Paul Gilliham is Lithium's Director of Customer Marketing, responsible for customer engagement marketing, social media and Lithium's own community, the Lithosphere.
Yesterday (October 13th), Mark Hopkins (@4markitude) the social media manager at Lenovo and member of our Lithosphere VIP Council, joined Lithium's chief community officer, Joe Cothrel (@cothrel) and Customer Management IQ editor, Gina Scanlon for a webcast around new trends in social support. It was called Energizing Customer Support Communities in Facebook and Across the Social Web - we have an on demand version of that webcast if you missed it, or want to catch it again.
We also have some Q&A questions from the event here in the Lithosphere.
Yesterday I got a chance to ask Mark a couple of quick questions about his role and what social activities Lenovo is engaged in and thought it would be useful to post for you.
Profile: Mark Hopkins, Social Media Project Manager, Lenovo
Q: How long have you been at Lenovo?
A: I started my career with IBM in 1993 and transitioned to the new Lenovo in 2005 as part of Lenovo's aquisition of IBM's PC division.
Q: When did you first get involved in Lenovo's communities?
A: Soon after we began monitoring the social web in late 2005 we noted that a lot of valuable content and product experience insights were coming out of communities like Thinkpads.com which was a leading enthusiast community.
I began participating there in 2006, and built the business case for Lenovo's own community in the first months of 2007, which ultimately led to the launch of Lenovo's community in Dec, 2007 and I've been in the middle of it ever since.
Q: How does Lenovo engage with its social customers?
A: Well, there are a lot of different styles of engagement and interaction that take place across multiple social channels, whether on Lenovoblogs, on Lenovo Facebook fan pages, via multiple twitter channels, in our communities, and even in comments on customer's blogs and other sites. As our own communities and social channels have grown, we are engaging more there these days.
Q: Why did you decide to connect your community with your official Facebook fan page?
A: There are a number of reasons - from a customer perspective, the connection lowers the barrier of entry to the community because you can join using your existing Facebook credentials, or you can associate an existing community ID with your facebook ID and sign in that way.
More importantly, the support feature (we added a "forums" tab) on facebook provides another resource to our customers - they can access the collective knowledge of the community's discussions, accepted solutions and KB articles without leaving the Facebook page. If they want to pose a question, that question flows into the community where others can answer and these are also reflected back on the facebook side.
From a business perpection, this connects Facebook to the community so we can engage and serve a broader set of customers without scaling up heavily from a resource perspective. We can now tap a larger question / answer pool that feeds into solutions and KB articles in a shared workflow, and the articles can then be shared back back into dozens of social networks, syndicated as featured content to our main support site, or tweeted out.
Q: What have you noticed since connecting the two?
A: We deployed in mid-August, so it's still a bit early, but we saw a spike in community registrations and new topics posted. We saw a 10% increase in new conversations and a 6% bump in the registration rate. Our community is coming up on 3 years, so we've settled into a fairly consistent grow rate and it will be interesting to look at how this integration changes our trending.
As Lithium continues to develop and enhance the Facebook integration, it may be valuable to have some additional reporting metrics on how many articles & solutions were offered out to the Facebook users, what percentage of those then went ahead and asked a subsequent question.
This would be a measure of the effectiveness of the community's existing content. It would also be helpful to know how many new topics came in through Facebook as well. These metrics could help demonstrate the value in more absolute terms.
Q: What's next on your slate?
A: We are rolling out several additional languages in our community over the next couple of months, and we are looking forward to an upcoming release of Lithium's software that will allow us to map those community sections to language or country specific Facebook fanpages we have.
This is an important feature for a global company that needs to effectively scale engagement with customers in multiple languages, and of course we look forward to feeding all of this into the community's knowledgebase.We are just getting started, but I think this has so much potential.
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