Archive for February, 2013

The Power of Social Customer Service

When Brie Weiler Reynolds noticed that her customers were discussing their service concerns on social media networks, she realized her company had better start responding to them there as well.

“We started getting comments and questions from people on LinkedIn and Facebook,” says Reynolds, director of content and social media for FlexJobs, a Boulder, Colo.-based online job-search firm. “They were using social media for things you’d traditionally contact customer service for, so we figured if that’s how they want it, that’s how we’ll give it to them.” Today FlexJobs uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube to publicly inform, serve and connect with customers on a daily basis.

The transparency of communication on social platforms lets companies showcase their devotion to helping customers, fostering brand loyalty and authenticity among a widespread audience. Still, research suggests there’s room for improvement. In a recent study by PR and marketing firm Cone Communications, 46 percent of respondents said they’d like to be able to solve problems and receive product or service information via new media, but only 14 percent said they’re “very satisfied” with their experiences with companies or brands online.

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The Power of Social Customer Service
BY Paula Andruss | January 29, 2013|
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The Power of Social Customer Service
image credit: Girls Guide to Social Media

When Brie Weiler Reynolds noticed that her customers were discussing their service concerns on social media networks, she realized her company had better start responding to them there as well.

“We started getting comments and questions from people on LinkedIn and Facebook,” says Reynolds, director of content and social media for FlexJobs, a Boulder, Colo.-based online job-search firm. “They were using social media for things you’d traditionally contact customer service for, so we figured if that’s how they want it, that’s how we’ll give it to them.” Today FlexJobs uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube to publicly inform, serve and connect with customers on a daily basis.

The transparency of communication on social platforms lets companies showcase their devotion to helping customers, fostering brand loyalty and authenticity among a widespread audience. Still, research suggests there’s room for improvement. In a recent study by PR and marketing firm Cone Communications, 46 percent of respondents said they’d like to be able to solve problems and receive product or service information via new media, but only 14 percent said they’re “very satisfied” with their experiences with companies or brands online.

“Social customer service presents a great opportunity for active listening and reacting to your customers,” says Andy Smith, co-author of The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change. “When you listen to and create discussions about the problems they’re having, you can progress toward becoming the person or having the product that addresses that problem.”

Patton Gleason, president of Richmond, Va.-based NaturalRunningStore.com, says social media helps him build relationships with existing customers; they in turn promote his online store to new audiences when they share the information they’ve received on their own networks.

Gleason doesn’t just respond to customer questions with a quick tweet. Several times each week, he creates and posts personalized videos to help customers solve specific problems. For example, he assisted in diagnosing and addressing the source of a runner’s calf pain by requesting and examining an uploaded photo of the bottoms of the runner’s shoes, then responding with video suggestions.

“If they have questions about shinsplints or the difference between two shoes, I can actually show people what’s happening or [give] a comparison of those shoes,” he says. “Not only can they see the products, they can also see the person behind them, which is a powerful way to connect.”

Shared content–positive and negative–fosters brand authenticity, according to Reynolds. She embraces negative posts as an opportunity for FlexJobs’ 17,000-plus social media followers to see that the company cares about resolving problems. “It helps people [who are] on the fence about signing up see that we respond quickly to people and don’t shy away from problems,” she says. “They see firsthand that if they were to join and have a problem, we’d treat them the same way.”

Reynolds adds that social customer service has the unique ability to turn negatives into positives in a very public way. “If someone posts a negative comment on [our Facebook] Timeline–they don’t like the site or understand why they should pay for membership–oftentimes our fans swoop in and support us by explaining why they use the site and why those posters should give it another shot,” she says. “What could be better than our customers solving our customer-service dilemmas with us?”

Visit: http://socialkik.com

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How to Boost Productivity With ‘Social Bookmarking’ Tools

You probably encounter online information or resources each day that could help you with projects and clients. But without the right tools and strategy, it can be challenging to capture those links in a way that will make them easy to use later on.

Enter social bookmarking: free online services that let you save links in a personal library, organize them into folders or lists, tag them, make notes about them, search them and selectively share them with others.

Social bookmarking can offer significant productivity benefits. Most notably, your social bookmarks can become your “backup brain” for projects, allowing you to readily access relevant online information as needed, regardless of when or how you found it. The trick is to do this in ways that associate links with your projects or clients.

While social bookmarking isn’t new — one of the most popular services, Delicious.com, began in 2003 — it can be particularly useful for organizing an endless flood of potentially valuable information. Now owned by Yahoo, Delicious features improved search and usability, and offers a simple browser bookmarklet — a quick way to access interactive features via a URL that you can save in your web browser’s toolbar for easy access from any page. There is also an iPhone/iPad app, and Droidlicious is a full-featured Android app for Delicious.

But Delicious isn’t your only option. Other social bookmarking tools include:

    Diigo: Its bookmarklet integrates with all popular web browsers to allow link saving, categorization, annotation, sharing and offline reading lists without having to visit the Diigo website. You can also highlight or add sticky notes to web pages that become visible when you activate the bookmarklet.

    Diigo’s own mobile apps mostly allow you to access links you’ve already bookmarked, but some third-party apps, such as Powernote for Android, allow you to add links to Diigo from your mobile device. An iPad app also supports mobile bookmarking.
     
    Clipboard: This visually appealing social bookmarking service lets you save screenshots and multimedia with sophisticated navigation, search and functionality. Clipboard also offers web browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, a browser bookmarklet, and tools to make it easy for visitors to clip and share content from your site. There are iPhone/iPad apps, but so far, no compatible Android apps available.
     
    Evernote: While billed as more of a personal productivity and organizing tool, you also can save, categorize, tag, share and search links via Evernote — especially through the Web Clipper browser extension and bookmarklet. iPhone, iPad and Android apps are available.

When using social bookmarking for business, here are a few tips:

Organize primarily by project or client, not by topic. Setting a work-related context forces you to consider upfront how you might use each interesting link. If your top level of organization (the folder, notebook or list, depending on the service) reflects your major projects or clients, it’s also easier to view and use all links relevant to a specific assignment.

For instance, an architect might be tempted to create topical link folders entitled “code compliance,” “Craftsman style” or “lighting.” But if he or she is working on long-term projects, it might make more sense to label folders as “Henson Homes” or “Denver Housing Authority,” which refer to clients.

Use tags to denote topics or sub-projects. Social bookmarking services let you label individual links with tags, which provide a different way to sort or search saved links and can be a better way to indicate topics. With a tag, the architect could still easily find all saved “Craftsman” links regardless of which project he or she was working on when the bookmark was saved.

Tags also can denote sub-projects. For instance, the architect might be designing homes for several Denver neighborhoods and could make each neighborhood name a tag, providing secondary navigation for easy sorting.

Make your links private. If your social bookmarking service defaults to making your links public, any other user of the service or the web might see potentially confidential information. So whenever you create a work-related links folder, take a moment to make it private. (Most services offer this option and instructions for how to do it.) Similarly, share links or folders selectively, especially if you have confidential clients or notes.

Integrate with your mobile device. These days, entrepreneurs are likely to encounter potentially useful online information while on a smartphone or tablet. When choosing a social bookmarking service, make sure it offers tools to easily save and categorize links from your mobile device.

Visit: http://socialkik.com

5 Lessons for Brands From the Burger King Twitter Hack

Burger King regained control of its Twitter account Monday night, after a day in which its feed was overtaken by hackers and made to look like McDonald’s.
The breach began in the morning on Monday and lasted for hours. Hackers tweeted a flurry of messages, most of them made little sense and contained offensive language. By the afternoon, Twitter had suspended the account. Burger King did not update its Facebook page on Monday, though it did release this statement to the media:

“We have worked directly with administrators to suspend the account until we are able to re-establish our legitimate site and authentic postings. We apologize to our fans and followers who have been receiving erroneous tweets about other members of our industry and additional inappropriate topics.”

Anyone who’s managed a brand account can certainly empathize. In the hours after the hack, even McDonald’s tweeted from its verified account:

As bad as it seemed, the fallout won’t be severe—just a week or so of mass embarrassment and a lifelong cautionary tale for PR pros, marketers, and social media gurus everywhere. But it’s unlikely that the brand itself will take any kind of real hit. The word “Whopper” will not suddenly become synonymous with this or any social media hack.

In fact, some are even seeing obvious positives in the wake of the fiasco. Cameron McPherson, of strategic communications firm The Hodges Partnership, points out that Burger King saw an increase in followers (more than 30,000) and as well as a number of media mentions.

Monday was a slow news day. That the account was hacked and made to resemble that of its notorious rival probably served to fuel the fire.

That’s not to minimize the severity of the situation. It’s a huge deal if you’re the people that manage the Burger King account. But it was done in such outlandish fashion that there was no question that it was a hack job from the very beginning. With a more thought-out and subversive approach, you could do some real damage. As it happened, however, it just looked like a bunch of teens messing around. I mean, they linked to a Chief Keef video. You can’t get much more amateur than that.

Still, it’s not difficult to extrapolate and see how social media accounts could be an avenue for some crazy corporate sabotage. Therefore, a more likely effect will be that C-level executives could become less gung-ho about signing off on any big social executions. If all they see is nightmare headlines and no extra product moving off shelves, they’ll ask, What’s the point?

That said, here are a few measures social media managers should be taking to ensure that they can avoid or mitigate these scenarios.

    Change your passwords regularly. And change them to something obscure that has nothing to do with the product you sell. Random numbers, letters, and symbols are your best friend. We change our passwords every month—that will probably change to every two weeks in light of this development.
    Have procedures in place to stop an attack in its tracks. Create a fail-proof social escalation policy that can end something like this before it gets out of hand. Have the assets you need on hand to be able to restore the images on your profile.
    Minimize the number of mobile devices that can access the account. If you look at all the apps that can access your account, you should know for certain where they’re all coming from and what their purpose is. If you’re unsure about any of them, ax them.
    Make it mandatory that any mobile phones that link to corporate accounts are password protected. That way, if you leave your phone at, say, a Burger King and you’re signed into your brand’s account, no one can have easy access to it. Similarly, make sure that if you leave your computer at, say, a Burger King, it’s not logged into any accounts. Password protect everything that allows access to accounts that are password protected. Thinking about the computer I’m typing on, if I were to leave it somewhere and some swarthy character logged onto Facebook, they would be able to wreak havoc on about six different accounts (none of which are my personal account). That’s pretty scary when you think about it.
    Change your passwords every time someone leaves the company—whether or not it’s amicable. Don’t trust people. There’s too much at stake here.  

Visit: http://socialkik.com

10 Questions to Ask When Creating Your Company’s Pinterest Page

Pinterest has quickly evolved into a social media eye-candy powerhouse. People are now pinning images as often as they tweet, according to new data from the Pew Research Center.
If your business isn’t on Pinterest yet, you might want to think seriously about jumping on board. Pinterest can enable you to tell your company’s story in visually engaging ways that enhance your brand image and attract potential new customers.

To help you create a Pinterest presence, here are 10 key questions to ask:

1. What does my company want to achieve on Pinterest?
You may simply want to create a strong brand image, or you might hope to use Pinterest to help launch new products. Whatever your goal, defining it can help you decide which types of Pinterest boards to create and how to organize and promote your pins.
If your company wants to publicize its commitment to sustainability, for instance, you might create boards that relate to gardening and recycling, as Whole Foods has done. Or, if you simply want to drive traffic to your business’s website, create boards with images that link directly to it. The Travel Channel’s 37 boards — with intriguing titles like “Travel Bucket List” and “We’d Rather Be Here Than Work Right Now”– feature pins linking to relevant travel destination articles on its main website.
2. What’s a Pinterest board and what kind should I create?
A board is where you organize multiple pins by topic or theme. You can customize your boards based on themes that directly or indirectly relate to your products and services. For example, Etsy, a popular online arts and crafts marketplace, curates 61 boards for some 235,000 followers with themes that range from handmade gift ideas to holiday decor to wedding accessories.
3. What types of images will best showcase my brand without being spammy?
Choose brightly colored, interesting pictures that show your followers how they can use your products and services in interesting, non-promotional situations.

“Images tell the story of your clientele and their relationship to your brand,” says John A. McArthur, an assistant professor of communication at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, who integrates Pinterest into his curriculum. “Consider how your customers would use your product or service and provide images that would speak to their experience.”

Instead of pinning promotional pictures of paint cans, Benjamin Moore highlights its products Pinterest in unexpected ways. For example, the paint maker’s popular “chalk it up!” board showcases its Chalkboard Paint in dozens of creative DIY projects, including chalkboard paint-dipped wine glasses and chalkboard-painted motorcycle helmets.

4. How do I upload images to Pinterest and where should I get them?
Add images via the Pin It bookmarklet or by uploading a picture directly from your computer. For businesses, it’s generally best to use your own images rather than generic stock photography or other people’s images. Your own original pictures can help your brand stand out from the crowd. More importantly, they reduce the risk of photo license infringement liability.

If you have too few of your own pictures or lack the budget for original photography, you can source images for free with appropriate attribution licenses from services like Creative Commons.

5. Will other people be able to contribute to my company’s boards?
With Pinterest’s “Me + Contributors,” you can invite clients, customers, employees and even similar brands, to contribute to a group board. They will be notified via email that you have invited them, and you will receive emails from Pinterest when they add pins to your group board. To be added as a contributor, a person has to be one of your followers already, and you must follow at least one of his or her boards.

Group boards can quickly build an active, engaged community around your brand. The Food Network’s “Let’s Game Day” recipe group board, which complementary brands like Good Housekeeping magazine and Epicurious.com contribute to, has attracted some 71,000 followers so far. Just be mindful of users posting spammy or inappropriate images.

Visit: http://socialkik.com

Facebook’s Earnings: Mobile Ads Drive Serious Revenue

Among the takeaways from Facebook’s fourth-quarter earnings report this week was this: Mobile advertising is a serious revenue driver. The social network’s revenue grew 40 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to the same period the previous year, beating analyst expectations. Of that, mobile ads accounted for 23 percent of ad revenue, up from 14 percent in the previous quarter.

The growth of mobile — more Facebook users now visit the site through mobile apps than a desktop computer — is good news for Facebook and for advertisers, who have long hoped the platform could deliver results commensurate with its enormous user base. Co-founder Mark Zuckerberg predicted that Facebook would eventually make more money on every minute of Facebook mobile traffic than on desktop traffic.

Foursquare launches a new app for businesses.
This week, Foursquare released a standalone app for business owners. A mobile extension of its desktop merchant tools, the app allows businesses to see recent check-ins, update specials and post promotions to social networks while on the go. Major retailers can’t use the app, according to AllThingsD, but it should allow small businesses to engage more conveniently with customers.

Dropbox updates with new social features.
Popular cloud computing service Dropbox announced that over the next month it will release new features designed to make its service more social and content-oriented. Known for secure data backup, Dropbox is now separating some types of content, such as photos and songs, from file folders, and making it easier to share them. Say you have a folder of pictures of your employees during company-wide event or interacting with customers. Now you’ll be able to select which ones you want to share and easily share them — via Facebook, Twitter or email — in a virtual album. —
Super Bowl advertisers see results with pre-game YouTube spots.
With social media’s ability to spread advertisements virally, more Super Bowl advertisers are releasing their game-day commercials early by posting them to YouTube. It seems a smart strategy: Commercials or teasers posted online before football’s big game received an average of 9.1 million YouTube views last year. Those posted after airing on TV averaged only 1.3 million views. “Money that we might not have invested in [digital and YouTube] around the Super Bowl, we are investing it now,” said Lucas Herscovici, vice president of digital for Anheuser-Busch. —
British company burned when employee live-tweets layoffs.
Sometimes, allowing employees access to your social media accounts can backfire. That’s what happened to U.K.-based electronics company HMV this week when one or more soon-to-be former employees took to HMV’s official Twitter account to live-tweet details of company-wide layoffs. The first tweet read, “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring.” This update came a little later: “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask ‘How do I shut down Twitter?’ #hmvXFactorFiring.” The company eventually regained control of its feed and deleted the offending tweets — but not before an editor at The Guardian newspaper captured them in a screen grab and, appropriately, tweeted it.

Visit: http://www.socialkik.com

Fast, Furious and Humorous: Sound Bites From Social Media Week

Marketing professionals from all over the country descended upon New York City this week for Social Media Week to learn from industry leaders on how to create engaging content, respond to customers during a crisis, incorporate humor into your tweets and more. The goal: learn something new about social media marketing that they can use for their own companies and startups.
We were there, too, in the trenches taking notes, networking and live-tweeting all the relevant sound bites. We collected a variety of tweets from attendees — including some of our own — that might give you a taste for how the event went down.
Here are some of the highlights from Twitter:

Friday, February 22:

Richard Robbins, founder of marketing consultancy Upper West Strategies
‏@rich1 
“On Twitter, you imagine your audience to be the people you follow, not the people who follow you.” Good insight from @zephoria #smwbigdata

Heather Renae Cosson, social media strategist ‏
@HeatherCosson
“Content is king.” I can’t tell you how much I’ve heard that this week. Remember engagement is queen. #smw13 #ShermanLevine

Kat Sagun, public relations professional ‏
@katsagun
Would rather have 100 followers who engage & care about content than 1 million who don’t #smwtumblr #SMWNYC #smw13 #socialmedia

Linnea Zielinski , aspiring publishing professional‏
@linneaviktoria
@MayaBogle’s claim that microsites are “content ghettos” shortsighted. It ignores the power and loyalty of the niche market. #smwfuturemedia

The EmergingDesigner, a network for emerging designers and fashion professionals
@emergedesigner
Tagging is a key strategy for building your audience on tumblr #smwtumblr #smw13 Go broad and think about how people are searching.

Amanda McCormick, founder of Jellybean Boom, a web and social media consultancy ‏
@AmandaMcCormick
“U could take the most boring thing in the world and if you take a great photo of it, people will love it. -Alexis Kaplan @tumblr #smwtumblr

Thursday, February 21:

ClickZ, a digital marketing news site ‏
@ClickZ
‘I don’t share your brand cause I like your brand, I share your brand cause I like my friends’. @jperelman #smw13

Jason Fell , technology editor, Entrepreneur.com‏
@jwfell
On customers who just want to brand bash on social media, @LaurieAMeacham says sometimes “haters are just going to hate.” #SMW13

Matt Bruck, co-founder of Joios, a “collaborative tasting community”
@mattbruck
Scott Anderson (@controlgroup): Silicon Valley funding is bigger “but in doing business, there’s no other place like” NYC. #smwNYCtech

Fenton, a global team of communicators
@fentonprogress
Want to be a thought leader? Get your CEO, president, founder, experts, etc. engaging on social media! #smwfoundations

James Sims, social media manager at New York City’s Lincoln Center
‏@SimsJames
“Social media teams are the new creative departments in companies.” Creating content mixed with responding quickly. #smwbuzzfeed

JWT New York, a marketing communications company
‏@JWTNewYork
“Thinking like a newsroom is the future model for how brands will engage”- @boughb #SMWnative #SMW13

Dianna McDougall, content strategist and designer ‏
@DiannaMcD
“Has anyone ever hooked up with someone they’ve met on LinkedIn?” @BoobsRadley #smwcomedy

Visit: http://socialkik.com

Fast, Furious and Humorous: Sound Bites From Social Media Week

Marketing professionals from all over the country descended upon New York City this week for Social Media Week to learn from industry leaders on how to create engaging content, respond to customers during a crisis, incorporate humor into your tweets and more. The goal: learn something new about social media marketing that they can use for their own companies and startups.
We were there, too, in the trenches taking notes, networking and live-tweeting all the relevant sound bites. We collected a variety of tweets from attendees — including some of our own — that might give you a taste for how the event went down.
Here are some of the highlights from Twitter:

Friday, February 22:

Richard Robbins, founder of marketing consultancy Upper West Strategies
‏@rich1 
“On Twitter, you imagine your audience to be the people you follow, not the people who follow you.” Good insight from @zephoria #smwbigdata

Heather Renae Cosson, social media strategist ‏
@HeatherCosson
“Content is king.” I can’t tell you how much I’ve heard that this week. Remember engagement is queen. #smw13 #ShermanLevine

Kat Sagun, public relations professional ‏
@katsagun
Would rather have 100 followers who engage & care about content than 1 million who don’t #smwtumblr #SMWNYC #smw13 #socialmedia

Linnea Zielinski , aspiring publishing professional‏
@linneaviktoria
@MayaBogle’s claim that microsites are “content ghettos” shortsighted. It ignores the power and loyalty of the niche market. #smwfuturemedia

The EmergingDesigner, a network for emerging designers and fashion professionals
@emergedesigner
Tagging is a key strategy for building your audience on tumblr #smwtumblr #smw13 Go broad and think about how people are searching.

Amanda McCormick, founder of Jellybean Boom, a web and social media consultancy ‏
@AmandaMcCormick
“U could take the most boring thing in the world and if you take a great photo of it, people will love it. -Alexis Kaplan @tumblr #smwtumblr

Thursday, February 21:

ClickZ, a digital marketing news site ‏
@ClickZ
‘I don’t share your brand cause I like your brand, I share your brand cause I like my friends’. @jperelman #smw13

Jason Fell , technology editor, Entrepreneur.com‏
@jwfell
On customers who just want to brand bash on social media, @LaurieAMeacham says sometimes “haters are just going to hate.” #SMW13

Matt Bruck, co-founder of Joios, a “collaborative tasting community”
@mattbruck
Scott Anderson (@controlgroup): Silicon Valley funding is bigger “but in doing business, there’s no other place like” NYC. #smwNYCtech

Fenton, a global team of communicators
@fentonprogress
Want to be a thought leader? Get your CEO, president, founder, experts, etc. engaging on social media! #smwfoundations

James Sims, social media manager at New York City’s Lincoln Center
‏@SimsJames
“Social media teams are the new creative departments in companies.” Creating content mixed with responding quickly. #smwbuzzfeed

JWT New York, a marketing communications company
‏@JWTNewYork
“Thinking like a newsroom is the future model for how brands will engage”- @boughb #SMWnative #SMW13

Dianna McDougall, content strategist and designer ‏
@DiannaMcD
“Has anyone ever hooked up with someone they’ve met on LinkedIn?” @BoobsRadley #smwcomedy

Visit: http://socialkik.com