Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Yes, You Can Hire Someone to Manage Your Twitter Account

When people ask what exactly a social media manager does and I explain it to them, one of the most common responses I get is: "You mean I can hire someone to tweet for me?" Yes, you can! "But how do you know what to say?"

A good social media manager is a chameleon. To determine what to tweet on their behalf, I soak up all the details of my client's business and create a custom content strategy. I then develop their voice and tone down to the smallest detail. Are their hashtags practical or whimsical? Would they use periods at the end of sentences or ellipses? Do they use contractions? What about slang? When you only have 140 characters to work with, these tiny elements make a big difference. They are what creates authenticity and prevents tweets from sounding corporate or canned.

Managing a Twitter account for a brand also means curating and developing their online community. Retweets, follows and favorites further express the brand's identity and help it connect with the right customers, partners and prospects. I once took over a local business' Twitter account and discovered that the agency who theyd worked with previously had followed nearly 2,000 Twitter accounts of peope all across the country, in an effort to build their community. The problem was, a vast majority of those people would never visit the city the business was in, let alone shop there. A good social media manager will develop a Twitter community that is relevant to your business.

One of the most important things that a social media manager provides on Twitter is a high and consistent volume of posts. If you're posting only once a day, no one is seeing your messages. Opinions differ on exactly how many posts per day is effective, but no matter what your goal total is, boosting the volume of posts gives you more opportunities to be heard throughout the day.

Long story short, it is entirely possible (and highly recommended!) to find someone to tweet for you instead of trying to do it yourself. Hiring someone to manage your Twitter account will give you a more consistent, engaged, effective presence and free up your time to focus on the work of your business.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Reason 257 Why You Need Social Media: Your Customers Are Passive-Aggressive Jerks

We have officially reached the stage in our cultural development where customers would rather whine about issues on social media than address them in person. In my last blog post, I shared a social media customer success story. This time, I will share a few real life examples where customers have reached out through social media about issues that could, and probably should, have been addressed in person or through traditional customer service channels. Each example details suggested responses for similar scenarios.
  • "The tomatoes on my sandwich were sliced so thin it was like there were no tomatoes at all!" There are two main issues with this type of interaction: too much time has elapsed to solve the issue, and the issue is subjective. This is a good time to remember that the customer is always right. Your staff member may have thought that the thickness of the tomatoes was fine, or may have been trying to save you money, but the customer is unhappy. It's probably too late to do anything about the sandwich in question, so apologize and find a way to make it right.
  • "Ugh! The product broke on its way to me!" This is a typical case of people not knowing how or taking the time to find traditional customer service channels. Apologize, direct them to the right place (and a location where you can get their info without exposing it to the public), and make it right.
  • "Your staff person was SO RUDE!" This offended customer simmered about the in-person interaction they had with your business until they had to say something on social media. Maybe they felt uncomfortable asking to speak to someone in person, or maybe they just wanted to rant online. Whatever the reason, apologize, take the interaction out of the public eye, get the details from both sides of the story, and find a way to make the customer walk away happy.
Notice a theme here? The customer is always right. Handling social media complaints with tact and care can turn a negative interaction into a positive relationship. Responding quickly and effectively via social media makes you look good to other customers and prospects as well. And directing confused customers to the proper customer service channels will help prevent future confusion.
When you hire someone to manage your social media accounts, ask them about their experience with and approach to customer service. These days, social media is a customer service resource. Monitor it and treat it as such, or suffer the consequences: even more annoyed customers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Empowering Employees with Social Media Customer Service: Case Study

"Someone once told me that every customer complaint is the best possible opportunity to build brand loyalty. On that front, Hawaiian Airlines has succeeded with me."

By now, you've probably heard the story of how United breaks guitars. Here's a story you haven't heard, about how Hawaiian Airlines broke some paddles and then made it right via the perfect combination of social media and customer service.

Luke Evslin, a college friend of mine, is a competitive ocean paddler. (He's back at it after the sport nearly took his life, but that's another story.) Since he lives on Kauai, he often takes inter-island flights to get to competitions, requiring him to check his paddles. When several paddles were broken on one such flight, he went on Facebook to express his frustration.

As Luke was going through the claims process, with Hawaiian, the airline reached out to him through an email address he lists on his Facebook profile. They agreed to pay the full cost of the paddles, about $1,100, without going through a claims investigation. How was he so lucky? He has a few friends who work for Hawaiian. They saw the conversation happening on social media, realized the public relations impact it could have on the company, and addressed it with their employer. They didn't wade into the conversation, they didn't even let Luke know what they were doing. They simply helped make it right.

So what's the lesson here? It's simple. Empower your employees to take action when they see conversations happening about your company on social media. Encourage them to be good ambassadors and then make it clear how they should get involved. Luke's follow up message, and the subsequent stories and goodwill in the comments section, show how beneficial such a policy can be.

To learn more about Luke and his commitment to living off the grid, check out his blog: Ka Wae.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Do Your Social Media Homework: 3 Ways Clients Can Get Involved

Sometimes when I manage a company's social media accounts, my client will ask for homework. "What can I do to contribute to my social media presence?" They want to get involved beyond the tasks I include in their contracts: sending me anecdotes, info, and photos related to their business. Here are three "extra credit" assignments for clients who want to supplement the work of a social media manager without getting in the way.

  1. Research: A good social media manager will of course do extensive research on your brand and industry. You can help with this by researching what your competitors and comparable businesses are doing on social media. What accounts do you admire? What accounts are getting it wrong? Who do you want to emulate? Who do you want to engage with? The more information you can give your social media manager, the better. It will help her hone her social media strategy and the look/feel/tone of the social media presence she is developing for your company.
  2. Network Engagement: As your social media manager represents your company's brand, you can support her work by developing your personal brand. LinkedIn is a perfect platform for this. Connect with people and comment on their posts. Join groups and discuss topics relevant to your industry. Ask for and give recommendations. If you need guidance on how to make the best use of LinkedIn, just ask your expert! You can also talk to your social media manager about what other networks you can use to develop your personal brand (i.e. Twitter and Instagram.) 
  3. Personal Engagement: This is an area where you can have a significant impact, because it can't be duplicated by a professional. You can make a major difference in the success of your social media campaign by personally engaging with customers and partners about your social media presence. Send personal notes via email with links to your accounts, asking people to connect. In person, mention your social accounts to customers and partners and ask them to engage with you. Train your staff, if you have them, to ask customers for social media engagement. The perfect example I always use is if you see a customer taking a photo, thank them and ask them to tag your accounts! 
These are just three of many ways you can build on your social media manager's work. By taking the initiative and doing a little more, you will increase the reach of your social media presence and ensure that it best reflects your brand.

Monday, February 2, 2015

"What's your motivation?" Applying acting theory to social media strategy

One of the keys to finding and engaging a community on social media is understanding and satisfying their motivation. I first learned about motivation in an acting context. When playing a character on stage, it's my job as an actor to understand my character's motivation in that scene and in the play as a whole.

A character's motivation is the driving force behind his or her words and actions. It's what gives them meaning and weight. The same goes for social media users. In order to get a fan to engage with them on social media, a business needs to understand their motivation. All too often, businesses structure their social media strategies around satisfying their own motivation, which is usually to drive sales, rather than focusing on the motivations of their fans.

To understand your fans' motivations and use your knowledge to maximize engagement, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Why did fans like or follow me in the first place? This question is similar to an actor exploring her motivation in the play as a whole. Potential motivations here could be because they need information, they genuinely like your business and its products or services, they're curious about your business, they were/are bored, or because you provided an incentive, like a discount promotion.
  2. Why have fans engaged with me in the past? Just as an actor might research or create a back story for her character, diving into your statistics will give you a good sense of your fan base's motivations as you see what types of post they have interacted with most.
  3. Why would fans interact with a new post? In addition to understanding her overall motivation, an actor must work to find her motivation in each scene. Similarly, a social media manager must explore why a fan would want to interact with each post she writes. It could be the same as the overall motivation or it could be different. For example, a fan who likes a Facebook Page to relieve boredom might like a funny video post because it fulfills the same purpose. But he also might like a post because he is provided an incentive to do so, such as a product discount.
  4. What should I do now? An actor uses her understanding of her character's motivation to successfully perform a scene. A social media manager should therefor use her understanding of her fans' motivations to create a post that will satisfy those motivations. Doing so will increase the potential for engagement.
No matter what your fans' motivations are, working hard to understand them will help you increase engagement on your accounts and ultimately satisfy your own motivations.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Connecting with Cameras: Social Media and Artistic Performance

In addition to owning and managing my social media business, I also perform with a professional Christmas caroling organization during the holiday season. This year, I have noticed that we are performing more and more for electronic devices than for the people who own them. Since coming across a quartet of Victorian costumed Christmas carolers is such an anachronism for most people, it is understandable that they want to share the experience on social media. But I can't help but wonder if our audiences might enjoy the performance more if they were seeing it real time. In fact, studies have shown that people remember experiences more when they do not record them.

As a performer, I know that I connect better with audiences when I see their faces than when I see the backs of their devices and I want them to fully experience the holiday cheer we bring. On the other hand, I am excited that audiences rush to record their experiences and I try to encourage them to connect with our organization on social media whenever I can. It can be difficult to find opportunities to do so, however, without affecting the Christmas magic that we create. When it works, it is the best-case scenario of social engagement: user-generated content that the company can share, generating very positive engagement and encouraging more content from other fans.

No matter how many viral videos go around admonishing us to put down their phones and experience life, we will always be driven to record our experiences for our own enjoyment and to share with others. Those of us on the other side of the lens just have to put on the best show we can and find ways to access and amplify our audience's memories on our own social media channels.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Facebook Mythbusting - Copyright Disclaimers

Maybe it's because I'm a professional social media manager or maybe it's just because I find chain-letter posts incredibly annoying, but I often find myself playing the role of mythbuster on some friends' Facebook posts. One chain-letter type post stands out as a particularly frustrating repeat offender: copyright disclaimers. In this post, I will explain this myth and how you can help keep it from spreading.

(Disclaimer: While I am a social media consultant, I am not a lawyer and this post should not be construed as legal advice.)

Myth: By copying and pasting a legal-sounding disclaimer from a friend's post, you can claim and maintain copyright to your content. Here's one example (via Snopes):

In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). 

For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times! 

(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws, By the present communiqué, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook's direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law(UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute). 

Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.

Mythbusting Proof: Here's the relevant excerpt from Facebook's terms that disproves this myth.

For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

Why It's Bad: This type of post is harmful because it leads users to believe that by posting a privacy disclaimer they automatically have some right to the content they share on Facebook, which is absolutely incorrect. As much as it might bother you, by agreeing to Facebook's terms and conditions (which you do by using or even just logging into the site,) you automatically waive all rights to your content. Spreading this myth is particularly harmful to artists or others for whom copyright is literally valuable. Leading people who make money off of their content to believe that posting a disclaimer once gives them copyright can lead to financial consequences if their content is then used without their knowledge or consent and without generating royalties for them. An example might be a photographer who uploads an image to Facebook, thinking that because they posted this disclaimer, they maintain the copyright. Under Facebook's terms, Facebook can use the image on ads and elsewhere, or transfer rights to another entity, without paying the photographer any royalties or even giving credit. Knowing that Facebook has the rights to any content they upload might prevent the photographer from uploading valuable content. The more we can educate ourselves about Facebook's terms of service, the more careful we can be about what we share.

Do This Instead: If you are truly concerned about maintaining control of your content, delete your Facebook account and track down any content shared by your friends, or anyone else, and ask them to remove it from Facebook. If you, like me, can't imagine life without a Facebook account and you see a version of the copyright disclaimer in your Timeline, you can stop its spread by pointing out that it is a myth. Often simply posting a link to Snopes works just fine. And finally, the most important step you can take in being a Facebook mythbuster is to read Facebook's terms, a.k.a the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. If you're going to be a user of a site that owns your content copyright, you might as well be an informed user.