The Many Faces of Social Media

When you think about the purpose of social media, what first comes to your mind? Nowadays, I don’t think there’s one “right” answer because social media is useful in so many ways. Let’s take a look at the different faces of social media:

The microblogger – When Twitter first came out, it was all about microblogging this and microblogging that. Today, Facebook, Tumblr, and LinkedIn are amongst the many that have their very own microblogging service. If you don’t have enough time devoted to blogging, this is an excellent alternative.

The customer service representative – Another great thing about social media is that you can keep tabs on what customers are saying about your brand and respond quickly. Did you know that customers can skip the waiting (and awful hold music) by tweeting their problems? Time Warner Cable, for example, has a team of staff members solely for this purpose.

The salesperson – The immediacy and wide audience of social media sites give you the ability to promote your business 24/7. Sort of like a salesperson who never sleeps and isn’t as annoying. Well, maybe. Even though social media sites give you the opportunity to self promote, it doesn’t mean that you should overuse and abuse it.

The promotion team – Customers love to be appreciated as much as they like good deals. This is where your social media strategy can focus on promotions. From coupons to contests, this is the best way to drum up some good publicity and create customer interest in your brand.

The social butterfly – Sometimes, social media is just that – social. Have you ever wondered why trending topics on Twitter seem so random? It’s because it’s a result of some tedious, strategic marketing plan but rather, an organic outcome of what happens when people communicate together online. Savvy businesses are the ones who use this to their advantage and join in the most-talked about conversations.

In the end, social media doesn’t necessarily have to play all these roles for your business. There’s a lot of room for flexibility and growth so that you can find out which suits you best. Which one do you think is most important and why?

Why You Should Never Immediately Delete a Negative Comment

If you receive a negative comment, reply or message on any of your social media profiles, your first instinct would probably be to delete it before anyone sees it. But you can turn this negative into positive if you resist the urge to delete.

Resisting the Urge

Let’s say you do get rid of the comment – you’ll also immediately lose the chance of getting more information about that customer and getting to the root of their (and your) problem. As much as we’d like it to, deleting this comment won’t make the angry customer go away. What’s even worse is failing to recognize if your business or employees have wronged a customer. We’ve all heard that a satisfied customer might tell a few of their friends about your business. But an unhappy customer will go out of their way to let the whole world know!

Making Your Problems Worse

In fact, it could make your online reputation problems even worse. Have you ever heard of a little thing called Ripoff Report? This site is notorious for publishing all types of uncensored complaints from customers. The real kicker is that they NEVER (or almost never) remove these complaints, whether it’s unwarranted or not.  So, before you know it, that one quip on Facebook could turn into a permanent black mark on your brand’s name.

A Quick Response is Better

If you delete a customer’s comment, it will only make them more angry and ensure that you’ll lose their business. Instead, try to reach out on the public forum to show that you take customer service concerns very seriously. Converting a once unsatisfied customer could turn them into a new brand ambassador for your business, and at they may even follow up on their initial complaint. The bottom line is that you need to show that you’re paying attention to their comments and complains instead of just trying to make them disappear.

With the instantness and speed of social media sites, it’s important to learn about how to respond to all types of comments. Oh yeah, don’t forget to keep everyone on your team up to date about the response protocol. Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open so that you won’t have to fear a negative comment again!

What Happens After Reaching #1

Even after you reach the oh-so coveted #1 spot in search engine results page, your work is not done! Here are a few things that you still need to keep an eye on to make the most of your top ranking position:

Customer service – Are you ready to pick up the phone and help potential customers? Wait… before all that, make sure that your contact information is easy to find and up to date. If you use contact forms and have undergone recent site changes, check them to make sure that they still work work! There’s nothing worse than a customer inquiry that goes unanswered.

Search engine friendly web design – A well-optimized page and consistent SEO will help you maintain good rankings. This means that the search engines see that your site/pages are relevant with corresponding keywords and what business owner wouldn’t want that?

Search user friendly – Many sites have a bad habit of being too cluttered with content and other media. While these pages may help your SEO efforts, they can deter users. Content should be easy to find in appropriate sections so that your site is user-friendly. Imagine ranking #1 for a competitive keyword only to have users bounce away quickly from your site because they can’t find what they need!

PR and personality – Whether you utilize social media marketing or other forms of PR, it’s important to throw your brand name out there once in awhile. Press releases and social media not only help show your relevancy in your field but it also helps bring a personal touch to your business. Even in today’s world of overreliance on telecommuting and email, people do like to see the human side of your business. And yes, I think that you can also accomplish this with regular blogging.

What do you think are some other ways you can improve your site/marketing after reaching the #1 spot in SERPs?

Case Studies: Groupon & Foursquare for Businesses

Last month, we learned how Groupon is beneficial for businesses. Today, let’s take a look at some real life examples of how Groupon and Foursquare can be used to bring in new customers:


Cafe 50’s Uses Groupon
The concept of discounted dining is not new. Restaurant.com has been around for much longer than Groupon but it lacks a social and “cool” aspect of Groupon deals.

This weekend, I ate at Café 50’s for the first time after seeing a Groupon. This kitschy 50’s themed eatery has fairly good Yelp reviews and two locations in Los Angeles. After a yummy breakfast, the owner thanked us for coming and told us how much he loved Groupon because it was bringing him in so much business. How much exactly? He revealed that within 24 hours, nearly 4,000 people had purchased a Groupon! That number is pretty amazing to me for a local business. It’s also the kind of restaurant that is good for groups and families so I’m sure that they’ll be looking forward to more customers through word of mouth and online reviews.


Checking into Dodger Stadium with Foursquare
This weekend was full of new things as I checked into Dodger Stadium for the first time using Foursquare. I even earned a “swarm badge”, which means that I checked into a venue where 50+ others have also checked in. Foursquare badges and mayorships provide customers with a fun way to show their loyalty and encourage them to explore new venues. I also saw that fans checking in using Foursquare could also save 25% on their next visit! Groupons and Foursquare is great for restaurants, retailers and venues because they provide incentive. It’s a new way to invite people who wouldn’t normally visit your business.

Of course, there are downsides to Groupon and Foursquare if businesses believe that they could lose money (especially for service provides or small businesses who are not equipped to handle the volume). If your business is interested in Foursquare or Groupon, make sure to read the conditions carefully.

What Bothers You About Facebook?

emarketed Facebook advertising
Whether you think that change is good or bad, it’s one thing for sure: inevitable. Facebook faces harsh criticisms as they are always changing features and updating their looks. Let’s take a look the pain points of Facebook:

Constant changes – People don’t always like change, especially when it comes to something that they’re familiar with. Facebook is always changing how Pages look and have recently put a size constraint on Facebook Page tabs and eliminated Boxes. They claim that the purpose of this is to enhance the user experience but how is it helpful for Pages to take things away?

Facebook Places also made its debut and people are up in arms over privacy issues, so learn how to disable it if you’re interested.

Lack of focus – Should I focus on gaining more Fans? Constantly updating my status? Adding new content? What’s the point of all this?! Many people find themselves asking these questions. It’s hard to find a balance in all this but you’ll eventually find the spot. To me, the most important aspect of a Facebook Page is to show your personality. An updated Page shows that you’re active and “social” so yes, it’s important to show your customers and fans that there is a real person behind your Page.

Irrelevancy and distractions – This article shows how Facebook Pages are becoming irrelevant in some ways. It claims that less people are visiting Pages. I think that well-maintained Pages will still get hits.
So, what are people doing on Facebook? I just noticed that I got a complimentary 25 credits for Facebook Games such as Resort World (nearly 2.5 million players) or Happy Island (nearly 9 million players). Time to spend that virtual money!

What are some other things that bother you about Facebook?

Just Attended: Social Media Club

Last night, we braved the rain and made it to join, “Social Media: Getting it Right in 2010”, with the Social Media Club of San Gabriel Valley. Moderated by Sally Falkow, the panelists included: Dana Chinn, James Macpherson. and Jessica Gottlieb. With good people and good fudge, what more could we ask for?

In about 2 hours, a wide array of topics were covered. It started out with what’s changed in the media. Nowadays, you small businesses can take advantage of bloggers to monitor your brand and listen to what customers want. No doubt, the theme of the night was to measure your efforts and adjust accordingly. Just because we’re talking about social media marketing, doesn’t mean that you should throw the basics of marketing out the window!

Useful Tips and Takeaways
- When it comes to social media, you don’t necessarily need to be everywhere. Utilize the right platforms that will work with your overall goals.
– Make use of location-based review sites: Foursquare and Yelp. Listen and be nice to your customers!
– Don’t forget to be engaging. Leave comments and interact with your fans and friends frequently.
– Communicate your passion. Chances are, there are many readers out there who share your enthusiasm for certain topics. Even if they don’t, your excitement is a great way to bring them in.

All in all, it was a fun and informative night. Looking forward to more of them in the future!

Twitter for Customer Service Success

Do What Now?

From shameless self-promotion to broadcasting tweets about everyday things, there is no doubt Twitter is a place to be social. But, what about turning to Twitter as a way to promote good customer service? This is exactly what some companies, like Best Buy, are doing as a way to extend their customer service efforts. It may sound silly or confusing but in the end, it makes sense. Twitter and other social media platforms are attracting your customers, so why would you ignore this segment? With a team of technology pros, Best Buy’s Twelpforce is readily available to assist consumers with any questions and give advice that can help them with pending decisions. Best Buy has even invested in numerous TV spots to help spread the word of their Twelpforce.

Strengthening Your Weak Areas

Some commend Best Buy for their breakthrough marketing and customer service efforts, as they will surely set an example for others to follow. But this idea did not arise from nowhere, as Best Buy has been lacking in the customer service department in the past. Just Google “Best Buy customer service” and you won’t be surprised to find these gems: “Best Buy, worst customer service”, “Best Buy Customer Service is a Joke!”, “Best Buy Embraces the Suck” and more. This is not what any company or individual wants to hear. By utilizing new social media potential to create powerful tactics, Best Buy has found an effective way to strengthen their weaknesses.

A New Trend for 2010

According to the Harvard Business blog, customer service via Twitter is a trend to look out for in 2010. It’s a mutually beneficial plan as businesses will benefit from a cost effective measure that will leave their customers happy when they get the help that they need. Additionally, Best Buy’s Twelpforce is a unique way to build their brand. Their Twitter account is decked out in the signature blue and yellow with a sea of smiling employees. If that isn’t an image that a successful corporation wants to convey, I don’t know what is! Although the Twelpforce is not yet a year old, I think that Best Buy is taking a step in the right direction when it comes to nurturing passionate employees and gaining loyal customers.

Dealing with Google

I’m going to be frank with my opinion here. Just because Google is an innovative, booming company, one which will change—and probably already has changed—the way our world accesses and manages information, that doesn’t mean by any stretch of the imagination that Google should be treated with some sort of ivory-tower, holier-than-thou deference.

Believe me when I say, Google is as successful as it is specifically because they have done so much to shed the image of traditional mega-corporations. If you tried to call up your brokerage firm for some support and advice, you might get it, eventually. If, however, you are running a Google Adwords or Adsense campaign and you find yourself needing some questions answered, Mr. Google is more than happy to put down his trillions and his yacht and answer your phone call.

This sounds funny, but I mean it. Google has revamped the image of the consumer-conscious company. Their customer support professionals managing the Adwords and Adsense departments are nothing short of spectacular when it comes to helping you iron out your difficulties. But even though I’ve seen this in my own business and with dozens of eMarketed’s clients, some members of our industry fail to realize the significance of Google’s strong commitment to customer service.

In short, if your online venture should take you past the gates of Google, don’t be afraid to knock. They are not your average company. They do not want to be your average company. They want to be bothered, constantly. Their young employees play video games at work and eat gourmet meals three times a day. However, as a testament to their hiring process, Google is staffed entirely with young upstarts who will drop their unicycles and forks at a moment’s notice to answer a client’s call or email. These kids are dedicated to their job, period.

Google’s goal with creating Adwords and Adsense was to level the playing field between the small business and the mega-corp. As a result, small businesses have a leg up because they’re used to handling issues with suppliers and other businesses face-to-face or over the phone. Larger and more traditional businesses will have to adapt their thinking or be left in the dust when it comes to customer service and business solutions in the post-Google Age.