Friday, August 1, 2014

Speaking Socially About Social Media

We've all seen those articles - 5 Tips to Pump up Your Social Media (heck, we've written those articles.)

We know what we need to do.

Well, we know what you should do to make your social media stronger, better, faster. So why is our own social media so lackluster?

Let's have a social chat about Social Media. Just you and me.  Because when we, you and I, have a chat, that is the core of social intercourse. And that is exactly what is missing from all those tips intercourse. It's the difference between being the MBA in the meeting room and the person behind the counter in the store. If I'm talking to you about Social Media and you're talking to me about the day-to-day realities of your schedule and energy, we're not having a conversation.

It's great that there's so much information out there about Social Media. New tools pop up every day and old tools change. What was the wild west five years ago, now has  End User Licensing Agreement three pages long. So before you and I sit down and talk about how to take your social media to the next level, let's make sure we're both talking about the same thing - you, your business and how you can delight and engage your customers.

So next time you click on an article about social media, check to see if it's talking about social media in a general sense, or really talking about you. The difference between the theoretical and personal is the difference between a successful social strategy and an expensive consultant whose plan you never use.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Doing Less - How to Unlock Amazing Customer Service

Can doing less satisfy customers more?

There have been many studies about how small rewards create less pressure and instill more creativity and receptiveness. The Candle Problem is the one I refer to the most. But for today, as I so often do, I'll resort to parable to answer this question.

 Parable 1: On my other blog, which deals with an extremely narrow niche of a niche, I created the "Hero program," in which people who buy an item off my Wish List for me to review get the least of all possible rewards - a jpeg image of a badge. This program took off so quickly that there are times I'm often pressed to keep items on my list...and I had to create a premium tier for people who wouldn't stop giving me things! The point here wasn't that I was giving them meaningful physical rewards, but that I was giving them recognition. I'll come back to that in a moment.

Parable 2: I recently called up an airline to request an upgrade for my upcoming trip. I am flying with my wife and while I have barely-elite status, she has none. The CSR said, "You'll be upgraded first, then she will, if there's room." I replied, very slowly and calmly, "But you're going to do *everything* in your power to make sure we both get upgraded, right?" And I kept on her until she actually said those words back to me.

Which brings me to my actual point.

Customer Service has two key components:

  What you do for people


  How you do it

What you give people is the actual reward. Whether it is a little gesture of thanks, or a new car, the reward itself is only as important as the feeling of "seriously, we appreciate you" that the customer gets from it.

Truly frequent fliers probably don't notice anymore when they get upgraded...they expect it, demand it, feel that they've earned it. It's their due, not a gesture of appreciation for their business. 

How you do a thing is 99% of the impact of excellent Customer Service. Is what you're giving a true expression of gratitude for the customer's business and support? Or is your loyalty program instead of a true expression of gratitude?

My Heroes know that I appreciate them...from the bottom of my heart. The badge is worthless, my sincere and heartfelt appreciation is priceless. And they know that. In Parable 2, had the CSR said those words - even if she was lying - to me the first time, I would have felt much more appreciated than when she responded with "Well,I don't know...there's not much I can do."

When I call a business that I've supported for years and say, hey, can I get a coupon or something, the wrong response is "Well, we don't have anything like that." The right response is to offer something, anything. "Of course, ma'am! If you come in today, we'll give you...." It absolutely doesn't matter how small the thing is, it's not the the thing I care about. It's the way the thing is presented. What I'm actually asking for is that you recognize and appreciate me and my business.
So, if an airline says, "We see that you've flown with us three times this month and we just wanted to say 'thanks,' so here's a free drink coupon for you." It's worth, what, $6? But it would make me feel good. Like someone noticed me. I feel that my contribution is recognized.

 Providing customers with a pleasant feeling of recognition for their business is the very least thing and the most effective thing you can and should do for good customer service.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Landing Pages, The Herpes of Social Media

You click on a link that interests you; an article or a whitepaper that seems interesting. As your eyes cross the title, the page blurs and your line of sight is obstructed. All you need to do to read this article is SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER! or give us all your contact info and we'll email you the whitepaper.What is this madness? Give up your name, email, address and phone number just to read an article? Click it away and seconds later it's back like a virus. SUBSCRIBE NOW!

You have encountered the herpes of Social Media - the Landing Page.

It is absolutely true that Landing Pages increase conversion. It is also true that they help qualify leads. They also annoy most of the people who will ever come across your site and drive them away instantly. "I like you, but you should know...I have a landing page."

Landing pages are pernicious. They break visitor concentration, they refocus their interest from content (or product or service) to the ugly business of buying and selling. How serious are you about getting subscribers? So serious that you will interrupt your own message to bring your reader this important message about you.

It's perfectly fine to ask for someone's phone number, but usually we do it after we've talked a bit. Landing Pages may be great for your business, but they are even better for letting people know you have no time or interest in anyone who isn't doing something for you.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Everybody's Talking At You: 3 Really Important Things You Still Don't Get About Social Media

The last few weeks have been a roller-coaster ride in the Social Media world. People who should know better misusing their public platforms to say unfortunate things, people using traditional media arguing about the wrong parts of the problem and the great piranha tank of social media weighing in with opinions without context.

There was a lot of misunderstanding on all sides and everyone was wrong. And in the mix of screaming and screaming about screaming, everyone missed the three lessons everyone who works with Social Media needs to know.

Lesson 1:

You Cannot Control the Message

In the closed world of the conference room, you might make an off-color joke about the mail guy. Depending on your level of power, people might pretend it was funny. If you have less power, someone might look at you and say, "that was uncool." You then backtrack, claim it was a joke. But the mailroom guy is not likely to hear about it, whatever happens.

In Social Media, even with locked accounts, you are speaking to an open room. Once out there, a screencapped image can live on forever. Forget claiming an account was hacked or that it was a joke...the evidence of your inside voice can and will get to the mailroom guy....good luck getting your mail forever.

Being tone deaf to the AIDS crisis or Middle East uprisings will not make you look clever, it will not get laughs, except those "Hah-Hah!"s that accompany pointing fingers as you go down in flames. Political and social crises are not acceptable vehicles upon which to piggyback your marketing messages.

If you wouldn't want 7 billion people seeing, talking about or retweeting it - don't say it.

Lesson 2:

Everything You Say on Social Media is Relevant

The person you hire to spread your messaging is You. The message they spread is You. The name that is used in those messages is You. It is not Social Media's fault if you won't admit that yours is not the most popular company.

When a person states in their profile that they are your PR person, they will speak about your corporate culture 24/7. If they post dismissive, rude comments at 3AM on Saturday after a night out, it will still reflect on you.

There is no "time-off" for your company. No kicking back, taking the shoes off. Everything ever said by you, about you or for you reflects on you.

Lesson 3:

Social Media is Not An Advertisement

In a discussion with an agency recently, we commiserated over the case of the client with a missing clue. They want to get straight sales conversion from a Social Media profile but they don't want to do actual sales tactics. Apparently, the client believes that merely liking their page - and never hearing from them again - should magically convert into higher profit.

Advertising works because it saturates a space. Social Media works because it doesn't saturate a space, it targets very specific, very precise areas. Social Media is the way we communicate with people in small, deep pockets of the Internet, not broad swaths of it. If you're looking to work the advertising funnel model of conversion, do not go with Social Media.

You get to choose one way to communicate: You can talk to everyone through advertising or You can talk to a few people through Social.

Both can create value for your brand and your bottom line...but you have to choose each one for itself, mixing them up doesn't really work.

Learn these three lessons about Social Media and you'll never be embarrassed again.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Why People Unfollow/Unfriend/Disconnect Your Business and How to Re-Engage

When you're a small or medium business owner, there is both power and prestige in having a strong Social Media following. And it can hurt your bottom line if there's a mass exodus of those followers. There are any number of reasons why people stop following your business, and today we'll look at ehy people follow your business in the first place - and what keeps them engaged or drives them away.

Why People Like, Follow or Connect With Your Business

1) Immediate Need - the customer is looking for a product or service something your business offers.

2) Advocacy - The consumer could be a repeat customer looking to a) support a business they like or b) to get coupons/discounts for products or services they have enjoyed in the past and wish to get again.

3) Non-Business Loyalty - A friend owns, works for, or has some other allegiance to the business and the consumer is showing to public support.

Having gotten consumer interest in the first place, why do so few Businesses retain their interest? It's relatively easy to get someone to "Like" a page, and it is even easier to lose followers with a single misstep.

Why People Unlike, Unfollow or Disconnect With Your Business

Let's start with Non-business related Loyalty first. If a person's reason for following a business has no relation to the business itself, then their reasons for unfollowing/friending them are likely to to be the same. The friend has moved on, or gained enough traction, or they had a falling out.  Supporting their business is just not a high priority anymore. This is a problem mostly for extremely local-focus businesses, which rely heavily on word of mouth.

How to Re-engage: Turn your friends into valued customers and gain real loyalty for your business by reaching out with meaningful connection related to your business.

When Advocacy lapses, it is important to recognize interests and needs change over time. The company may no longer be relevant to me.  There's very little that can be done about this loss, except to be gracious and express a hope for future reconnection.

It's important to acknowledge that you company may have alienated the customer in some way with bad customer service or uncompetitive pricing, or poor product or services.  Consumers may become tired of self-promotion, poor response rate or dislike the fact that no one is curating the social accounts. At this level, there are *so* many reason a person might unfollow.

How to Re-engage: An advocate is almost always going to be a customer who wants relevant, authentic contact and content. Many companies seriously drop the ball with their customers at this level. Instead of thinking about what customers can do for you, consider how your business can make a difference for customers. Talk with them, as opposed to advertising at them, invite good customers and loyal customers to special events, offer "tell a friend deals." Invest time in your relationships and in your Social Media.

If the reason a person followed you was Immediate Need, thhey no longer need to be in contact with your company. Not every unfollow is a personal insult.

How to Re-engage: If you've done your job and created truly Social interaction, they'll be back when they need you. Acknowledge the Tare and move on, working with those people who want to stay connected.

Losing followers is inevitable. The best thing to do is make the trail back to you appealing and open. Build bridges, don't burn them and you'll find your following growing naturally.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

You're Not the Pied Piper, Part 2: "One Too Many"

In Follow Me! Follow Me!, we discussed companies that ask you to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, sign up for their newsletter...all so they can give you the same press release in 5 fabulous formats!

Today, we're going to look at other side of this bad social media practice - the "One Too Many" syndrome.

Company A offers a reward: Like them on Facebook! (Okay, no prob!) Then follow them on Twitter. (Um, okay...) Now, tweet this canned response with a hashtag! (All right...) Now, take the code you receive as a DM to their website to get your reward! (Too late, I've moved on.)

Company B offers a contest: Like Us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, then scan this QR code, go to that website and register, to be entered into this contest for a free something worth about $10!

It's a classic case of "one too many."

Followers should have to do one thing. Either they scan in the QR code or they give a FB like or Twitter follow. Then give them the reward. Customers are not toddlers, they are not dogs. Ask them to do too much, they'll wander off, bored.

Every additional step a company requires from consumers, leeches their interest in whatever contest, or junky reward. No, they will not scan a QR code, then like your FB page to get...what? A few bucks off? A free soda when they spend $50?  A free sticker? The "reward" is rarely worth the time and effort

Consumers are not following your company to bump up your numbers. They expect value from you.

Exclusives, special deals and good content will bring in loyal followers. And loyal customers is what you want, not people who sign up for contests.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How to Leave A Social Platform: The Dos and Dont’s of Saying “Goodbye”

It’s easy enough to join a new social platform. Fill out the registration form — or just sign in through another platform, such as Twitter or Facebook. Perhaps click a verification link in an email. Maybe a friend introduces you, shows you around. That first date is easy. It feels comfortable to spend time together.

You’re enjoy your time with this new platform. You’ve developed a new peer group, you share good times — you laugh at new in-jokes. It’s all fun for a while…but eventually the thrill is gone and feels more like a chore to check in.

You can’t help it — you feel like the platform let you down. You were such good friends, but now this friend is still complaining about the same stuff, full of the same questions over and over and it’s annoying you. You stop coming by so often — and when you do, it’s often to tell folks how much less often you’ll be dropping in.

You wake up one day and think — “I’m done here. It’s time to move on.” But…how does one go about leaving a social platform? It’s easy to join, shouldn’t it be easy to leave too?

It should be — but it isn’t. A community is more than just a place to chat with other people. When you joined, you only had yourself to answer to. When you leave, it’s going to affect others.If you’ve been granted any cognitive authority, your absence will create ripples. If you have real authority on the platform, those ripples will be bigger. Either way, the ripples will subside, but for a while it’ll be hard on you and on the community.

What to Do When You Are Leaving A Platform
Take a Break — As you would with any relationship, you’ve been spending a lot of time together with your new platform. Being attached at the hips takes a lot of work and it cuts you off from other relationships. After a while, you might just need some time off . Separate yourself from the drama for perspective. Take yourself offline for a bit, quietly, and see if you miss the community. If find yourself saving items to share or stories to tell to your community — come back. You don’t need to apologize to the community, we’re all human.

Update Your Profile — If you intend on leaving your account active, write a note on your profile with links where you can be found while you’re away. People who want to will be able to find you. You might be surprised how much of your community follows along.

Let People You Care About Know You’re Leaving — You’ve made real friends and your absence will be noted. Do you have a blog, a forum, a thread or a group? If there are any warrens on the site (or offsite, but related such “Platform Users” group on a different platform) where people expect you to be, value your contribution or desire your company, let folks know where your contributions will be (if that is of interest) or where they can find you (if you want them to be able to do so.) Knowing who your real friends are makes any kind of breakup easier.

What Not To Do When Leaving A Platform
Come Back Repeatedly To See If Anyone Noticed — This is called a “Flounce.” Flounces are commonly enacted by people who never really quite fit in in the first place. When you walk out the door of a community, there is nothing at all that will kill your credibility faster than looking over your shoulder to see if anyone is watching you. “I’m really leaving this time!”

Complain About How Things Have Changed — Yes, things change. Old users get worn out or just move on, some new users don’t get the Sitegeist (the general culture and etiquette of a site. ) You change, too — the topic/format just doesn't interest you any more. It’s perfectly natural that your relationship with the platform will change and it’s really okay for you to simply move on.

How to Leave a Social Platform
Leave — Walk away. Say your goodbyes, delete your account, move on with your life. Maintain your dignity.

That platform will move on as well and, after a short period of grieving, you’ll remember the good times, you’ll grow from the experience and you’ll find a new relationship.