Tag Archive foursquare

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Making all the right noises – using social media to support your customer service

Have you ever found the need to offer up a tweet of desperation, or Facebook post of frustration when a company fails to deliver on its promise or has caused you a problem?

I know I have.

Customer-Service

At the time of composing the message it can prove to be cathartic, setting out your ire and pointing it at the target you can get it off your chest, even in 140 characters.

But how does the company deal with your complaint? For me that is the true measure of a good organisation, its ability to respond. Did they get back to you swiftly, accurately noting your comments and responding appropriately? Or did they respond in their own sweet time and offer up an auto bot placation to hope you’ll go away? Worse still are those who just fail to respond leaving you to boil and find a way to escalate the issue with added justification.
If you’re running a business, any business, you must consider the way in which you can handle potential negative feedback. The rise in popularity of Tripadvisor has taught many restaurants and hotels that negative reviews can directly impact future business and positive feedback offer a reassurance and drive customers toward you.

With so many of us now connected on social networking platforms and becoming increasingly comfortable with the medium as a method of communication we cannot afford to overlook their impact.

These are the key tips for offering excellent customer service on social networking platforms;
• Make your company twitter and Facebook accounts clearly visible on your website
• Actively engage with those who “like” your Facebook page and “follow” you on twitter
• Monitor the social networks for references to your business and keywords associated with it;
o This can be done via Google alerts by setting up the keywords and having any reference e-mailed to you. Note: This can build in a time delay so should not be relied upon for real time responses.
o Use a social mention monitoring site to manage the references and keep up to date by having the alerts function activated.
o Sites worth considering; SocialMention.com, mention.net, social oomph, hootsuite, twilert.
o Take a look and see which suit your needs, twilert is good as it is simple and low cost and enables a free trial to assess the effectiveness for your business.
• When you receive a negative comment whatever you do don’t become defensive or aggressive
• Offer multiple channels for communication, tweet but take it private so DM (direct message), e-mail, phone or text.
• Respond quickly and consistently, if you don’t have an immediate answer let the customer know that you’re working on it.
• Don’t patronise or engage in chat that would be considered “too personal”
• Above all ensure those who are charged with handling frontline matters on social media understand the rules and are chosen for their interpersonal skills and client care focus.
• Don’t allow third parties to present themselves as “helpers” or “customer support”. Self-help through technical forums can be beneficial but taking that one step further exposes your business and brand to potential risk of damage through unauthorised comment and actions.

Its common sense, you may think, but just consider your own experience and how the big organisations often get it wrong. Mostly customers want to know they’re being listened to, offered a channel to communicate and be allowed to express a view. Of course not every complaint or query will be justified but by offering a sympathetic and proactive customer response via social media can significantly reduce the negativity and in many cases reverse the position entirely. If you’re not aware of the conversations on social media you run the risk of missing opportunity and being subject to unwarranted bad publicity.

If managing your customers via social media is something you want to explore in greater detail drop me a line.

David Laud

David.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk Twitter @davidlaud

Byadmin

How Many Social Media “Experts” Does It Take To Turn On A Lightbulb?

We’re all under pressure for one reason or another. This ever developing technology has not delivered its promise of greater leisure time and standards of living; well not for most of us anyway. Instead we’re expected to task like a multi armed, dextrous ninja; responding to e-mails, calls, texts, skype and of course schedule in good old fashioned face to face interaction.

No surprise then that I’m often met with a more than cynical sneer when its suggested that a business owner take some of that valuable time and engage in or make more resource available to develop their social media presence.

I get it. I truly do understand that the thought of “tweeting” baffles and bewilders, facebook’s not for everyone and Linkedin, whilst appearing more suited to the business professional; is not easy to see how you benefit.

Too many evangelical so called social media “experts” have fallen in love with the various platforms and the ego trip of growing followers, connections and responses and forgotten that for most they’re not seen as essential in the battle to grow their company. There’s an awareness of the staggering demographic statistics but not how they can be used to benefit a business.

Many of my clients are very sharp individuals who’ve typically built successful businesses by meeting the needs of a targeted customer base. They’ve kept a step ahead of the competition, invested in their company and know their business inside out.

They also have no fear in challenging the call to join the social media bandwagon. They didn’t succeed by following a flock but they’re curious enough to ask the direct questions everyone should pose to a new medium.

How does it work? What are the benefits? What are the costs? Who needs to be involved? Where are the opportunities? And my favourite which covers all the aforementioned, Why should we do it?

If practical answers to these key questions are not forthcoming it’s unlikely the business owners will engage, and who would blame them?

Each business is unique and no one solution can possibly “fit all” which is why my advice is qualified by researching the specific sector, understanding the issues and the behaviours of customer groups and industry influencers.

We’ve now experienced over ten years of social media activity, it continues to move very rapidly yet within this timeframe you can find a multitude of examples where companies have positivley engaged with their customers. These examples are quantifiable, real and very often prove to be the “lightbulb moment” for MD’s VP’s CEO’s Directors and Partners especially if it’s a business operating in the same sector if not a direct competitor.

From Insurance and Aflac running an XFactor styled voice talent competition to Airlines and KLM’s “meet and seat” facebook campaign.

Of course it’s not just big businesses that can afford to make the most of social media and most towns, sectors and networks have their own shining examples of “best practice”.

We strongly believe in encouraging ownership and participation “in house” to develop the understanding, not outsourcing social media activity to third parties.

As professional marketers our objective should be to build confidence for our clients and employers through practical planning, suitable resourcing and measurement; all prepared as a specific project helping to make best use of everyone’s time. Social media’s a serious business development tool but we should make sure we factor in time for some fun too.

If you’d like more information or arrange an initial consultation please drop me a line david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk

David Laud – i2i Business Solutions LLP

David Laud
Partner
i2i Business Solutions LLP

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Real-Time Re-election and Re-tweets

As Barack Obama appeared through the huge curtains at the Chicago Convention Centre his smile said it all, the crowd nevertheless said it for him, over and over again, a little like a re-tweet, “four more years, four more years….”.

With the economy far from recovery and very tough times forecast the US electorate have remained faithful to the Democratic Presidential incumbent.

Obama’s feisty Republican opponent, Mitt Romney had but one task, admit defeat gracefully and in a very public address he did just that.

No doubt the networks will be poring over the multitude of statistical data that such events spew out but for me there is one clear set of statistics that left me in no doubt of the outcome.

The evidence was part of our modern history.

In the Spring of 2011 a political wave started, initially overlooked by those in power. All too soon their underestimate of the strength of this wave became apparent due in no small part to the turbo charge push of social media platforms.

But four years before the Arab Spring, back in early 2007, a relatively unknown senator was running for president against Democratic nominee and household name, Hilary Clinton. But on November 4, 2008, Obama then 47 became the first African American President winning an election against Republican candidate, John McCain.

Mr Obama turned to social media platforms to gather support, raise funds and engage with volunteers the essential foot soldiers of any successful campaign.

Fast forward to the US election of 2012. Presidential wannabe Romney was trying hard to compete on twitter, facebook and Linkedin but unfortunately for the Republicans he was up against an opponent who is a natural social media communicator with a team of dedicated experts supporting his social media broadcasts.

Enough of this blogging rhetoric what about the facts?

On Twitter Mitt Romney has a respectable 1.7 million followers and has made 1,350 tweets. But just compare that to Barack Obama’s 22.7 million followers and 8,000 tweets.

As if those figures weren’t bad enough Michelle Obama has more followers than Mitt at a very healthy 2.2 million.

On Facebook Mitt has worked hard to match Barack but even his 12.1 million page likes pale compared to the re-elected presidents 32.8 million page likes with over 3.5 million actively talking about the content.

Google Plus – smaller numbers, but we’d guess at that. Obama 2.3 million +1’s with Romney less than half at 1 million +1’s.

Of course it’s not all about the numbers but if your message is being broadcast at those levels through these channels you have a major advantage, especially if your demographic fits the profile of the more active social media users.

As if to prove the point Obama’s victory tweet showing his embrace with wife Michelle and the quote “four more years” is now the most re-tweeted tweet of all time, so far RT’d over 650,000 times beating someone called Justin Bieber (you know who he is you just don’t want to admit it – ed) who’d held the record at 223,000.

Whether it proves to be the right decision for America only time will tell but one thing’s for sure, if a politician has any serious ambition they need to understand and harness the true strength of social media.

David Laud – Marketing Consultant
i2i Business Solutions LLP

e-mail me at david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk follow me on twitter @davidlaud

“like” our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/i2isolutions

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Take the Screen Test to See if You’re Addicted to Apps

Does this sound familiar? You settle down to relax after a days work, the TV is as usual on and turning out the usual “reality” fest of low grade entertainment. Out of courtesy you check what your partner/family/ friends would prefer to watch, hoping you can for once agree but… when you look around the room you notice all fellow inhabitants are glued to the screen. No not the 40 inch flat screen in the corner but the 2.5 inch by 3 inch version held in the hand.

Are we becoming obsessed by our smartphones? You might think so if you, like me, play dodge the teenager on the high street as they walk along in a somnambulistic style, hypnotised by their device unable to look up and see who they’re about to collide with.

But is it the device or something else that’s causing this epidemic? The smartphones provide a portal to a new and exciting world but the true cause of our preoccupation are the various applications that live on these instruments.

Just before you think I’m taking the high ground I need to confess to my own weaknesses. Yes, I too have an addiction to the touch screen world. For me it started with my first iphone and has developed as I’ve been able to run my world through it. Well, perhaps more accurately it runs me.

I can break the problem down to 4 main areas of activity that can quickly become an addictive.

1. Checking e-mail
2. Checking text messages (it’s quite worrying how many drivers I see texting while driving!)
3. Checking social media sites for likes, mentions and comments
4. Games

Yes I tend to check my e-mail too often which is not helped by the multiple accounts and spam. There have also been a couple of recent examples of sudden onset addiction brought about by a newly downloaded app.

A problem with my broadband connection led to me downloading the “speedtest” app. Let’s just say I become rather too obsessed with download and upload speeds for a couple of weeks.

The other time thief is the analytical tools I have to measure social media activity. Yes I have too many sites but then its my job to keep abreast of these platforms. But my love/hate relationship with Klout is unhealthy and it’s time for the “it’s me not you, I need some time to work things out” break up conversation.

I do use a very large number of social media sites but I don’t think I’m unusual in the time I spend with my smartphone. Not unusual by the benchmark of the average user but that’s because we’ve become used to having our devices with us constantly.

It can’t be good for us to become obsessed and addicted to anything despite the attraction and apparent benefits of the developing technology. How much time can we fritter away on Angry Birds, Temple Run, Instagram (perfecting the image through photo apps), Linkedin group exchanges, Facebook babble, Tweets and RT’s, celebrity face matching…you get the idea.

But perhaps we should test our resolve and see how much of a problem we have. Here’s the “Screen Test” challenge. Pick one day this week and have 24 hours without access to your phone, tablet or smart device.

I did this recently and will now be making a habit of it as that day proved to be one of my most productive for quite some time.

Things you can do….

1. Catch up with industry/ local news by reading magazines
2. Plan ahead – your forthcoming week, month, year
3. Get creative and think of how you might make better use of your time and when you do have access to the device how you can take back control.
4. Arrange to meet that contact who you’ve been meaning to catch up with for months.

The technology is great but it’s still only a tool to be used effectively and not something that should dominate our lives. Just take the “Screen Test” and let me know how it was for you.

David Laud

Byadmin

Lights, Camera, Action! – How to Make Social Media Perform For Your Firm

Listening to professional service firms across the UK, I hear time and time again of their frustration with social media.

“I just don’t get it, everyone talks about it but no one has the time to do it, even when I do spend time on it I’m not really sure what I’m doing.” Views that may well resonate in your firm. But what is the answer?

You have five main options:-

1. If you haven’t started just don’t bother

2. If you have made an attempt, opened the odd twitter, facebook or linkedin account, stop right now and do no more

3. Hire someone to do your donkey work and outsource your social media activity

4. Instruct all fee earners to embrace social media and open a variety of accounts, throwing your firm head long into all things “social”

5. Introduce a workable approach to using the most appropriate platforms for your firm by setting a plan and working to it

With so many people, businesses, clients, competitors actively involved in social media can you afford to “not bother?” You may well be frustrated by the lack of response to your initial efforts but it’s like trying to drive a car in a busy town centre without having had a lesson, scary and likely to put you off getting behind a wheel forever.

Getting someone else to drive your activity may well be a good way to start but ultimately most platforms require a personality and connection that would be hard to replicate and pretenders are often quickly found out. However compelling the sales pitch and attractive the thought of delegating tweets to third parties, it’s not the way to grow a trusted network.

As for the stick theory, demanding fee earners to “just do it” will result in some activity but for many it will be with reluctance and without effective training, plans or analysis, it will engender a widerspread feeling of hopelessness and confusion.

So that leaves option 5, it seems and is, a sensible approach but that short line of a few words does no more than sentence the one charged with making it happen to a period in solitary where they’ve nothing to do but work out “what the hell do we do about this social media malarkey?”

That in a nutshell is the problem – advice is cheap but effective action is priceless. The added complication is that in general, those working within the professional sector like certainty, don’t like taking risks, however well calculated, and this new communication medium seems fraught with danger.

On the upside there’s no shortage of help out there but a word of caution, not all who speak with marketing tongue can walk the social media walk.  Alterian’s annual survey of 1,500 marketers, agencies and consultants last year identified that amazingly a third didn’t understand how to manage social media. A staggering 70% were simply not reporting on its effectiveness to senior management or clients.  So beware the sales pitch

The reasons to strive to understand the medium remain compelling. The statistics ever impressive with millions of “friends” “followers” and contacts to “link to” we ignore social media at our peril and risk being left far behind.

A few mind bending stats that suggest social media is far from a fad or momentary medium used by niche groups:- 

  • Linkedin – Launched 2002, 90 million members, 200 countries, 5m in the UK
  • WordPress – Launched 2003, latest version of the website downloaded 32.5m, 13% of the World’s top 1m websites use WordPress
  • Facebook – Launched 2004, 500 million users, 48% 18-34yrs, av. 130 friends (big rise in 35+ users)
  • FlickR – Launched 2004, 5bn photos, 50 million accounts,
  • YouTube – Launched 2005, 490m users, av. user 20 minutes per day,
  • Twitter – Launched 2006, 190 million accounts, 55 million tweets per day
  • Foursquar – Launched 2009, 381,576,305 check ins 2010 

If your fear is it’s already too late DON’T PANIC, there is still time for new joiners or those who’ve just scratched the surface to quickly seize the initiative.  The truth is that a large number of professional service firms have leapt to join in but not truly understood the potential of the various social media platforms. Trust in your instincts and apply the same level headed approach to this marketing discipline as you would to any other.  The focus is all about the conversation, the connection and the trusted network you can build within which, on occasion, you can introduce messages that promote the practice and the people who deliver your services. 

I view social media marketing as an altenative form of broadcasting.  You have multiple channels, a wide variety of potential audiences and no shortage of material to consider to put “on air”. 

Consider your twitter strategy with this broadcast analagy in mind.  Which of your fee earners will be tweeting, what is their ideal audience, how best can you hope to engage with that target, what source of material could be of interest and how frequently do you want to send a message promoting the firm or specific service? 

Very few of us want to watch a channel that is 100% adverts.  But we will tune in to a broadcaster offering interesting comments, observations, news and support and interactivity within the network.  Our rule is generally one promotional tweet to every six offering alternative content. 

Please don’t worry about how you become a trusted, entertaining broadcaster.  The vast majority of twitter accounts are run by ordinary people who have simply spent time understanding the language, tone and appropriateness of the medium.  There is no short cut alternative to gaining experience of social media platforms.  Many so called specialists in the field can offer advice and training but there is no substitute for getting your “hands on” and starting the process. 

This is marketing as a truly participative event, no arms length seminar, newspaper column or e-mail campaign.  Here you are engaging in a direct manner and developing not only your firms brand by adopting a social media strategy, but critically establishing yourself as a brand that your network can trust and call upon for advice. 

Ready for your close up?  Don’t worry no make up required, well not until you establish your YouTube channel. 

David Laud FCIM, Chartered Marketer Twitter @davidlaud  LinkedIn http://uk.linkedin.com/in/davidlaud

Managing Partner – i2i Business Solutions LLP – Marketing Consultancy for Professional Service Firms

& CEO of Samuel Phillips Law Firm

Byadmin

Location, Location, Location

We all know the old estate agent adage that demands we put location above all else to get best value for your bricks and mortar. That also holds true for some of the fastest growing trends in social media. 

Our location is something of great interest and value to marketers who are looking to push geo based messages and offers to potential or existing customers. There are a number of apps and mechanisms for geo marketing communications from Bluetooth proximity messaging to Facebook and now to smartphone applications.

When I first looked at Foursquare, (iPhone App) I must admit I really wasn’t sure it was for me or my business but…..as with other new media you really do need to try before you leap to promote, criticise or deride these platforms.

Whilst “feeling my way” with the location based app I can see immediate opportunities for business and consumers.  I’d be surprised if there isn’t a location based marketing project or two brewing in most of the UKs top consumer brand companies. But the U.S. has taken and run with the technology to enable mobile access to a wide array of products and offers whether the shopper is at home or at the local high street shopping centre or retail park. 

 If you haven’t done so already I’d recommend having a look at the Foursquare app, go beyond the fear of being tracked by “big brother” as you retain control of who sees where you are and you don’t always have to make check-ins public.  If you run a business reliant upon customer footfall I’d suggest looking at the possibility of offering discounts or special promotions for users of apps such as FourSquare. 

 A couple of simple suggestions – coffee shop offering free cup of java if you spend £1 or more on any other item, restaurant offering 20% discount for regular visitors. With Foursquare the most regular visitor to a specific location can earn the title of Mayor, this can result in a little competition for the awarded role but in my experience and research this is somewhat limited.  In fact I’m not entirely sure the “Mayor” tag works but that may just be me.  It limits the possibility of reward to regular visitors to just one person and I’m not sure many of your visitors would really battle to take on the Mayoral title – far more likely to want the special offer their membership could deliver.  My solution would be for the proprietor to become Mayor and through “tips” and “special offers” announce your offer.  I’m keen to hear of examples that have made the Mayor award work for them.  One example in the U.S. at the end of last year – fast food outlets “Silver Mine Subs” ran a competition on FourSquare offering the Mayor of their specific outlets a free medium sub every week for a year.  The cost of this campaign – approx $300 but the publicity generated will certainly have counted for far more than this outlay.  But I’m back to my Mayoral issue and the fact that only one person being Mayor can seriously limit the scope of an offer or campaign.

 In any event Foursquare provide their registered businesses a range of promotional options and these include: 

  •  Mayor specials can be unlocked only by the Mayor (the user who has checked in the most in the last 60 days).
  • Count-based specials are unlocked when a user checks in a certain number of times.
  • Frequency-based specials are unlocked every so many check-ins.
    Wildcard specials are always unlocked, but staff need to verify extra conditions before awarding the special.

Despite flaws in some of these apps they are certainly capturing the imagination of consumers and marketers alike.  This is no surprise as traditional forms of marketing are falling away with Directories, TV, Radio and Press advertising revenues all falling. The key is to connect with the consumer in way that makes them feel in control of the process, “special” and

Coffee, foursquare offer, foursquare mayor,geo marketing

Coffee offer for "Foursquare" regular

deliver experiences and offers that they want to share. 

Our physical and virtual location matters and has a value. For marketers it opens a whole new world of opportunity with a multitude of methods to interract with our target audience, get it right and rewards will be loyal and regular customers.  The key for business owners will be to understand the trends, the opportunities such technology and apps provide and adapt business strategies to communicate effectively with their target audience. 

Now, time to check in…… 

David Laud FCIM, Chartered Marketer  david.laud@i2isolutions.co.uk