Lowe’s: Social Adoption Leads to 45 Million Page Views


Over the past five to ten years, we’ve seen the rise of the customer once again. They have the Internet this time. They can see pretty quickly what companies are engaged and which ones are not.

It took Lowe’s some time to get their heads around this idea. But last year, things started coming together. They even employed this idea of the reverse mentor, where some wise social genius acted as a Jedi master of sorts to get the ideas flowing. It worked.

The $50 billion retail chain is one of the poster examples for social adoption at the Enterprise 2.0 conference this week in Boston. Bill Currier is there, live blogging for The Darwin Awareness Engine blog. He recounted the story by Lowe’s Andy Carusone about what the company did to achieve the success it has with social adoption.

The results speak for themselves. Lowe’s has 45 million page views per month and 4,000 communities. According to Currier, Lowe’s has 3,000 blogs. The top ten blogs account for 22% of all blog visits. The top two blogs account for 10% of all blog visits.

How did they do it? Three key points:

  • Discovery: The created a Web site at their big sales event. People sought it out. It was a way for the sales people to communicate. This is a critical point. The people wanted more. They were hungry for it. They were not force-fed marketing dribble. They engaged and began reaching out beyond the conference itself. Lowe’s provided the tools. The people used them.
  • Transparency: People shared their success. Ideas spread. They cite one example where they gained an additional $1 million in sales. That’s small change, in our view, compared to the social capital gained but that’s a point for another post.
  • Behavior: Lowe’s avoided the ROI trap. Hurrah! Instead, they looked at the return on behavior, not technology. Currier writes :

They look at the return on the behaviors rather than the technology. They did a beta in Florida with IBM Lotus Connections and then expanded it.  They found that benefits are higher than anticipated and the risks are lower but middle management resisted. To meet the middle management resistance, he first acknowledged the concern but then showed how the old way costs too much so they can see the light themselves.

How companies adopt social technologies is a vexing one for most organizations and an opportunity for service providers. The basics are coming into place for may companies. The next step is to find ways to turn the data into intelligence through such means as gamification.

Gamification may be a bit down the road for most companies. The first step is helping companies do it right. The Lowe’s example shows that most of the time it comes down to the people, as well chronicled in Currier’s posting from the Enterprise 2.0 conference.