In my previous blogpost, ‘Will Social Media find meaningful usage in a Healthcare context’, I have elucidated how social media is being adopted and leveraged in a Healthcare context and the new business and engagement models being rendered viable by social media, as well as best practices thereof.
However, the million dollar question that companies and organizations today find themselves challenged with is, “What is the value and return on investment (ROI) from Social Media initiatives to justify continued and incremental investments”? This blogpost will persevere to address this question using a ‘7 Stage Social Media (and mobility) Value and ROI Life cycle Model’ (figure 1 and table 1 below) proposed by this author, enumerating best practices in retail and consumer products.
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (noted healthcare economist, consultant and blogger – HealthPopuli; @healthythinker on Twitter) in her presentation at the HIMSS 11 conference, asserted that in the emerging healthcare landscape, patients and consumers demand products and services that need to be ‘SO-LO-MO’ (SOcial-LOcal-MObile) for these to be useful and worthy of adoption and consumption. The notion of ‘SO-LO-MO’ that was both tantalizing and provocative, sparked research, observation and modeling by this author to understand best practices in this arena in other industries, especially early adopters like retail and consumer products.
Few industries have brought ‘SO-LO-MO’ to bear for their products and services as big box retailers and consumer products companies have, given their proximity to the consumer and their need to engage in dialogue with the consumer in ways not possible before, thanks to the advent of these newer forms of technology enabled engagement e.g. crowd sourcing as one instance. These visionary retailers and consumer products companies are leveraging social media (and mobility for greater reach) to “differentiate the consumer shopping and buying experience” and building loyalty thru dialog, listening and engagement with the consumer in whole new ways as is elucidated in the 7 stage life cycle below. It is this author’s assertion that these new forms of engagement with customers rendered possible by social media, mobility or a combo thereof, are delivering value and measurable ROI on these investments today, that healthcare and life sciences can indeed learn from and adapt, going forward, given the fascinating opportunities emerging and rendered possible by the ‘Renaissance in Healthcare’ happening in the US and around the world.
Figure 1. Value and ROI from Social Media (and Mobility) Initiatives in Retail and Consumer Packaged Goods. (copyright Andy De. All rights reserved).
How does one interpret the ‘7 Stage Social Media (and mobility) Value and ROI Life cycle Model’ illustrated in Figure 1 above? The X axis depicts progressive levels of customer engagement enabled by leveraging social media (and mobility where relevant) in ways not possible before, from the customer as a ‘Passive infomercial and customer service receptor’ (Stage 1) to the ‘Customer as proactive investor and evangelist’ in stage 7. The better companies and organizations progress along this 7 stage framework, the higher the value creation and return-on-investment (ROI) on their social media and mobility initiatives as shown on the Y-axis in this framework.
But how does one tangibly measure the value created and delivered with social media initiatives? As well, which Key Success Indicators (KSIs) should companies use to quantifiably measure their success? These bases for value creation, allocation and quantification as well as the metrics and KSIs are enumerated in detail against each of these seven stages in Table 1 below, and further elucidated for each stage in this life cycle in the sections following the table.
Table 1. Value and ROI from Social Media (and Mobility) Initiatives in Retail, best practice exemplars and Key Success Indicators. (copyright Andy De. All rights reserved).
The first four stages of the seven stage model elucidating value from Social Media (and mobility where relevant) with best practices from Retail, the measurable value and ROI and Key Success Indicators (KSIs) have been enumerated below. (refer Figure 1 and Table 1 above):
Level 1-engaging the consumer as ‘Infomercial or Customer Service Receptor’: A survey of the current literature reveals a disproportionate focus on Level 1 in this life cycle (figure 1 below) i.e. on the use of social media as an alternative channel for “push marketing” to consumers or for lowering customer service costs (assuming that the consumer is a passive “infomercial or customer service receptor’). Office supply retailer Staples has built a “Tweet Team,” five customer service agents that patrol the Twitterverse, push out promotional offers, answer customer questions and more. To minimize confusion for customers, each of the Tweeters uses a dedicated tag at the end of their posts to indicate who is talking.
Value from these initiatives involve building customer loyalty at a lower cost of customer service delivery or acquiring new customers at a lower cost of message delivery relative to other marketing media and campaigns.
Level 1- Implications and Opportunities for Health-Sciences: Most pharmaceuticals companies, physicians practices, and healthcare providers and payers are at this stage of adoption and value delivery today, leveraging social media as a channel for ‘brochureware’ and education, and stand to significantly learn and benefit from the six stages elucidated below.
Level 2 –engaging the Customer as ‘Offer Seeker’: The next level of value from social media and mobility begins leveraging the customer as an “offer seeker”, as exemplified by Groupon for instance. Groupon offers a limited basket of products and services from businesses at a significant discount off the retail price in the form of a redeemable “Groupon” that its subscribers can buy online. The Groupon is activated and becomes valid only if a stipulated number of subscribers buy and delivers volumes of customers to businesses while enabling these customers to try the product or service at a discounted rate, and potentially driving repeat business if they are delighted.
The value is seen in incremental revenues at a lower cost of customer adoption as well as higher lead-to-deal conversion while lowering search costs for customers. This potentially drives a win-win for the business (lower cost of new customer acquisition) and possible loyalty from these new customers subject to their satisfaction with the product or service and has seen significant success though in recent times, businesses have also complained of these customers not offering repeat businesses unless offered these significant discounts over and overagain that are often not sustainable.
Level 2- Implications and Opportunities for Health-Sciences: Groupon is being leveraged at this time by dentist, optometrists and even primary care physicians to drive new patients to their offices to potentially build loyalty and an annuity generating revenue relationship. The scalability and sustainability of this model needs to be further explored in a health-science context, going forward.
Level 3 –engaging the Customer as ‘Idea Contributor’: involved proactively engaging with customers as “ideators” for ideas that can help improve the services offered as well as newer services, or the customer buying experience as a whole. Best Buy is one of the more innovative retailers when it comes to social media, using http://bestbuyideax.com/ , a proprietary social platform that asks shoppers to suggest ideas for the retailer, then allows other shoppers to vote those ideas up or down, for Best Buy to adopt and potentially leverage the most popular ideas crowd sourced from customers. The success of IDeaX is predicated on authenticity and the need to be genuine, and perhaps most importantly listening, sensing and proactively responding to negative customer feedback, in the absence of which, this would be deemed hypocritical and lose credibility. The value from this level of crowd-sourced idea contribution from customers is a lower cost of ideation and market research, as well as incremental revenues from new services potentially with a lower cost of customer acquisition. Actively listening to customers and responding visibly to their ideas and suggestions is often a formula for building brand and customer loyalty, while enabling incremental revenues.
Level 3 Implications and Opportunities for Health-Sciences: While seeking service ideas from patients may be considered far-fetched by most providers and life sciences companies today, their potential for crowd-sourced ideation for mHealth and similar services is huge and stands to be explored by innovators who will win at the expense of their competitors in bring these short lifecycle services to market. As well, crowdsourcing ideas from chronically ill and multi-morbid patients, for remote monitoring, telehealth and wellness and disease management services, could have significant potential, going forward.
Level 4 –engaging the Customer as ‘Community Volunteer’: usually involves developing a community networking platform integrated with social media tools like Facebook and Twitter that enable customers to share their buying, shopping and consumption experience to aid their peers.
Online reviews are a great way to generate search engine friendly content for e-commerce sites. Getting users to actively contribute and write reviews can be tricky, but Sears and Kmart have hit upon a successful formula with their interactive sites www.mysears.com and www.mykmart.com. The sites launched in March 2009, and so far have more than 400,000 registered users.
And online reviews are increasingly important for e-tailers: According to Forrester, 64 percent of online buyers find user reviews important when making a purchase, and 47 percent of online users overall say that information provided by other consumers is more important to them than information provided by the company or its marketers.
The MySears community enables customers to share their insights, experiences and product reviews by creating a two-way dialogue through discussion forums, blog entries, ratings, reviews, polls and surveys, and new idea suggestion area and platform to leave comments.
Whether it’s improving how customers shop online, in-store, through mobile applications, or finding ways to enhance Sears’ offerings and learn more from customers, the key objective was to empower customers to shop how they want, when they want and where they want, and helping them better manage their lives. MySears.com receives more than 2 million visitors every month and has seen a measurable increase in revenues, repeat business and customer loyalty culminating from its social media enabled community initiatives.
The value here is ‘building and orchestrating a community to enable trust in the buying process based on peer reviews of the product or service’ which in turn, lowers the cost of new customer acquisition and potentially, higher lead-to-deal conversion and revenues while lowering search costs for prospects and consumers. Key success indicators are the cost of orchestrating a ‘brand community’, cost of customer reference acquisition, lead-to-deal conversion and incremental revenues and brand loyalty from the initiative.
Level 4 Implications and Opportunities for Health-Sciences: Peer reviewed healthcare services from a community of customers are offered today by Angie’s List for a fee based subscription. Angie’s List extends its reviews to physicians and providers of healthcare services today and is a useful resource for patients seeking references. It will be interesting to see if Angie’s List can potentially scale across geography and the depth and breadth of healthcare services that are offered today, as well as the newer wellness and disease management services that are emerging, where references by peers are key for new patients.
While the success of ‘Patients Like Me’ is well known in healthcare, the potency of the ‘Community Volunteer’ model has been demonstrated by Mayo Clinic with measurable efficacy and success. Sharing Mayo Clinic (RSS Feed) is a blog with stories, experiences and videos of employees and patients relating their experiences at the Mayo Clinic and what makes it so special, which is probably the most popular of all its blogs. For instance, a video of an impromptu performance by an octogenarian couple within the atrium of one of Mayo Clinic’s buildings that was recorded by another patient and uploaded onto YouTube by her daughter went viral on the web with over 7.2 million views (click here to read the story and watch the video)!
Given lack of clear FDA guidelines for social media in Life Sciences that has significantly inhibited adoption and proliferation, an early success story in pharmaceuticals centers around Alli, the obesity drug from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). GSK developed www.myalli.com as its online community to educate and connect with patients re: the efficacy of its new obesity drug. GSK also offers its consumers a weight reduction and wellness plan (myalli plan) on-site as well as the tools to monitor, measure, analyze and improve wellness. Also offered is access to Allicircles -its community of patients on the myalli plan, to help new plan entrants learn, discuss and see real-life successes from people like them to encourage them to follow the plan and see results for themselves.
As of this blogpost, it has been estimated that GSK has purportedly seen over 30,000 members sign up for myalli.com, which is fairly significant and points to similar opportunities for other pharma companies to engage with patients leveraging social media and the web as potent channels to complement their sales and marketing and physicians who write their scripts. A similar initiative to engage Diabetes patients (www.discussdiabetes.com) has been unveiled by Sanofi-Aventis and has seen early success.
This blogpost and the ‘7 Stage Social Media (and mobility) Value and ROI Life cycle Model’ has attempted to highlight the value and ROI from best practices in social media (and mobility where relevant) in a retail context that provides key learnings and pointers for healthcare and life sciences. Levels 5, 6, and 7 highlighting best practices from consumer products companies will be elucidated in the following blogpost.
As always, your comments, feedback and pointers to additional best practices for leveraging social media and mobility to drive new value and ROI are welcome!