Archive for November, 2011

Another Sale Fail for Ann Taylor Brands on Cyber Monday and Empathy for The Social Media Team

I’m really glad that I don’t manage social media for LOFT and Ann Taylor stores (note: in the interest of disclosure, I did offer them my services yesterday). On Sunday they announced a huge Cyber Monday sale.  They often have online-only discounts…or should I say they often ANNOUNCE online-only discounts.  Time and time again the brands’ sites crash in the middle of the one-day-only or hours-only sales. Seriously. This has happened so many times I don’t even bother to shop their online sales anymore. And I LOVE this brand!

Monday was no exception, unfortunately. When I got the reminder email Monday morning, I decided to check their Facebook page. Already they were posting apologies for the site being down on both the Ann Taylor and LOFT pages. This was before 9:00am CST!!

I can’t feel sorry for the brand any longer. I understand that every now and then a brand is going to have site issues during a big sale. But when this happens EVERY time, the brands’ decision-makers just simply aren’t getting it. How can they allow this to continue? Especially in the age of social media when your disgruntled customers can post their angry ‘I’m never shopping your store again’ (or worse: ‘You’ve lost my trust’) posts on Facebook and Twitter for all the world to see! It’s unreal that they haven’t taken extreme measures (many sales ago) to permanently correct this problem. If I were the CEO I’d invest in the largest servers (plural) and hire the absolute best IT people in the US. Whatever it takes.

But I digress…

What prompted this post was not only frustration with Ann Taylor’s incredibly unstable websites, but also my empathy for their social media team. I can only imagine how they must dread coming into the office on the morning of an online sale.

That being said, the social media team surely could’ve done more for their angry customers besides their ‘Sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks for your patience.’ posts. To be fair, they also offered to honor today’s online-only discount in stores. A couple of problems with that, though. Many people don’t have stores in their area, can’t get to a store, don’t want to go to a store, etc. But the two biggest problems with that offer is that several stores didn’t get the memo and wouldn’t honor the discount (some customers even complained that the sales team treated as if they were lying )…and, oh, this was Cyber Monday! Um, yeah. Shopping online was sort of the point.

As a business owner, I’d have found a way to offer those disgruntled customers an even larger discount when (if?) the site was back up. That didn’t happen – not yet, anyway. The social media team simply attempted to placate the angriest complaints while ignoring  hundreds of others, I can only assume that – once again – the decision-makers are not giving the social media team anything to work with.  The social media managers obviously aren’t in a position to offer anything other than what they’re told to offer. That’s why I have empathy for them. No social media manager worth their salt would allow hundreds of complaints to pile up without doing something to mitigate the crisis – nor should any business owner who values their clientele.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for business owners large and small. Don’t tie the hands of your people on the front lines. Your social media team is in place to help you handle crises and to protect your brand’s reputation – online and off.  As a business owner you must give your social media managers tools to work with. For starters, be sure that your server won’t be overwhelmed when lots of people want to purchase your products at the same time. Lots of customers should be a cause for celebration, not a crisis to be managed.  If your site is capable of handling the traffic there will be minimal complaints lodged on your social media profiles and your social media team will be able to sincerely address those few issues (and maybe you could afford to give those few folks an extra discount).

Social media managers are your first lines of defense when there’s a crisis. Part of our job is to mitigate negative comments and protect your brand’s reputation, but you have to make decisions that give us the power to make things right for your customers. We are bound by the decisions made in the corner office. Don’t tie our hands. Let us help you. That’s what we do.

So I ask you…

If you were a decision-maker for Ann Taylor brands, what changes would you make to avoid another sale fail situation? Would you have let it go on this long? What would you do if you were on their social media team?  Please leave your comments below!

The Dark Side Of Social Media: What To Do If Your Account Is Hit With Scams, Spam, Viruses, or Malware

Facebook has been overrun by spam and scams for the last few days. The jury is still out as to whether malware and/or viruses are also being spread through these messages. Some are saying that many of these are coming in through third-party apps. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

You may be wondering how to “fix” your account if you are the victim of this type of post.  There are several things you should do on both Facebook and Twitter, which are explained below:

Facebook:       

1)  Report the post to Facebook. If the post looks like it came from a friend, report the post to the friend and advise them to also report it to Facebook.

How to report scam/spam posts:

  • Hover your cursor over the top right corner of the post
  • A drop down box will appear. Click “Report story or spam.” This will delete the post from your wall.
  • Another box will pop up. The sentence “If the story is abusive, please file a report.” will appear as a link. Click the link.
  • A box will pop up with several options; click the one that says “Report as spam/scam”.  There is also an option to choose if you believe your friend’s account has been hacked.

2.) Run a virus scan on your computer.

3.) Double-check Apps that you’ve authorized and delete those that you don’t actually use.  To remove app permissions:

  • Go to Privacy Settings.
  • Scroll down to Apps and Websites. Click Edit Settings.
  • Here you’ll see the number of apps you’ve authorized; click Edit Settings.
  • Check the list and delete any apps you don’t remember authorizing or that you don’t use any longer. To do this, just click the X to the right of the app name.
  • Once you’ve deleted all unnecessary apps, return to the previous page where you’ll see options for editing how people bring your information into apps they use and edit those settings as well.
  • While you’re on this page, it’s a good idea to also check out Instant Personalization and Public Search (this will show you how your profile appears to people who view it via search engines).

4.)  Change your password. Make your new password strong by including numbers and special characters (!, @, %, etc). Also be sure that your social media account passwords are different from passwords for any other accounts.

Twitter:

1.) Delete the tweet.

2.) Run a virus scan.

3.) Change your password from the Passwords Tab in your Account Settings.

4.) Revoke app permissions by going to the Applications tab, also in  Account Settings.

5.) If trusted apps remain that use your Twitter login, update your password on those apps so that you don’t get locked out of those accounts for failed login attempts.

6.) Once these steps have been taken, your account should be secure.

7.)  If you’re still experiencing issues with your account, file a Support Request with Twitter.

UPDATE: Facebook is investigating all of the nuisance/malicious posts from the past few days and trying to determine the source (you can read the article from Sophos here ). That being said, there will always be a few hackers that get through, so the steps outlined above are always good to have on hand.  Facebook suggests three things that users can do to keep this from happening again:

1.) Never copy and paste into your browser or click on a link if you are not positive of the source (especially if it’s a link offering a prize or free gift).

2.) Always be sure your browser is up-to-date

3.) Always report any suspicious posts to Facebook.

Have you been deluged with any spammy or nasty posts in the last few days? Have you considered deleting your account because of it?  Let us know in the comment section below! We want to hear from you!

Another Facebook Change – But This One You May Like!

We all know that it’s been a busy couple of months for Facebook changes. Some large, some small. Some obvious, some not. The latest change rolled out this week is a small one and may not be that obvious to folks, but I think it’s a great one.

We have regained control of how we see things in our News Feed! When Facebook changed the News Feed in September, they decided we wanted to see Top Stories first before the Most Recent Stories. Of course, Facebook decided what our Top Stories should be and we could only control that by unmarking posts as Top Stories or marking posts as Top Stories.  the idea was the Facebook would learn what stories are most important to us. I don’t know about you, but Facebook never seemed to learn what was important to me.

This week Facebook has given us back the option to sort what we see in our News Feed. If you look at the top right corner of your News Feed you’ll see a link that says “Sort”.  When you click it, you have the option to choose “Highlighted Stories First” or “Recent Stories First” (see photo below).  I, for one, am happy to be able to see the Recent Stories at the top of my News Feed again. Such a little thing, but it means a lot to me to have the choice.

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Power to the people!

Will you be changing the way Facebook sorts your News Feed posts? Let me know what you think about the change in the comments below.

Computer Viruses: Some Surprising Facts and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself (Before and After)

computer_virusHaving just retrieved my computer from The Computer Hospital (yes, that’s actually the name of the company), I was compelled to write this post.  On Sunday morning I clicked on a link from a trusted colleague and, within seconds, hundreds of boxes popped up on my desktop with messages saying that my disk was corrupted and unreadable and that my RAM was unstable and may cause system shutdown.

Of course, this wasn’t my first trip around the computer virus block so I knew not to click on any of the boxes that claimed to be able to help me fix the problem. I immediately ran scans on BOTH of my anti-virus software programs (I’ll explain in a bit why that was not the right way to go) and watched as every document on my desktop disappeared. Within 90 seconds, all that was left on my desktop were the Recycle Bin and an Internet Explorer shortcut. That was pretty scary.  I immediately took my computer to The Computer Hospital to see if they could wipe the virus and retrieve my data. Luckily, they were able to do just that. They removed twenty viruses from my computer!

I consider myself a fairly Internet-savvy person. I know not to click on suspicious emails or to visit certain types of sites. I very rarely click on links within Facebook or Twitter, opting instead to go directly to the website where the article is supposedly living so that I’m not re-directed to a malicious site or inviting spammers to flood my friends’ walls with their malicious links. I read a lot of articles on Internet security and, as I mentioned above, even ran two anti-virus software programs all in an effort to avoid the misery of viruses and spam. What I learned from my computer saviors really surprised me so I wanted to share these with all of you.

Today I learned that:

1)     You can get a virus from a reputable or legitimate website. In fact, studies show that you’re more likely to get a virus from a legitimate site than from one with adult content.

2)    The worst sites for getting a virus are actually local news sites. Somehow, the virus programmers get their viruses into the ads on these sites and, whether you click the ads or not, your computer can get the virus. One of the techs said that he got a virus from the Chili’s restaurant site. Simply put, consider every site to be a threat!

3)    The first time I got a virus, I clicked on the boxes that popped-up and was taken to a website that offered to fix the problem. Luckily, I realized this was a scam. What I didn’t realize is how damaging the scam could be. The techs told me that a man recently came in with some real problems. He’d clicked on the boxes, went to the website and entered his credit card information. He then sat and watched as all of his personal information scrolled across his desktop. He assumed this was part of the fix. The next morning, his computer still wouldn’t boot and he soon came to realize that, overnight, his credit cards had been maxed out and his bank accounts cleaned out.

4)    I’d always heard that Apple computers were less vulnerable to viruses. This is not necessarily true. The fact is that Apple only has about 15% of the home computer market so these virus programmers don’t bother to write viruses for Apple. As Apple’s market share grows, so will virus programs that affect them.

5)    As I mentioned, I’ve been running two anti-virus software programs (one paid and one free) and still twenty viruses got through. I’ve been told that the most effective anti-virus duo is MalwareBytes (Pro version, $24.95) and Microsoft Security Essentials (free).  My techs tell me this is the very best combo.

6)    Whatever anti-virus program you use, it should be set to scan daily, not weekly or monthly; especially if you are online often. Also be sure that you set the scan times for a time of day when your computer will likely be turned on. The scan can’t happen when the computer is off.

7)    If you contract a virus, shut down the computer immediately. Don’t run your anti-virus scan at that time. Turn the computer off, then restart in Safe Mode and run your anti-virus software from there. Immediately shutting down the computer will disrupt whatever activity the virus is trying to perpetrate on your computer.

If you’ve never had a computer virus, consider yourself lucky, but don’t think that it can never happen to you. Writing virus programs is a big business for a variety of reasons.  For more information on different types of viruses and spam, their capabilities, and the reasons people write them, check out this guide from Sophos entitled Viruses and Spam: What You Need to Know. I found this very helpful in understanding the types of viruses and spam there are out there and why people write and distribute them.

Have you ever been the victim of a computer virus or spam? Let me know your story in the comment section below. And please feel free to share this article if you found it helpful.

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