April 18, 2014

Ten Social Media Reads, Vol 5

Here at Watershed Studio we’re always scouring our RSS and Twitter feeds to see what’s going on in the world of technology and social media. Here’s Volume 5 in nice, easy to digest, posts. Enjoy.

If you have any social media reads that you’d like to suggest, please contact us or Tweet us @watershedstudio.

Dot.column: Gosh, the Internet sure is big. How can it be more local for me?

The March 3, 2011 Dot.column question in Metromix Indianapolis was:

Dot.column: Gosh, the Internet sure is big. How can it be more local for me?

Social media and local blogs are great ways to bring the Internet into real life right where you live. My starting point would be searching Twitter for users in your region to follow and see what they’re up to and what they’re reading. And I’m sure the Foursquare Indy fellows will suggest Foursquare as well.

How do you make the Internet more local?

Balancing Your Tweets on Twitter

So you’re on Twitter and are wondering what the best approach to tweeting is to keep your followers engaged and to attract new followers at the same time. Where should the balance lie between sending @ replies, sharing links and posting normal tweets.

Normal Tweets

Let’s start with normal tweets. These should make up a good portion of your tweets and can be anything that comes to mind.  Besides, I assume this was part of why you signed up for Twitter in the first place, right?

If it’s a personal Twitter account, feel free to fire away.  “I’m sitting in my office watching the snow fall.” or “Why does tap water taste different in the bathroom? Or does it?” are perfectly acceptable tweets. It’s your account, have fun with it.

If it’s a business Twitter account, the rules are slightly different because you will be throwing business related tweets into the mix. “Come in tonight for 50% off all appetizers from 5-10pm.”  But a huge issue with many business accounts is that they never get personal in their tweets. They are constantly in “Sell, sell, sell” mode. Yes, some people are following your account because they want to know what specials you have going on, but they also want interaction with the business.

Of those that do understand this, Scott Wise (@brewhouse), owner of Scotty’s Brewhouse, is my favorite example.  Earlier today he tweeted, “Gym Rule #786: guys, no short-shorts. Length test: If it looks like u got some chewed Hubba-Bubba stuck to your thigh, they are too short.”, all in the midst of replying to his followers and throwing in an occasional sales tweet.  And did I mention that his restaurants (plural) are flourishing in a tough industry, in a tough economy by the effective use of social media and email mail marketing?

The @ Reply

The @ reply feature of Twitter is what makes the platform social. Without it there’s no public interaction and you might as well get yourself an old fashioned static website & an email contact form instead.  But what should the balance be between replies, normal tweets and sharing links?  At what point will your followers tire of seeing you talk with other people?  That’s a tough call and depends on the circumstances.

Personally, my stance is that if someone replies to me, I reply back to them. It’s just common courtesy.  And if I spot a tweet that I like or a conversation that I like, I pop in and reply. That’s what this social interaction is all about.

Do I reply too much sometimes? Maybe. Do I lose followers over it? Quite possibly. But whenever I do it, it’s always something legitimate and anyone can see that I am listening & am actively engaged with my followers, two qualities that should be cherished with any Twitter followers you have.  As harsh as it may sound, if people don’t like that, maybe they should unfollow because it’s unlikely that they desire to interact with you.

Sharing Links

Let’s face it, there’s only so much that can be communicated in 140 characters and sometimes you need to send a link.  This can be breaking news, blog posts, podcasts, photos, videos, you name it.  I highly encourage you to share links on a regular basis, but unless sharing links is all that your Twitter account is used for, I would space them out a bit because most people don’t want to see a bunch of links right in a row. Again, it goes back to interaction and starting conversations.

Chime In

Now that you know my thoughts regarding balancing your tweets on Twitter, please chime in and share your thoughts with the world, because I know that my opinions don’t speak for everyone.

Also, thanks to Steve Hill (@epiclysteve) for suggesting the topic.

Top 5 Steps for Successful Customer Service in Social Media

What is your company’s goal in using social media? Marketing? Building customer relationships? Expanding brand awareness? Was Customer Service in your list? As companies jump on the social media bandwagon in increasing numbers, many fail to recognize that their social media accounts will become one more channel – often the first – customers use when trying to get problems resolved. The companies that recognize this are using social media to improve customer relationships by dealing with problems quickly and efficiently. Companies that fail to recognize social media as a customer service channel often harm customer relationships and may ultimately lose customers. The top 5 steps for successful customer service in social media are:

1) Have a plan: Many companies make the mistake of jumping into the social media pool without having a written social media plan. Just as you wouldn’t launch a marketing campaign without having a clearly defined plan, you should not attempt to craft a social media presence without having a written social media plan. A basic social media plan should clearly state the company’s goals in using social media, should include a team roster defining roles and responsibilities for each team member, and have a content calendar plotting content focus on a quarterly or yearly basis. A good social media plan should continually evolve to adapt to changes in business and in the social media terrain. Because a good social media plan must be modified frequently, every social media plan should have a designated schedule for review and modification. For more information on getting started in social media, download my presentation, “Consistency in Social Media” from http://slidesha.re/b1afYx.

2) Monitor, monitor, monitor: Companies with the most effective customer service strategy monitor their social media accounts 7 days a week AND regularly run searches to catch references to their company that did not use the correct account name or that used an abbreviation or misspelling of the company name. Successful customer service requires setting up a monitoring schedule among your social media team members to ensure your accounts are being checked 7 days a week. Scheduling coverage outside of business hours is advisable when possible. Set up searches on the appropriate social media channel and/or use Google Alerts to find mentions of your company. Create searches using your company name and every possible abbreviation or misspelling. A great example of a company using this strategy is Constant Contact (Twitter: @ConstantContact; @CTCTHelp; Facebook: ConstantContact). Constant Contact monitors their social media accounts religiously and has multiple searches set up to monitor every possible iteration of their name. I once tried to solicit feedback on their services without showing up on their radar and found it impossible.

3) If you build it, don’t desert it: Many companies, especially those who didn’t have a social media plan in place, create social media accounts which they use for a few months, abandon, but fail to delete. Abandoned accounts create a sucking void in customer service. Customers post needs and issues to these accounts, not realizing they are no longer active, and become increasingly frustrated when they perceive their needs being “ignored.” Examples of companies with abandoned accounts include M&I Bank, Shabby Apples and many others.

4) Keep social media bidirectional: The mantra that social media must be kept social cannot be repeated often enough. If social media isn’t social, then it’s merely media and is no different from using mainstream advertising channels. Companies should not create a social media presence unless they are ready to engage and interact with their customers.

5) Have a written escalation plan: Every company’s social media plan should include a team roster that clearly defines each team member’s role in responding to customer issues shared via social media channels. The plan should also include a designated escalation plan that clearly defines when, how and to whom issues should be escalated if the primary social media team cannot correct the situation. (For the sake of efficiency, granting the social media team sufficient authority to address and correct most customer service issues is a good idea.) Staples (Twitter: @StaplesTweets; Staples on Facebook) and Comcast (Twitter: @ComcastCares) do a good job of quickly responding to issues, triaging them, and escalating them to the appropriate corporate office for resolution. It is also a good idea to take issues offline as soon as possible once they are escalated.

In summary, social media is becoming many customers’ primary source of communication when trying to get customer service issues addressed. If your company wants to remain competitive in today’s ever-changing business climate, you must adapt your customer service practices to embrace and leverage social media.

6 Simple Tips to Help Small Business Owners Beef Up Social Media Efforts

by Chris Vanasdalan

A little time investment goes a long way with social media, and it’s something customers are starting to expect. Facebook and Twitter accounts are some of the first places potential customers check when shopping for deals, checking store hours, and looking for coupons and special offers.

Hopefully by now you’ve already created a Facebook fan page for your business and are actively engaging customers on Twitter. If not, take the time to set up your accounts today. It may seem overwhelming, but here are 6 simple tips to help you connect with your customers in a way that won’t eat up all of your time.

Schedule Status Updates

One of the complaints I hear from business owners struggling with social media is that they just don’t have time to update and monitor different accounts. That used to be a valid argument, but now there are plenty of tools out there that make consolidating social media accounts much easier. Websites like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck let you integrate all your accounts: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace, Foursquare and even WordPress. That way you can create a single update and post it to a variety of platforms at once.

These sites also have a schedule feature so you can program when you want your updates to go out. If you’re a restaurant owner you can update the lunch and dinner specials in the morning and schedule the updates to go out before the rush starts. Set it and forget it. Put aside an hour or two on Monday and you can schedule updates for the rest of the week or even the whole month.

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