Halley Knigge (Griffin)

Write. Share. Communicate.

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With great power comes great responsibility

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?

Example 1:

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?

Example 2:

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?

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What’s your personal social media policy?

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.

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).

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.

I 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?

Lessons from a crisis

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Lessons from a crisis

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.


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.

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You are not a guru

Hey, you. Yeah, you. With the 304 Twitter followers, and the word “strategist” in your bio.

I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you. I’m sure you were really great when you helped your aunt adjust her privacy settings on Facebook. But writing it in your Twitter bio doesn’t make it true.

You are not a guru.

Not a guru.

Not a guru.

Or a ninja. Or a whiz kid. Or a maven. Are you a Hindu spiritual leader? Did Master Splinter teach you martial arts? I didn’t think so.

It’s really great that you have both personal and professional social media experience. It’s pretty cool that you are 24 years old. I’m sure you’re all over Instagram trends, and are REALLY FAST at Tweeting from your smart phone. Maybe you’ve even had administrator privileges on a Facebook page or two.

But it’s time for you to pipe down. Facebook’s been around for nearly 10 years now. This is no longer a game reserved for the young. In a world where Dr. Ruth is killing it on Twitter, you can no longer slap “guru,” “expert” or “master,” and hope that will be enough to land you a job in a field that people are still trying to understand.

You want a job? Put your money where your mouth is. (And for the love of social, edit your Twitter bio!)

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3 tips for sharing better images on Facebook

Images are king on Facebook. Not only do photos take up more real estate in your timeline, but Facebook’s own EdgeRank algorithm favors images above all else, and is more likely to show them to more people than a status update, video, or link. (Not to mention, images are currently the only type of content that remains editable after it is posted.) Knowing this, how does a brand put its best foot forward? Here are three quick tips to help you share better images on Facebook.

1. Crop it

Square images play best on your timeline and on mobile devices, and are ideal for sharing on multiple platforms. A normal image post will show up as 403 by 403 pixels, so make sure your images are high enough quality that they enlarge well. Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” like a teeny tiny picture in a big, black shadowbox. If you post a rectangular image, make sure to take advantage of the “reposition photo” option to show the best 403 by 403 pixels of your image.

tiny football

2. Brand it

One of the reasons images are so great is because they are sharable. (Who hasn’t seen at least three user-generated Some-e-cards posts today?) If 20 of your fans share an image, you want every single pair of eyes to know exactly where that image came from. Creating a simple template for sharing images on Facebook is a great way to build brand recognition by reinforcing a consistent look. The Cleveland Clinic does a great job at this.

cleveland clinic example cleveland2

3. Link it

Don’t forget the link back to whatever you’re promoting! Remember, social marketing is not just about having a great Facebook page, or a chatty Twitter feed. Great social marketing is just one piece of a broader marketing strategy, and any platform (be it Facebook, Pinterest, Vine, or whatever comes next) is just a medium for your broader marketing message. A truly great Facebook post will include engaging, visual content, and a link to more information. Each of the Cleveland Clinic’s branded images links back to a related blog post, article, or page on its website. And hey – don’t forget to use a link shortener. No one wants to look at a photo with a 50-character link in the description. Bit.ly is a fabulous option that also provides simple analytics.