Geo Week News

August 17, 2012

Are You Ready for Social Media?

Social Media Icons

One of the big stories surrounding the 2012 Olympic Games was the effect that social media had on the participants, spectators and media. As you may have noticed, most of it was negative. It is not that social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are negative, it’s that most commercial entities are not prepared to interact with the public in a two-way conversation. Many of us have dipped a toe into social media sites on a company level, but do you have a plan or are you just winging it? I can’t say that I have figured it out or have seen a profit from the time invested in social media at this point. But I can tell you that I feel like I have a more personal relationship with some clients through social media and, as always, I can cover the mistakes I’ve made (and seen).

  • Don’t Limit Yourself.
    • Some people prefer Facebook, others LinkedIn, still fewer Google+. They are all free so use them all to reach as many people as possible. However, don’t just cut & paste the same content if you can avoid it. Search engines rate unique content higher than the same post in four different places.


  • Remember You are Talking to Potential Customers.
    • In short don’t say something you wouldn’t say in public or publish on paper; essentially you are doing both. My Olympic example? A company that I “liked” on Facebook kept posting live Olympic results in my feed. Several people (customers, remember?) complained because they didn’t want to spoil their viewing on NBC’s tape-delayed prime-time programming and the company’s response was, “If you don’t want to know, don’t get online.” This company said that they did not regret posting results and if anyone had a problem with that they could unlike the page. Now, arguments about spoiler alerts and 24 hour news cycles aside, one would assume that the purpose of this company page was to add business and this tactic did not serve that interest.


  •   Be Ready for Negative Comments!
    • Don’t kid yourself; it’s going to happen. Rule #1) Unless it is horribly out of line and I mean WAY out there, do not delete it. All I said to the aforementioned company was that, “a spoiler alert would have been nice but that their comments to other posters did not make me want to do business with them.” My comment was deleted, I “unliked” the page and now I’m writing this. Imagine what a really irate person could do.
    • Rule #2) Directly address the concern. At this point I’ve got to give kudos to Oliver Buerkler of FARO. I came across a post complaining about customer service from FARO. Mr. Buerkler simply stated he was sorry that the person had a negative experience and offered to help if the person would send him a message outlining the problem. A few other people chimed in about negative experiences and a different person from FARO addressed each one. By the end of the thread the situation seems ok. At a minimum it did not escalate. If you would like to learn how to do things the WRONG way please see United Airlines.


  •   Use Automation (with caution!).
    • I use the service IFTT. If you are not familiar with IFTT it stands for If This, Then That. You choose a web application (like Twitter) and link it to another web application (like LinkedIn). The link I chose was #LN. So, if I tweet with the hashtag #LN in the post, that text is automatically sent to and posted in my Linked account about 15 minutes later. Where this falls apart is when you set it up for auto-response duties. For a prime example of this see Progressive Insurance. They set up an auto response that seemed very sympathetic towards a tragic post, until you saw it reposted a couple of hundred times in a row when a lot of customers complained about the same issue.


  • Determine Your Persona.
    • There are multiple schools of thought here but the underlying convention is to be consistent. Some speak as a character or icon, others take on the personality of the company or a prominent executive. I really only seem to be able to be myself. However, our business requires a fair amount of trust and letting people know me aids in developing trust with clients that I may only see once a year (if ever). So much is accomplished through the phone and email that finding ways to become personally involved can be a challenge. This is a great use of social media.


  • Look Into an Aggregator.
    • Sites like HootSuite and TweetDeck allow you to monitor multiple social media sites in one convenient interface. This is especially good if you are assigning the monitoring duties to a single person or just want to leave it up on the flatscreen in the conference room.


  • Add to the Mix.
    • It’s like a cocktail party. If you don’t speak up you’ll eventually find yourself in a corner holding up the wall. Every conversation can’t be about you either. Any promotion of the technology helps you in some way and promoting some personal interests (choose wisely; i.e. no politics, religion, etc.) can help with that personal connection I mentioned earlier.


  • Above all Schedule It.
    • There was probably a time when you had to remember to check your email. Now it’s baked into your day. If social media is not second nature to you yet, then put it on your calendar. Even if it’s only once a week, it’s all about consistency.


  • Pay Attention.
    • Like everything else in our industry, the goal posts keep moving. When you see something done right, mimic it. Don’t be shy about promoting your social media sites and above all avoid the mistakes you are bound to see all around you.
    • Lastly, watch for success, then try to repeat it. If certain topics or formats resonate with your audience go back to those successes. Video beats pictures and they beat text. Thankfully, you are in an industry that lends itself well to video, animation and all sorts of multimedia production. Just think, you could be running social media for the city dump. 

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