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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Scheduling Social Media Posts in the Quest for Work/Life Balance

It's terrifyingly easy to let your work consume your life when you're a social media manager: to check Twitter and Instagram on your phone at social events and have everyone excuse your behavior because it's your job. ABC is even taking the "social media manager with no social skills" stereotype to the mainstream with its new show Selfie. But with all of the tools at our disposal, there is no excuse for a social media manager's work to take over his or her life.

Below are my top five reasons why social media managers often tip the work/life scale towards work, including a few commonly cited as arguments against advance scheduling.
  1. Procrastination: When you leave everything to the last minute, you're forced to rely solely on live posting. As you work frantically to get all of your posts out at the right time for numerous clients, ask yourself: could this post have been scheduled in advance? Most of the time, the answer is yes. Eliminating procrastination for posts that can be drafted and perfected in advance leads to more consistent, more professional work, and gives you more time to focus on community management and engagement.
  2. Lack of Advance Planning/Strategy: As Yogi Berra once said, "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going, because you might not get there." Reliance on live posting is often a sign that a social media manager doesn't have a long-term content strategy or schedule. Developing an overall social media strategy, a content strategy, and a marketing plan/schedule will provide the framework for advance scheduling.
  3. Belief that Scheduling Hurts Authenticity: Pre-scheduled posts don't have to be (and indeed shouldn't be!) any different in tone or content than live posts. They are still your (or your client's) thoughts and words - they are simply executed at an earlier point in time. In fact, pre-scheduling leads to more authentic engagement by giving a social media manager more time for real-time community management and engagement.
  4. Fear of Missing Out: The dreaded FOMO argument comes from people who think advanced scheduling means "set it and forget it." This idea is reinforced by the ineffective social media managers who do just that, often with disastrous results - see #5. The answer isn't scheduling OR live posting, it's scheduling AND live posting.
  5. Fear of Being "That Guy": We've all seen him and bemoaned his behavior - that guy whose inappropriate pre-scheduled, usually self-promotional, messages appear in our feeds during a breaking news event. A prepared social media manager whose advance work gives him or her enough time to monitor live events will see them happening and can cancel or reschedule pre-scheduled messages accordingly.
With the right combination of scheduling and live work, a social media manager can be a relaxed, in control, functioning member of society and have a healthy work/life balance.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Being a Social Media Manager - Not a Social Media/SEO Specialist

As a social media consultant, prospective clients often ask me if I do search engine optimization (SEO) as well. (Or more accurately, they ask "Hey, can you mess with my website so I show up on the front page of Google?") The short answer is, no I don't. Here's why.

In high school, when I asked for more playing time on the varsity volleyball team, my coach told me flat out, "If you try to do everything, you'll never be good at anything." At the time, I was on extra-curricular overload. I was captaining the Junior Varsity volleyball team, singing in two school choirs, regularly starring in drama productions, and competing in equestrian events up and down the West Coast. My coach's words shocked and devastated me. I subsequently dropped out of volleyball and took up several more extracurricular activities, but her words have stuck with me in my professional career.

Here's the difference: high school is a time to have fun and try your hand at everything in order to develop diverse skills and find your passions. Participating in so many different things back then shaped who I am as a person. Trying to do the same now, in my career, would mean sacrificing the quality of the services I provide, and I am not willing to do that.

When clients ask if I do SEO as well as social media management, I explain that while social media activity can have SEO benefits, SEO is an entirely different specialized field. In theory I could do both social media and SEO, and many people do, but I prefer to focus on social media and make the work I do for my clients the best it can be.