Common Social Media Practices for Beginners

Social media isn’t just about friending your ex on Facebook to “check up on them” anymore. Social media is the newest form of marketing, and it can be both good and bad for your business. But it can be difficult to tell if the practice is helpful to your company, or if it’s hurting it. It’s a game changer; it is changing how companies interact with their customers.  It’s become essential to have, even if you never wanted to get mixed up in it. You have to be able to respond to customers/guests/fans/etc. If you don’t respond it looks like you don’t care and that you’re not listening.

Social media also should be a part of your company, and not a stand-alone practice. The person who runs the different platforms needs to be knowledgeable about the company.  If they aren’t they won’t be properly prepared to handle compliments or criticisms through the various mediums.

Companies use several tactics and practices within the different social media outlets. As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, the Groundswell is about communication! But, you have to remember that you don’t need to speak as the company just because you’re tweeting from the company twitter handle. Speak as a person. I often tweet different companies about their products, employees, etc. Only once have I ever received a message that was obviously not a person speaking to me.

Unfortunately for all companies, there is no magic wand that you wave to suddenly have a great social media presence. But, there are a few practices that you should apply. Keep in mind it is something you work hard for. Professor Brey has told us several times that it takes 6-9 months before you can really see a result from your social media marketing.

First, you need a strategy or plan. What do you want to achieve from your presence in social media? Don’t base your goal on X amount of followers or likes. Your interactions are what are measured, not your fan base. While having high numbers might look nice to some, it doesn’t mean you have a strong presence. Just because there are 30 different kinds of websites out there, doesn’t mean you need to belong to all of them. Believe me, I’ve signed up for probably all of them and several of them just sit there. Pick a few, and be interactive on those. The end product should be a social media community.

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When you hop on to the social media bandwagon, have the manpower to run your social media sites. As wonderful as it is to have a manager or CEO who wants to be involved with the Twitter/Facebook/blog/etc. for the company, it’s not very practical. While you may not need someone full-time dedicated to running your platforms, you will need someone who can commit the time and understand how to use them to the company’s advantage.

Learn to relinquish control of your brand. I can hear all of you now, “DO WHAT WITH MY BRAND!?” Yes, relinquish control, but continue to monitor your brand. It can be terrifying, but if you have to let people talk about your company in their own way. Again, I have to mention that it’s about communication. And the communication happening through social media marketing will not always include you. If someone says they had a great time at your hotel because you always had hot coffee made, that may not be what you want to be remembered for but you have to keep in mind, you just want to be remembered for something good. If the best thing about their stay was the coffee, let them talk about it without trying to take over the conversation and steer it towards the soft pillows, the comfortable beds, or the amenities of the hotel.

There are other things you can do to help utilize social media for your brand, but if you keep these three things at the front of your mind, you’ll be off to a good start.

For some examples of social media return on investment, check out this website article and the three links listed at the bottom of the article:
http://barnraisersllc.com/2011/07/34-case-studies-prove-social-commerce-roi/

What do you think is an important tactic to use social media within a company?

Handling Consumer Complaints Using Social Media

Let’s pretend it’s 10 years ago. How likely would you be to write a letter to Subway or Target complaining of the poor customer service you might have received? You probably wouldn’t bother, right? Now a days, it’s definitely a lot easier to “shout” about your bad experiences with certain companies.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post To Tweet or not to Tweet, “in today’s fast paced society, instant gratification is becoming a norm causing the ability to achieve immediate responses a necessity.” Companies now need to be able to promptly respond to complaints because it can become viral.

One great example of this is FedEx. We’ve all seen the video, days before Christmas a FedEx employee threw a customer’s  computer monitor over the fence. If you haven’t seen the video, it can be found HERE on YouTube. FedEx knew this wasn’t something that could be ignored, so they responded quickly and accepted it. They didn’t ignore it and they didn’t try to pass fault. Their response can be found HERE on YouTube.

It’s important to note here that they responded via the same channel that the complaint was registered. This is important for a couple of reasons. One reason it’s important to respond on the same channel is that it shows you’re monitoring your brand. If you get a Tweet complaining about your service and you send them a message on Facebook, it makes it seem that you found out through a 3rd party, possibly the newspaper or a random Facebook status, instead of on Twitter. Another reason is that the public will see it. Someone Tweets a complaint and you Tweet them back, the people seeing the complaint will see your response when they click on your name.

But, not every company handles complaints well. I want to take this moment to direct you to Priceline’s Twitter Page. When you pull it up, this is what you’ll see:
Priceline’s problem is that they don’t have a live person in charge of their Twitter, it’s a robot. A robot that is scanning Twitter for uses of Priceline’s name and automatically sends the exact same message to each of them. I know this because a little over a month ago I tweeted about them and how they seemed to have killed off William Shatner in their commercials. Their response was the exact one they constantly retweet. Their response made no sense and didn’t fit the conversation.

Just keep in mind not every single complaint needs to be addressed. In a perfect world we would be able to, but it’s just not practical. Otherwise you end up with a twitter account like Priceline’s. And no one should want customers to Google their company just to find complaints being answered with an automatic reply.

If This Then That

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t already have Twitter and/or Facebook.  Most people have at least 2 e-mail addresses.  Let’s be honest, social media can be pretty overwhelming. Especially if you’re new to it.

There's not enough time to update Twitter, my blog, Facebook, and catch up on my Google Reader!!!

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What if there was a magical way to receive a text every morning with the weather? Or if someone follows you on Twitter and you want to automatically follow them back?  That’s where If This Then That comes in.

IFTTT uses 41 different channels such as WordPress, Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook and connects them to each other using different “recipes”.  Here are just a few of the things you can do with IFTTT:

When you change your Facebook photo, IFTTT can automatically make that your Twitter photo.

Send an automatic “thank you” Tweet to those who mention or @reply you.

Have an e-mail sent to you if it’s going to rain the next day.

So, you’re probably wondering how these things will help you in the social media world. It’s simple, social media is about listening & responding. It’s carrying a conversation. That could be acknowledging a new follower on Twitter. It could be creating a bridge between Twitter and Facebook or Twitter and Google+. Or automatically posting starred blog posts in your Google Reader to Twitter. They all create a circle to help you stay connected.

If your business has a focus on visual aspects, such as floral design, you can take photos and post them to Twitter and have them sent directly to Dropbox to save for you to upload to your website or portfolio later. This is especially useful if you use your phone to take photos, so you don’t have to hook your phone up to the computer to save them to a file.

Many people might see this as unnecessary, but I believe that it helps save some time.

 

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Disclaimer:

The creators of If This Then That have no idea who I am. Nothing was given in exchange for this review. They don’t even know that I wrote this post. Unless they use Google Alerts, in which case: Hello!

Using Social Technology to your Advantage

Using technology to your advantage isn’t difficult. Start by buying a domain, building a website, and selling your products online. But, social technology isn’t quite as simple. It takes on a life of its own because it’s 90% social and 10% technology. And it’s not just bloggers you have to think about, you also have to think of people who use Twitter, Facebook, comment on blogs, forums, etc.

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That’s not to say that this is a bad thing. It’s quite the opposite. Offering a place where customers can talk about your products and help each other with problems can be beneficial in several ways. Two of them being from a marketing and financial standpoint.

When you try out a new restaurant and the food is great, what’s the first thing you’d expect people to do? I would expect that person to write a Facebook post about it. It would probably be along the lines of “Went to dinner at *restaurant* and the food was awesome!” That’s free marketing. You had awesome food… so they told their friends. And now it’s in the back of their friends minds. So, the next time their friend wants to go out to dinner and they’re debating on where they want to go… they’ll remember “OH! *person* said *restaurant* had awesome food… let’s check it out!”

This also works with forums. If you search “AT&T Forums” the first thing to pop up is AT&T Community Support. Here consumers can post questions about their products and other users and even employees can help! I looked around their boards and there were plenty of AT&T employees who were willing to share their knowledge while not on the clock, as well as other customers who were able to help and AT&T even has people dedicated to monitoring the forums to answer questions. This is a fast and easy way to knock out questions without having to put someone on hold several times during a phone call to transfer them to whomever they need to speak with. The fewer people involved in a question, the fewer resources you need to use per problem. This also energizes the community. AT&T has different levels for people who help out on the forums. They have titles from “senior warrior” to “senior ninja”. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to be known as a warrior or ninja online?

So, how do you use social technology to your advantage? You energize your customers and potential customers, you listen to what they’re saying, and you respond in helpful ways and prove you’re listening. Because what good is going online for answers if there’s no one there with answers?

What would you do to use social technology to your advantage?

Faster than a Speeding Tweet

Promotions and contests are a popular marketing tool used by most companies. You see promotions everywhere from on-line games on Facebook to win gift cards to getting your quarter in the shot glass for a free milkshake. It’s a simple tool that can drive business sales.

Who DOESN'T want a free sandwich?!

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But what happens when social media turns against you? That’s what happened tonight to Papa Johns. Their most recent promotion is the Papa John’s Coin Toss. Papa John’s encouraged their customers to vote on whether the coin in the coin toss at Super Bowl XLVI would land on heads or tails. If American guessed correctly, those enrolled in Papa Rewards would receive a free pizza and bottle of Pepsi MAX. America chose Heads (60% of the votes) and that is what it landed on. They announced they would send an e-mail on Monday the 6th (today) with a code for rewards members to use to redeem their freebies. Earlier today they made another announcement saying people should check their e-mail accounts at 4 pm EST. And when 4 pm EST came and left, people were unhappy. I tracked #freepapajohns on TweetDeck and America spoke – and they were not happy. People went from simply asking if they were going to e-mail to saying they would just order from Pizza Hut instead to a few threatening to sue the company! Eventually some customers received their Papa Rewards code. (I, unfortunately, have not. Papa Johns? Bueller? Bueller?)

Authors Edit to add: I did receive my rewards code the next day and promptly ordered my free pizza that night. YUM!

This was a great example of how quickly word spreads thanks to social media. All it takes is a small rumble before an all out, angry twitter storm.

Twitter - the Original Angry Bird

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Have you seen bad press through social media because of a promotion or contest before?

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

If you were to poll a random group of people, asking them “What does the term ‘social media’ mean to you?”, you would likely end up with several different answers. Social media means something different to different types of people. To an educated scholar, social media could be seen as a tool to market a product or themself. To a 20-something college student, social media could be seen as a way to communicate with family and friends without having to talk on the phone. To a young teenager, social media could be a way for them to creep on that cute boy/girl in their math class. And to my mom, social media is a way to grow and harvest crops without ever leaving the living room. But, there has to be a connecting factor between the different platforms of social media.

Connecting & Communicating

One of those factors is connecting. Social media is used to connect people to people, businesses to people, and business to business. According to this article by Nielsen one of the top three most popular social media brands is Facebook. Facebook helps both people and businesses interact with each other. While completing an internship out-of-state, Facebook (and Twitter) helped me stay in touch with family and friends from home. Sure, I could have called them, but the hours I worked it was much easier to get on the computer while lying in bed and update my Facebook status than calling everyone I wanted to contact. It opened up a quick and easy line of communication; but, this isn’t always seen as a positive thing. Some may find that this kind of communication is killing the art of the hand written letter and the personal qualities of a phone call. I believe this to be partly true. I can’t be the only one who misses letters in the mail that helped balance out all the bills and junk mail. But, in today’s fast paced society, instant gratification is becoming a norm causing the ability to achieve immediate responses a necessity. This is causing a change in how businesses need to interact with their clientele. For example, I recently had an unpleasant experience at a chain restaurant in Germantown, TN. I grabbed a business card for the manager and wrote him an e-mail Thursday evening. I received a response Sunday afternoon, 3 days later. I found them on Twitter and saw that someone was unhappy about their food and they replied back to their tweet the same day! Instant gratification.

It's all about connecting and building relationships.

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 From Wikipedia to YouTube and from Twitter to your favorite podcasts, social media is all about connecting to people, communicating with people, and sharing content with people. There are still kinks to figure out, but we’re well on our way to changing our relationships with who we’re trying to reach.

So, dear readers, are you a fan of where social media is and where it is headed? Why or why not?

On Who I Am

One of the most important things you should be able to do in the professional world is to be able to market yourself. That’s what I’ve been told, anyway. Students are told so many things will be the “most important” over their 4-ish years in college, it’s hard to keep track. But, if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on marketing yourself. And there’s no lack on websites you can use to your advantage.

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In my opinion, the first thing you need to know is who you are. Typically employers only get a “sparknotes” version of who you are from your résumé. Having worked as the Box Office Manager for the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, I’ve seen many résumés come across the Concert Manager’s desk. They all start to look the same. But, you get more than just a short interview to show who you are nowadays. The internet is a powerful thing. And we should use it to our advantage. I know I will.

So, who am I, then? I am a sometimes funny daughter and student with senior status at the University of Memphis studying Hospitality and Resort Management. I am a writer who never uses the first line on a sheet of notebook paper. I am a driven, amateur runner who completed her first half marathon on January 7, 2012 (and I wasn’t last!) whose new motto is “Even if you’re not first, you’re still ahead of those who never tried”. I am an astute planner focused on seeing things to the end and a photographer who focuses on precise details.. I am a bookworm who loves biographies and a leader to those who need focus. I am Kadye Katharyn Alicia Garrett and welcome to my corner of the internet.