Getting Personal: Technology As The Ultimate Connector

by Julia Vander Ploeg
April 28, 2015

This is repost from my original blog

Sure— it is easy to jump on the “technology can sometimes make life more complicated” bandwagon; but there are many, many ways to have an optimistic outlook on technology’s capabilities.  That’s perhaps not a surprise coming from me, given the role that I play in Digital for McDonald’s Corporation.  But why shouldn’t we embrace technology for the good it can do — personally and professionally? Nowadays, technology is one of the main ways we are all connected; it is increasingly how we experience emotion, how we interact with others, how we brand ourselves, and — ultimately — how we perceive the world. When it comes to technology, it’s all about personal, meaningful connections.

            Especially for brands that have a very special role in their customers’ lives, it is important to consider what businesses want from these personal connections.  For us at McDonald’s, we connect with customers in a new way to show each and every one of our consumers that we are listening. It’s about personal connections and interactions while broadening our reach. With 140 characters and the click of a button, consumers have easy access to sharing their personal stories and engaging with companies. As a customer, if you’re unhappy, you can voice your concerns online and see how committed brands are to solving your problem. Tracking consumer engagement, needs, and desires has never been easier. Data allows for customized feedback that drives large-scale adaptions. Social media has opened the doors for honest, productive conversations because consumers and brands can coexist there at an equal level.           

            However, as a company and a brand, you absolutely have to invest in order to have meaningful, personal connections with your customers online.  Merely “being there” – having a presence on Facebook and Twitter – does not constitute a relationship.  Like any special relationship we have, it’s important to pay attention and invest in the relationship.

            At McDonald’s, we recently launched the Global Brand Hub at our Corporate Headquarters.  It’s a place where we are monitoring – and responding – to the social media conversation, 24/7. It’s the first thing a visitor sees upon entering our building and going up to the first floor.  That’s not by accident.  We want the conversation with our customer to be front and center. It takes people; it takes time.  It takes tools that can help us sift through the millions of online conversations to not only find what people are saying about us, but also to collect meaningful insights and themes from those conversations.  And of course – to respond, in a meaningful way.

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            Technology can connect those people who choose to use it as a productive, meaningful tool to enrich their lives. And speaking of special relationships…  one in three new marriages now begins online. How cool is that?  So just think of where technology can take the relationship with your customer!

 

Thanks so much for reading! If you found this interesting follow me on Twitter for related topics. 

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