As Singapore's fully integrated info-communications company, StarHub offers a full range of information, communications and entertainment services for both consumer and corporate markets.
With the aim of providing every person, home and business in Singapore with world-class multimedia services and content, StarHub operates a mobile network that provides 4G, 3G and 2G services, manages an island-wide HFC (Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial)network that delivers multi-channel pay TV services, as well as ultra-high speed residential broadband services.
b. The problem
Customer sentiments have changed, leading to a growing preference for peer-to-peer over top-down customer-service assistance.
With social media usage on the rise, it became easier for consumers to engage with their favourite brands, and in so doing sought to be a part of the brand’s activities – to have their voice heard.
Advocacy is the highest order in social media marketing but the brand had yet to effectively build advocates with the available social media tools.
c. The competitor landscape
Our competitors were not involved in any similar platforms that built advocacy. StarHub Community is the first such centralized platform in Singapore.
d. What was holding the brand back?
Time was taken to search for a suitable platform to host the StarHub Community on.
There were no agencies that specialized in building communities in Singapore. Lithium was a viable choice, but unfortunately did not have a presence here at that time.
e. What were the goals?
We want to position StarHub as a company that listens, understands, cares for our customers and the Singapore community. At the same time, we acknowledge that endorsements are often regarded to be more credible and objective when they come from third parties that do not have a stake in the business.
In creating a new platform, it was crucial that it be instrumental in cultivating brand advocates, where in times of need, users could step in to defend the brand on our behalf from the“bashing” conducted by others. It was to also be a sanctuary for frank opinions, transparency and a hotbed for equipment testing by our loyal customers.
Hence, the aim was to create a community managed by consumers, for the consumers and moderated by StarHub.
StarHub Community would present a centralized platform for existing customers to turn to should they have any StarHub product or service-related problems. There, they would be able to access to a wealth of user-generated trouble-shooting tips, solutions, general information and more.
In harnessing the community for support, the secondary goals were to reduce budget spent to hire and train call-centre personnel, and at the same time increase efficiency in addressing technical issues.
In addition, the community would serve as the go-to place for StarHub news updates regarding new handset releases, promotions, cable television show discussions and more. For the ladies, it served as a rallying point to take part in contests and promotions tied in with Lady First Singapore – franchised from Taiwan’s leading lifestyle magazine show.
StarHub Community as a whole would stand as a lifestyle hub for the masses.
f. What was your target audience?
- Existing brand advocates from various social platforms
- SMEs in StarHub’s product and service offerings
- Current Facebook fans
- Vocal consumers from other forums who have experience solving an info-communications issue and willing to share the solution with fellow consumers
- People who are already engaged with the brand, who need a place to converge to discuss and solve any problems
g. What strategy were you using and why was it not working?
We required a platform that harnesses advocacy through positive customer support experience – and thus converting detractors to advocates.
StarHub’s social media strategy has always been to engage customers on multiple fronts: it has an active presence on Facebook and Twitter, and occupies spaces on LinkedIn and YouTube.
But we found that something more intimate was needed to directly engage with present and potential customers — to handle their issues individually and to foster communication between customers.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are not owned by the company, and they tend to enable one-way or at most two-way, B2B or B2C conversations. StarHub wanted a platform through which consumers could talk to each other, and found that a forum-styled platform was the best way.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter did not provide a conducive environment for advocates to step in. On these platforms, there was no long-term engagement – posts and replies were confined to a particular thread and would taper off as new posts appear on a timeline.
a. Detail the plan devised to address your challenge
StarHub was on the lookout for a next-generation solution to the afore-mentioned issues to effectively challenge our competitors. Enter Lithium – a platform with a proven track record in building communities and pools of advocates in western markets.
StarHub Community sits atop Lithium’s Social Customer Community Software. StarHub is the first local company in Singapore to use Lithium, which utilizes gamification to encourage advocates or Super-Users to emerge.
To see the list of advocates, please see:
Lithium’s expertise and experience were crucial— counting telcos like AT&T, Indosat and Verizon among its key customers — and has enabled the company to make a science out of the largely messy and unstructured endeavour of social engagement.
It was the platform of choice after several rounds of internal research, discussion and top management meetings.
b. Elaborate key considerations for choosing other platforms
One of the key considerations was that the chosen platform had to be open enough to allow for it to be found on search engines. Facebook as a platform is not open enough, in that its content is not readily “searchable” on search engines. Users head to Google to find answers to their questions. Based on research, only 7%of internet users go to Facebook to find answers.
The new platform also had to be able to allow for every department within StarHub to “go social”. Lithium did.
c. Elaborate on strategy – timeline, budget, creative and media considerations
StarHub Community was rolled out in a few phases.
The first phase from concept to launch took two months, which included design, development, testing and debugging. It was important before launch, to ensure that the tone of the site was right: that this is a friendly place for consumers to raise their questions and/or offer their own solutions to others. As consumers today are heavily reliant on info-communications, StarHub and its counterparts in Singapore receive the most flak on social media so StarHub's customer service team was roped in to manage customer complaints and guide complainants towards an understanding that the site is not a forum for complaints but a place for a community to grow and learn together with aid from the brand.
Topics that were frequently discussed on StarHub's social media presences were selected and write-ups were created and populated onto Community as a searchable FAQ bank. StarHub Community was launched with these initial content pieces.
Once the site was launched, various marketing activities were carried out to create awareness, educate and drive registrations on the site. Every week, wall posts were put up on StarHub's two Facebook pages and two Twitter accounts to create awareness about the site among our existing fan base. To boost visibility and reach, Facebook ads were created from these wall posts to get more eyeballs amongst Facebook fans as well as interactions on our Wall posts that included comments, likes and shares.
With our member base, we kicked off the influencer identification and activation phase. The objective was to get many influential online personalities to spread the word about StarHub Community and invite their fans and followers to visit the site.
For this phase, we employed the theory of the 1-9-90 rule. 90% of the people on the site are consumers of content but did not participate much in discussions. 9% are people who consume content and also interact with it, for example sharing the content with their own networks and contributing their opinions. 1% of the people are very active on the site, contributing articles, blog write-ups, helping others solve their problems
We worked to identify and activate the 9%, to drive them into the 1% bracket. We invited these people first to contribute on the site and later created events so we could personally meet them, show our appreciation for them and invite them to help StarHub further strengthen the Community with their recommendations. One of these events was graced by StarHub's Heads of Customer Service and Marketing. Their presence further solidified the influencers' convictions that StarHub is indeed committed to listening to the public.
How did we do it? From past StarHub influencer campaigns, we found and approached people whom we know have the necessary knowledge in various areas to share their opinions and advice with others and that the StarHub Community would recognize them for it.
a. How was the strategy executed and communicated to the audience?
The strategy employed was a straightforward two-phase process.
Phase 1 – Establishing content: We began by populating the forums with existing articles like phone reviews, tech trends, general FAQs as well as information on all StarHub products and services.
Phase 2 – Creating awareness and recruitment: To drive visitors to the site to sample the content, we held a contest where participants had to register as a member of the community before taking part. The mechanic was such that they had to search for an answer to a question that could only be found on StarHub Community. Prizes included a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and movie tickets.
We leveraged on existing fans on the StarHub Facebook to grow the user base on StarHub Community. One example of how this was carried out was to post a summarized review about a particular mobile handset on Facebook, and then encourage the reader to proceed to the Community for the full article.
In addition, we tapped on existing databases collated from sales of products, for example. the iPhone. From there, we encouraged customers to log onto the Community to provide reviews on their handset. We also conducted a recruitment drive among our staff, inviting them to act as conversation starters and subject matter experts to address customer enquiries.
StarHub Community boasts multiple access touch-points, which means that we were able to garner traffic from across a multitude of channels that included YouTube & monthly newsletters, over and above Facebook and Twitter.
We also created an application on Facebook that allowed fans to have a taste of what StarHub Community, by providing a “lite” version where they could have their account- or product/service-related questions answered. If they were keen to find out more, all they had to do was to crossover to our brand new community. This encouraged users to find answers to their StarHub-related questions themselves instead of approaching our call centres or Shops.
To continue the drive for awareness as well as recruitment, we staged regular contests during popular occasions such as Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year. The contests required submission of entries on StarHub Community.
We also reached out to our senior and less technologically proficient customers via the Golden Guru campaign. The aim was to get them involved in conversations that would answer questions they may have had about technology in general.
We appointed eight tech-savvy senior citizens aged between 58 and 77, who stood as information technology (IT) champions for their peers. Acting as StarHub’s ambassadors, they were committed to giving back to society by imparting IT knowledge to other seniors using the Community portal
The first phase of Golden Gurus involved recruitment, to which StarHub received very good response. To continue engaging the seniors, we invited the Golden Gurus onto StarHub Community to contribute posts and blog articles dedicated to enriching the lives of seniors.
Our Active Ageing Hackathon (ongoing) showcases a contest to develop mobile apps that can and will enrich the lives of the elderly. For this, StarHub Community acts as the main platform for the call to action as well as idea submissions. In addition we have invited our Golden Gurus to mentor at workshops to educate contestants on what types of services and apps an older person might benefit.
To engage our female audience, we leveraged on the popular lifestyle magazine show Lady First Singapore, which was localised from a Taiwan format and produced by StarHub. We engaged a targeted group of our influencers and advocates to begin seeding beauty-related content on topics such as skincare, fashion and make-up on StarHub Community. This, along with discussion generated about each episode of the programme, effectively sparked an influx of female chatter on the community. This successfully integrated online and offline engagement activities, thereby extending the “Lady First Singapore” experience beyond the traditional TV screen for its customers.
In addition, we organised an event to strengthen ties between users, and more importantly between StarHub and our advocates.
The Super-User event was the first gathering of the most active members in the Community. Primarily, these were the individuals who were responsible for assisting the customer service team in addressing a myriad of queries that, at times, were not StarHub related.
To see a video of the event, please visit:
We also invited StarHub’s Golden Guru team and Lady First bloggers to this event. It was an opportunity for StarHub to meet and cultivate our advocates. We shared our vision and plans with these users, and how as advocates, they will have access to exclusive perks like VIP event invitations and be the first to know about latest developments in StarHub.
For videos of these events, please visit:
b. How did the delivery demonstrate a best practice in planning and execution?
StarHub Community’s roll-out saw fantastic sign-up numbers as well as page visits. These figures were complemented by extremely high consumer satisfaction – evident from a total of 1700 user testimonials. The following shows some comments from our users.
c. What was rationale behind chosen media platform?
While social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provided great ways for the brand to get in touch with its customers, it did not allow for a consolidation of conversations and commentaries. Content hosted on these platforms were not searchable, and did not provide a conducive environment to cultivate brand advocates.
a. Provide measurable metrics on success of programme.
A six-month report following the Community’s launch on 1st October 2012 showed impressive figures.
Following the introduction, the contest held where we gave away the Samsung mobile phone garnered 6000 registrations in 1 month. We also managed to hit 20,000 likes on our Facebook page.
The graph above shows how the community amassed 10,000 members at the six-month mark. Since then, in less than two months we doubled the number of unique visitors.
We have received nearly 54,000 visits from 29,000 unique visitors. And 684 topics garnered a total of over 600,000 views.
When we surveyed the Community less than a year after launch, we found that over 80% of users found StarHub Community useful, and that it helped them solve their queries relating to our product and services. In addition, three in every four stated that they had either managed to reduce their time of interaction with service staff or it removed the need to contact StarHub service staff altogether.
For detailed results of the survey and the 1700 verbatim comments, please see:
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