Social Media FOMO and Politics in Business

Amuse Museum, ThisIsSamTown
Social Media, social networks and the overall new social behaviours.
Old stuff for some and look into the future for others.
When youth knows but does not
A scary discovery, even in top schools and marketing courses, people know about social media, have accounts but mostly no clue about the actual use of them in the “real” world.
Think looking for work through LinkedIn or Twitter, corporate use of Twitter, etc … .
When Twitter is mainly about sending a LOL to some random TV show, then social media marketing may definitely be at risk when these people hit the real world of day work.
And so do corporations
Another step into the future for corporations. From old-fashioned companies to old-fashioned companies with a Facebook profile.
With the loads of tweets, blog posts and various press articles sent about the need for every business to have social media presence, the idea has made its way into corporations as well.
A late(ish) move but still a progress.
For the best or worst … .
Corporate FOMO
FOMO (“Fear Of Missing Out”) is one of these new first world “diseases” that as spread in a time when everybody wants to the The Man (gender neutral meaning here).
Breaking the news, tweeting ASAP, catching up with the high and mighty, etc … .
This behaviour has also made its way in the corporate world.
In this very world where politics are part of the daily deal, the corporate FOMO has grown to the next level.
The “social media” criteria sit in a few words : knowing Twitter & having an account.
Bottom line, no strategic vision, no understanding of the actual DOs and DON’Ts of social networks and social media marketing strategy.
This does lead to random, “shopping-list tweeting”, using dedicated channels for every single kind of message and just going for the digital pat on the back by virtually touching influencers or just the golden goats of the corporate charts.
Stopping the BS and getting things right
Marketing and communications have always been jobs with best practices and rules.
Social media marketing is the same. And even more.
Due to the huge amount of tools and channels available, the extended reach and the ability of clients to interact in real time, social media are to be handled seriously and a strategy put in place (starting with defining the voice and message).
It can not be the playground of marketers aiming at greatness – rising above the corporate non social media users … – nor a tool seen as the megaphone of all random messages.
That would then not be any different than standing on a cardboard box, in the middle of a street and shouting words of apocalypse … . Note that even crazy guys doing so are still better since they have this one topic and message.
In the end, social media for businesses is indeed necessary nowadays. Just reminder it is nothing funny – rather a powerful tool for developing a brand – and has to be handled in the right way : smart and serious.

(Article originally published on my personal blog, This Is Sam’s Blog : http://thisissamsblog.postach.io)

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Social Media, social networks and apps : Both Smart and Dumbphones Hate You!

dumbphone.jpg

Social Media and Networks are the thing. Living the social life is a matter of do-or-die nowadays for anybody willing not to be left out.

Who wants to be this kid girl, let us call her Lucy, left out of her group of friends for having the wrong smartphone, yes an iPhone, when her f(r)iends would all make use of their Blackberry – and BBM – to get, and stay, in touch ?

Social development is not individual. 

Basically, social media beg to differ by being … social.
This does easily make sense when just having a look at Facebook for instance. An account with no friends suddenly feels quite useless.
Geek or not, being willing to use or just discover social media overall and some new kids on the block in particular may prove difficult.
Not that it has become such a mission impossible to download an app and create an account but, rather, that social media need to be social.
Find yourself in the kid girl’s position and you are up for some tasteless deja-vu.

Push adoption or rely on adoption ? 

Still keeping up with Lucy and her iPhone ? Do you think that even if Lucy installs the latest and fanciest, iOS-only, app, her friends will all turn to an iPhone ?
The answer is most likely a solid no.
So what about making the most of discovering new apps, new social networks and tools ?
I found myself in that position quite a few times. I happen to be one of the very few registered users of Line (messaging app, to make it simple) in France. And looking at members of my 500+ address book (boasting contacts in various other countries in the world), only three of them happen to be found on Line.

That is three out of hundreds while only one of them is a French contact. The other being … Japanese.
So how can I really proof-test the product when so little people do actually use it and the only users are not people I would often get in touch with  ?

Discard your friends. 

How do you enjoy this slightly rude statement ? Blunt joke aside, there is still truth in there.
That is the result of my look into my own list of unusable apps. A very dramatic reading of a situation where those fancy products I have downloaded will only begin to make sense once my very own circles adopt them and the behaviour to make use of them too.
That is never to happen.
Too bad my Line, too bad my Ding Dong, too bad my Path and so many others.
My close circles are not your close circles.
As a tester more than any kind of geek or early-adopter, I first want to test things, in context, prior to judging them and making use of them if they pass. However, with quite a lack of like-minded people, this very first step of testing and sharing gets down to the ground from the very start.

Bear with it and be more social. 

When contacts, networks or even devices prevent any kind of development towards the proper use of social tools, there is little to be done.
First, just bear with the fact that friends and family may not be feeling the need to beta-test every single app being released.
Then, be social. Not only is it the point of social media but that may offer an opportunity to connect with more like-minded people and finally be able to ring the Ding Dong bell with more than a couple of people.
And last, can you not live with it, please check this new app : “Get me a Psychologist” … .

In bed with Zappos

A cheeky title for a post about customer service through Twitter and the way Zappos nails it.

So much for the literature, better for hailing a best practice on customer service.

The story begins late at night. A warm summer-like night in Paris, France. The stage is set in a random flat, home to a random, mustache-wearing guy … (blame Movember for that; and show support too) lying on a sofa/bed (and now the title does make some sense …).

Suddenly, the silence of the night is broken by a shout. A tweet in fact.

Listen to the noise.

Indeed. Do listen.

Back to business and the use of networks (Twitter in particular, here), it is crucial not only to have a presence but also to listen to the overall “noise” made on the network.

Your brand may appear there – hopefully it does because otherwise you are non-existent – for either good or bad reasons.

In any case, capturing the positive and/or negative feedback is key to the customer experience and service you are providing.

The tweet I received was, in fact, a reply to a tweet I sent about an article I curated about Tony Hsieh and the Downtown Project in Vegas. The reply came from Zappos’ customer service handle. In a short and easy form since the tweet, to @sampavin, read “:)”.

Mind you, I am always happy to get a smile. Read a few lines above about the positive/negative feedback bit.

That was positive.

That also shows how Zappos are listening to the Twitter noise and catching mentions related to their “ecosystem” (Tony Hsieh, Vegas, Downtown Project) and not solely to their brand.

And they even go beyond that.

Engage with people.

Yes, they not only listen and take note but they do also engage with people.

Please note that I have never been a Zappos customer in the past and that was my very first interaction with them.

But here, not only am I getting a smiley (as I said earlier, it is always nice) but also a mention by a Twitter user with a lot more followers than I have. Vanity ranking : up :)

And that was not the end of it.

A short reply from me, a mention of a trip to Vegas and we ended up sending half a dozen tweets each with me getting an invite to have food at the Zappos campus.

Let me say that again, I have never been a Zappos customer and that was the first time I would interact with them.

From a brand point of view, having paid attention (to the noise, again) and taken time to engage with an individual is a positive message sent out.

And going the extra-mile by having a chat and being nice is just amazing.

Be amazing, create value.

This is a wonderful experience. First because it goes far beyond customer support.

I am not a customer. And I did not tweet to them, be it to ask a question or complain. My only move having been to tweet an article related to “acquaintances” of the brand.

Yet they showed appreciation.

And we could chat.

And they offered value to me, by offering a tour of the campus, followed by food (supposedly good – I need to check that now) at the campus.

All out of nothing. I did not expect a thing (even the contact in the first place) nor was I asking for anything.

By doing so, they create an amazing value for the brand.

I now “know” Zappos beyond the sole name and brand. Further than knowing, I have had a taste of a wonderful customer experience. So, just a few tweets transform into customer acquisition and, not the least, advocate acquisition too.

Proof is … this post. I am writing about best practices with customer service through social networks but Zappos provide the real-life example of a best practice.

Listen, engage, be amazing.

Keep these three bits in mind to create a mind-blowing experience for customers.

And a quick reminder (an actual major one in fact), this does work when there are real people behind the wheel.

That is my last take from this Zappos best practice, the people handling the Twitter account are real people. They act, speak, engage and behave like real people, not scripts.

That does make the difference.

I had written a wee piece on the good, the bad (and ugly) use of Twitter for customer service, I shall add a fourth; the best, which is described here.

Now, way to go for all, sort your tweets and be amazing ! (at customer service for a start …)

… And high five to the Zappos people !

 

By the way, whoever agrees/disagrees, do feel free to hit me in the comments below.

Social media tools for blogging … or not

DustyRoadToHorizon.sams_town

Social media and networks are one of the biggest revolutions having happened in business over the past years or decade. With the birth of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and … WordPress, our digital world has changed a lot and our real life has taken the same blow.

Who does not have at least a couple of social media accounts ? If not dozens (I must admit).

With those tools has come the time of Me. I showcase my own self on Facebook, tweet about me and my life which I advertise visually on Instagram and Vine (or Instagram video now) and I summarize it all, using all my writing power on my – one or more – blog.

Quick snap of life 2.0. When it comes to businesses, the trend is the same even if Twitter and co are still in adoption process.

Arise App store

We had these tools. Still have them. But a major evolution took place with the app store (and its Google Play rival) and the smartphones becoming the common tool for anybody out there.

Apps also mean a lot of various tools working for, with, around social media.

So, when it comes to the blogging part I initially mentioned, posting on WordPress means that the post may be tweeted, posted on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc…, curated on Scoop.it with its featured image pinned on Pinterest and so on.

A multiplication of the reach.

But even prior to that, tools like a Pocket (formerly Read me later), Evernote, Google Reader (R.I.P), etc … play a major role in gathering content and topics for articles to come.

And I am not mentioning more technical tools/plugins destined to improve ranking, SEO, etc … .

Shed the tools and get sh!t done!

On to my point. Just off from a TNW Academy session with John Saddington, yesterday, I have retained one major point : “hit the “publish” button”.

Indeed, I am using a fair amount of tools in my blogging process, before, during and after – and I am not even close to some more professional friends. But while I do use all this stuff and try to make my content better and my posts longer and smarter and whatever else, I am not publishing.

I am even struggling at being done with the writing. I almost have no drafts pending.

That is worse, in fact, I have plenty of notes in Evernote, material in Pocket and Dragdis, even bits on a waiter’s pad (…) but these do not make blog posts.

Blog posts are what this post is. A completed, published one.

Be it not perfect, long enough, documented enough but at least making sense, making a point and as we often advise startups, better a released Most Viable Product than a perfect one never reaching the market.

Agreeing or disagreeing to that ? Let me know your thoughts.

[Image owner lonnietaylor, via deviantart.com / under Creative Commons]

The good, the bad (and ugly) use of Twitter for customer service

Social media. The word is everywhere and corporations are getting there little by little, for marketing, for engaging customers, driving sales Good, bad, uglybut also to provide customer service or support via Twitter.

This is a “new” trend and large companies are actually setting up accounts – or using some current ones – in order to provide an additional contact option for their customers and offer an extra level of service.

The adoption of Twitter by brands has been quite good so far but mainly in order to do content marketing, not necessarily answer customers.

Yet, with Twitter allowing people to easily give shouts at these company accounts, it does seem that the market itself has pushed – and still pushes – towards this use for customer service.

However, regardless of being top of the crowd and officially offering support via Twitter, companies do have to get their act together with a proper structure and a clear understanding that the level of service expected is no different from what customers may expect when entering a shop or an agency and facing actual employees.

Some companies tend to do it right and offer good service.

How good are they ?

From recent experience, HSBC, for example proves to be quite responsive (usually one of the pain points as these company accounts do face crowded timelines) and the “operators” behind the account do post a tweet to introduce themselves when taking over.

Not much of a difference but it does give a sense of humanity to the (Twitter) handle.

Airlines also are in my “good” ones with Air France and Easyjet. Slightly different positioning for these two yet a level of customer service quite on par with each other.

The second might struggle a little bit more with responsiveness, as seen by some people tweeting again to ask for answers but I still do like the fact that both accounts tend to follow their customers in order to provide answers through private messages as soon as it is not an easy fix.

Not only does it save some (to a lot) of timeline space but it also shows a sense a privacy that is enjoyable from a customer point of view. Reminder : tweets are public and while people following my account may know about me reaching out to an airline about an issue, I would appreciate that not every single person, bot, alien or whatever else out there follows my dialog with the company.

One last bit on the good usage of Twitter. I did mention earlier the companies with no specific support account but which people can still touch through their standard Twitter account. Good handling of Twitter requests on these accounts may depend on the community manager(s) and/or the company’s policy but how enjoyable and rewarding is it when a “message in a bottle” sent with little hope to a brand’s handle ends up being answered in the right way (e.g. not by a “go f**k yourself!” but rather a “how may I help you?”), quickly and efficiently enough.

Enough with congratulating big companies here, that is what most startups do everyday and even if their good handling of Twitter requests may stem from a need to gain visibility, fix beta product used by early adopters or just make sure they set the foundations right with their first customers, the quality of service offered is definitely something every company out there should look up to.

Evil Twitter How bad can it get ?

Well, this is where it does get nasty. Twitter being yet another means of communication, some may think it can be handled in the same way as phone or email.

That means sitting some people in front of the screen and providing them with recommendations on how to deal with customers (scripts … ) : expanding the call center to social media.

From personal experience, French telecom company SFR is now on my list of sworn enemies after I spent a week running through all their departments before trying to end the pain by making use of their Twitter handle (dedicated to customer support).

The sad bit here (apart from the fact that most of the other contact means are pretty unresponsive) is that this was a good example of call center Twitter.

The responsiveness while not being that bad showed that handling a busy timeline requires tools and/or added staff.

Yet, the understanding of requests definitely was nowhere near what people would expect. And that is a fact, any issue or request can only be a 140 characters one. Meaning customers have to ensure they can summarize the question but, also, that people doing the support on the other side must, at least, be able to understand the request and, further than that, be able to ask for clarifications if needed.

Which, when done in public, while facing a crowded timeline, does get nowhere but close to a mess.

This is where DMs are a must-use.

Another recent example shows how understanding (e.g. being able to not only understand the written sentence but also the context and who the customer is – or is not) is Bank of America’s handling of some rants in which their handle was used.

How is it even possible for the operator behind BofA’s Twitter to offer assistance with their account to the twitter of OccupyLa whose wording was rather about telling them how much they suck better than asking for details on savings accounts.

Customer service through Twitter is something truly new. It bears a new concept as this is basically a public square where everybody can shout at each other while wearing a mask.

The handling of that does not require call center skills (people at OccupyLA would surely not spend ten minutes on an expensive-as-hell support phone number, listening to brain-melting messages just to get a chance to hit at the company. On Twitter, it takes seconds and a few words) but a very different set of skills and mindset as well.

Twitter, a necessary tool at the moment ?

A dedicated user myself, I can only say yes, definitely. However, looking at the good and bad points, it does require some thinking and structuring before jumping in; whatever the use.

But as soon as a company does make the decision to make use of Twitter (and social media in general) for actual customer service and support (I leave aside marketing being slightly less crucial), they need to ensure getting things right and not consider it as part of their basic usual customer support framework.

That is basically the same as hiring a skilled social media marketer when it comes to developing online presence and content marketing.

I love Twitter as a tool, as a media and I definitely like customer support being handled through this means but companies have to ensure they have the right skill and mindset to make it successful.

It is not marketing as people see it but, as a reminder, any message getting out to customers is marketing.

Any bad message or usage is, in the end, bad marketing.

Customer service is marketing too. Make sure to use Twitter (and all social media) in the good way to deliver a good marketing message.

Everything corporate is marketing

Everything corporate is marketing