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Owner, Seek Social Media

Facebook’s New Marketing Solutions: More Than Just Timeline for Pages

You’ve surely heard the buzz of the past few days! Facebook is rolling out Timeline for Pages! Some Page owners are rushing to convert, some are holding off until it becomes mandatory on March 30, while others are confused about what this even means. While Timeline is the most visible piece of the ‘new marketing solutions’ that were announced on February 29, it’s not the only piece – even though that’s what we’ve been hearing about for the past few days.

Wonderful and very comprehensive how-to articles on converting Pages to Timeline have been published since the announcement, such as this one from mashable.com: Facebook Timeline for Brands: The Complete Guide, and this from Talking Finger: Oh No!!! Facebook Killed the Landing Page! Well, Not Really…It’s Just Different.  Both of these articles can help you convert to the new Timeline.

Since the conversion has been covered so well, I’ll focus on an overview of the new marketing solutions and what they mean to Facebook marketing, especially for small businesses. So, let’s get to it…

Pages
The Page is a brand’s mission control, according to Facebook. They describe Pages as the “most customizable marketing canvas ever created” connecting your brand to people in the ways that matter to them (that’s a very important phrase…in the ways that matter to them). Brand Pages aren’t new, but they’re getting some new features:

  • Cover photo (an 851 x 315 pixel photo like the ones rolled out to personal profiles a few months ago) and Page timeline, as mentioned in the articles above
  • Ads and Sponsored Stories (personalized ads) will now be available on Facebook’s mobile platform
  • Tabs, such as Welcome/Landing page, are replaced with Views and Apps. Some were upset that this took away the option of a fangate (a landing page that encourages the user to “like” a page to see the content), but Facebook answered this, saying brands can still drive traffic to these pages through ads. (Oh how very sly, Facebook!)
  • Posts can now be pinned to the top of a Page for 7 days to highlight important news
  • Posts that are less engaging can now be hidden
  • Photos in posts are larger to encourage engagement
  • Brand milestones can now be represented on the timeline
  • Fans can now send private messages to brands. At present, brands cannot initiate a private message to a fan.

These changes are huge, but really, they are just the beginning.

Reach Generator
Currently brands reach only about 16% of fans with their posts – not very effective when trying to connect with and encourage fan engagement. This is a new ‘always on’ tool guarantees brands will reach 75% of their fans each month and 50% of fans each week. WOW! What they don’t mention (although implied in small print) is that this ‘always on’ tool is only available to brands that run sponsored story advertising. Oops. While brands should run ads and sponsored stories to grow their communities, it shouldn’t be a requirement in order to be seen in fans’ news feeds.  However, for those brands that do run ads, this is a great new tool. Fans can’t engage with brands if they don’t see their posts, so getting seen by fans is a top priority. Questions remain, though, such as what happens to reach as soon as the ad campaign ends? Does this mean that brands must run ads continually just to be seen? What happens to local brands and small businesses who don’t have a large marketing budget? Are they stuck with only 16% reach? These questions will only be answered over time. Facebook has provided some posting guidelines for Reach Generator as seen below:

Reach Generator - FacebookPremium on Facebook
Premium on Facebook takes a brands’ Page posts and places them in the most impactful areas of the site, such as the right-hand side of the homepage (news feed), in the news feed on the homepage and mobile, and, optionally, on the log-out page. Brands must contact a Facebook marketing rep to avail themselves of this product and the ads are more expensive, but will undoubtedly bring greater reach and engagement than their less expensive cousins.

Ads will show on the right-hand side of news freed for those not connected to the brand, in the news feed of fans as sponsored stories. These placements bring 5x-10x  more engagement, are 80% more likely to be remembered and can leverage ROIs of 3x or greater, Facebook claims. Premium is best used for product launches, special events, and sales. A guidelines snapshot for Premium is shown below:

Premium on FacebookImproved Insights
Insights is Facebook’s in-site analytics tool that has typically been less than insightful. The problem is that the data were three to four days behind, making it difficult to utilize the data effectively. The new Insights are said to be real-time which will make them much more useful for marketers.

Admin Levels
Also announced were five levels of access for Page admins that will be released in late March. Thus far, Facebook has announced three levels: full access, publishing-only access, and insights access, but haven’t revealed the other two levels.

Conclusions
These changes, while not perfect for the smallest of marketers on the network, show that Facebook realizes that they must take marketers needs into consideration when developing new features. Past roll outs haven’t always reflected such consideration. One thing is clear – Facebook wants ad revenue. To prove it, they’ve put in place features that will make it worth your while to spend your marketing dollars with them. Still, the question remains as to how small businesses with small marketing budgets will fare in this new Facebook environment, but at least the marketing dollars they can afford will be more effective.

Facebook has released a resource library for brands including overall best practices, best practices by industry, and white papers on brand building and organizational design. These resources can be found here: Facebook New Marketing Solutions Guides.  Watch all of the videos of the breakout session of the Facebook Marketing Conference here.

What are your thoughts about these changes and how they will affect Facebook marketing? Let me know in the comments!

Social Media for Business: If You Build It, Will They Come?

In my work, I speak with many business owners about using social media to grow their business. They typically fall into three categories:

  • Those who are hesitant to involve themselves in social media (“I wouldn’t know what to do with a Facebook page!”)
  • Those who don’t believe social media will ‘work’ in their industry (“I sell to other businesses; it won’t work for me.”)
  • Those who say they’ve tried social media and had no success (“I have a Facebook page, but I only have 14 likes and no one ever goes there.”)

I understand that it can be a daunting decision, striking out into the unknown and being unsure as to the worth of social media for their brand, but when properly done, social media is a powerful business tool that enables your company to connect and engage with current and prospective clients, build community and brand loyalty, and increase sales.

To those who don’t believe social media is appropriate for B2B sales, I say give me an hour of your time. I can show you many ways that social media can help you grow your business and increase sales. LinkedIn is a fabulous network for B2B businesses. YouTube and blogging are excellent ways for your brand to become known as the expert in your field.

And for the last group, I say that there is much more to social media for business than simply setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account and having your receptionist or a high school student post your latest specials. Unfortunately, many business owners take this first step then are disappointed when they don’t see hordes of new customers coming through their doors. For a funny take on this concept, watch this short video below from Business2Community.com.

When I hear things like, “Our company tried social media, but it just didn’t work” or “We have a Facebook page/Twitter account, but no one ever goes there”, I ask them to describe their strategies. More often than not, the answer is nothing more than a blank stare. I don’t blame them for not having a plan; this is a very new medium and there aren’t a lot of rule books out there. I do wonder why business owners don’t take the next step of asking for help from a professional.  Think about it, if you were filling out your tax returns and didn’t know how to do it, you wouldn’t just abandon your taxes. You’d hire a professional to help – or at least consult with one.

Social media for business is a very powerful tool, but only when properly executed. It requires an investment of time and money, development of a strategy, and implementation of said strategy; just like any other marketing plan. The key word there is plan.

To get started, you’ll need to:

  • Establish goals and objectives
  • Conduct research
  • Develop strategies
  • Determine tactics

Many traditional marketing teams have little or no experience using social media for business and don’t know the nuances of social media marketing – and there are nuances – so having a marketing team in place won’t necessarily help you be successful in social media marketing. My suggestion is to consult with a social media professional, someone whose job it is to keep up with the ever-changing world of social media and is knowledgeable on best practices for social media marketing.

Social media strategists can work with you or your marketing team to help you develop your plan utilizing best practices. We can also do it for you so that you don’t have to worry about it and can go about the business of running your business – and take care of all those new customers!

Social media for business is no longer an option! You wouldn’t dream of opening a business without putting up a website, so why would you then deprive your business of one of the most powerful marketing tools available? In short, you shouldn’t!  Really.

For more information on how Seek Media Group can help you integrate social media into your marketing efforts, please contact us today!

To help you get started, we’ll even give you a FREE social media assessment!

 

Social Media Fail: Boners BBQ’s Big Blunder

I’ve written previously about brands making huge gaffes when handling negative comments via social media networks, but this one takes the cake! You may have never heard of Boners BBQ in Atlanta, GA but they’ve gotten some unwanted publicity in the last few days, all due to the way the owner responded to what he considered to be a negative review on Yelp.com.

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

It all started innocently enough. A woman named Stephanie and her husband got a $10 off coupon for Boners from Scoutmob. After their visit, Stephanie wrote a review on Yelp. Her review was less than stellar, but it certainly wasn’t the most scathing review I’ve ever read on Yelp. It was well-written and laid out exactly what she believed to be the strengths and weaknesses of the of the restaurant’s foo,service, and atmosphere. You can read her actual review here.  In no way did she trash the place in her review; in fact, she actually gave some constructive criticism.

This unflattering review didn’t sit well with Boners’ owner, Andrew Capron, however. He decided that he didn’t need customers like Stephanie darkening the doorway of his establishment, so he posted the following (which has since been removed) on Boners BBQ’s Facebook page:

Boners Rage

I’ve edited the photo to blur her face – Andrew did not.  As you can see, he was not impressed with her review. He says she didn’t leave a tip; she says she did. The first few comments on his post were positive with people “liking” and sharing the post, which must’ve encouraged Andrew because he decided it’d be a good idea to add a follow-up comment:  Well then, that explains it! This is when things really got fun! As word (and Andrew’s post) started to circulate around the Internet, comments began flooding in to Boners Facebook page with some rather harsh words for the business owner. Many people mentioning that he had no right to post Stephanie’s picture and reminding him that calling customers names via social networks (or anywhere else) might not be the best business decision he’s ever made. Andrew heeded this advice – sort of – and posted the following on Facebook:Boners 1st Apology largeThe initial “apology” simply apologized for being inappropriate. Really, Andrew? That’s it? As you can see from the number of comments on this post, that wasn’t enough for most, and it certainly didn’t convey a sense of remorse or an attempt to rectify the situation. In fact, as he started getting flak about his lack of remorse, Andrew decided to explain why he’d felt the need to post Stephanie’s picture and rude (to say the least) comment:

Boners RationalizationHe must’ve believed that once we realized she hadn’t left a tip and that he and his staff had been working so hard, we would understand, see his perspective and it would all go away. He was obviously ready to move on and, I guess, thought that making light of it would work:

Boners Making LightBut it didn’t go away. No one seemed to appreciate his humor. The comments kept coming and several people pointed out that perhaps a sincere apology directly to the customer would go much further toward righting the wrong that he’d created. Poor Andrew tries one more time to put out the fire:

Boners 2nd ApologyAs you can clearly see from the comments, it was a case of too little, too late for most. Andrew has obviously learned the power of social media the hard way. Had this been his first response to the review, he’d have looked like a hero, would’ve garnered some brand loyalty, and may very well have gained some new customers. Unfortunately, too much had already transpired before his common sense kicked in and he most likely lost customers and certainly didn’t inspire any loyalty. And, sadly, even though the firestorm will die down, the damage will remain. Anytime someone searches for Boners BBQ many articles about this debacle will pop up – for eternity.

As someone who manages social media for small businesses, I’m constantly amazed at how some business owners (and social media managers, in some cases) choose to handle negative comments via social networks. No matter how fabulous your brand is, there will always be some negative comments or complaints. Stuff happens. How you choose to handle these incidents can literally make or break your business. No longer can you have an argument with a customer that stays between you, the customer, and 10 of her closest friends. Complaints now have a tendency to go viral, especially when handled poorly, as in the case of Boners, Ann Taylor, Papa Johns, and many more. Some brands do it right, such as the way FedEx handled the viral video of its employee tossing a box over a fence. FedEx took to YouTube, owned up to the mistake, and made things right with the customer which was the wisest move they could’ve made. Here’s a link to the video by FedEx Senior Vice President of US Operations, Matthew Thornton, III.

Social media is a new medium for business owners which is why it’s important to have someone on the team who is adept at dealing with negativity in a constructive and impartial way that could actually help your business shine (and grow!) at times like this as opposed to igniting a firestorm and possibly destroying your business in the process.

 SEE ALSO: 5 Ways Brands Respond to Negative Comments on Social Networks and Why Only One is Effective

If your business is considering jumping on the social media bandwagon (or if you already have), you should consider hiring a professional to manage these accounts for you. For more information about our services, please click here. Seek Media Group is here to help you connect and engage with current and prospective clients and grow your business online by harnessing the power of social media!

Let me know what you think about the way Boners BBQ handled this situation in the comments below!

Why Unsubscribing from Friends’ Comments and Likes Won’t Keep You Safe from Hackers – And What You Should Do Instead

Raise your hand if you’ve seen (or posted) the following Facebook status update:

Hello friends, I like to keep my FB private except to those I am friends with. So if you all would do the following, I’d appreciate it. With the new FB timeline on its way this week for EVERYONE, please do both of us a favor. Hover over my name above. In a few seconds you’ll see a box that says : “Subscribed”. Hover over that, then go to “comments and likes” and un-check it, by clicking on it. That will stop my posts and yours to me from showing up on the bar side for everyone to see, but most importantly it limits hackers from invading our profiles. If you repost this I will do the same for you. You’ll know I’ve acknowledged you because if you tell me that you’ve done it I’ll “like” it.

Yep, that’s what I thought! I see a lot of hands out there! This has been spreading like wildfire for the past week or so. I’ve seen it countless times myself.

There are a few problems with these instructions:

  1. This has nothing to do with the advent of Timeline.
  2. While it’s true that if you unsubscribe from a friend’s comments and likes (and vice versa) these items will no longer show up in the ticker…but they also will no longer show up in your news feed.
  3. Maybe most importantly, this action will NOT protect you from hackers!

So what should you do? Can you disable Timeline? Disable the ticker? How do you protect yourself from hackers?

Timeline

First things first. You cannot disable Timeline (frankly, I don’t understand why you’d want to…it’s beautiful and gives you more options than ever!). There are posts going around on Facebook saying, “click here to disable Timeline”. Please don’t be fooled by this!  This is a scam to get you to “like” the scammers’ pages and some of them are asking people to download a browser extension that may, in fact, do damage to your system.  For the complete story on this, please click here to read the facts from The Next Web.

That Blasted Ticker!

You can disable the ticker according to AllFacebook.com. Click here for instructions on how to disable the Ticker. I’ll add the disclaimer that I haven’t tried to disable the ticker yet, but I trust AllFacebook so if they say this is how to do it, it is.

It’s Up to You: Passwords

Keeping your account safe from hackers isn’t all that hard – but it has nothing to do with the ticker or Timeline.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Change your password frequently. I change mine on the first of every month (sort of a hassle, but much less trouble than trying to regain control of your account once you’ve been hacked).
  2. Use numbers AND special characters (! ? %, etc) in your password.

It’s Up to You: Check Those Privacy Settings

If you’re concerned about people you don’t know seeing your posts, comments, likes, etc. simply change your Privacy settings. This is easily done by clicking on the arrow at the top of your news feed, to the right of the word Home. Click on Privacy Settings, which will take you to this page:

You’ll notice that my Privacy Settings are set to Custom. Within the Custom setting, you can be very specific about who sees your posts – even to the point of excluding one or a few people. Those who want only friends to see posts can click on Friends so that only your friends will see your posts, comments, likes, etc.

Also on the Privacy Settings page, you’ll see an option called “How Tags Work“. Here you can set it so that you can review and approve tags (of photos and posts) before they show up on your Timeline as well as limiting who can see those tags. Another option there is enabling/disabling being “checked in” to places by friends.

At the bottom of the page, you’ll also notice an option to “Limit the Audience for Past Posts”. Click that and a box will pop up to help you change all of your old posts to Friends only. You can also remove old posts from within your Timeline by scrolling down to the post you want to remove, hover over the post, click on the pencil icon and delete it completely.

You can limit who sees your posts on a post-by-post basis by clicking on the icon to the left of the Post button on the status update box on news feed or within Timeline. See picture below:

Facebook Post-by-Post Privacy Settings

I hope this post helps you realize that you actually do have a lot of control over who sees what on Facebook. I also hope that posts like this will convince people to double-check information before re-posting on Facebook. If we all take a minute or two to do some research before re-posting we will all be better informed and our news feeds won’t be cluttered by what is essentially spam.

If you’d like daily information, tips, etc. regarding Facebook and other social media platforms please “like” the Seek Media Group page on Facebook by clicking here. I make it my business to keep abreast of hoaxes, scams, and security measures – among many other things – and post them on my company page every day.

If there is anything else you’d like information about, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer it for you!  And…please let me know if you found this post helpful!

Facebook Timeline Part 2: How To Feature Posts and Create Life Events

In this week’s installment of  How-Tos for the new Facebook timeline, I’ll cover how to feature a post and how to create a life event. Let’s get to it!

Featured Posts

Some status updates are more important than others. Now you can “feature” important updates on your timeline. It’s easy breezy…

Make a post as usual from your news feed or your timeline/profile/wall (<- these are all synonyms; what you call it depends on how long you’ve been on Facebook).  After posting, go to your profile page. You’ll see the post you made at the top of your profile page.

Hover over the top right corner of the post and a box will pop up that has a star (feature) and a pencil (edit or remove). Click on the star and your post will now expand to two columns within your timeline. It now looks like this…

Of course, I used a cartoon for my example, but think about how cool it’ll be to feature posts about your kids, pets, and all the important things that you want to share on Facebook. Speaking of which, let’s talk about sharing Life Events…

Life Events

Directly under your cover and profile images is the status update bar.  You’ll notice there are a couple of new options here.

Place…as far as I can tell doesn’t really do anything new when logged in to Facebook from a computer. BUT, the new Life Event option is pretty awesome! Click on Life Event and just look at what pops up…

You’re now able to categorize the important life events that you share on Facebook. When you click on a category, many sub-categories pop up.  I was going to post screenshots of all the different options, but there are so many that I think you should go and check them out for yourself! Play around with it!

Some of the options seem a little silly, such as getting glasses or contacts or first kiss (please folks, if you’re over the age of 16, we probably don’t need to hear about your first kiss with a new mate…and if it’s your kid’s first kiss, well, you may want to rethink posting about that, too – not sure your child would be very happy about that post!).  However, if you do post about your first kiss or your new glasses, I’m sure some of your friends will be excited with you.

I don’t want to overwhelm new timeliners so I’ll post more cool options in a few days. Play with these and get used to them, then come back here next week for more info!

Please let me know in the comments if there’s a timeline feature you’d like for me to cover, or if any instructions need clarification.  Either way, let me know what you think about timeline!

 

 

 

 

How To Enable Facebook Timeline, Change Your Cover Image, and Move Photos Into Your Timeline

Facebook finally released its long-awaited new feature, Timeline, to all users on December 15. It’s beautiful, awesome, and allows users to get creative with their profile page.  Timeline is a beautifully enhanced version of the Facebook profile that allows you to share as much (or as little) of your life as you’d like on the social network.

If you haven’t gotten a notice from Facebook alerting you to the roll out, you can still enable Timeline in just a couple of clicks. Our friends at Mashable have provided a great guide that you can access by clicking here.  Once your Timeline is enabled, you can do some really cool things to spiff up your profile!

The Cover is a large, banner-type image at the top of your Timeline, as shown in the screenshot below:

If you want to change the Cover, simply hover over the image and click on “Change Cover” the  pull-down menu and choose from existing photos or upload a new one. Once you’ve chosen a Cover image, you can also reposition it using this drop-down menu.

Along the top right of your Timeline you’ll also notice an actual timeline. This is where pictures, posts, and other activity from your time on Facebook appear, as well as anything else you choose to share.  So how do photos get listed in the year they were taken? If you’ve shared pictures on Facebook of your childhood, for example, you can change the date on the photo so that it shows up in your timeline in that year. As an example, I shared a photo of myself when I was a kid. I posted it on Facebook a year or so ago, but I simply changed the date on the photo and it now shows up in the year it was taken (a long, long time ago).

To change the date, click on the picture you want to move, then click on the “Change Date” option. Choose the date, click save, and your picture will now be in your timeline in that year (as well as whatever album it was already in).

Now you can start filling in your life’s timeline on Facebook! Have fun with it and be creative!

In my next post, I’ll talk about more cool Timeline features such as Life Events, Featured Posts, adding music, and more! Let me know in the comments below if there are any features you’d like tips on.  What do you think about Timeline so far?

5 Ways Brands Respond to Negative Comments on Social Networks and Why Only One is Effective

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses. It helps them connect, engage, and establish trust with current and prospective clients, increase brand awareness, website angry customertraffic and ultimately increase sales.

Connecting and engaging with clients and customers is a great way to show the human side of your company and establish trust and loyalty.  But what happens when something goes awry and negative comments start popping up on your company’s Facebook page or Twitter feed?  How would you address this?

There are several ways that social media managers respond to negative comments in various ways:

1. Ignore them:  The ‘Head in the Sand’ approach.  If you don’t reply to the comments, maybe they’ll just go away.  If a customer was at your place of business with a complaint, called or emailed your customer service department would you ignore him?  No way!  So why do some social media managers believe it’s okay to ignore complaints lodged on social networks?  That I can’t answer.  The unfortunate fact is that it happens.

 2. Delete them:  The ‘If No One Sees It, It Didn’t Happen’ approach.  The only thing worse than ignoring a negative comment is deleting it.  It only serves to anger the customer more and give them cause to react by telling ALL of their friends how awful your company and its employees are.  It’s important to note that the average Facebook and Twitter user has 100+ friends and followers, so a complaint from one or even a few customers grows exponentially, costing you customers you didn’t even have yet.

 3. Respond in kind:  The ‘I’ll show you!’ approach.  Let’s say a customer leaves an angry complaint on your company’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. You feel the complaint is unjustified or, for whatever reason, it makes you angry and you can’t help but respond with an angry or defensive comment.  Just as with the first two approaches, your response will only serve to exacerbate an already negative situation. Remember the old adage: The customer is always right – no matter how wrong he is!  Also, remember that the complaining customer is not the only person who will be privy to this exchange.

 4. Placate with a hollow apology: The ‘Gosh, Sorry You Feel That Way. We’ll Try To Do Better.’ approach.  The problem with this response is that it doesn’t appear to be sincere, nor does it offer a real solution to the complaint, which, again, only serves to exacerbate the situation. People are aware when they are being appeased. Most importantly, this approach offers no solution to the problem and the customer may not  give you a second chance.

Social media managers make these mistakes all the time, especially when there are multiple complaints (such as the one I covered in last week’s blog post regarding Ann Taylor brands and Cyber Monday). They ignored, deleted, and placated – all while continuing to offer new online sales and discounts without first fixing their substandard site.  They responded to a few complaints by asking the customers to call or email customer service.  For days afterward, there were complaints posted about not being able to get through by phone and getting no email response.  How can they possibly believe this would have a positive outcome? What should they have done instead?

I suggest that there is truly only one proper response when managing complaints on your company’s social networks:

 Offer an apology and a solution:  The ‘We Hear You and Value Our Customers. We Will Make This Right Immediately!’ approach. The way I see it, this is your opportunity to turn a disgruntled customer into your brand’s evangelist!  This person (or people) obviously had some sense of loyalty to your brand if they’ve spent their money with you, “liked” your Facebook fan page, and/or followed you on Twitter.  Now, however, they’ve had an unpleasant experience and usually they just want to know that they’ve been listened to and that you (the people behind the brand) will make things right. In Ann Taylor’s case, there were problems with their website. They approached it in the ways outlined above, continued to send emails and post to social networks with apologies for inconvenience, and extended the time for the sales. What they didn’t do was fix the website, making it appear that they weren’t ‘getting it’ and, worse, that they didn’t care.

Considering the volume of complaints, it would’ve been impossible to respond to each one individually.  I would’ve suggested that they make one post and send one email explaining that they were aware of the issues, were working to fix them, and offering to extend the sale or give an even larger discount – once the site was fixed (and not a minute before).  I certainly wouldn’t have deleted posts or continued to offer online sales until I knew the site could handle the traffic.

I think sometimes brands forget that handling complaints via social networks are the same as dealing with them face-to-face (only with higher stakes).  If a customer were standing in front of you with a complaint, you’d never ignore them, walk away from them, or simply apologize without offering a resolution. So why would that approach be acceptable via social networking sites? Answer: It’s not!

When you deal with complaints effectively, disgruntled customers will tell their friends how awesome your company is and what great your customer service you offer. And they’ll encourage their friends to buy from you.  They have now become an evangelist for your brand.  Talk about powerful (and free) marketing! You’ve established brand loyalty and trust to a greater degree than you would’ve had if there had never been a complaint.

Just remember that no matter how fantastic your company is, mistakes happen, customers get upset and complain.  With the growth of social media they now expect to be able to lodge these complaints – and get resolutions – via social networks. Think of it as an opportunity to prove how awesome your company is – or not.  It’s your choice.

How should a brand deal with negative comments? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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!

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