Company: Google Glass
Entry submitted by: Sarah Price (sarahprice) Social Media & Community Lead, Teresa Zazenski (tzazenski) Community Manager, and Becca Samson (bsamson) Community Manager
Community: Glass Explorers Program (http://glass-community.com)
Lithy category: Digital Strategy Leader
The Glass Explorers Program started in April 2013. We made Glass available to bold, creative individuals from different walks of life to help shape the future of Glass. People don’t just buy Glass, they become a “Glass Explorer.” Through the Explorers Program, we seek to empower our customer community to introduce the world to Glass and share their feedback to make Glass better.
On April 10, 2014, we announced that we would be expanding the Explorer Program. For one day on April 15, any adult living in the US would be able to buy Glass and become an Explorer.
There are countless public fan communities for Glass, but our official community is hosted by Lithium, with private discussion areas restricted to Glass Explorers. This enables customers to have open and honest conversations about Glass and the Explorer Program. Our team uses our Lithium community to get direct feedback and input from our Explorers in many ways, including through a “Glass Wishlist” ideation board. We also use Lithium Social Web to monitor and engage with feedback and Explorer-created content across the web.
For our latest and largest Explorer Program expansion (April 15, 2014), we implemented a robust community and social media strategy to support the expansion launch, detailed in the below section.
Our community and social media strategy for the April 15 Explorer Program expansion involved the following goals:
1) Leverage community and social media to provide scalable support to prospective Explorers. We anticipated that we would receive a high volume of inquiries once the expansion became known, and we expected delays on our phone lines and in our email queues. We set up a number of scalable options to support the expansion:
- Launched a public board and linked it from the sales site. Prior to the expansion, all content in our community was private to Explorers. We launched a new board called “Getting Ready for Glass” for “Explorers who haven’t met their Glass yet,” where potential Explorers can ask questions that our veterans could answer. We prominently featured the new board as a support option on the sales site.
- Made our community blog public. Our private community blog, the “Glass Journal,” is full of helpful content by our team and our Explorers. When we launched the public board, we got permission from all contributors to make our blog public, so potential customers could read up on Glass. In the future, we expect both our blog and our new board to drive organic search traffic.
- Provide scalable, high-touch support via social media and community. We allocated additional Glass Guides (CSRs) to help out in the new public forum and ensure that questions were answered effectively. In the meantime, our social media Glass Guides used Lithium Social Web to keep a close eye on inquiries from social media. Social agents can handle more cases per hour than phone or email agents, although the questions tend to be less complex. Community provides a self-service support option as visitors view previously answered questions.
- Coordinate on customer-created support options for prospective Explorers. Our long-term strategy involves building deep relationships with key customer influencers who set the tone for the community (see below). Due to this strong relationship, these “Community Leaders” launched two support options of their own initiative. They created the #askanexplorer hashtag and invited potential Explorers to post questions about the program, which they in turn answered. They also led two Hangouts On Air (streaming video calls) for potential customers to join and ask questions of a panel of current Explorers. We shared these initiatives via Google Glass on Google+ and Twitter.
2) Maintain the goodwill of our veteran Explorers. Change can be scary in any community, and the “veterans” can become nostalgic for “the way things used to be,” leading them to resist newcomers. We wanted to ensure that our veteran Explorers would welcome our new Explorers with open arms. To achieve this goal we implemented several tactics:
- Feature our veteran Explorers in our launch video for the expansion, showing our appreciation of them and helping them to feel like rockstars. We asked for video submissions and built an amazing video that made our veterans happy, and introduced potential Explorers to the spirit of the Explorer Program.
Please see our entry for Most Creative Promotion or Launch for more info on the I Am an Explorer video.
- Work together with our customer influencers (superusers) to ensure their understanding and support, as they set the tone for the community. We invited our “Community Leaders” to the Googleplex for a summit a few weeks before the expansion to get their feedback on Glass and talk about the future of the Explorer Program, allowing us to learn about and start to address painpoints prior to the announcement.
- Turn our veterans into mentors. We described our new public board as “a place for Explorers who haven’t met their Glass yet” and encouraged our Community Leaders and community-at-large to contribute to the board, because they are the true experts in what it means to be an Explorer. By emphasizing their expert knowledge and helpful human nature, we made it easier for our veterans to approach our newbies with enthusiasm rather than resistance.
- Kept most of our community private to customers. We wanted to ensure that our veterans and newbies both feel part of the community and have a private place to connect with each other and share feedback. Although we made two sections of our community public, we kept the majority of our community private.
Our business results
Community-driven launch video:
- 108k+ views in less than two weeks
- Well-received by veteran Explorers, who were excited to be featured in the video
Public community user education board/blog:
- 860% increase in unique visitors to the community on April 15 vs. one week prior
- New “Getting Ready for Glass” board drove 27% of all community traffic and 35% of unique visitors
- 63% of all community visitors viewed the newly-public community blog
- New board received hundreds of posts from prospective customers. Veteran Explorers were deeply engaged with an average of 5.5 replies per topic and 5.4 views per visitor in this board alone.
- 90% of topics received a reply, with an average time-to-reply of 42 minutes.
- Community promo was positioned with intention to defer 1:1 support needs; number of visitors to the community was greater than the number of individuals who contacted traditional support (email)
- Well-received by veteran Explorers, who continue to be excited to offer support and advice to prospective Explorers
Social media care:
- Small social media team fielded several thousand inquiries in the week around the announcement and expansion from April 10th to April 16th
- Touched more than 70% of algorithmically-detected inquiries despite the incredible volume of “buzz” around the expansion
- Maintained our usual social media care for current customers.
- At least 100 social media conversations were tagged #askanexplorer
- Two Hangouts On Air Q&A sessions
- Both initiatives entirely driven and supported by the community, with zero cost to our team
Explorer Program expansion:
- The Explorer Program expansion was very successful
- Sold out one of the colors of Glass midway through the day
- Closed the expansion when our supplies ran low sooner than expected