Author Archives: Pamela

An Interesting Infographic on the Growth of Social Media

Check out this infographic on Social Media use from the Search Engine Journal.

Some of the numbers I found most interesting:

  • 75% of brand “likes” came from advertisements
  • 49% of Twitter users either never or rarely check Twitter but 59% of companies use Twitter to engage with customers
  • 1 in 4 Americans watch a video on YouTube everyday but only 33% of companies are on YouTube
  • Chicago is the fastest growing city on Facebook

Dealing with Negative Feedback on Your Social Media Pages

If your business has a social media presence you have most likely had to wrestle with the question of how to deal with negative posts on your page. Should you remove them, respond to them, ignore them? These are important questions to think about as you develop your business’ social media presence.

One of the first things to consider is who posted the negative comment. Was it a customer? A competitor? A spammer? Or just someone trying to create trouble  (in social media lingo, they are called trolls)?

The next thing to think about is what kind of comment was it. Was it a complaint about an issue the commenter is having with your business? Was it constructive criticism with suggestions for improvement?  Is it spam from someone else extolling the virtues of their business? Is it an unmerited attack on your business by someone trying to create a stir?

Once you’ve determined who the comment is coming from and what kind of comment it is, you can now implement some tools to deal with it. While many businesses are tempted to simply remove negative comments, this isn’t always the best option. If the comment is coming from a customer or customers with a legitimate complaint, simply removing the comment can often make things worse and simply move the conversation to another online venue that you can’t control. If this is the type of comment that you are dealing with, it is better to acknowledge the issue and respond to the customer(s) either publicly or with an invitation to contact you privately to further discuss the issue. Remember that social media is an opportunity to engage with the customer and dealing quickly and honestly with complaints will earn your business respect and loyalty in the social media world. Southwest airlines comes to mind as a business that handles customer complaints well through social media. A quick visit to their Twitter page and you see a constant stream of conversations that address customer issues and complaints in a positive way.

What if it is constructive criticism that a commenter leaves on your page? As a small business owner, you are probably very passionate about what you do. You have probably poured hours of your own time into every aspect of your business. Its very personal for you and when someone criticizes your business, it is very easy to take it personally. So, even if you disagree with the post, it is important to acknowledge the comment politely and gratefully – yes, gratefully. Constructive criticism means that someone is payingattention and took the time to start a conversation with you. There may be times when it is appropriate to remove constructive criticism from a public forum, but you should always acknowledge the commenter for their feedback and their time. Also, remember to take this feedback seriously. Sometimes you may get a good idea from someone that took the time to write this kind of post if you are open-minded enough to listen. One example of a company that is getting this right is Dell. In 2007, Dell started Ideastorm, a website designed to collect ideas from their customers online. Dell has integrated Ideastorm into its own Twitter feed and their Facebook campaign. While not everyone is going to have the desire to be this open to the public’s ideas, it is good to remember that great things can come from crowdsourcing.

If the negative comment is either spam or an unwarranted attack by a troll, feel free to simply remove it. However, I would caution you to never engage in a  flame war with this type of commenter. Simply take the high road – remove the post and pretend like it never happened. Engaging in a tit-for-tat negative battle is not going to do you or your business any good.

In a perfect world no one would ever have anything negative to say about your business, but in the real world mistakes happen and it’s important to acknowledge them sincerely when they are brought to your attention. In other words, even in the virtual world, it’s important to keep it real.

QR Code: An Acronym in Need of a Definition

In an effort to continue explaining and defining the various acronyms you may need to understand, today I bring you the QR Code. The acronym is short for quick response code. These two-dimensional bar codes are cropping up all over the place and if you don’t know what they are, you definitely need a quick tutorial. These codes can be scanned on mobile devices and provide the user with a plethora of information. It can link them to a website, social media site, videos, customer reviews, etc. depending on how they are set up and what platform the user is using to read the codes. If you want a more detailed explanation, check here and here.

There was an excellent article yesterday in The Business Insider explaining how to use QR codes to enhance your business. Here are the tips from the article that I think are the five most important: 1) make sure your QR code adds value or offers something special they can’t get from just your website; 2) make sure the site is mobile friendly; 3) provide original content so that you stand out among your competitors; 4) it should be easy to scan; and 5) make sure the links all work before you put it out there.

Also, the Social Media Examiner had an excellent post today about how to use QR codes in conjunction with your Facebook page.

Finally, check out this fun little video I put together.

How Many People Are Using Social Media?

A social media firm by the name of Hasai put out an interesting infograpic on social media today. Check out the post on Mashable by Ben Parr to see it for yourself. Here are the numbers that I found interesting:

  • 40% of Americans on social media platforms that are frequent users are following products, services, and brands
  • 47% of all Americans are now members of at least one social network
  • 28% of American adults say they give advice about purchases on social networking sites
  • 38 million Americans between the ages of 13 and 80 (that’s somewhere around 16%) are influenced by social media on their purchasing decisions, this is an increase of 14% in the last six months
So, what do these numbers mean for small businesses and their social media? Essentially, they just underscore how important it is to be present on social media, to be actively engaging your customers and clients, and to try to make most of those interactions positive. Its all about keeping the conversation going and to keep the conversation about how great your product, service, or brand is. Now, get out there!

ROI: What does this acronym mean?

Are you completely clueless about ROI? Don’t feel too badly, a lot of people have no idea what ROI is. This fantastic video by Erik Qualman is a great place to start. 

So, essentially, ROI is an acronym for Return on Investment. When you talk about ROI and social media, the idea is that your investment in social media should show a gain in revenue/business. Jacquie McCarnen offered some ways to measure ROI in her blog back in January. Also, check out this blog by Nichole Kelly about some things to keep in mind as you begin to track your ROI.

Ultimately, whether you have a small business or a large corporation, it is only a matter of time before someone is going to ask you about the ROI of your social media. Certainly, accountability is important in any advertising campaign.  However, it is important to remember that while social media will drive business in the door, its main purpose is to engage your customers and clients. This engagement will keep your customers coming back. As Mr. Qualman’s intern points out a strong social media presence may determine whether you are still in business in five years and that could be the most important ROI.

Capitalizing on the Honey Badger

I’ve been hearing a new Kohl’s commercial on the radio for the last couple of days featuring the honey badger (sadly, the only place I could find the radio spot online was on a blog by some guy named Dan O’Day who has apparently been living under a rock). The first time I heard it, I almost wrecked my car because I was laughing so hard. Now, don’t get me wrong, the commercial itself isn’t that funny. What tickled my funny bone was the attempt by Kohl’s to capitalize on the popularity of the honey badger. For those of you that have been living under a rock with Dan for the last six months, the honey badger has ascended into the popular psyche with a YouTube video gone viral. Now, the honey badger is cropping up all over the place: in an episode of Glee, on t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc. and it even has its own shot.

The honey badger video just goes to show you that it doesn’t take much to get a lot of attention today. The video was a 2007 National Geographic clip about the African honey badger that was cleverly voiced over by “Randall.” This video, as of today, has almost 13.5 million views. That’s a lot of exposure. This is what YouTube can do for you, if you can hit on a clever idea that goes viral.

Or, if you have a dearth of original ideas, you can also do what Kohl’s did and simply capitalize on someone else’s creativity. The honey badger doesn’t care.

Old Spice: A Powerful Example of an Effective YouTube Campaign

We’ve all seen the Old Spice commercials featuring Isaiah Mustafa (and if you have been living under a rock and somehow managed to miss it, stop what you are doing and immediately watch them because you have been missing out!). What is amazing is how Old Spice was able to take a simple commercial and turn it into a viral online campaign that has increased their revenue and made Old Spice a household name again. They did this through the use of their own YouTube Channel where they posted a sequence of internet responses from the Old Spice guy to the hundreds of comments and parodies from customers and Old Spice guy fans. Check out this video from CNN Money and hear what Bob McDonald, CEO of Proctor and Gamble has to say about the success of their campaign and the importance of engaging customers through social media.

A Social Media Firestorm in Progress

I’m talking about the announcement that Netflix made yesterday regarding their pricing changes. The purpose of this post isn’t to vent any outrage over the 60% price increase for the service that I personally receive. More, I wanted to comment on the use customers are making of social media in order to vent their outrage and Netflix’s response to that use. In an article on PC World, one author talks about the power of the people. Businesses have to understand that social media offers its users a powerful tool to express themselves and organize a coherent response. The Netflix blog post that announces this decision currently has 5,000 comments, mostly negative. “Dear Netflix” is a trending topic in the U.S. on Twitter and these tweets are mostly threats by members to cancel their subscription when the new price structure goes into effect. There is already a couple of Facebook pages that have been created to protest this change. Finally, when I checked Netflix’s official Facebook Fanpage, there were already over 30,000 comments on the price increase post. But, it seems this number would be higher if Netflix wasn’t deleting these posts almost as fast as people can churn them out.

It is this response by Netflix that I find most disturbing. While, certainly any business with a fan page will need to prohibit and remove any vulgar, aggressive, or violent comments, is it in the best interest of the corporation to silence all negative feedback? The point of social media is to engage with your customers. This form of communication isn’t just meant to be one-way…if that was all you wanted, you’d just have a website. This communication is meant to go both ways from the the business to the customers and from the customers to the business. Now, obviously, any business hopes that most of this feedback is positive, but it won’t always be. In order to maintain the level of trust with your customers to allow for a rich dialogue, you will have to allow the negative comments to remain. It’s how you respond to those comments that will frame the dialogue going forward.

It will be interesting to see how things turn out for Netflix after this. Will they win this round? If they do, at what cost to their relationship with their members? (The cost I’m referring to is not a consequence of just the price change, but also the cost of Netflix’s reaction to this firestorm.) Will the members’ reaction to this news via social media cause Netflix to walk back from their price changes? We shall be watching.

 

Google+ Still Dominates Social Media News

Its probably a good sign for Google that the internet is still buzzing about the release of Google+.  I received my invitation to join this weekend and am really impressed with my initial exploration. The interface is clean and crisp.  The ease of creating circles is wonderful. I also really like the ability to choose which circles will see my posts. I am really anxious for the addition of the business pages and hope that doesn’t take too long to be up and running. But most of all, in my opinion the privacy features are an improvement over Facebook’s.

Ultimately, if we do have a war between social media sites, I think it will be over the issue of privacy controls. Mark Zuckerburg has made it clear that he believes social media and the internet should be open – the default should be to share everything. Unfortunately, this fails to take into account the reality of people’s actual lives. Does anyone want to share their weekend debauchery with their professional colleagues? Probably not. Is our choice then to either live completely blameless lives where nothing ever happens that we can’t disclose at the office or do we have to be privacy nazis where we constantly check our wall for an unseemly photo that might slip through by a trusted friend? Perhaps, this is where Google+ really gets it right. If the circles work correctly you’ll be able manage all of your social media in one site and still keep your lives separate.

Google+ and what it means to the world of social media

Google just announced their latest venture into the social media arena with the limited introduction of Google+.  According to an article at PC World, this new attempt at social media may be more successful than their last attempt, Google Buzz. But, even if its not, its important to remember that there is more to social media than just Facebook and Twitter. Its important to have a broad social media presence and to be prepared for the changes in social media as they come or be left behind.

Additionally, PC world wrote the following article about what Google+ means for businesses. Essentially, if Google+ gains a following then status updates and other content will need to be even more relevant and valuable in order to accomplish what businesses use social media for…connecting with their customers.