Category: Social Media

The Changing World of Customer Service (and why you should Tweet)

By Sue Brady

It’s no secret that social media is playing a bigger role than ever when it comes to customer service. Customers expect responses fast when they tweet to a brand. In fact, 78% of consumers who tweet a complaint, expect a response within one hour. Twitter even removed the 140 character limit for direct messages. Now brands can direct message responses to customers and use the space they need.

From time to time I attend the Content Marketing World (aka @CMIContent) Twitter chat – #CMWorld. A Twitter chat is an organized gathering of folks who are interested in an announced topic. The format is usually 8 – 10 questions that are posted one at a time to the crowd. CMI chats host their chats and include a subject matter expert in the conversation. They cover great topics relevant to me. If you’re curious about something, it’s a great way to gain insights (and no one needs to know you’re there!).

Last week’s chat was about social media and customer service, with @jaybaer. I thought I’d recap some of the content that was shared because it was so good.

The first question to get us rolling was: How has social media changed the game for customer service? Here are some of the responses:

@mikemyers614: (social media) means the lights are always on and the “phone” must always be answered. We’re all 24/7 now.

@dmboutin: brands are accessible where people are already spending their time, instead of a 800 # in the fine print

@sgoldberger12:  Social Media Has Amplified It. Those Who Engage Expect Quick Answers. Customer Service Is Ever More Important.

@ardath421  (social media) means that customer service needs to be served up wherever the customer wants it

@LeadPath (social media) allows us to respond at real time to customer concerns and feedback. It lets us engage with our customers

On the topic of how B2B is different from B2C in social media:

@LeadPath  With both B2B and B2C you need to remember you’re talking to customers.

@mewzikgirl:  the advancement and immediacy of response/resolution in B2C has changed expectations, and B2B has to grow and adapt

The key thing to remember is that you are still talking to people, in both B2B and B2C.

On whether you should answer all questions posed to your company in social media:

‏‏@dmboutin: Yes. Look at cost of customer acquisition & retention then tell me addressing all concerns isn’t worth it

@Magnani_Dot_Com: The user doesn’t see all the messages being answered, they simply see theirs going unanswered.

‏@LUCYrk78:  It’s 100% realistic. You make the time and team to ensure customers are listened to. It’s today’s expectation.

@netvantage:  Realistic, no, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

‏@CTrappe “Thanks for your tweet” is not that great of a #custserv response.

‏@flinds: An effort should be made to all address complaints on SM, even if just to tell them to email. Being noticed goes a long way.

There were many suggestions on dealing with negative comments online.

@mikemyers614 said: Removing or editing is a dangerous thing. Chances are if one person says it, 10 more are experiencing it. Deal with it. Fast.

Jaybaer wrote: Respond to every hater, both the Offstage Haters (phone, email) and the Onstage Haters (social, review sites, forums).

Jay recently published an excellent book on this very topic called “Hug your Haters: How to Embrace your Complaints and Keep Your Customers. Great information for those who struggle with this topic.

He adds: But my best tip is the rule of Two. Never respond more than twice online. Take it offline.

I wrote a post a while back on dealing with trolls. That might help too. You can read it here.

And on handling positive comments, the common answer thread was to turn those commenters into brand advocates by acknowledging them, retweeting them, doing something nice for them, asking them if you can use them as a recommendation. What others say about your business is so important. 90% of customers are influenced by reviews!

 

 

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How do I get Started with Social Media?

By Sue Brady

treasure chestSo you want to get started but you feel like there’s so much you aren’t sure of.  How do you uncover the hidden treasure that is social media? Do some reading on the topic, starting here, and you’ll be on your way in no time. It’s not as hard as you may think!

  1. GOALS. Establish your social media goals. What do you hope to accomplish with social media: are you looking for awareness, loyalty, sales, customer service opps? Whatever you decide, this will drive your presence online. Your goals help you determine the type of content you post to promote the behaviors you want to see, and also help you determine the places where you should have a presence. Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to post content that will be shared. In that case, the goal is customer engagement as measured by shares. Or let’s say your goal is to drive traffic to your website. In that case you would be including links to pages on your site, and you’d measure clicks on that link.Links
  2. AUDIENCE. Next you need to figure out where your audience is: where do they like to go online? I heard a great way to do that last night from Brad Farris at Anchor Advisors:
    • Compile a Twitter list of your ideal customers and follow them
    • Capture all of their tweets for 10 or so days
    • Sort out all of their tweets that have links
    • Visit all of those links and identify if there are common sites, or types of sites, among the group.
  3. EDITORIAL CALENDAR. Develop an editorial calendar to keep topics you want to write about organized. This will also help you remember that specific keywords are important in order for your posts to gain traction with the search engines. There are many templates that you can find on the Internet, but what’s most important is that the calendar has what you need. My calendar is very simple. I keep an Excel spreadsheet that has dates down the left hand side and the following categories across the top: Author, Title, Status (ie, written, published), 3-5 Keywords or Tags, Category (general topic of the post), and Notes. I have a separate tab for each site I post to (Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.). This will also help ensure you are posting with sufficient frequency.  If you have nothing of interest to post, it’s best not to post anything that hour/day/week.
    Make sure that your content is relevant to your audience. Give your customers and prospects a reason to return to your site. Interesting and useful content is a way to do that. Also, remember that some content does not necessarily translate well to different social media sites, so make sure you are creating your pieces with a specific posting destination in mind.
  4. ANALYTICS AND MONITORING. Set up analytics and monitoring. From the start, you’ll want to understand what is happening with the content on all of your sites. Use analytics to determine if you are meeting your goals and to drive further engagement. You can track what’s been successful and replicate it to drive future success.
    Make sure you monitor all of your sites to hear what your customers and prospects are saying and to answer any questions being directed to you. Monitoring can help you nip a problem in the bud (see point 6 below).
    There are many sources for social media monitoring that also include analytics. Some examples include: Hootsuite, Salesforce, Meltwater, and Brandwatch, and there are many others. Google Analytics is of course widely used as well on the analytics side, so read about how you can use it.  Read reviews, sit through some product demos, and determine what would work best for you.
  5. SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY. It’s important to have a social media policy for your employees. This policy should be a part of your overall employee policy document and cover things like: code of conduct for your company, roles and responsibilities of employees who will be posting, who can post on behalf of the company, company policies such as the treatment of confidential information, external laws if appropriate, and best practices for online behavior. You’ll want a lawyer to review your policy to make sure all is good. Here’s an example of a well-written social media policy by Coca Cola: (source: Andy Sernovitz)
  6. NEGATIVE COMMENTS. Be prepared to hear negative comments from customers. Sooner or later, everyone gets them.  The key is to have a plan for dealing with them. I’ve already posted about Handling Trolls here. Not only should you yourself have a plan for dealing with these comments but you should also make sure your management is forewarned. You don’t want an upset CEO calling you because they read something negative and want you to remove the comment immediately. Negative comments are to be expected. The trick is to handle them well and quickly, so that they will have little importance and visibility. And removing the comments is really a last resort option, as you don’t want your readers to doubt the honesty of the site.

Don’t be afraid to try new things. Monitor your results and over time you’ll figure out what works best for you. You’ll learn things from your customers you’ve never even considered. Talk about a treasure trove of information!

Gold bars cropped

Do You Know Where Your Teenager Is (online)?

By Sue Brady

cartoon social tools - must say FreeDigitalPhotos.net
source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So much has been written about the ‘demise’ of Facebook and how it’s losing traction with the younger set. Facebook’s audience is changing but that doesn’t mean it’s about to crash and burn. I often hear: The kids just aren’t using Facebook anymore. But is it really true? I did some digging and read a number of articles to really understand what’s been happening to the Facebook numbers. I discovered that yes, teens are leaving Facebook, but Facebook is far from dying. Teens are just turning to other tools.

Piper Jaffray released their semi-annual survey in October, 2013 where they saw a shift from the prior survey done in April, in preferred social media among teens. In the April survey, Facebook was preferred over Twitter with 33% siting the first, and 30% the second. The October study showed a large shift with 26% preferring Twitter, followed by Facebook and new to the top of the list, Instagram, each at 23%. You can read the full article here.

In the US, compared to three year’s ago, overall Facebook users have increased by 23%. The 55 and older crowd has been the biggest reason for this increase. In the last three years, that age group has grown from almost 16 million to 28 million users. And in the same period of time, teen users aged 13 – 17 have declined by 25% while young adults aged 18 – 24 have declined 8%. But somehow that doesn’t feel like the full story. Is it really just the younger crowd moving into older age groups, and not being replaced by the new young teens? It sure seems that way. The largest group on Facebook by pure numbers three years ago was the 18-24 crowd followed by the 35-54 year olds. Now, the largest group on Facebook is the 35-54 year olds, followed by 25 – 34 year olds (source: iStrategy Labs). Facebook’s audience is aging because teens, new to social media, are making other choices.

There are implications for advertisers. Advertisers can still reach a potential teen audience of almost 10 million kids, but that’s 3 million less than they used to be able to reach, and that number is not likely to improve in the coming years.

So where are the teens going for their social media fix? At the end of last year, it was announced that Twitter actually overtook Facebook as the most important social media tool among teens. And there are other, newer social media players too in this rapidly changing landscape.

girl on fone
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Twitter. With 243 million monthly users, Twitter is gigantic. According to AllThingsD, 28% of Twitter’s unique desktop viewers are between 13 and 24 years old. When you look at mobile users, 25% of Twitter users vs 19% of Facebook’s are between 18 and 24 years old.  And, Twitter’s global audience aged between 15 and 24  is over 3 percentage points higher than Facebook’s  (32% to 29%).

Snapchat. Snapchat is the mobile app that allows you to send pictures that are viewable for 1-10 seconds and 15-second video clips can also be sent for a one-time viewing.  Snapchat boasts 30 million monthly users in the US and a full 55% of them use it everyday (source: Business Insider). There are 400 million snaps sent per day, worldwide. (source: Craig Smith, Author of Digital Marketing Ramblings). Its growth has been explosive. Snapchat’s primary demographic is the 13-25 age group, though the 40+ crowd is starting to adopt it as well (source: AllThingsD.com). According to Pew Research, 26% of cell phone owners aged 18-29 use Snapchat. Snapchap is only just starting to allow advertising and it’s not yet known how successful that will be.

Instagram.    Owned by Facebook, Instagram is also a photo and video share app, but the photos and videos don’t disappear.  They boast 150 million monthly users (source: Craig Smith, Author of Digital Marketing Ramblings). 43% of cell phone owners aged 18-29 use Instagram. 18% of those aged 30-49 use Instagram (Pew Research). Snapchat only has 5% of that age group. Like Snapchat, Instagram has been slow to get into advertising, but is definitely planning on monetizing the platform with ads.

WhatsApp. WhatsApp, the mobile messaging tool, has been picking up new users at the rate of a million A DAY. They boast 450 million users to Facebook’s 1.2 billion (worldwide). Their growth has been fairly amazing.  And guess what? Facebook recently announced that it’s buying WhatsApp for a deal valued at $19 billion. Not much is known about the demographics of the WhatsApp users, though in general mobile messaging services have high usage among teens and tweens.  The WhatsApp user base is strong in India, Europe and Latin America.

Facebook is alive and well and making acquisitions to make sure it stays relevant with a variety of age groups. But there’s no question the Facebook audience base is shifting. Perhaps the teen-set isn’t happy that mom and dad are following their pages, or perhaps that age group has just gotten tired of the platform and favors faster communication tools. Whatever the reason, Facebook remains a social media giant.

social media montage

Why Earned Media is Important

By Sue Brady

There are three types of media: Owned, Earned and Paid. All three of these media types may play an important part in your marketing strategy. ‘Owned’ media refers to channels that you control such as your company Facebook page or blog. ‘Earned’ media is in essence word of mouth. When someone shares your content, that’s earned. ‘Bought’ is media you purchase, such as an ad or event sponsorship.

Today’s focus is on Earned media. You can read about owned media here.

Earned Media is the best kind of media because it carries with it an implied endorsement. It’s social proof when someone shares your content. But that also makes it the hardest media to garner. It’s easy (well, doable anyway) to write your own content or to pay for an ad to appear, but Earned media requires more work. A reader needs to feel compelled to distribute your content to their network.

Some Earned media examples include:

  • A shared Facebook post from your brand
  • A retweet of a company post
  • A review of your product
  • A quote from someone at your company included in an article.

This example showed up on my Facebook feed today because a friend of mine checked in using her Yelp mobile app when she arrived at this restaurant. Wow, looks tasty and I’m hungry…

Yelp Restaurant ShareWhy is this important? Recommendations matter. In a survey by market research company Lab42, 69% of those surveyed said they ‘liked’ a brand because a friend did.

How can you make your content shareable?

  • Make sure your content is relevant to your audience
  • Post your content where your audience is likely to find it
  • If you are making a special offer, keep it brief and easy to read and understand
  • Encourage users to write reviews and share them with credit to the writer; ask for retweets or shares
  • Write tweets using the # and asking for the retweet. Both enhance the possibility of sharing.
  • Retweet others, share other content on Facebook, share articles on LinkedIn. You never know when that favor might be returned.
  • Use pictures in your Facebook post; according to KISSmetrics, posts with photos get 53% more likes.

I’ll have ‘earned’ your mention if you liked this article enough to share it with your network. So please share!

5 Free and Easy Tools to Schedule Your Tweets

By Sue Brady schedule tweets icon

Everyone is busy so I’m focusing on these time saving tools to help you schedule your tweets. Scheduling tweets is useful for a few reasons, both for business and personal users:

  • If there is a certain date/time that you want to remember to tweet a specific message, you can schedule it in advance and forget about it. It will appear on your Twitter feed at the time you’ve appointed.
  • Let’s say you peruse content in one sitting and come across a number of things to tweet. Rather than overwhelm your followers,  you can space out those tweets by scheduling them to appear at specific times.
  • If you’re running an ad campaign and want your offer or message to appear at specific moments, this can be easily accomplished.

There are a few free products that allow for this functionality and they are very easy to use. Most importantly, in each tool when you first sign up, make sure your time zone is accurate to ensure your tweets will post at the time you actually want them to.

Tool #1: ads.twitter.com

This tool is from Twitter and was added in October of last year, first as a business tools for advertisers, and later available for anyone.

Step 1: Go to ads.twitter.com. If you are logged in on your Twitter account, you’ll automatically be able to get into the tool as you. If you are not logged in, you’ll be prompted to do so.

Step 2: Select the ’Creatives’ tab from the top of your page.

Twitter schedule bar

Step 3: Click on the ‘Compose Tweet’ box or icon on the top right of your screen.
Step 4: Click on the “Scheduling” tab and select the date and time for your tweet; click the button (lower right) to ‘Schedule Tweet.’

Compose a tweet

Scheduled tweet

Tool #2: FutureTweets

Here’s another fast and easy (and free!) tool.

Step 1: Go to futuretweets.com
Step 2: Log in using your Twitter account (authorize the app when asked) and check your time zone settings.
Step 3: Type in the tweet you want to schedule and click ‘schedule.’ Make sure the clock is set to the right time. If you change your mind, use the delete symbol to delete your tweet, or the pencil icon to edit it.

Futuretweets schedule screen

Futuretweets scheduled

Tool #3: Twuffer

Twuffer (in beta) is another very easy and free scheduling tool.

Step 1: Go to twuffer.com and if you are not already logged into twitter, authorize the app to do it for you.
Step 2: Type your tweet in the top box and click ‘Schedule Tweet.’ If you look on the ‘scheduled tweets’ tab, your tweet will appear.

twuffer tweet screen

Tool #4:  TweetDeck

Tweetdeck, another Twitter product, has a great deal of functionality, including the ability to schedule tweets.  Here’s how you use just that piece:

Step 1: Go to tweetdeck.com and sign in with your twitter account or sign in.
Step 2: Click on the blue tweet icon on the top left of your page.
Step 3: Type in your tweet and click the schedule button.
Step 4: Choose the appropriate time and you’ll see it come up under your tweet.

tweetdeck schedule tweettweetdeck schedule tweet2

 Tool #5: Later Bro

The last tool is called Later Bro. This tool allows you to schedule both tweets and Facebook posts.

Step 1: Go to laterbro.com and sign in with either your Twitter or Facebook account. You will be prompted to add both accounts.
Step 2: Once you authorize the appropriate app, you’ll be prompted to check your settings.
Step 3: Type in your tweet or post, indicate on which service you want it shared, and click the Schedule button.

laterbro pick fb or twitter

All of these tools offer nice dashboards and various analytics. Test them out and let me know which one you like best!