DESKERCISE: creating harder-bodied corporate tools since 2013
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Social media can be a powerful tool. But in the wrong hands, it can become a weapon.
It’s an amazing, quick-moving forum for customers to voice their compliments and concerns while feeling heard. But how do you balance wanting good, responsive customer service with not abusing your newfound power?
I’ve been very interested in Facebook-era customer service lately. A lot of companies are still getting their feet wet and are still of the mindset that if someone complains somewhere online they need to make them happy at any cost. Just because it’s a new medium doesn’t mean the old rules no longer apply. Sometimes people still need to be told “no.”
A digital shout-out is huge to a brand, but so is a complaint. How do you ensure you’re being fair with what you’re doling out?
@halleyrebecca Thanks for the kind words! We’ll be sure to pass them along to the team.
— Nordstrom (@Nordstrom) August 27, 2013
I recently bought a pair of sale shoes online from a brand I’ve purchased from before. The sizing was weird in this particular pair, but because it wasn’t the company’s mistake, they didn’t want to exchange them for a smaller pair.
I called the customer service 1-800 number figuring it was a long shot. They were on final sale, and I’d most definitely read the “cannot be returned or exchanged” caveat. But the woman I spoke to on the phone rubbed me the wrong way, so in a fit of mild rage I posted the same complaint to Facebook. Five minutes later, I had an apologetic phone call, a return label, and a $60 gift certificate.
I totally did not deserve that response. I was just being a jerk, pulling chains because I know how. Just because I put it on Facebook does not mean you have to give me your first-born child. What do you think? Temper tantrum, or legitimate customer complaint?
There’s a brand that I love. I don’t want to name names, so I’ll stop at telling you that they make an amazingly, addictively delicious line of crackers. Or are they chips? Or are they pretzels?! I’m obsessed. I have a favorite flavor for the beach, a favorite flavor for afternoons at work, and a flavor I only purchase when I’m feeling particularly indulgent or am on a long road trip.
I don’t follow a lot of products on Twitter, because, frankly, who cares what a paper towel or a cookie is Tweeting? But, for whatever reason, I recently followed this fantastic chip/cracker/pretzel company. And, they quickly got a little weird.
Slightly creepy Twitter personality? Fine, I can look the other way. I work in social media – I don’t feel the need to throw a company under the bus by poking fun at a few less-than-brilliant (but certainly not offensive) tweets.
But then I went on a road trip. And somewhere along the way, I purchased a bag of my favorite, most indulgent flavor of these tasty snacks. Midway through the bag I found a CURLY BLACK HAIR. It was alarmingly pubic-looking. It was twined around a pretzel with a light dusting of parmesan, so I knew it had to have made its way to the bag before I found it.
My first instinct was to tweet a photo. If I tagged the company, I’d probably even get a free bag of snacks out of it. But I stopped myself. What if that was me behind their (yes, very, very weird) Twitter handle? This would be my worst nightmare.
Would that have been an abuse of power? Knowing how to work the system, and tossing in a healthy dash of public shaming to benefit myself? I’m still undecided. Because CURLY BLACK HAIR. Gross. What do you think? Temper tantrum, or legitimate customer complaint?
Don’t forget that it’s okay to have fun on social media! Don’t get so bogged down in rules and metrics that you forget to keep it light, and have a good time. Because otherwise, what’s the point?
This is how my coworkers and I blow off steam during the work day. What do you do to up the fun factor in your day-to-day life?
Every brand on social media has a policy, guidelines, best practices for use. Whether or not you’ve thought about it or spent any time trying to cultivate it, the power of the Internet means your name is your personal brand. Shouldn’t you have your own personal social media policy to go along with it?
Think about your Facebook profile, your Twitter feed. Do a Google search for your name. What comes up? If a stranger perused your Facebook feed, what would be their takeaway? Are you a crazy cat lady? A drunken college student? A young professional who can’t be bothered to spell things properly in his or her Facebook statuses? A whiner?
I go into every new situation, be it a job interview, a blind date (that’s a story for another time) or a presentation assuming that at least one person in the room has looked me up on the Internet. With that in mind, I am very, very deliberate about what I put on the Internet.
I often advise people to think carefully about their own, personal code of conduct for the Internet. It doesn’t have to be formal, you don’t even have to write it anywhere, but it’s important to think about the image you want to present. If you’re fine with your personal brand being “meth head,” more power to you – as long as it’s a conscious choice on your part.
I’m a young professional working in social media. As a personal rule, I only share things that are funny or informative. I never use profanity. (With the exception of “badass.” Because part of my personal brand is reminding the world that I am one.) I try to post as much thoughtful commentary on social media, journalism and my region as I can – these are the three areas in which I try to cultivate myself as an expert.
Twitter > Facebook among teens. Add this to the list of studies proving what we already know/see every day. huff.to/10WxrAY
— Halley Knigge (@halleyrebecca) April 11, 2013
That said, I don’t try to hide my personality. You can talk about your life, your hobbies, even your weekend visit to your local brewery while presenting yourself as a person somebody in the world wouldn’t mind hiring one day. But I do think twice before posting anything, sometimes even reading a status aloud to my husband before hitting post, to make sure it sounds self-deprecatingly funny rather than whiny-depressing.
I think carefully before each post about whether I want it to be public, or friends-only. Just as I do for the brands I manage, I think about how engaging an update is, whether it will play well with my audience (aka my friends and followers).
My dilemma, when faced with a “sparkly festive” dress code. instagram.com/p/YEHUXNpXhv/View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Halley Knigge (@halleyrebecca) on
DESKERCISE: because you can’t only rely on reply:allpocalypse to get your blood pumping. vine.co/v/btMXM6XZTr1
— Halley Knigge (@halleyrebecca) April 9, 2013
— Halley Knigge (@halleyrebecca) April 9, 2013
I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, but I’m afraid @bylindsaycohen totally called this one. Especially once homegirl turned up in my favorite gold granny shirt. #mydopplegangermarriedajonasbrother
think hope if you were to look at my personal Facebook profile or Twitter feed, you’d see a badass, independent woman, who is clever and funny, passionate about social media and journalism, who really loves her city and sometimes posts goofy things about her dogs and husband, sequined clothing and celebrity doppelgängers.
think hope you’d never guess how carefully I vet the content that I publish, that you’d just assume that I’m brilliant and witty with impeccable spelling – because that’s the personal brand I’m trying to curate.
So what’s yours?
Good advice, Sprout Social. Unfortunately, far too few brands took it.
I manage more than 20 brand profiles on social media. I am nowhere near the busiest community manager in the world, but I’m definitely not the least. But the relative size of my workload aside, the first thing I did when news began to come out of the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon today, was to double-check and make sure I didn’t have any tweets or posts auto-scheduled for today.
I tweeted a reminder to brands early on, as did many other influencers. At this point, if pausing all flip “look at me!” marketing activity isn’t your first response in a crisis, than you are sorely in need of a good, hard look at your crisis communications plan.
Once again brands – in a crisis, don’t forgot check your scheduled tweets, posts, etc, and for pete’s sake, hold the flip ones!
— Halley Knigge (@halleyrebecca) April 15, 2013
Don’t get me wrong. I’m saying anyone who tweeted anything other than Boston today is a jerk. I’m just saying that in the face of tragedy, we all benefit from a human voice and human judgment. Your marketing efforts can wait until tomorrow. Your empathy can’t.
“Let’s make a viral video!”
What marketing pro hasn’t heard these words – from a coworker, a boss, an executive. The politics around the request may be heavy, but the influence of the person making the request won’t make it any more viable an option.
So let’s get this out of the way right now: “going viral” isn’t a marketing strategy.
But why not?
Set yourself up for success
Craving a viral video is what we call “shiny object syndrome.” It sounds splashy and current and to people in your organization without a background in marketing, a video with 100,000 views on it may sound like just the ticket to success and riches.
But you know better. A good marketer knows that it’s not a witty Twitter feed, a clever billboard, an informative blog post or a popular video that makes a marketing strategy. Any one of these things is great, but is nothing more than a medium for your broader marketing message.
Take a moment to think about your industry and what you’re marketing. What are your goals? Lots of video views may make you look good, but how do 100,000 views translate to dollars and customers?
Give yourself measurable goals. In order to know whether your marketing strategy is effective, you need attainable goals that you can shoot for. “Virality” is unpredictable and short-lived, and focusing on the shiny object of the moment misses the point: creating great content that supports your business goals.
Know your audience
Many brands have eschewed attempting to create their own viral videos in favor of capitalizing on viral trends.
This can be a great alternative, marketers need to proceed cautiously. Keep your eye on the prize and beware of “shiny object syndrome” coming to bite you here. Be thoughtful about which trends you want to capitalize on, and always remember that anything you do should support your brand goals and identity.
Most recently, brands around the world excitedly created their own versions of the “Harlem Shake,” a quick and digestible dance video lasting about 30 seconds.
For some brands, this was viral marketing gold.
Say you’re a PR firm and one of your marketing goals is demonstrating to potential clients that you’re deft and reactive, and up on the trends of the day. Making your own Harlem Shake video could fit in neatly with your overall goals. Example: Rusty George Creative, a PR and creative firm based in Tacoma, Wash.
Likewise, a casual restaurant looking to build buzz about its upcoming opening might benefit from a fun video that gives hungry viewers a peek inside the new facility. This, of course, is retail marketing, and lends itself to a variety of viral trends and memes much more easily than other industries. Do a silly dance to sell some milkshakes? Sure. Do a silly dance to sell a dialysis machine? Not so much. Example: Shake Shake Shake, a burger joint in Tacoma, Wash.
For other brands, this was a trend better left untouched.
I work in health care, and was curious to see whether any hospitals or health care organizations had attempted to jump on the Harlem Shake bandwagon. They had. And, yikes. Consider your audience – potential patients who want a trusted resource, and might one day place their life in your hands. Is a silly video set in an operating room really supporting your marketing goals? Needing to include a disclaimer reassuring viewers that patient care wasn’t compromised during the filming of your video may be a good sign you’re barking up the wrong tree on this one. Sure, the video made me laugh, but do I want my grandma getting heart surgery in that operating room? No so much. In this case, thousands of views are not going to reinforce your broader goals. Examples: CenturaHealth, a health care organization in Colorado. Even scarier, mystery hospital hallway edition.
Bottom line? Experiment and have fun, but give yourself clear goals. Stay focused on your brand and identity, and know your audience!
What can I say? I’m officially addicted to video-sharing app Vine from Twitter. The posts are short (6 seconds maximum) and sweet, with gif-like qualities, and are oh-so-fun to create.
It took me a few weeks to warm up. I tested the waters with conservative, 6-second clips of chronological video on my personal (so many puppy videos) and professional (clips of events, “inside the operating room” sneak peeks and special visitors) accounts, before I really started to understand just how creative a 6-second, uneditable video app can force you to be.
But don’t just take my word for it – the Tribeca Film Festival is calling for entries for a “six-second film festival” just for Vines. Entries are due by April 7, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
What do you think? Have you used Vine to create personal or brand mini-videos?
A few inspirations:
Brand: Saks Fifth Avenue is doing a fabulous job jumping into Vine. They post tours of the makeup department, fashion trends, and best of all, outfit creation from start to finish. Check them out here: Saks Fifth Avenue on SeeVine.com.
Individual: my creative friend Hillary’s kooky story Vines will knock your socks off. From 6-second heists, to an office worker’s slow incapacitation by computer cables, I’ve been impressed again and again with her posts. Check them out here: Fritz is Fine on SeeVine.com.