Church of the Customer: Social media archives
December 09, 2009
Social Media 2010: it's time to get boring
2009 is feeling a bit like 1999 when it comes to social media.
CNN, Ashton Kutcher and Oprah helped stir the hype for Twitter. Social media and Twitter conferences sprang up everywhere. Social media snake oil salesmen prowled Twitter. Lots of hype, but not a lot of process-driven action.
My prediction for 2010: social gets integrated into business functions. That means: social media policies, aligning social media strategies and tactics with overall business objectives and revenue goals, and realigning functional teams. Yeah, not as exciting as another viral video but those are as reliable as a Vegas roulette table. Social media process is hard work, so it's time for social media to get boring! For process geeks like me, that's pretty exciting.
What was hot in 2009 is out in 2010.
Turning your homepage into a Twitter search for your brand name
Turning your employees loose on Twitter for customer service
Return on conversations
Return on investment (always in style)
Advertising on Twitter
Insights from Twitter
Interns in charge of posting in social media
The CMO participating in social media**
Focused on yourself
Focused on your customer
Number of followers
Blocking employees from using social media
Incenting employees to use social media
Corp Communications Department
Ok, that last one has nothing to do with social media. I just like saying and eating cake balls : )
* Via Sean O'Driscoll
** An Ant's Eye View client.
November 18, 2009
New company, new history
When Jackie Huba and I decided eight years ago to start a company, we envisioned it as a consulting firm that would help clients create customer evangelists.
It was March 2001. We'd both just left the web development company we had worked at for three years. Online advertising was king then, but we wanted to explore why some brands experienced strong word of mouth while others didn't. We wanted to understand what fueled the evangelism, how it happened, and how could we help others do the same.
We started with a website and an email newsletter in an era that could only be described as Before Blogs. A few months later, Fast Company did a short write-up on us, which led to a call from a publisher, which led to a book contract, which led to a year's worth of work, which led to the book "Creating Customer Evangelists" and a regular schedule of speaking engagements and workshops. Instead of focusing on building a company, we focused on spreading a philosophy.
Eight years later, there's a wide range of belief systems to choose from: evangelists, influencers, agents, advocates, mavens or sneezers. Social media fuels all of them at remarkable speed; some companies have adapted well while many others do nothing -- not because they're resistant to change, but because they're unsure of what to do. We think it's a good time to help with that.
So today we're announcing that Ant's Eye View, a management consulting company led by our friends Sean O'Driscoll and Jake McKee, is acquiring us and our company that's home to all of our work. We're very excited to be part of a group that helps business get smart about being social. We'll keep blogging here, and we'll continue to speak at conferences like we have for years, but we'll do that while helping grow a management consulting firm.
Ant's Eye View isn't even a year old yet, but it's already growing like some freaky kid prodigy. Sean was the guy behind Microsoft's MVP program, a community that brings knowledgeable Microsoft product users together with others who have questions or problems to solve. Jake was the guy at LEGO who changed the way that company thought about and engaged with loyal fans and customers through community relations (the subject of a Wired cover story in 2006).
Sean and Jake joined forces early in 2009 to launch Ant's Eye View. After that, they brought in Sean McDonald; he'd led the social media efforts at Dell to rebuild the company's image after "Dell Hell" scorched it. That included the company’s first corporate blog and pioneering efforts like Ideastorm.com.
We like Ant's Eye View because its people have led complex, customer-driven projects at big brands. They understand and believe in customer participation -- the fifth P of marketing -- our core marketing philosophy. They're focused, too; in less time than it takes some companies to decide on a name and a logo, Ant's Eye View has built an impressive roster of clients like Cisco, Apple, Intuit and a bunch of others. Word is just beginning to spread.
It's fitting that our announcement happens on the first day of the 2009 WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas. Five years ago, myself, Jackie and a handful of others met with Pete Blackshaw, Dave Balter and Jonathan Carson to hear their idea for an association focused on word of mouth. We're glad they eventually founded the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, which promotes the importance of word of mouth among all industries; Jackie was even named a founding board member. A bit rocky at times in its early years, WOMMA has filled its shoes well lately, especially by partnering with smarties like John Moore.
In fact, tonight at 7:30 pm (Wednesday), Ant's Eye View is throwing a celebration party at WOMMA. We'll be at the Risque club inside the Paris hotel, and the drinks are on us.
October 22, 2009
Twitter: the killer app for customer service
"Hello, this is Sam Kaufman from the AT&T Internet Executive Office, and I am calling about your tweets."
That's what I heard yesterday after posting a few tweets about my less-than-stellar customer service experience with an AT&T DSL technical support rep. The rep was trying to diagnose my DSL problems and after telling me to stay on the line for 10 minutes, he never returned after 30 minutes. I hung up. He never called back.
With a few hours of my AT&T tweet, @ATTJohnathon, a customer care rep on Twitter contacted me, asking if he could help. I DM'ed him my account number as he requested and he passed it on to Sam. Turns out Sam is part of the Customer Advocacy Center, where escalated customer complaints are sent. Sam says he has recently started receiving tweets from the AT&T Twitter team for follow-up.
AT&T is on board with social media for customer service. In addition to the five fourteen customer care reps on Twitter, the company has 23 social media channels on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Posterous and blogs.
Comcast may have been the first high-profile company to use Twitter for customer service, but now others are seeing the benefits as well, such as DirectTV, Wells Fargo, Alaska Airlines and FourSquare.
Twitter is the killer app for customer service. Companies can discover aggravating service problems by using a variety of tools to listen on tweets mentioning their name. A response can be nearly immediate.
It's good word of mouth, too. Mediocre service is such a standard that any form of pro-active Twitter customer service is worth talking about.
October 13, 2009
A social media truism
When times are good, participate.
When times are tough, participate more.
(Doesn't that read better than "advertise" in that old saying?)
October 08, 2009
Facebook fan pages are the future
Facebook fan pages are the future for three reasons: They're free, easy to create and build a nearly instantaneous pathway to evangelists, prospects or the curious.
When fans interact with a fan page on Facebook, that interaction is sent through the fan's news feed, which goes to all their friends, practically daring a chunk of them to see what the page is about.
Compared to Twitter, Facebook fan pages rule. You're not limited by Twitter's 140-character posts, plus it's far easier for fan page members to preview a photo, video or weblink than what Twitter offers.
What more could a brand manager want?
Finally, a Facebook fan page can be a strong leading indicator of how well a brand is doing at any one time with buzz-spreaders, some of whom could represent connected, influential customers. Its feedback is all qualitative, but a Facebook fan page could help guide a brand in 3 ways:
- It immediately surfaces questions, problems or issues. A fan page can create an immediate fix-it list.
- It tells you how well you're connecting with fans through Facebook's free "Insights" feature that graphs subscribes, unsubscribes, post quality and total interactions. Plus, you get some tasty demographic stats about your fans -- won't get that from Google Analytics or Twitter.
- It tells you what resonates with fans by the number of comments and "likes" people give each post.
With a little bit of imagination, it shouldn't be too hard for a brand manager to devise a spreadsheet filled with marketing tactics that emerge from a vibrant Facebook fan page.
P.P.S. You should friend me on Facebook here.
October 07, 2009
The social media ban
A survey of 1,400 companies has found that 54% of them completely prohibit social media at work.
The companies that do allow their employees access to Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or a host of other social networks do so in varying levels.
Just 10% allow employees access to social media for any type of use.
The story here isn't a preponderance of companies clueless about social media. The real story is the gift the those prohibitive companies have given to their competitors or a start-up in the 10% that have opened the social media doors.
The 10 percenters can set up company Facebook fan pages, add more people to the company Twitter account, set up a YouTube channel, a Squidoo account, a LinkedIn group, a Yammer account or a Ning network for employees who can tell their Facebook friends about the cool things they're doing at work. Plus they'll hear about any problems fans or customers encounter and have a front-line response ready to tackle them.
For the 10 percenters, this gift may not last long, but they have the chance to spread word of mouth about their work through network after network while their locked-down competitors futz over print brochures.
October 05, 2009
Yes on the FTC's disclosure rule for bloggers
The FTC says if bloggers write about products, they must disclose if they received payments and/or freebies from a company for the write-up. If not, it's an $11,000 fine per violation. (The FTC's note about disclosure is here.)
This is a good thing.
With just about every survey in the world finding that the majority of people today trust what's said online forums more so than any other marketing platform, then it's in the best interest of the public to ensure that the system isn't rigged for positive or negative reviews. Anything else is just a form of fraud. Trust is the bloodstream of commerce, and online trust has become a central component to how billions of dollars are spent by millions of people every day.
The vast majority of people don't run stop signs, yet we still have laws against it. Every infraction isn't caught or punished, but STOP isn't a guideline or an industry-developed suggestion. This is a good example of protecting the many from the reckless few, just as the FTC's blogger rule is.
Teaching every blogger that it's against the law to accept payments or freebies for writing about products will help maintain a measure of trust in the online marketplace. It won't stop some bloggers from acting recklessly or fraudulently, but it will remove any ambivalence or doubt about its legality. That's a start.
- John Moore notes the top-line takeaways on the WOMMA blog.
- Brian says on TechCrunch that disclosure "can only help brands and bloggers."
- Kate at ClickZ has a good write-up, including how a fine might be levied.
- Jeff Jarvis makes a First Amendment, let-the-marketplace-decide argument.
September 14, 2009
A CIA factbook on Facebook
What's the most-represented country on Facebook?
Easy answer: The United States.
The U.K., another fairly easy answer.
But which country is the third-most represented?
Yes, Turkey, with (currently) 13 million of its 76 million residents on Facebook. Turkey beats out Canada for resident representation. I wouldn't have guessed.
It's real-time stats like these that make Nick's work on CheckFacebook.com valuable to anyone who needs data to make sense of the impact Facebook is having on business and culture.
One other real-time stat: A staggering 274 million people have registered themselves on Facebook, a number which could reach 300 million by the end of 2009 with no signs of letting up. When a company has 300 million customers, it creates a dynamic wake.
Where's the CIA World Factbook equivalent for social networks?
Bonus: Top 10 countries on Facebook, as measured by users:
August 13, 2009
Turning bad buzz around for Best Buy
Best Buy was in the news the other day for an oops. It offered a 52-inch HDTV that normally sells for $1,600 on its web site for $9.99. Eager web surfers gleefully pulled out their credit cards and placed orders.
As word of the deal spread, Best Buy realized the mistake, quickly pulled the offer from the site and announced it would not honor the purchases. The company cited its web site terms and conditions, which reserve the right to "revoke offers or correct errors" even if a credit card has already been charged. Upset tweeters took over, and Best Buy came out with a black eye.
Few people would expect Best Buy to honor what surely seems like human error but the bigger idea here is that every misstep, even embarrassing public ones, are an opportunity to turn bad buzz into good. Years ago, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told a newspaper he wouldn't hire the chief referee of the NBA "to manage a Dairy Queen." Ouch. Within days, Cuban accepted an offer to manage a DQ store in Dallas. While TV cameras and reporters captured the scene, Cuban was behind the counter, in DQ garb, serving customers -- and that was BT: Before Twitter. DQ was happy, Cuban was happy, and the media were happy they had a happy ending to a story.
Turning bad buzz into good takes fast, creative thinking, a sense of humor, and a willingness to happily eat virtual crow. Best Buy could put everyone who ordered the TV into a drawing then give away 10 of them. Or 100. Then they could even deliver the sets, with TV cameras rolling, and have their Geek Squad members install them for free.