recruiter, I did know that Twitter was an important channel for students and new graduates. Chelsea Newton and Michael Mahoney from Talent Formula delivered an amazing workshop reviewing all the relevant social  media channels. One comment that really resonated with me, one powerful statement that I still think about today is this; “…If you are looking to put together a social media strategy, you have to be on the channels to understand how they work.” It sounds so obvious, but it was really profound. Right then and there I logged into my dormant Twitter account and started tweeting to Michael, Chelsea and the group about what I had learned and observed. It was enlightening, powerful and liberating. People were actually responding and re-tweeeting me!

A few weeks ago, I was reading an article in Canadian Business magazine (yes an actual magazine) talking about how Twitter has changed the way we watch TV. The article stated that 70% of TV viewers now watch shows with a smart phone/tablet in hand; using them a second screen in imagesCAZ5Q2YGTV viewing. So, I have another confession to make…I too have adopted this practice. On Sunday nights I arm myself with my iPad and tune into to watch one of my favourite shows, The Walking Dead. Through a simple #hashtag thousands of us around the globe tweet our comments, reactions, predictions, etc. before, after and during the show. Many of the actors also tweet their own commentary encouraging further conversation. TV shows such as the Talking Dead take questions from Facebook and Twitter as discussion items for the show. It allows for much broader participation and engagement. The ability to interact with people in a shared conversation through Twitter has changed the way I watch certain shows.

As I use Twitter more and more, I realize why it is so popular and impactful:

1) Quick updates– You can share a thought, observation, picture or comment on the fly. It’s easy to do.

imagesCAKE6HJS

2) Expands Sharing- The integration of Twitter on other social media platforms and websites allow you to share pictures, articles, webpages, comments, updates, etc. to your followers that is easy to consume. Re-tweets are also fast and networking friendly.


3)
 
You can participate in conversations– You may say, can’t we do this on Facebook? I’ll answer it one word. #Hastag. This humble, yet revolutionary invention allows people to come together and participate in imagesCAK1XFF9conversations.  At the last conference I attended, conversations and observations were shared collectively through a hashtag. Even if you couldn’t participate in person, you could still be part of the conversation and contribute your ideas, thoughts and feedback.

4) You can follow people without being intrusive– Twitter has limited profile information. The idea is to converse. Most people feel comfortable “following” other people they don’t’ really know, but want to get to know. It’s the perfect bridge between Facebook and LinkedIn.

twitter-tablet-hed-2013

5)  You can have a single opinion or a unified voice- Twitter is a great way to rally people around a single cause. Good or bad. Product
launches can generate oodles of hype and amplify brand. In the case of JP Morgan, it can also provide a unified voice for disgruntled people sharing feedback and comments about the company.

So a few weeks after my Sunday TV + Twitter ritual, I circled back to the initial question; how can recruitment use Twitter in a more meaningful way? It’s no surprise the primary strategy is still based on a job board approach. While this may be low hanging fruit, it’s still missing the essence of what Twitter really represents; engagement. A few months ago I wrote a blog post about Bilal Jaffery who got a job at Enterasys through a tweet back to the CEO. The lesson is social media is more powerful if you take the time to converse. It means investing in creating a pipeline of people you would like to have a further conversation with. So how do you do that?

1)      Build up your follower base- As you start to follow other companies, you may notice people who are of interest. Start to follow them. Get to know them.

Twitter-Recruiting

2)      Participate in conversations- I can’t stress this enough. To make yourself visible you have to participate in conversations. So add your two cents!

3)      Be responsive- Conversations are two way. If you are tweeting you should also re-tweet and respond to tweets.

4)      Direct Message People of Interest- When you see someone you want to talk to direct message them.

5)      Don’t Spam- Don’t tweet just for the sake of tweeting. It’s better to a have a few quality tweets (including jobs) instead of hundreds that clog up peoples tweeter feed. You will be “unfollowed” pretty quickly and it could damage your reputation.

Twitter is a viable contender in the recruitment space. Many companies who have followed the steps above have touted success through product sales, brand, recognition and hires through its usage. McDonald’s,  AT&T, Cogent Company and Enterasys are few examples of this.

I hope these few tips will help you start thinking about how you can use Twitter for recruitment. I would love to hear from you so please tweet me @annzaliebarrett

twitter

Happy Tweeting!

Has Your Company Embraced Crowdsourcing to Improve Your Employee Value Proposition?

Crowdsourcing is one of the hottest conversation topics on the web. I predict it will be the most “buzzed word” of 2013. Companies are starting to pay attention to crowdsourcing as viable, cost effective ways to develop new product lines, new technologies, solve problems and improve service. Crowdsourcing is also important to HR as it can provide a wealth of knowledge in understanding employee experiences with a company’s employee

crowdsourcing

value proposition (EVP) and employment brand.

So, what exactly is crowdsourcing? The term crowdsourcing is a mix of the word “crowd” and “sourcing” first coined by Jeff Howe in a 2008 Wired magazine article “The Rise of Crowdsourcing”[1]. In essence it’s an online database where people can contribute content (written, video, pictures) by posting it in a public forum which can be viewed and shared by others. Availability on the internet makes it easier to search and find information. Integration with social media sites such as Facebook means reviews can be cross-shared to friends. Apps let you search and review on the go through mobile platforms.

To demonstrate the power and value of crowdsourcing to the business and HR, I thought I would do a cross comparison from two strategic crowdsourcing sites; TripAdvisor and Glassdoor.

tripadvisor_logo

 

I am an avid and loyal TripAdvisor member. Over the years I have become dependent on TripAdvisor to help me make informed decisions on what hotels to stay at when I travel. I find the reviews invaluable and will not make a decision without consulting TripAdvisor first. I also pay it forward by writing my own reviews, thus sharing my experience with others.

glassdoor_logo_250I was first introduced to Glassdoor through Facebook. I got a few invitations from friends in my network requesting I join.  At first glace I didn’t understand its value. However once I saw there were anonymous reviews providing real insight into the culture, work, management and environment of an organization, i was hooked.

Sites like TripAdvisor and Glassdoor are powerful because of their reach. As the stats below reveal, the traffic, membership and visibility on these sites is enormous  More importantly…they are still growing.

  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Reach
  • World’s largest travel site[2]
  • 50M visitors per month
  • 20M business visitors per month
  • 1.5 Reviews posted every second
  • 21M registered users[3]
  • 260K companies globally
  • 5 company reviews
  • A new member joins every 7 seconds
glassdoor_reviewEvery company has a vested interest in promoting how great they are. They want to you buy their product and/or attract top talent. Crowdsourced reviews are powerful because they are authentic. They are reflective of genuine experiences from a variety of people who have interacted with the company.

90% of consumers trust peer recommendations compared to only 14% from advertisements[4]. This has put pressure on companies to become more authentic in their brand promise and employment value proposition.

  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Authentic
  • Reviewers have actually stayed at the hotel.
  • They have no vested interest in portraying the hotel as good or bad.

 

  • Reviewers are either current employees or former employees.
  • Reviewers write reviews based on their employment experience.
  • Anonymity allows for more genuine feedback without fear of reprisal.
tripadvisor_travllerphotosCrowdsourced reviews are powerful because they are transparent about the brand promise. They help to answer the question, Is the company/employer genuinely delivering what the promise?
  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Transparent
  • Pictures and videos of hotel rooms, bathrooms, restaurants, etc. from reviewers provide real examples of what is delivered versus what is being advertised.
  • Potential travellers have more realistic expectations about the product they will receive.

 

  • Viewers have more realistic expectations about day to day operations, work environment and management styles.
  • Employees rate the employee value proposition (career progression, growth, development, compensation, benefits, etc.) against what they experienced. This helps set expectations for future prospects.
tripadvisor_reviewsIt’s my opinion that companies should be grateful for crowdsourcing through sites like TripAdvisor and Glassdoor. Think about it. Customers and employees at no cost; are providing companies with feedback on what they’re doing well and what they can improve on.

Actionable Feedback. It’s a goldmine of rich data.

  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Actionable Feedback
  • Reviewers provide suggestions for improve.
  • Reviewers provide feedback on what’s working.

Companies that are focused on continuous improvements can create action plans to fix shortcoming.

Positive feedback can be woven into marketing and advertising to highlight positive attributes, making the brand promise more credible.

  • Reviewers provide suggestions to Management on areas they can improve.
  • Reviewers provide feedback on things that are working well.

Employers can cross reference engagement results with reviews. Retention strategies can be created based on feedback.

Positive feedback can be woven into employment branding and the employee value proposition messaging, making them more credible.

 

If you reviewed two hotels at the same price point and one had predominantly negative reviews and the other had predominantly positive reviews; which one would you choose? Crowdsourced reviews are powerful because they influence people’s opinion and ultimately impact their decision. That has a bottom line impact.

 

  TripAdvisor (Business) Glassdoor (HR)
Reviews Impact Decisions
  • Positive reviews may yield more sales.
  • Negative reviews may result in a loss of a sale opportunity.
  • Companies can assess referral ratings based on reviews.
  •  Positive reviews may attract better talent to your organization.
  • Negative reviews may turn off top talent.
  • Employers can assess referral ratings based on reviews.
reviewsCompanies cannot ignore crowdsourcing’s impact on the bottom line any longer. Smart companies will acknowledge suggestions and make improvements to demonstrate they are listening. This willingness to change also builds credibility as reviews validate changes.

HR Departments should be conscious that employee opinions not only have a direct impact on talent sourcing strategies, but may also carry over to net promoter scores (NPS), product sales and customer retention. Dissatisfied employees may not buy or recommend company products to a friend. That impacts the bottom line.

 

 

 

 

 

By Ann Barrett, Director eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowdsourcing

[2] http://www.slideshare.net/eTourismAfrica/trip-advisor-2012

How Does Big Data Impact You?

Big data has become a big topic in the industry. It’s transforming business strategies by providing companies with key information in the areas of talent, social media, mobile, brand, engagement, products, consumer preferences, etc. So what exactly is big data and how does it impact you?

big_data2Wikipedia defines big data as a collection of sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications1. Basically, as more people start to use technology to facilitate transactions more digital data is being collected and stored. At its core, mobile devices, the internet and social media capture multiple terabytes of information. Consider by 2015, the world’s mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion people2. That’s one out of every six people on the planet will use a mobile device to conduct work. With all of this volume traditional data warehouses can no longer store all of the data being collected. eCommerce companies such as AdKu have created a niche market, offering their services to collect data analyse it, correlate it and highlight both positive and negative trends. This provides a goldmine of rich data. Historical data can be analyzed and used to forecast potential trends and consumer preferences which can be built into business strategic plans.

You are also impacted by big data. Accessing information via technology leaves a digital footprint of demographics, preferences, number of visits, number of shares, etc; which shapes the way products and services are being developed, marketed and delivered to you.

Here are three examples of how big data impacts you:

  • Tailored Digital MarketingYou may notice on your Facebook news feeds you are now presented suggested_postwith “suggested posts” better known as ads.  These posts are not random, but based on big data analysis that serves up targeted, relevant suggestions based on historical trends such as pages you’ve visited, pages you like, search results, etc. Almost all social platforms have an analytics component build into them. Whether you’re on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and of course Google, companies can use this data to better to understand who their audience is and what content is resonating with them. This subtle, yet effective marketing technique has transformed the way businesses reach potential customers. By looking at historical data and analyzing trends, companies can predict products you may be interested in. Instead of casting a wide net, big data provides the opportunity to cast a smaller, highly relevant net. The end result is higher sales.
  • Volume Discounts– The concept of discounted prices for consumer items on-line is not new. If you’ve ever used hotels.com or hotwire.com to book a hotel, you will know these companies buy rooms strategyin bulk and allow consumers to purchase them at discounted rates. This model has now evolved where groups of consumers can buy a variety of discounted products on online through digital coupons, or Groupons. The consumer will only get the deal if a number of other people also buy the coupon. To help reach the minimum, Groupon encourages sharing the deal with friends on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Digital coupons provide the opportunity to collect information and begin to analyze consumer supply and demand trends on a per month, week, day, and even hourly basis[3]. To understand these trends Groupon acquired Adku, an eCommerce company specializing in big data. Analysis on this data means more relevant deals are served up to consumers increasing user adoption and sales. As coupons are shared, more consumer data can be collected and analyzed.
  • Your Career-. Many companies are moving to more sophisticated human resources management systems (HRMS) as a one stop shop to assess talent within the organization. Newer systems are geared to “manage” talent, shifting away from pure transaction processing.open big data Companies can collect and store data pertaining to work experiences, projects, goals, deliverables, performance ratings, work history, job levels, age, gender, accreditations, etc. Many systems also integrate social media accounts such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Add to that other system integrations such as applicant tracking systems, payroll systems, background checks, on boarding, etc; and the amount of data that can be analyzed collectively is exponential. This big data provides a wealth of information to companies seeking to understand talent pools, succession planning, retention, etc. at macro and micro levels. Companies can also use data to better understand how overarching enterprise objectives are being imbedded and delivered down the chain. This provides a holistic view of an employee over time and may serve to predict which individuals are top talent.

So your contribution and interaction with big data is inevitable. Next time you see a tailored ad remember big data predicted it!

By Ann Barrett, Director, eRecruitment & Social Media Strategy

[1] Wikipedia.com
[2] IDC, Worldwide Mobile Worker Population 2011-2015 Forecast, Doc#232073, Dec 2011
[3] http://steinvox.com/blog/groupon-big-data-play-winning-startups-focus/#ixzz2VpVJ9lwl