• February 1, 2015
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Canon Connects with Fans via Lithium's Social Solutions

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You don't have to convince Canon USA that a picture is worth a thousand words. The digital imaging company has based a large portion of its business on that premise. But, increasingly, a new asset is emerging at the company that also has a significant amount of worth—customer feedback.

Recognizing this, the company established a Facebook presence (www.facebook.com/canonusa) and a YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/canonusa). However, to fully engage product enthusiasts, Canon USA set out to build its own social media community.

According to Ellen Pitchford, senior director of Internet marketing at Canon USA, the impetus for the community was that "Canon wanted feedback directly from our customers on our products and services. We use that input to provide guidance to Canon on product development and service programs that will assist our U.S. customers."

Canon identified user communication "as an important initiative," and one of the drivers behind the social community, Pitchford explains. "As the retail landscape changes, the mindshare was an important connection that Canon wanted to develop and grow," she says.

In its pursuit of a social community platform provider, Canon came across Lithium Technologies, whose cloud-based Social Customer Experience platform powers the social communities of more than 300 companies, including Best Buy, Sephora, and Skype. "We looked at several vendor solutions, but Lithium was the most responsive and had the best references," Pitchford states.

So in November 2012, Canon launched its own social community, built on Lithium Technologies' Social Customer Experience platform.

To help organize the discussion topics, the Canon Forum (forums.usa.canon.com) offers five boards: Camera, Printer, Cinema EOS, Camcorder, and General Discussion. Users post questions and view answers in a separate field, and the company posts news releases and product announcements on another part of the site. The site also enables community members to single out the top posts and authors in a special "Kudos Leaderboard" section.

"Canon is ahead of the game. With customer expectations at an all-time high, they've created a hub where customers can get advice on the latest lenses, software/firmware updates, printer products, and technologies, as well as tips on SD cards, to name a few use cases," noted Katy Keim, chief marketing officer at Lithium Technologies, in a statement. "Customers trust other customers most. Canon is reaping the benefits of a trusted community and is seeing great results in both customer loyalty and advocacy."

Since its launch, the Canon Forum has received more than 5 million page views, with the number of posts increasing by 7.6 percent month over month. The site has captured in excess of 2.9 million visits from more than 2.6 million unique visitors. The average number of visits has grown 10.9 percent month over month.

The site continues to grow at an average of more than 1,000 new registrations per month, representing a growth of 9.9 percent month over month. Membership as of early December 2014 totaled 29,000.

Canon also recently rolled out the Lithium Social Web (LSW) to help improve its overall social customer service. With a focus on engagement metrics, LSW helps Canon monitor, analyze, and quickly respond to customers on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook. LSW also helps Canon social media agents efficiently manage workflows and address priority inquiries in a timely manner.

For its part, Lithium is also listening and responding to customer feedback. Plans are in the works to upgrade the Forum design by making several social networks and resources accessible from the same landing page, according to Pitchford.

"The experience with Lithium has been outstanding," Pitchford says. "They are very responsive and always helpful. I would recommend them to anyone considering building a community."

The Payoff

Since its launch in late 2012, the Canon Forum has seen the following:

  • more than 5 million page views, with page views increasing by an average of 7.6 percent month over month;
  • registrations grow an average of 9.9 percent month over month, with total subscribers as of December 2014 numbering 29,000; and
  • in excess of 2.9 million visits from more than 2.6 million unique visitors.

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