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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!

 

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!

Five Reasons Your Business Needs Social Media


There’s a lot of buzz these days about the power of social media for business, but some business owners aren’t convinced that developing a social media presence is right for them. I’ve put together a list of five reasons why social media is essential for businesses large and small:

  1. Increase brand awareness: The only way to make sales is for your customers to know that you exist.  If no one knows about you, how can they purchase your goods or services? People – your customers – are spending their time on social media sites. They are looking for companies there. Consumers are no longer searching the Yellow Pages, they are searching social media sites. They want to know the ‘personality’, or human side, of the brands they do business with. Social media allows you to talk about your brand and get others talking about it, too!
  2. Target YOUR audience: There are 800 million people using Facebook and half of them log in daily. That’s more than any print, radio, or television ad could ever reach.  And there’s Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and so many more sites that can help you grow your reach – locally or globally. Facebook ads can be targeted to your perfect client. On Twitter, the use of hashtags can get your message to your perfect client. LinkedIn groups can also get your brand in front of the right people.
  3. Engage with YOUR clients: Clients, customers, whatever you want to call them, they are on social media sites (see #2 above). They are looking for you there. If they love your company, they want to tell you so and they want you to tell them you appreciate their loyalty.  If they don’t love your company, they want to tell you that, too. And while the thought of dealing with negative comments frightens some business owners to death, this is a very positive aspect of social media! Before social media, if a client was unsatisfied with your company, they may call, write a letter or send an email. If you were able to rectify the situation, great! If not, they told a few of their friends about it and all vowed not to return.  Now, a dissatisfied customer will post it on Facebook and tweet it on Twitter to their 100+ friends and followers who then share that with their 100+ friends and followers. However, if you rectify it via social media, your formerly disgruntled customer will rave about you to his friends and followers. And so on, and so on!
  4. Increase customer base: Targeted marketing, engaging customers (both positive and negative), and offering exclusive deals and promotions are just some of the ways to increase your customer base using social media. Word of mouth marketing has always existed but now businesses are able to harness the power of word of mouth by becoming a part of the conversation.  Giving people a reason to talk about your brand will undoubtedly increase your client base.
  5.   Increase customer loyalty: Engaging your customers and showing them the ‘personality’ behind your brand will lead to their loyalty to the brand and to you. We all like to believe that we’re special, and engagement on social media helps your customers feel special. Those positive and negative comments also allow you to gauge what you’re doing well and what areas need improvement. How better to promote loyalty than by showing your customers – current and prospective – that you are always striving for excellence?

Social media is about giving and receiving. If you give, you will receive. I promise. Don’t expect it to happen overnight, but if you utilize every aspect of social media your business and your community will grow.

What do you think? I want to hear your opinions! Please leave your comments below!

Delete Those Old Facebook Apps To Protect Your Privacy

I don’t know about you, but I’m always concerned about protecting my privacy on the Internet and I’m quite cautious when it comes to sharing personal information, both online and off.  That’s why I was shocked when I read an article entitled These Steps Will Protect Your Privacy While Using Facebook and Twitter, posted recently by The Next Web.  The following post will focus on Facebook since it has been around longer and apps are used more commonly there than on Twitter.

If you’ve been a Facebook user for any length of time, you have undoubtedly used apps. I’ve been on Facebook for several years and, back in the day, my friends and I used to send each other virtual hearts and bouquets, and take quizzes like “What Star Wars character are you most like?” or “How blonde are you?”, among other silly things.  All of these are apps and we’ve given them access to our personal information in varying degrees. I seriously doubt that the information would be used for malicious purposes, but I also don’t think it’s a good idea to allow them to have access to our information until the end of time, either.

In The Next Web’s post, readers are instructed to go to their Facebook Privacy Settings (while signed into the account) and look at the apps that they’ve authorized so that they can delete apps or revise the permissions given to them.

I admit that I’ve never checked these settings before which is why I was so surprised to see more than 300 apps that I’d authorized over the years; some of which I haven’t even used for years! I might add that it’s a three-click process to delete an app – which is quite the hassle when trying to delete hundreds of them – but I think it’s an endeavor worth our time.

My suggestion to everyone who uses Facebook and Twitter is to check your app settings and delete the ones you no longer use – just to be safe.  Again, I doubt that the information would be used maliciously, but better safe than sorry!

I’d love to know what you think about this.  Do you think it’s a big deal for these apps to have your personal information – especially if you no longer use them?  Please let me know what you think by leaving your comments below.

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