Archive for ‘Community management’

March 7, 2012

Ladies Love Pinterest…87% of users are female [Infographic and eBook]

If you’ve been following social media trends over the past few months, you will have noticed that Pinterest has been something like a phenomenon. Although not a “new” social network (launched in early 2010), users have been joining in the millions since fall of 2011. And if you have recently jumped on the “Pinsanity” bandwagon, you’re probably a woman… at least according to the infographic below – created by mdgadvertising.

Women have traditionally out-participated their male counterparts in social media, with the exception of Google+, so this finding isn’t shocking. I was, however, a little surprised that the gender gap was so big on this network – 87% of users are female.

Even though I’m part of the 13% – I really like Pinterest for a number of reasons:

Pinterest is highly visual. Your main job as a “Pinner” is to share, and re-share, photos and videos.  This creates, often stunning, “pin boards” of content. Pairing the demographic information with the ability to tell a visual story, marketers have done a great job using this newly-popular social network. Most of the top ten brands using Pinterest focus on home design/decorating, beauty tips, and fashion.

It’s a home for different content. Pinterest is not just another place to post the same content you have on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Tumblr.  No matter what, your Pinterest content has to have a multimedia component. Though this does make for a very “pretty” user interface, the heavy priority placed on the visual can limit your effectiveness of sharing blog posts, or articles, that don’t have a quality image. In some cases (not many) I have not been able to pin stories because a relevant image wasn’t available.

Solid referral traffic. Pinterest is showing early signs of being a real player in the web traffic referral game. Since starting to use Pinterest, I’ve noticed a modest boost in web traffic on my blog, with a few hundred referrals from Pinterest. This could be due to how active and engaged the users are – It seems like “Pinners” are not being shy about “liking”  or “re-pinning” posts.

But watch out for the copyright cops. If you read the Pinterest terms and conditions closely, you will find that by using the service you declare that you are the lawful copyright owner of all images, and videos, posted. You also grant Pinterest permission to use your content as they please. This has the potential to leave you open to a lawsuit. I don’t think it’s very realistic to think that the average user will be targeted… but you never know. You can learn more about the Pinterest copyright concerns on Social Media Today.

Now for the infographic:

If you are hungry for more information about using Pinterest for yourself, or your business, HubSpot has created a great eBook. The first two chapters are “What is Pinterest & Why it Matters”  and “How to Create a Pinterest Account and Get Followers”. Then it goes on to discuss how to use Pinterest for Marketing and provides some examples of how brands are currently using the platform. If you’re interested in Pinterest, this eBook is a must.

February 22, 2012

9 ways Rogers Communications delivers terrible customer service through social media

It took 5 days, 43 tweets, 2 direct messages, 1 blog post comment, and Rogers Communications (Canadian Internet, Mobile,  and Cable TV provider) determined that my OnDemand service outage was my fault and I was NOT to be compensated for the blackout in service. Any social media community manager would agree that this is not the ideal customer experience.

Regular www.davidhallsocialmedia.com readers know that I take customer service very seriously; whether I’m the service provider or service recipient.  Social media is great way to engage with customers to deliver customer service and eventually turn these “complainers” into “brand advocates”. But my latest experience with Rogers leads me to believe they just don’t get it.

It all started when I tweeted @RogersHelps when my OnDemand TV service wasn’t working properly.

Without getting into all the mundane details of my Rogers service outage (you can read all of the tweets at the end of this post), I was shocked by way Rogers “Customer Care” team was mishandling my issue using social media. Instead of satisfying me as a customer, each interaction made me increasingly more frustrated and dissatisfied. When you establish a Twitter account specifically for customer care, you establish the expectation that your employees will actually help customers in a useful and timely manner, so you better step up.

After this experience, I thought I would try to help Rogers out by sharing a few details on where they could improve their social media customer care program. Here’s what Rogers is doing, or not doing, while delivering customer service using social media:

1. Not fixing the problem. At the end of the whole process, they were not able to offer a solution. I had to troubleshoot and trial-and-error through the service outage to resolve the problem. Employees need to know the product inside and out to be able to troubleshoot on the fly. Some of the poor troubleshooting tips provided by Rogers during this experience were “Are you signed in?” followed later by “You’re positive you singed in?”

2. Not asking for the solution. After I fixed the problem myself, and told them so, at no point did they ask me what went wrong, even though they had “never experienced this sort of problem before”. They missed a great opportunity to learn a bit more about their product and how to better deliver customer service, but they didn’t care to ask. I’d be happy to share.

3. Not apologizing for the issue.  At no point did they apologize for the service outage.  Eventually, after 2 days of tweeting, they apologized for “how frustrating this has been for me,” but never for the initial issue.

4. Saying the outage was my fault. Aside from this not being true, it’s not a good idea to imply that it is the customer’s own fault for a service outage.

5. Not offering any compensation. Sometimes you need to show the customer that you are sorry, and that you value their business. I’m not asking for a year of free Internet service (although that would be nice). Just a token to say “sorry” and we really appreciate you as a customer goes a long way. Rogers could consider a free on demand movie rental, a month free service, or even give me access to the promotional deals that are for NEW customers only (another sore point for many Rogers customers).

6. Being non-responsive. I give them credit for responding relatively quickly to my initial tweet, but once we got into the conversation, they were very, very slow to respond. I often had to re-ask, and follow up with them on the outstanding issue. As a customer service experience, they were not very helpful.

7. Bouncing me around to several representatives. I interacted with 5 Rogers employees, each time having to re-explain my issue. Once the lines of communication were open, they should have had one person own this file.

8. Not knowing the user. When you are delivering customer service through social media, it’s very fast and easy to get a snapshot of who you are talking with by  doing a quick scan of their profile. Knowing just a bit of information about their user can help the customer service representative tailor his/her service to each client’s needs. My complaints are in no way more important than the next Rogers customer, but a quick review of my blog and tweets would let them know that I take this stuff very seriously, and they could reasonably assume that I wouldn’t “just go away” if I was ignored.

9. Trying to take the conversation offline…5 times.  There are several reasons why a company would want to solve a customer service issue in the public sphere of twitter. For example, they would then have a documented solution to the problem others could source, it would be a demonstration of the great customer service, and the online resolution would enable ReTweets and “thank you’s” from satisfied customers. I agree that there is time and a place to take the conversation offline, especially when dealing with confidential information, but Rogers attempt to get my service outage complaints off of my public Twitter timeline 5 times. They asked me to call them twice, and switch over to DM three times. The only DMs I sent them were to share my phone numbers.

I understand that it’s impossible to satisfy 100% of your customers 100% of the time, especially for a big business. Companies are made up of people, and people make mistakes, I understand that.  Often times, however, customers are not overly upset with the initial mistake, they get  more upset with the way it was handled. In this case, each time Rogers apologized for my “frustration” made me more frustrated.

Are my expectations too high? I know that Rogers is not known for their attention to customer care in the first place. Do a quick search for Rogers customer service issues, and you’ll wind up with pages and pages of complaint like:

Rogers: I would be happy to hear your thoughts on this whole situation and why it was handled so poorly, please feel free to leave a comment…

Now for the tweets:

February 6, 2012

February 7, 2012

February 8, 2012

February 10, 2012

February 15, 2012

4 conclusions on Social Media ROI [Video]

This week, I was invited to participate in a unique event put on by VIA Rail and the Fairmont Royal York on the opening day of Social Media Week: Toronto 2012. The event spanned the entire first day of the conference and was focused on discussing the business case for social media:  in other words, the “social media return on investment” (ROI). Social media bloggers from Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Kingston gathered on VIA’s recently restored Glen Fraser Lounge car to debate topics centred around social media, community management, client relationship management, mobile marketing, customer service, and of course ROI.

The “pre-conference” aboard @VIA_Rail ended with a great 2-hour speaker panel and Q&A session at the @FairmontRYH. The speakers included academics, entrepreneurs, C-level executives that were seasoned media, PR, and marketing leaders from both the public and private sectors (learn more about the speakers). Some tried to explain ROI with mathematical formulas, some took the “trust me it works” approach (then asked for the ROI on a toilet), but all of them provided examples of where they saw ROI for their particular brand(s).

After 8 hours of constant talking about social media ROI, I came to a few conclusions (for now) about calculating social media return on investment:

1. Social media ROI is difficult to do properly, but it’s completely doable. There’s no magic formula, or straight-forward way, to calculate social media ROI that applies to each case. The first thing you really need to understand is how social media is used in your industry, then figure out what you want social media to do for you. If your goal is to have  a Facebook page for your business, you have already failed. If you plan to use a Facebook awareness and acquisition campaign to drive traffic to the eCommerce section of your website because you know that customers referred from Facebook are more likely to make a purchase than those referred from Twitter, you’re off to a great start. Those are the outcomes you are looking for.

2. You don’t need to measure EVERYTHING. Once you know what you want to do, you now have to measure your efforts to see if you are working towards achieving those goals. It’s important to find the “right metrics” to demonstrate the effectiveness of your tactics, and, as importantly, to help you make decisions. If you measure everything, and draw no insight, then you wasted time measuring for the sake of measuring.

3. Measuring social media ROI requires a tailored solution. After reading my first two points, you’re probably thinking, “OK, what do I do now?” Well, it’s time for the hard work, so start thinking about your goals. Start answering some of the tough questions. What do I want to achieve? How can social media help me deliver on my business plan? What business function can social media assist with? What are the costs if I don’t engage? What are the costs if I do engage? Do I work for a social organization? What are my competitors doing? If we implemented social media, what would it look like? What is our content creation strategy? How far do we go with content curation vs. creation? How can social media be tied into the DNA of your organization and to your existing business practices? Etc. etc. etc.

The good news is that there are people out there to help us do this. Academics, business leaders, strategists, and entrepreneurs lose sleep about this each night, and many of them are for hire to help organizations thrive using social media. And don’t be shy, most organizations need some level of specialized help with this. One thing that is certain, measuring YOUR social media ROI is not easy, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.

4. It’s all about influence. At the end of the day, we as social media participants (including brands) want to be influential. We want to be able to drive consumer behaviour, influence legislation, promote our personal brand, make connections, etc. You can’t do them all, so you need to pick what your want to have influence over, and tailor your social media strategy to achieve that.

The video clip below is just one of the presentations at the Social Media ROI: Myth or Reality evening event at the Royal York. This clip features Dr. James Norrie, who presents his quadratic equation for measuring ROI that revolves around leveraging the power of your “captive community.”

Social Media week is where social media becomes even more social. It is a 5-day conference that takes place in 21 cities around the globe.  Each year, Social Media Week attracts more than 60,000 attendees across thousands of individually organized, and mostly free, events. It’s a great collection of minds, from the casual social media user looking for more information on their newly forming passion, to business and academic leaders who share their latest insights on the future of communication and ROI for business. And, of course, there are a lot of us nerdy bloggers.

January 4, 2012

3.5 social media trends to watch for in 2012

I began 2011 with a post of social media trends to watch for the year. In that post, I spoke about monetization, community buying, geo-tagging, and the rise in the interest of international networks. 2012 is a bit of a different animal, so here it is again for the 12 months ahead of us; 3.5 trends to watch for this year.

1. Better use of the “second screen”. This is the one that excites me the most.  According to Wikipedia, the second screen is  “the electronic device that a television watcher uses to interact with the content they are consuming.” Over 75% of Americans use the internet and watch TV simultaneously.  This means we’re on the couch with our laptops, smartphones, tablets googling actors, tweeting and interacting with personalities, voting on reality TV outcomes, and so on.

The Toronto Blue Jays are one of my favourite examples of using social media to enhance the game experience. I know what you’re thinking: “Why would you need to use social media to make baseball more exciting?” But it’s a great feature of Blue Jays telecasts. Tweeting Tuesdays allows fans at the game, and at home, to connect with broadcasters and other fans, ask questions, answer trivia, and win prizes. Originally (2010), the Jays had only planned on doing this about once a month, but by the end of the 2011 season they were doing this every week. For more on the Blue Jays’ social media efforts, check out their “Social Media Clubhouse“.

The second screen goes further than just using your laptop to interact with and google content. Enter Apple TV and Google TV.  These products are already available and serve to further integrate your TV, online, and smartphone experience. They allow you to access on demand content, are similar to many digital cable offerings, record programs, share with your other devices, etc. Download the Buddy TV app and you can control your entire experience from your smartphone including personalized channel guides, TV time reminders, and recommendations. Are you watching this?! is a great app for the sports fan that helps to keep tabs on your favourite teams and will let you know when other great games are underway. You can then use your smartphone to switch between the games.

2. Continued decline in quality of social deals. In 2011, I predicted that we would see an increase in the number of social deals, but a decrease in the quality of the offerings. This trend will continue in 2012. When community buying started to get big, customers were being offered 70%, 80%, and 90% off quality merchandise, services, and restaurants. Now, things have changed, and will continue to degrade. Example: The Groupon for January 3rd, 2012, was 53% off two singing Justin Beiber toothbrushes. There will still be good deals to be had, you just have to be diligent in finding the worthy ones.

3. Growth in social media measurement tools, but no winner established.  This has been the elephant in in the room of community managers for years. We’ve been able to make due by clustering together a variety of analytics, influence measurement, and link tracking to get a good idea of active audience size and engagement.  Several companies are competing for this space (Radian 6, Klout, PeerIndex, Twitalyzer, Crowdbooster, Sysomos, etc.) Some are free, some cost thousands of dollars a year, but nobody can paint the complete picture. Unfortunately, solving the social media measurement problem won’t come in 2012.

3.5 More IPOs. We saw 19 social media IPOs in 2011, and over 80% of them are trading below their opening price as we start 2012…not a good track-record (more on that story from Mashable). This year will certainly see it’s share of IPOs, perhaps the anticipated Facebook IPO will be the largest in history, but the viability of these properties will continue to be called into question. It’s hard to predict who will to what with whom, but if you do decide to invest, history tells us that you will be losing money. This one only gets 0.5 because the Facebook IPO is an easy one to call, but we also can anticipate others going public this year, including Livingsocial, Dropbox, and Yelp.

November 16, 2011

6 Tricks for providing great customer service through social media

SocialMediaCustomerServiceSocial media networks are rapidly becoming the go-to place for customer service complaints to be aired and resolved.  People turn to social media because it often provides a more direct connection with an employee from the offending company, not just a conversation with a telephone-answering robot.

Recently, I received some bad customer service. Instead of calling the company and arguing with the sales representative who was rude to me, I turned to social media to see what the company’s reaction would be.

As a community manager, I know what it’s like to receive complaints from dissatisfied customers through social media. It’s important to approach each complaint with a level head and respect for the dissatisfied customer. It is the community manager’s job to have the issue resolved with a win-win outcome. Here’s my list of tips to consider when delivering customer service through social media.

1. Find the complaints and problems

You don’t know what you don’t know. Step one to solving any problem is identifying it. To do this, start by setting up Google Alerts for your organization and it’s products. Each time your organization is mentioned online, Google Alerts will send you an email with a link to the sites containing your keywords so you don’t have to be out there looking for every mention. Next, set-up your social media management tool (TweetDeck, Seesmic, Hootsuite, Sysomos, Radian6, etc.) to alert you (through push-alerts) of every tweet, facebook post, youtube video, blog post, etc. Now you can see the questions, comments, and complaints shared using social media as they happen and you are poised to react.

2. Response time is key

Be fast to acknowledge the complaint and assure the customer you are looking into it. This will often help extinguish the fire before it begins. Continue to converse with the customer by being open, accountable, and focusing on the solution. The last thing an angry customer wants is excuses.

3. Keep a friendly tone

The internet is often a sarcastic place, but when providing customer service remain friendly and sincere. Customers want to be taken seriously and have their concerns addressed. If they don’t get the validation they want from the company, they’ll continue to spread their negative message online. If you are looking for tips on responding to negative comments, check out these tips from the US Air Force.

4. Find the learning moment

Start by focusing on the facts. Reach out to the customer and find out as much as you can about the situation, why they are upset, and what you can do to resolve the matter. Constructive criticism is often masked by angry complaints from customers who truly love your business. These complaints are actually a great opportunity to learn from what they have to say. I have been in this exact situation as a community manager for Algonquin College. In one instance, a student who held the college in such high regard was shocked when he was treated disrespectfully by an employee. He expressed his displeasure on Twitter. I saw his tweet, reached out to him, and we eventually sat down for a coffee to chat it out. Fast-forward to today, and he continues to be one of the College’s biggest supporters (on and offline).

5. Solve the problem and give a reason for the customer to stay with your company

After you have resolved the initial problem, now it’s time to turn that customer into a brand advocate. By giving the formerly angry customer an incentive, you may be able to earn their return business and recommendation. The reward could be a discount, free service or product, behind the scenes access to your company, a meeting with a company leader, etc. Getting free stuff always works for me. On the flip-side, if customer service is a large part of your brand promise, you may want to consider an internal rewards program for employees who deliver the best customer service.

6. Amplify the praise

Most customers are appreciative of the work done by the social media community manager to resolve the situation. These satisfied customers often share their thanks online as well. Now you have a great opportunity to further amplify their endorsement; don’t just say “you’re welcome” be sure to retweet (or reshare) the message of praise with your own audience/community.

I expect to receive adequate customer service when I am doing business with a company. When the customer service is bad, I complain using social media; if the service is great, I share using social media as well- it goes both ways.

November 8, 2011

5 Tips for dealing with social media burnout

Social Media burnoutWe’ve heard it for years. “There are just too many social networks to keep up with them all.”  It seems like every six weeks there is a new network, or an update to an existing one, that takes time and effort to learn and get used to. Earlier this year, I felt this pain. With personal and professional community management responsibilities for Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Yammer, YouTube, Flickr, Google+, and my blog, I felt overwhelmed (unmotivated, at times) to give my accounts the attention they needed. I was able to work my way out of the rut by finding software that helped me aggregate and automate some of my interactions, taking breaks from social networks, and establishing some personal usage rules.  Here are a few things you can do when dealing with social media burnout.

1. Find a management tool

During the first onset of social media fatigue, I went out and found myself some third-party applications to help me monitor and interact with each of my accounts all in one spot. There are plenty of capable apps out there, ranging from TweetDeck, Seesmic, Co-Tweet, Hootsuite, SocialOomph, Ping.fm, etc. I now find myself using a freemium version of Hootsuite with some added help from Ping.fm. What I really love about these tools is the ability to shorten links, track links, schedule messages, and manage all your networks all from one interface. The strengths and weaknesses are unique to each tool. For example, if I need better push alerts for monitoring, then I open my TweetDeck.  Although I’m usually able to fulfil most of my social media needs using Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, Foursquare, and WordPress.

When choosing your management tool, it’s a good idea to find one that has a solid mobile version so you can take it with you. I like using the individual apps for each network on my smartphone, but the mobile versions of tools such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite definitely offer a more robust, and inclusive, environment.

2. Remember, it’s OK to take a break

The world won’t implode if you walk away from Twitter for a week; so why don’t you give it a try? Stepping away from one of your many social networks gives you time to evaluate what you are really gaining from participating in these communities. I stopped using Facebook for about half a month earlier this year, and noticed that I was getting most of my career-related and time-sensitive social media content from Twitter and Foursquare. With this insight, I decided that I didn’t need to monitor my Facebook profile as closely. Now I use Facebook less, but the content is more focused. Instead of contributing EVERYTHING to EVERY network, I now focus my Facebook content on sharing more personal posts with those closest to me. On Twitter, my posts are more business-focused, and they are less about what is going on in my life.

3. Get back to your original goals

Take a moment and think about why you originally started using each network. Yes, goals evolve over time, and that’s good. The important thing here is to understand what you want to get out of each network experience and be realistic with yourself about what you are actually getting. If you are participating because everybody else is, it may be time to use the network differently, or to stop using it all together if you can’t identify a benefit.  Re-evaluate the social networks you are active in. If you are not getting what you want out of them, take a break. If you see no downside to not using that social network, perhaps it’s time to move on.

4. Shut it down

If you are going to stop using an account, don’t just abandon it. Shut it down. It’s as easy as that. Few things are worse than a corporate, or even personal account, that hasn’t been updated in months.

5. Set some personal guidelines

After you’ve taken the time to review your social media goals and re-evaluate what you want to get out of your social experience, it’s time to make some changes and stick to them.  The nice thing about this step is that there are no right or wrong answers here. It’s largely a trial-and-error process to get your guidelines just right, but you have to start somewhere. For each network, consider setting:

  • Time spent on site limits
  • Number of posts per day/week  limits
  • Number of times a day you check your messages/replies/mentions limits
  • Content parameters/guidelines (Do you really need to share that video of your cat on ALL of your social networks?)

All these can be quite flexible and can change based on network. If you are feeling burnt-out and just go back to the same way you were doing things, you will just burn out again. If you are feeling overwhelmed by social media, try a few of these tips for a month and see how you feel after 31 days – You just may get a breath of fresh air.

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