Daily Archives: April 3, 2013

My #CMGRChat Experience

flickr Rob BoudonFull disclosure, I have participated in a few #CMGRChats before, but it wasn’t until I tuned in a few times this semester that the topics, strategies and tips really started to make sense!

This week’s chat, led by our own Kelly Lux and Sahana Ullagaddi (@iamsahana), centered around brand evolution, and how CM’s should go about facilitating changes and positive development around their companies or products.

Brand education strategies centered around telling a full story about where the brand/company/service started, and where exactly the staff and the users want it to go. Participants mentioned using “behind the scenes” content, like staff intros or funny exclusives, to build a relationship with users and create a culture of trust across the full spectrum of users (from the reminding diehards who have been there from the beginning why they should stay, to the newbies you’re still trying to “stick.”)

So, how do you do that?

Basically, be authentic and transparent about how any changes will be good for the user, be open and available for discussion, don’t throw out any surprises which might cause adverse reactions, and “under-promise, over-deliver” on the changes you roll out. Some useful tools to ensure this happens include hangouts and tailoring quality, relevant content to each chosen medium your organization has used to maintain their online presence.

I was especially interested in the discussion of brand ambassadors during this chat. For me, this title calls to mind the people who used to stop me on the street on my way to my internship in New York, and either try to hand me a colorful flyer with a worthless coupon, or try to get me to sign a petition (or worse, a newsletter sign-up sheet). However, I can see how a group of brand ambassadors who are very good at their jobs could be very useful at disseminating a message amongst their followers, friends and even people who pass by on their morning commutes.

This idea applies to my own job within the campus police department in that, technically, I have access to around 140 “brand ambassadors” in the officers who are paid to patrol the campus and surrounding areas. There are always officers working, at any given time of day, because we have shifts rotating in 24 hours a day. I handle the “broadcast” functionality, basically providing a constant stream of information on events inside the department; technically, the officers could be utilized for the other part of it, at least in their “in real life” interactions.

The idea’s been floated that we, as a department, start Facebook pages for the more well-known officers, and make it a more personal way for “us” to interact with the student body online (sans marketing, “click here, do this” speak). That responsibility will eventually probably fall to me, so it will be an interesting process to change the way I think and the way I post – from institutional to personal.

The Importance of Blogger Outreach, Even for Small Blogs

I have a blog about things to do in New York City. It started out as a personal venture; it was basically an online journal of my favorite places in NYC that I could share with family and friends. When I started it, I loved to read others’ blogs, but I was clueless about making my own.  I was also clueless about the strong community that makes up the blogger world. blogger outreachI have learned that it is a massive and diverse community of people,  strangers who I have never met and probably never will, that are unbelievably supportive of one another.

For large companies, blogger outreach is helpful for spreading the word about a product or a service that is mutually beneficial for the company and for the blogger.  The article The Blogger Outreach Equation, by Kelsey Libert, explains the AIDAS principle for blogger outreach:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action
  • Satisfaction

She used this principle to create the Blogger Outreach Equation picture below:

blogger outreach equation

Blogger Outreach Equation from http://www.seomoz.org/

I think this equation also works for small personal blogs. If you have a personal blog, you might not be selling a product or a service, but you are, in a way, selling your thoughts, ideas or expertise in a certain area. By connecting with other bloggers, you can learn from each other, find new things to try and do, and expand your network. Here’s how small blogs can use Kelsey’s AIDAS principle:

  1. Awareness: Leave a comment on your favorite blog or tweet to your favorite blogger. Make them aware that you find what they write about of interest to you. Doesn’t it feel great to know that people enjoy your work? Share the love and let them know you appreciate what they do. Chances are they will return the favor.
  2. Interest: You should blog about things that interest you, but you should also blog about things that your community/potential community is interested in. I find that I get the most likes on my photo posts, so I try to do those often to please my readers.
  3. Desire: By desire, Kelsey means establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with other bloggers. The desire to want to help each other out. Maybe you ask to repost your favorite bloggers story or ask them to write a guest post for your blog. blog pressFor me, since I often write about specific venues, restaurants, bars, etc., it is mutually beneficial for me to write something nice about a place that I visit and for them to share it with their community. They get good press and I get page views.
  4. Action: Blogger outreach doesn’t just happen and it isn’t always mutually beneficial. Do your homework, search for blogs that are in your genre of work, read blogs that are similar to yours. Even though I like reading blogs about other cities, someone who writes about San Francisco probably would not find it helpful for their community to repost one of my stories about New York City.  But for example, I love writing about art, and if I do my research, I could find a NYC blog that might be lacking in stories about art. I could offer my services to fill their content void.
  5. Satisfaction: Both bloggers need to be happy about collaborating. How did the post do? Was it well received by the blogger’s community? The relationship shouldn’t just stop after the blog has been posted. Follow up with each other, send tweets, stay connected. In her post, Kelsey states, “it’s imperative that you continue to build these relationships for future partnerships.”

Do you have your own blog? Do you reach out to other bloggers? Please share how you build relationships with other bloggers and what you find most helpful.

Social Media A Customer Service Response Mechanism

customer servicePhoto By nic2050

As more companies move toward integrating traditional customer service responsibilities into their social media strategy, it will be vitally important for them to gain an understanding of the underlying keys to success.  For starters, organizations must consider that it is likely that they will not be able to simply move their current customer service representatives directly over to social media.   This is because, as Jen Rubio, head of social media at Warby Parker points out, we cannot assume that someone who deals with customers over the phone will know what to do over social media.  Olivier Blanchard, author of the book Social Media ROI explains, “Social media is serious business.  It moves customer service from the back office to town square, and if you want to do well in the new digital space, you will not only have to put your best people forward but train them for crisis resolution as well.”  Blanchard calls this the “rules of online conflict resolution” and he offers 9 tips that all boil down to this…social media customer service can win the crowd by being kind, cool, polite and professional.

Changing Expectations of Customer Service

In the article 4 Quick Tips for Using Social Media for Customer Service  the author provides advice taken directly from a panel discussion at February’s Social Media Week conference in New York City entitled “Changing Expectations of Customer Service.”

4 Quick Tips:
1. Have a separate customer service account.
Create an account that’s separate from your company’s main feed or page that can specifically handle customer service-related messages and requests. The customer service account should have the same voice and similar branding to your main account.

2. Aim for single-contact resolution.
In this tip, it is suggested that a company do everything that is can to resolve an issue over whichever system the customer reaches out to, whether it is by phone, email, or social media.

3. Be smart when handling a crisis.
When trouble strikes, social media can be a useful tool for communicating directly to customers.

4. Train your staff.
During a crisis or heavy customer service times, a company might need everyone helping out.

The Social Business world is waiting

We are in a new age of the Social Business where companies can take advantage of the power of social media for more than just its marketing benefits, but also for its customer service benefits.  It is time for companies that have been relying of the “wait and see attitude” to start looking forward with an open mind.  Natalie Petouhoff, business consultant and lecturer at the UCLA Anderson School of Management commented in the article, Social Media Customer Service Sorely Lacking, Study Shows  that companies tend to “stick their head in the sand and they think if they’re not looking it’s not happening” when it comes to social media customer service, but customers are 30 percent more likely to commit dollars to a brand that is present and attentive on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  Social Media is becoming more pervasive in everyone’s lives.  For the benefit of both customers and profits, it is no longer an option organizations can continue to bypass.