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Lithium – walking the talk in social media

October 15, 2008

For the last several years,  social media has been the buzz and companies are flocking to run something social for the sake of doing it.   These companies are just “bolting on” various applications to their business, whether they launch a blog,  create a viral video,  or put up a splashy co-creation site to choose the flavor of their next soft drink.  While each of these plays may technically be good, and may produce quantifiable results, they are just campaigns.   Tactics.

What if a company were in the business of social media, and actually invited their customers in to interact with pretty much the entire company, and with one another, all on that company’s product, a software as a service platform for hosting communities?  

That’s exactly what Lithium has done.   About one month ago, they launched the Lithosphere, a social media trifecta of blogs and discussion forums in which they interact with their current and potential customers, competitors, industry analysts and practitioners.

This is uniquely interesting to me as it creates a parallelism.   I run an enterprise community on behalf of my employer, in which our customers interact with us and each other.  They share their experiences and provide a mix of praise and criticism for all the world to see.  Some of our members are very interested in our success and devote many hours each day helping to run our community by providing assistance moderating the discussion, answering technical questions, and even providing graphic design and technical assistance to customize some of the features in the environment.   Now,  I have the same opportunity to participate as a customer in Lithium’s community,  along with my peers, to provide mutual support and to provide feedback on the product.

My customers are to me as I am to Lithium.   Clients now have an opportunity to become users of the software vs administrators.  We get to experience as customers, the first hand community experience and can see best practices in moderation and thought leadership being demonstrated for us in an environment free from the constraints of our own content.

Over time, the Lithosphere will help Lithium customers become better practitioners, and each more successful in running their own communities.  This adds value to the relationship beyond the software and services themselves.

Many companies talk about social media.   Lithium is definitely walking the talk.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2008 11:52 pm

    all too often i’ve seen companies move into the web 2.0 stream without a true goal in mind.   they try to use forums and blogs to communicate with customers but fail because they don’t communicate enough or don’t communicate properly.   customers demand transparency and have no reservation in giving companies pieces of their mind if they don’t get it.   today’s forum members and bloggers are ruthless.

    it’s good to see companies like lithium providing what i’d call “web 2.0 communication” training services to their clientele.   it should help to provide a positive trickle-down effect to their customers’ customers, or at least the building blocks to start the process.

  2. October 17, 2008 12:55 am

    Thanks so much for the kind words Mark! Its extremely gratifying to be able to engage with your customers in this way, as I’m sure you know. I have personally have learned so much from engaging our customers directly, and experiencing what our customers experience in managing our communities – I hadn’t even considered it as an additional benefit for our customers to experience communities from the other side as well.

    Web 2.0/Social Media/Online Communities – whatever you call it, it’s such a great business trend to be a part of, where so much that goes on is truly win-win.

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