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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?

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Back in the day, you could run your business the way that you wanted to with little to no interruption from anything or anyone. Everyday you could get up, go to work, and status quo would rule your day. Or at least that seems to be the perception from what I have heard and observed from the “Walk-both-ways-uphill-in-driving-snow-to-school” generation.

As we all know, times have changed, and that way of running your business gets you into serious trouble. Customer’s now have the ability to voice their opinion in open forums where millions and millions of people can read their thoughts. The playing field has been leveled and businesses no longer have the control that they have held on to for many, many years. Those that have adopted new communication strategies and have engaged with their audience are surviving the current storm, while those who have rejected this communication change as a passing fad have come to pass.

Customers have the ability to really jump-start your business and get it back on track. If your employees seem to be struggling with what they should be doing, or where their next project to come from, they should look no further than what is happening online – both what is being said about your business as well as what is being said about your competition. There is so much information at your immediate disposal; so many great ideas that you can harness….it really is a great resource. I have also heard of some businesses offering their employees “free-time” during their work week in order to think of new ideas and ways to improve the current state of their company. What a great idea.

The Fountain of Success

Please drink up!

Ok, I had to share this. I tweeted a couple of times over the last week referring to this story, but wanted to go into more depth here.

Twitter is a great tool for people and businesses; I think that everyone will agree with that. It is also a great tool for local businesses, if used effectively, and I wanted to share this story with you.

Early last week I was traveling to Calgary, Canada from Boston via Dallas,( please don’t ask, it’s a long story). While in flight from Dallas to Calgary American Airlines offered Gogo in-flight wireless internet service so I decided to pay the $10 to have it for the 3+ hour flight. For those of you that have not traveled with internet access on your flight, I compare it to JetBlue and having TV at your seat, yes, it is that good and I don’t know how I could have ever lived without either, anyway…..

On my way North, while traveling over Yellowstone I sent the following tweets:

What was really cool was that within a half hour, the account @Morningglorycof replied to my tweet:

I replied with “ I wish that they delivered” with a smile and then that was that, or so I thought.

Or Friday, I ran across this tweet:

It was really nice of them to do this, as I have never met this person and we had only exchanged a handful of tweets. I also decided to follow them back just in case I was ever in Montana. But the story does not end there.

On Friday we had friends that were going to Canobie Lake Park  up here in Salem NH. It is basically 6 Flags (www.sixflags.com), but on a much smaller scale (maybe 10% of 6 Flags). Anyway, we let our kids go during the day with our friends and met then at 5:30. Upon arrival at Canobie, I checked in on FourSquare and posted it to my Twitter account. Within a few minutes I received this tweet:

Is that a small world or what? Talk about chance encounters. I am sure that they also had a flood of memories outside of the one that they posted.

So with this post I wanted to bring about your Twitter stories. What are the “chance encounters” that you have heard of or actually been a part of? Please share.

Follow me

This seems to be a pretty important step in making sure that you can weed through the noise in the space. Some people follow too many people too quickly and become overwhelmed, while others take it slow and easy their way into Twitter, which I highly recommend.

Let me tell you what I do, and see if it is also what you do.

I seem to pick up a couple of followers. I go into Twitter’s website, rather than use Tweetdeck for this, and see who has most recently followed me. There are a few things that I key on when I click on their profile to see who they are:

Where are they located?

While being able to located current and accurate information concerning my profession on Twitter, as well as with former colleagues, I also like to keep up with people who live in my area, so I tend to follow them as well

What does their Bio say?

No bio, no follow, it is pretty cut and dry. If you can’t give me additional information about yourself, then how and why do you expect me to follow you? Come on, seriously?

How many followers do they have?

I am not talking about focusing on the numbers. If someone follows me, I tend to take a look at who they are pretty quick, within 24 hours I would say, unless it is the weekend. I tend to look at the box of avatars. There are 36 avatars within that area. If I am located within that area, odds are that you are not a spammer and are not just trying to friend anyone and everyone.

Maybe the last one is just me, but I feel that if you are following 36 people within a 24 hour period then you are just trying to get friends and not really caring who they are?

Too harsh? Thoughts? What do you look at?

On May 11th, Bill Simmons (@sportsguy33), Boston Sports writer and ESPN page 2 ‘The Sports Guys World creator, created a new Twitter account, @celticschants. The account was set up for sports fans (mostly Boston Celtics fans or anyone that was against Cleveland) to discuss potential chants for when players were fouled and stepping up to the free throw line. If you have watched basketball before, you know how fans can be with chants, and waving things. And as much as I hate to give credit to Duke, their fans are the most obnoxious.

Last night, while I was watching TV, I heard the chant of “New York Knicks” when Labron James stepped to the free throw line. Each and every time. It was loud. Even the announcers were talking about it. Now he did not miss all of his free-throws, and he did have a triple-double, he did go 9-12 from the line, missing 3 attempts. Being a .742 career shooter from the free-throw line, he was right on par. But who is to say that he would have missed those if the fans were not chanting?

Anyway, I like that this “grass-roots” idea came about, was promoted and discussed and took flight. It really goes to show how Social Media can be taken off-line. What are your thoughts? Did you watch the game, or have you seen this type of execution recently?

Too many options, too little time

(ps – total rant)

Why do we consistently need to focus on “Who is the next Google killer?” or “What is the next Twitter?” Google is here and it is successful, Twitter has a loyal following and is continuing to grow in numbers. Can’t we be happy with what is at our finger tips and continue to review what is new and integrate that into our daily life? Can’t we live with enhancements to the current offerings rather than look to transplant ourselves somewhere else? What is our obsession with moving from one thing to the next?

Now don’t get me wrong, I love technology and innovation and am glad that we currently have at our disposal the tools that we do. I use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other platforms to stay informed and keep in touch, but I am not looking for the next replacement to any of those. I have also worked in Social Media for over 12 years, so I am very glad to see where it has come from, but…..

With the options that are current at our fingertips, it is overwhelming, IMO. Some people are here, some are there, and some are not anywhere. How do you choose where to go and who to interact with?

This reminds me of when I was growing up – OMG, I am starting to sound like my parents now. Back in the day, we had minimal TV channels and things were on at certain times of the day – no TiVo, no DVR, just live TV. I remember running home from school or waking up early so that I could watch a show and when I would run into my friends, we would talk about it, because that was the only thing that was on TV, or the only option that we had. (I love my DVR and love that I can fast-forward through the commercials).
For kids, and adults for that matter, it is tougher now and the conversations begin with “What shows do you watch?” or What are your favorite games?” and if you don’t watch the same shows or play the same games we initially think that we don’t have anything in common with that other person. 

Is it just me, or are things beginning to move a little fast? Is there such a  thing as too many options?

In the current state of the economy, it is no longer about simply reaching out to your audience and hoping that they purchase your product – keeping your fingers crossed that they will become a “fan” of you. It is now about creating, building and extending relationships with your audience. Whether they are direct consumers, partners or employees – it does not make a difference. Your company is at the center of all of these relationships. Businesses need to understand the importance of these relationships and how the “little things” can make a big difference.

Note: I am married and have always been told that it is the little things that make a big difference, and I am also still trying to grasp this concept

Case-in-point – FourSquare

from the nydailynews.com

If you are not familiar with FourSquare, it is a location-based application for your phone where you can “log-in” to places that you visit. You can “friend” other people and you can also gain badges for certain activities – visiting and logging in to 5 different Starbucks for example will get you a Starbucks badge – but more on that later. You can also become what they call the “Mayor” of these locations, meaning that you have visited that specific area and have logged in more than anyone else. There is definitely a gaming component to FourSquare as you can try to gather as many badges as possible, and take the Mayor-ship from others who you may, or may not, know – which makes it a lot of fun.

Now there are other things to think about when leveraging Foursquare, including who you friend and where you post your status updates, but that is not what this post is about, it is about how a Business can create, build and extend the relationships with its audience and embrace new ways to communicate.

When I got into work today, I opened Twitter up to see what was going on. After about 10 minutes, I saw this post from a former colleague, good friend, and Social Media (I hate to say this but insert a descriptive here – guru, all-star, rock-star, evangelist……) Aaron Strout (@aaronstrout ):

local @Starbucks celebrated wife, @MelanieStrout’s @FourSquare mayorship w/ this sign & free gift bag. Nice! http://tweetphoto.com/17496680

FourSquare Mayorship

Welcome to Starbucks Mayor Melanie

Now can you imagine walking into your local Starbucks, and seeing that sign? Also, it was one thing for them to create the sign and to have their employees sign the banner, but it was another thing to put together a Gift Bag for her – likely related to her favorite drink, like one of those insulated plastic cups that they have (just a guess here).

I think that they key thing to think about is that this type of public recognition does not have to take part on a platform or technology like FourSquare – but it does need to happen in some way, shape or form to your customers, partners and employees in order to survive in this ever changing evolution of Social engagement. This is also another way to take online interactions and take them off-line, in the real world.

By the way, added benefits of their gesture – a Twitter post that easily reached tens of thousands of people instantly, and also encouraged this blog post.

Starbucks is a great example of a business that is embracing Social Media, between their FourSquare presence/partnership and the My Starbucks Idea that they have launched and continue to monitor, they are building their relationships and creating customers for life.

Have you seen other examples of this, and if you have, how has it changed your perception?

When we talk to our clients about Social Media, we talk a lot about creating, building and growing relationships for the long haul. While you definitely need to retain your current audience (whether it is your partners, customers or employees, it does not matter), you also need to figure out how to engage with a new audience, or those who may not be aware of who you are and what you do and acquire new individuals. This is not specific in the B2B or B2C world; it is about business in general. When I was at eBay, we went by the rule of the 3 A’s – Acquisition, Activation and Activity. This is a good framework to think about when you are thinking about Social Media. How do you plan to acquire a new audience, activate them and get them involved, while at the same time engaging with your current audience? How busy is your website? Are you doing the right SEO steps to place higher on the result pages? Are you engaging with your audience and putting a personality behind the brand? Are you providing a compelling and interactive experience once your audience visits your site? Does your audience on your website know that you have a Twitter or Facebook account and vice-versa? How are you communicating on these platforms and broadcasting messages to them? I came across the following graphic a few months ago, and modified it slightly to update it with current Social platforms:

* original viewed on www.socialmediavision.com/social-media/

Now when we describe Social media and how it relates to your website, we envision this concept of the wheel. Your website is at the center of it all. You control the content of your site and the organization of that content – now granted user generated content (UGC) you may not control, but you do have the right to enforce policies so that you can remove specific pieces of content if they violate those policies.

You can leverage SEO techniques in order to get your ranking higher on the search results pages for the larger search engines (I realize that YouTube is one of the largest search engines, but I place them in the Social aspect for this purpose).

You can also leverage these external Social Networks in order to create brand awareness and drive an audience back to your website – after all, is that really not the reason to have a presence on an external network – to drive people back to your website and increase your brand awareness? As I mentioned on a follow up blog post from my webinar a few months ago, leveraging these external networks are only 1 aspect of a Social strategy, you should not put all of your eggs in 1 basket.

Once you are able to drive people back to your website, what are they looking for, and how can you provide them with a pervasive web experience (I also borrowed that term from @rustyw who I believe coined the phrase).

Whether it is Blogs, reviews, ratings, forums, profiles, testimonials… you could go on and on with the different ways to provide your audience with a great interactive experience on your website. But the key is finding the right way to do it.

*cross-posted on Ektron.com and eBizq.net

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!

New Domino’s pizza recipe double quarterly profits

Wow, I am shocked. While I am not a Domino’s regular customer, I have obviously been following their Social Media strategy as you can see from prior posts, Domino’s Part 1 and Domino’s Part 2. Because of what they have gone through, and what they are currently doing, I actually ordered a few pizza’s last week from Domino’s – it was the 1st time that I had their pizza in probably 10 years, honest ABE.

It was good and I was happily surprised with the results as were the 6 nine year-olds that also ate it.

Now is it because of this new recipe that they doubled their profits? Is it because of the way that they communicated this change via Social Networks? Is it because of their commercials? Is it because of the way that they gathered direct feedback from their customers in order to create a better product? Is it because of the fact that they took the direct and honest feedback and distributed it to the powers that be, and they took action to improve their product? Was it because of their new webpage, http://www.pizzaturnaround.com/?

Was Domino’s ready for this? Were they ready, really ready to listen to the feedback and take action depending on what the feedback was? Obviously they were, and not only were they ready, they were also unified in their approach and in their communication methods, from start to finish.

This is really a great business case for integrating Social aspects into your Marketing channels in order to build for success. While it is one piece of the puzzle, it is a significant piece that can generate significant results. What do you think of Domino’s, have you tried it recently? Maybe you should 😉

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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