Are you looking for an easy way to foster internal social communications at your company? Perhaps you're seeking a simple way to build a community with your customers?
Here's the good news: A new (and free) tool may be just the solution you're looking for.
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Collaboration, innovation and communication—all three have become corporate buzzwords. But they are also critical components to any company's success. These are three areas where organizations are constantly looking for new ideas and social media tools are increasingly playing a larger role in that process.
Businesses have a need to communicate. They're always looking for new and different ways to foster collaboration among employees and ways to innovate—faster and more efficiently. “How can we come up with new ideas while using the least amount of resources?”
The list of tools that can fulfill these needs is long, but Posterous Groups, a recently launched social media tool (that's free), should be considered as a way to meet these business needs.
For the uninitiated, Posterous Groups is one part Facebook group and one part email listserv. In essence, a Posterous Group page is really a living, breathing, collaborative document. And again, like Posterous itself, it can all be done via email.
The key Posterous Group benefits and features include:
- Uber-easy to set up. Simply email the name of the group and group member emails and your group is ready to go (no blog/platform account necessary).
- Privacy is assumed. Posterous Groups defaults to a private group setting, which means content shared within the group is protected from prying eyes outside the organization (if you wish).
- Post a variety of media formats. PDFs. Microsoft documents. Photos. Video. You name it and you can post it to Posterous Groups.
- View content on the go—easily. Posterous Groups is also optimized for viewing from mobile devices, including iPads. A nice inclusion as more folks are accessing online content via smartphones and tablets.
- Receive daily email summaries instead of instant notifications. For more active groups, this is a nice feature. Keeps you more connected and plugged in to what's happening within the group.
- Fantastic photo-sharing capabilities. Just my opinion, mind you, but Posterous recently added a new slideshow feature that makes this functionality even better within Groups.
The biggest advantage of Groups is the ease of use and the fact that everything is wired right to your inbox. After all, who doesn't have an email address in 2011? Even that guy in accounting who thinks blogging is “never going to catch on” can still participate using Posterous Groups.
And remember, photos, video and other files you post to the Group are hard-coded into your emails—no big attachments. And finally, while conversations occur on email, they're forever archived on your Group site so members can go back and track discussions that occurred weeks ago in just a few seconds.
So, what does all this mean for brands? There are a number of organizations already using Posterous as a blogging platform. One of my favorite local brands, Punch Pizza, uses Posterous to share photos and coupons, which are routinely redeemed en masse at Punch restaurants.
Nationally, Chevrolet has been using Posterous for more than a year now to promote talk about the Chevy Volt.
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And Twitter app TweetDeck is also using Posterous as its primary blogging platform.
But, by and large, not too many brands are using Posterous Groups—at least not groups that we can see.
That doesn't mean opportunities don't exist, because they certainly do. Given that Posterous is an email-based platform and it's extremely easy to use, I've long felt more risk-averse companies have a big opportunity with Posterous as a means to start blogging—and I think with Groups, there are a number of clear opportunities, too, both internally and externally, for organizations.
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Internal Applications for Posterous Groups
#1: Company intranet
Probably more appropriate for small businesses and non-profits—organizations that can't afford an off-the-shelf solution. But think about it. Doesn't Groups offer much of the same functionality as an intranet? Document, photo and video sharing, all accessible via email or the Internet. And remember, it can be private.
Sure, it's not behind a firewall on your company's servers, but you have to weigh the advantages and benefits versus the potential risk. This certainly presents a different way to think about an intranet, but I tend to think it's a collaborative (and very easy) way to get your internal teams involved.
#2: Special interest groups
Look inside any company and you'll find a number of special interest groups. Some are more formal than others; running clubs and bowling teams, for example. What if you had a way to give them a private space online where they could stay connected between meetings or events? They could use this area to post photos, videos and just share information about the next event or meeting.
#3: Team communication
Just as Posterous Groups is a great tool for special interest groups within your organization, it's also a perfect tool for business communication between teams. Think about it from a marketing/PR standpoint.
Your team could use a Posterous Group as a project-planning tool, a way to brainstorm ideas across geographically disparate offices (complete with photos and video), a vehicle to aggregate and share media coverage with the team and a tool to share organizational updates and news. Again, all in one spot—as opposed to the different areas this information probably exists now.
#4: Short-term collaboration
For those who have managed a new agency relationship, consider all the information you need to share with that partner to get them up to speed. Wouldn't it be great if you could house all those documents, images, usernames/passwords and graphics in one easy-to-find and common area? Hello, Posterous Groups.
External Uses of Posterous Groups
#5: Promotional/corporate event pages
Think about the promotional and community events your company participates in regularly. Wouldn't it be great to have one spot where you could house RSVPs, key event information, promotional coupons, offers, photos, videos and interviews with customers and participants after the event? How are you doing that now? Would Posterous Groups present an interesting alternative?
#6: Private brand ambassador groups
What about creating a private group for your most cherished brand ambassadors? A space where you could share special offers, rewards programs and sneak peeks at upcoming marketing campaigns? You could also use the Group as a means to communicate with these ambassadors. Even use Groups as a way to run new product designs by them and get initial input and ideas. A plethora of options here.
#7: Volunteer groups
For non-profit organizations, Posterous Groups would be a great way to keep in regular contact with one of their most important audiences: volunteers. Many non-profits say one of their biggest challenges is not having enough touchpoints with volunteers. Groups would provide an easy solution. After all, who doesn't have access to email? (Even that 77-year-old woman who volunteers on Wednesday evenings has access to email.) And the best part? The volunteers themselves could contribute meaningful content to the Group.
You could ask volunteers to post photos from events that they capture—photos that you could use in newsletters and brochures down the road. You could also share news about upcoming events, organizational priorities and more detailed instructional information that would only be relevant to volunteers. This is a great, low-cost, easy way to keep in touch with your volunteer force.
#8: Customer forums
Your customers have questions. Why not address them all at once using Groups? You could even provide video responses to more complex customer issues/questions (I'm thinking about tech products here). Sure, there are definitely other ways to organize customer forums online—but Posterous Groups is free, easy and would tend to stay in front of customers because Groups would alert these folks via email each time a new post is made.
Those are my ideas about how brands could use Posterous Groups. What do you think? Any creative ideas on how your organization might take advantage of this new tool? Leave your comments in the box below.
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