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Last night I attended the #NashuaTweetup and sat down with @SteveMurthey at the bar. We were talking about Social Media experts and how there seems to be so many “self-appointed” individuals out there, as this seems to be the latest and greatest employment opportunity for many. During our discussion, I came up with this comparison. It is like in the movie Aladdin. You had the Genie, who was obviously good at what he did. He knew the rules and was able to guide Aladdin into making some good decisions, and had “thousands” of years of experience in his back pocket.

* namecartoons.blogspot.com

But on the other hand you had Jaffar, and his snake staff. The staff was an incredible tool which mesmerized people and forced them to make decisions that they would not have if they had a better understanding of the situation and were guided properly. He also made promises that he could not keep, and there was always a “hidden agenda.”

 

* disneyvillains.net

Next time you sit down with some who is assisting you in anything, it does not have to be strictly a Social Media campaign or strategy session, make sure that you are not being promised things that seem unreachable, and make sure that you partner with someone who has proven their worth and has the experience to back it up. Don’t forget, you generally get what you pay for. What are your thoughts?

The title of this post is the same as the title for the Editors note in this February’s Inc. – The Magazine for Growing Companies – magazine. I found it to be a very interesting Editors note, and wanted to highlight the closing point from Jane Berentson:

“Maybe we should replace “the customer is always right” with a saying that is more appropriate for the times that we live in: Customers and companies should do right by each other.”

The paragraph before that is actually better:

…customers, too, have a responsibility to make a commercial transaction easy and pleasant, and if something goes awry, they should make their feelings known in a way that’s considerate – and considered. It’s always been possible to complain about a sloppy salesperson or a slow waiter or aggravating help lines, but the Internet makes it possible to criticize in a public forum, which increases the string of that criticism exponentially. The web shouldn’t be a tool for cleverness or cruelty at the expense of someone else. Care should be taken.”

Now I understand that in some cases, emotions get the best of us, but time and time again I have also recognized the way that some of our expectations have become unreasonable. I briefly talked about this in a prior blog post, “Have we become spoiled”, but after reading this Editors note, and observing some recent incidents on Twitter and elsewhere, I wanted to revisit the concept.

Take this potential scenario from Twitter:

Customer - I just had the worst experience with Brand X

Brand X – We are sorry to hear that, please email us (help@brand_x.com) and tell us your story.

Customer – I just sent an email to Brand X and received an automatic email saying that they will get back to me in 7-10 days #fail

Customer – So much for Brand X addressing my situation, can’t believe that I have to wait #fail

Is that really a #fail? As a customer, you were able to vocalize your opinion to your network of people. Brand Y actually did engage with you and sent you down a communication path to inform them of your experience.

Somewhere along the road though, you are not satisfied with that. Is it because you have 10,000 followers and believe that you should be treated differently? What about everyone else whose email are waiting in that queue, why do you all of a sudden feel that your complaint should be put above everyone else’s?

If you do right by them, odds are they will do right by you!

Creating Brand loyalty and leveraging feedback.

If you are reading this blog post, you probably also read my first Domino’s Pizza blog post – “What do Physics and Social Media have in common?” that I made a month or so ago. This was really a great example of how a business can leverage Social Media and consumer feedback in order to create a better product.

Domino’s held focus groups in order to directly gather feedback around their product, which they distributed internally so that the entire company could better understand their customers. Based on the feedback, Domino’s and their chefs immediately decided to make changes to their product. That in itself is a great step for any business and shows the dedication that Domino’s has to offering a superior product and differentiating their product from their competitors.

That was not the last step that Domino’s took, though.

A couple of days ago, Domino’s updated their Social site www.pizzaturnaround.com,  with a new video – “At the Door of Our Harshest Critics.” This is where they took their initiative to the next level. They visited three or four of the individuals that had provided gave some very direct and honest feedback to see what they now had to say.

Domino’s positioning:
“Because of your comments, it helped us create a new pizza.”
“Because of what you said, it helped us get better.”

Direct Testimonials
“I am so impressed. I can’t believe that you guys listened. I can’t believe that a company would do that. I can’t believe that you guys took that seriously.”
“I didn’t know that you were listening.”
“I’m back, I’m in.”
“This is what I was talking about.”
“That is the way that a pizza should be.”

Now you can say that these people said that the pizza was good because the camera was on them. But then again, they had a camera on them when they first provided feedback to Domino’s. You can also say that the pizza is fresh because the head chef made it and that it will probably not taste like that in all the Domino’s franchises around the country. But is that really the point?

This video displays the fact that Domino’s cares about their product, they listen to what is being said, and they make decisions that will have a tremendous impact on brand loyalty, awareness, satisfaction, advocacy, conversion…..you add in your own “buzz-word”.

Are you ready to hear what you customers or employees have to say within the Social Media landscape? Will you be able to harness their feedback in order to make the necessary changes to improve who you are?

*cross-posted to www.ektron.com/mikepascucciblog

When I think of Social Media and companies that are incorporating a strategy around it, I think of sailing. Now for all you true sailors out there, I will promise you that I will probably get some terminology incorrect, and will do my best to paint an accurate picture, hopefully  you all will get the picture.

I think of the boat as being your business; the Captain, as just that, your leader; his crew are the Exec’s, Board members and other that can directly influence the course; the sails that you sail under as the decisions that you make; the wind behind you as your employees, or your customers, basically anyone that interacts with your company, or helps it move forward.

The wind will always be there, whether it is strong or whether it slows down, it will always be there. The Captain is always there to make sure that you are heading in the right direction, and grabbing as much wind as possible. Most boats sail with the same number of sails, which makes the decision making process for the Captain really difficult and timely, as the winds could shift tremendously, and if you are not ready for the shift, you will be dead in the water. If another boat with the same amount of sails cuts across your bow and steals your wind, the race is over for you. The fact of the matter is that he WIND is what keeps you moving, and the Captain has to know when to listen to the Crew, and when to observe the wind and go with his Gut.

The Social Media sail, once drawn, can assist in many decisions that the Captain can make throughout the sail, while also grabbing additional wind in the process. Whether the “wind” is employee productivity and retention, additional sales and revenue, streamlining processes and procedures (efficiency)……the benefits of this sail can and will pay itself off over and over again. While this ROI is different dependant on the implementation it is there and can be measured.

When I hear companies discuss if they can afford to implement Social Media technologies or implement features and functionality within their website that will empower customers and employees to interact and provide feedback to each other as well as directly to the business, I think of this – “Can you afford not to”? Can you find yourself in this photo?

sailing

Where are you?

I cannot believe that it has been over a month since my last post, so much for keeping up with my responsibilities.

The last month has been full of everything, traveling, interviewing and landing a great opportunity. First, let me tell you about my travels over the last month……….then again, what the heck am I thinking, let me tell you about the opportunity that I landed 3 weeks ago.

Thanks to Heather Strout, I was able to get my foot into the door at AAA, working with their Mid-Atlantic division (DE, MD, PA, DC, VA, and NJ). They had launched new communities (blogs, message boards, profiles, recommendations) around Cars & Driving and Travel. Through their strategy phases with Mzinga, they realized the importance of having someone Manage the area and become the internal evangelist for their community and its members. After a couple of meetings, I was offered a Contract position with AAA Mid-Atlantic. This is a very exciting opportunity for me, as I am getting back to my roots of Social Media/Online Community management – building an online community and developing a Social Media strategy around it to increase customer satisfaction, brand awareness, membership, visibility and all of the other things that come along with a successful plan.

I have just begun my 2nd week and am already in the depths of the Metrics and Measurement side of things, so that I have a holistic view of what can/not be accomplished. Granted the “anything is possible” saying comes to mind, but I like to be a little more realistic.

As for my travels, they were all New England based, some Vermont, some NH and some MA. Nice to do a little bit of camping and hiking while the weather is nice.

As I have promised in the past, I will try to update my blog as much as possible; you may notice a slight change in the “Voice” as it may come on less of the Moderation side of things, and more of the Management side of things.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mike

Over the years, I have been a part of many conversations over being genuine. Whether they happen online or during meetings, some think that they can get away with trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, thinking that they can “get away” with it.

I think that we are all familiar with the infamous tale below, as written by Hans Christian Anderson.

New ClothsIf you are in that school of thought, then all you are really doing is playing the role of  the tailors that fooled the King. But please be sure to remember that someone will always “call you out” and set things straight.

My previous post focused on transparency, and I tried to ensure that people think about when and where they need to share any and all information. There are times and places for everything.

But being genuine though is something that is very different. Being genuine shows that you really care and have a vested interest in growing and nurturing a successful “thing”  (business, online community, friendship…..)

Being genuine is also just like trust in the fact that it is earned, and once it is lost, it is hard to gain back. If you are not genuine 100% of the time, then no one will believe what you say and you will discredit yourself time and time again.

Being genuine is something that needs to happen 100% of the time.

personalities-2

Over the 10 years that I have been working with and on online communities, I have come across numerous member personalities. It is funny how these personalities are similiar to real life. At the same time, it is also interesting how someone in real life can project an entirely different personality online.

I wanted to share a couple of those personalities with you and would ask that you also share some of the ones that you have noticed, that I may have missed.

* Note: All of the titles have been made up

The “All-Knowing” – will answer any and every question, and will not reference any materials that may have assisted in their answer. They know it all, just ask them.

The “Researcher/Teacher” – will find sites to reference within the answers that they post, and link directly to those sites. Very knowledgeable individuals.

The “Poet” – all posts are a work of art, they are all well thought out and to the point. This member really knows what to say, when to say it, and whom to say it to.

The “Pile-on-er” – if there is ever a disagreement and it is many against 1, this member will always take the side of the many. They may not post that often, but they know when to pile-on and chime in.

The “Agree-er” - similar to the above, except this member will not just pile-on, they will simply agree, and move on. They may not post a reason for their actions, and may just post, “I agree”, but these members are out there.

The “Bater” – always wanting to start a fight, this members knows what to say, and who to say it to to get things going and to start a debating discussion that could spiral out of control.

The “New-bie” – someone that is truly new to your community and posts to find information or see what the community is about. These members need immediate attention so that you can retain them.

The “Goold-old-days-er” – this member will reminisce about how things were in the past, and how much better it was. At the same time, they were also complaining back then as well, so nothing really has changed with them.

The “Multi-personality” – will create numerous ID’s on your site to either agree with themselves, or fight with themselves. They can also gang up on others within your community and make it seem that some members are outnumbered.

The “Governor” – weather self-appointed or not, this member feels the pressure of leading the community to the promised land and will do anything in their means to protect it. While in most cases this can be a good thing, in some cases it can end bad with the member feeling that they have too much power.

The “Mediator” – generally every community has a couple of these. Whenever situations seem to begin to spiral out of control, this member will try to step in and diffuse it, not taking either side.

I think that this is a good start, but know that it is not a complete list, please feel free to add yours below.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mike

Here I would like to highlight a few corporate responsibilities that I feel are important when launching an Online Community or “Social Media” area.
Online communities should not be developed because “everyone else is doing it”. These communities generally end up in failure. An endless amount of time, thought and management is essential to the success of any endeavor. You should not jump right in with both feet with out discussing the below – as a main starting point.
crawlb4uwalk
1. Key Questions
Who is your target audience?
What is your communities purpose?
What is the “hook”?
What are people looking for?

The above 4 questions are a starting point for any company. Many discussions and debates will assist in developing an initial corporate strategy. These answers will also assist in the below (#2)

2. Features and Functionality
As a company is willing to expand their outreach and launch an online community, many factors come into play. One of the most important decisions – what they are going to offer their community….features and functionality, and how are the members going to interact with one another? Launching a full blown community with too many offerings
(blogs, wiki’s, profiles, friending, forums, video, photo’s….the list is endless) and choices can be very detrimental to the success of an online community. A staggered approach is the best way to ensure that your members are not initially overwhelmed.

3. Member outreach
It is up to you to find people that you feel will benefit from your community as well as those that will assist in the development and growth. “If you build it, they will come…” but they will not stay and you will not be able to retain any member if they see the “Empty Restaurant” (see prior blog post). Finding those key individuals and influences are key to the success and growth of any online community. Building this initial foundation is key for the longevity of your community.
Building

These are 3 important steps for corporations to take before they jump right into an Online Community or Social Media launch.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are welcomed!

I was reading Jeremiah Owyang’s blog post about the “Bozo” feature within community platforms, and it got me to thinking about how valuable that the feature can be, when used properly.

There are always cases where you tend to run through all of your options when managing members (gagging, locking out, banning, restriction, pre-moderating…..). These are many of the 1st steps or tools that are used initially to manage members accounts, and restrict their access to a community. The “Bozo” option, flag (or whatever you want to call it) is generally a last course of action the moderation team, or a Community manager can take. While decisions may never make it down to this level, it is an option that’s available.

Limiting the actions that you can take against a members account is not a great way to moderate/manage a community. I was always taught to leave all of my options open, and to never back myself in a corner. In general, the flag is used against members who have no interest in your community/members/brand/company/employees…..their only reason for existence is try to demolish and destroy, at all costs.

Also, by leveraging this flag, you can “buy yourself some time”. This allows a Moderation team or Community Manager the time to review the account, look at any registration information, and note it. In many cases this member (like banned members), will try to come back. If you are able to review the current account, you can often find any new account(s) that this member may register, within minutes, and “beat them to the punch”. Now granted, this is always a cat-and-mouse game, and can take a lot of time to accomplish, but if you are able to do your research and “buy yourself this time”, it will only help you in the long run.

Mike

Note: Cross-posted at mzinga.com

Employment

I am currently employed at Autodesk as a Senior Manager of Online Community and Social Engagement. My team is responsible for the Customer Support initiatives across all of our Social channels.

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