Sunday, September 18, 2011

Facebook Ad Credits Will Not Solve Small Business's Social Media Problem

Facebook is giving small businesses advertising credit in hopes of getting this substantial audience to use the platform for customer acquisition. The mammoth social network is up against a tough challenge: Grand majority of small business owners do not see social media as a priority in their digital marketing list. IIn fact according to a Hiscox survey published by eMarketer, only 4 percent list it as a must-have. Many small business owners say they could live without it (43 percent). Some add that they don't get to it everyday (24 percent). There are still those who don't even know where to start (14 percent). Facebook may need to think of a more comprehensive plan than an ad push to secure time on small business owners' schedules. 

I know the challenges of small business social media  first hand. I am West Side Art Studios' self-appointed social media consultant. Greg Kessler, the artist behind the studio, is busy creating and teaching art day in, day out. He uses Facebook to stay connected with friends, but he rarely has time to devise a social media calendar, identify and engage his influencers. He does a good job of announcing milestone events and the rest of his time has to go to creating the product. 

    Social media outreach requires time -- you need time to build a following and to engage in genuine conversations with them (vs. pushing messages at them). That's not a problem Facebook ad promotions will solve. 

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Get The Most Out of Your Social Customer Care Channels

Standing with empty paper cups in hand, we looked for a recycling bin. Much to our dismay, the grand coffee chain did not separate its trash. “Unbelievable!” we thought and approached the counter. “Nope, we don’t recycle. Can you believe it?” said the employee, agreeing with our protest. My friend turned around and shoved the cups in mixed trash and said, “I’ll Tweet about it!”


That is one frustrated, social media savvy customer who knows she will get the attention of the brand and many others who’ve gone through similar experience, if she posts a mere 140 characters online. Her expectations are not only high because she wants the coffee chain to be green, but also because she wants a solution through immediate and open dialogue.


This is the changing face of customer care in the age of social media. Monitoring online conversations and responding in near real time has become an essential step in maintaining brand health. The complexity of setting up branded social media customer care lines may seem like added cost to an already robust system that handles queries through phone, email and mail. Companies need to have a perspective on the business impact of their social care channels, before determining their role in the customer service chain.


Social media customer service channels can reduce churn, increase satisfaction and bring in new customers:


·                           Reduced churn: Solving customer problems and preventing customers from discontinuing a service helps maintain a steady customer base.


·                           Repeat sales: High customer satisfaction yields loyalty as renewed purchases.


·                           Cross-sell, up-sell opportunities: The solution to a customer problem may be a product bundle or an alternative service. Social care specialists can serve additional products/services to customers depending on need and tone of conversation.


·                           New customers through positive word of mouth: Resolved cases and happy customer hash tags fortify brand reputation and convince readers that they would be equally well treated if they were to purchase from the company.


Besides expecting benefits, companies also need to ask some hard questions to build social care channels that make business sense for their target audience:


1-     Who are the social media savvy customers, seeking a dialogue online?

a.      What is their history with the brand?

b.      Do they tap into offline channels as well?

c.      Among online sources, which social media platforms do they prefer?


2-     What questions/issues typically make customers turn to social media channels?

a.      What are main topics?

b.      What is the volume for each key topic?

c.      In what problem stages are these questions? Will they need extensive follow up online and/or offline?


3-     What is the cost of assisting a customer through social media, considering staff and technology systems?

a.      What are key skills for social care specialists? What kind of training will they need?

b.      How many staff members are needed to assist in social media conversations?

c.      What is the process in which social care specialists will monitor online buzz and respond to customers?


The opportunity in social care is in addressing customer needs through efficient systems that deliver value fast, at reduced cost to the company.


This post has also been published on NM Incite's blog. Click here to read more on social media trends and business implications.

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

charity: water stands out with "THANK YOU!" messages in crowded cause-marketing space

I got three critical emails in my personal inbox today: One from Seth Godin, asking me to buy an ebook, which would help buy malaria nets for children in need. One from TOMS Shoes, letting me know about their founder's book 'Start Something That Matters'. One from charity: water thanking all donors for what they have given to the cause over the past 5 years. Just this little example goes to show you how crowded the cause-marketing scene is. Everyone wants your attention for something worthwhile. You have limited dollars and time. What's a smart marketer to do to break through the clutter? 

How about giving something back, instead of just asking? I got an email last night from charity: water saying they would be releasing the thank you videos online today. They would be thanking their donors starting at 9:30AM. I rmade a mental note to check out the site this morning. Of course, there they were: fun, genuine clips showing charity: water staff thanking all sorts of people who had ran campaigns, given up their birthdays and donated over the years. I thought it was cool, so I tweeted it. In less than an hour, charity water was following me back. 

charity: water made a point to connect and treated me as a VIP with premium information. They emailed me a thank you note and they entertained me with a series of videos, while showing me how others have donated over the years (including a 3 year old!). They thanked me again for Tweeting. At the end of my fifth video view, I didn't mind the donate button. I was at this giant, virtual birthday party.

This was labor intensive on their part, but the back and forth was an example of what true (social media) relations should be like. 

OK, one last point for staff members who were chugging Ouzo to thank Dimitri for his contributions to charity: water: Guys, you need to mix it with water and have some meze with it. You don't just gulp it down like that! But then, since you're hard core, I understand.  


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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Positive Stories Stick

Dr. Martin Oetting and his colleagues at trnd, a Europe-based word of mouth marketing company, have released some interesting research based on a survey of 30,000 panel members. The study revealed that people were most likely to remember positive stories about products and companies, rather than negative. When asked about their latest word-of-mouth experience, an overwhelming majority (89 percent) of survey participants mentioned a positive story, while a mere 7 percent recalled a negative experience. 

The study also found that some categories are more prone to negative word of mouth -- such as transportation and telecom (communications) -- than others. Yet, word of mouth about most FMCG products was positive. 

These findings echo US studies, such as those from Keller Fay Group , which show that most word of mouth is positive. 

What's the takeaway? People want to pass along positive stories and feel good? Perhaps people are more likely to focus on what works vs. what does not because they want to experience the better things in life. I wonder how these findings would vary if we were to ask questions about political and social climate vs. products and companies. How would people report on the news they hear from the media, friends and family after being exposed to so many negative reports on the economy and political battles?



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Sunday, September 4, 2011

New twist on charity: water September 2011 campaign: Track Your Donations at Work

Every year charity: water, the non-profit that drills wells and brings clean water to populations in need, plucks our heart strings with touching human stories from the field. The crew opens our eyes to the lives of villagers in remote areas of Africa. This year, they're taking a different approach in sharing their story and drawing supporters into the donation process. 

Charity: water is inviting us to raise funds to help them buy an FS 250 drilling rig.


This investment will allow them and their Ethiopian partners to drill faster, and get to more places. In fact, this campaign is aiming to bring clean water to 40,000 people in 80 communities!

Ever wonder what happens to your dollars once you hand them over? As always, 100 percent of donations will go towards the good deed. Moreover, donors to this campaign will be able to track the truck through a GPS system. They will be able to see the gift of their donations 24/7 for years to come. 

This is not only a simple, but smart twist on location-based marketing, but it's also organizational responsibility. Charity: water is transparent in its communication and is treating loyal followers as true partners. 

To make a donation or start your own fundraising campaign, click on the highlighted links.  

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