In Today’s World Your Website Can’t Fail Due to Demand

We live in a world that requires real-time feedback, response, and 100% up-time in nearly everything we do. Or at least that is what our customers expect. But when things fail you stand to lose a customer for life and this has happened to me twice this holiday season. Both for different reasons but both were failures on the part of technology followed by failure when it came to customer service. I wanted to make sure I shared with you what happened to me, so hopefully it doesn’t happen to you.bad customer service

New York & Company’s Website Ate My Gift Cards

Now this may sound kind of strange but wouldn’t my luck have it that I was trying to place an order with New York and Company on Cyber Monday and got all the way to the submit your order page just to have my order taken back to the shopping cart. Sounds strange, right?

With no errors in my cart, I proceed to type my two $50 gift card codes into the website again but this time, the website said there was no balance on the gift cards. I tried both with the same result. That was funny to me because they had just said they had deducted the gift card amount from my order during the previous checkout attempt. Now, giving them the benefit of the doubt, I thought there was a glitch and my order had been processed. So, I checked my email and purchase history on the website and of course, nothing. Then I checked my credit card for the new charge to appear, nothing. All the while, I am watching as things being moved out of my cart as they were selling out.

new york and company customer serviceSo I tried one more time, maybe I had typed in my cards wrong. Nope, that wasn’t the case. New York and Company had just stolen $100 dollars from me in gift cards. I immediately opened up a chat with a specialist who was not helpful at all. She said she would open up a support ticket and that someone would reach out to me in 3-5 business days. Well, that wasn’t helpful as Cyber Monday lasts just one day and the deals I wanted were going fast. The chat representative did nothing to reimbursement my funds and the only explanation she gave was that this was not something she could escalate.

Customer Forced to Follow-Up

At the end of the 5th business day, I called New York and Company. They proceeded to open a ticket regarding my issue. I asked them what happened to the chat representative’s support ticket and they said they had no record of one ever being logged. Well, that was just great, no record of something I had been waiting for. I was still out $100 in gift cards and New York and Company was still considered thieves in my book.

I called back two days later, there was no update on the ticket; however, I did receive an email that it was being looked into. Finally, after about 10 days, I received an email stating my gift cards had been refunded and I was free to continue to shop at New York and Company online or at a nearby store. I was shocked because I had had to do all the follow-up to get an answer. I had to log 2 tickets to get MY MONEY back. And yet, all they did was refund me the money that was already mine. They didn’t offer to get me the deals that were in my cart although I had saved a screenshot. They didn’t even offer me a free shipping promo code.

Good Customer Service is Not Hard

Truly how hard would it have been to do that? Or how hard would it have been to refund me my money from the get-go? Instead, they dragged it out and wasted my time. So at the end of the day due to this experience, they have lost a customer for life. It was that plain and simple. I will use my $100 in gift cards and that will be it. I have asked my friends and family to no longer gift me New York & Company gift cards at the holidays or my birthday and I will no longer be shopping at the store.

Customer Service is that simple. You need to have a functioning website especially on days you are promising the best deals of the day. If you can’t handle the extra shoppers on your server, don’t have deals.

No Shipping Home When it comes to Walmart Photo

For the last several years, I have always ordered photo calendars at the holidays for my family through Walmart Photo. And I have always had them shipped to my house. But this year, this was not the case.

After spending about 2 hours designing 4 calendars, I was going through the checkout process, received the confirmation dates, typed in my credit card and checked out. Or so I thought. About a week later, I was wondering why I hadn’t received any notifications regarding my photos. I looked in my email and recent orders but there was nothing there. This was so strange! But I called it user error.

Round Two

walmart photo error

So that evening I logged onto Walmart Photo and went through the same checkout process. Only, when I got to the submit step an error popped up saying my order could not be processed. This same error came up the next 5 times I tried. I sent a screen shot to their Twitter account and they told me it was user error. However, I searched around and found that I was not alone in this and the problem was not user error but a system error when selecting home shipping. Even after trying another browser and another computer, the error persisted, yet Walmart’s social media team claimed they could not reproduce the error.walmart photo twitter customer service

Due to the time sensitivity, I had the photos shipped to the store. Sadly, the problems did not stop there. On Monday evening (12/19) when 2 out 3 of the calendar items were to have arrived at the store I hadn’t heard anything about my order. I found this really odd because Walmart is usually really good. I called the online team to try and get more information on my order. The short version of the conversation was that they didn’t know where the package was and didn’t have any additional findings for me. Not helpful but I was busy so I accepted it, for now.

WHERE IS MY ORDER

The next day at lunch, I logged in to check my order status. The website said: Should have been delivered Monday 12/19. The other was to be delivered by the end of the business day. Now I am sorry Walmart but that is not status a customer wants to see because that means nothing to them. I called the store I ordered the photos to and asked to be directed to the Photo Center. The woman on the other end’s response was, sorry they are busy. I asked could I be put on hold as I was trying to find out if my photos were there or not. She said no, they were busy and that she couldn’t help me.

Now I was very frustrated. I didn’t want to make an extra trip to the madhouse that is Walmart around the holidays. So I opened up a chat function with a representative. His response was I would have to wait until the end of the day to find out if my package had been lost or not. If it had they could cancel it and try again. I said I didn’t want to cancel I wanted the package as it contained gifts. He said I am sorry there is nothing I can do, with the busy season a lot of packages are delayed. Hello…Walmart! You don’t see Amazon Prime packages delayed due to the season and they are way busier than you. No wonder you are losing business to Amazon.

We Live in the 21st Century..Why Can’t You Get Customer Service Right?

So the day after everything was supposed to be delivered all of my packages said: Should Have Arrived on….Tell me Walmart what does that mean to you? I called the store again. They tried to direct me to photo and they were busy. Apparently, everyone was having problems with your website and photo because this was the second time it had happen. I was redirected back to the person who redirected my call the first time. Her instructions, “you have to come into the store.” I am sorry, we live in a 24/7 connected world that is technology savvy and you have no way of looking up if my photo order is actually there or not? What kind of digital customer service is that?

Much to my dismay, I made the trek to the store on my lunch break.

When I got there, I was not surprised to find a very long line at pick-up (apparently that line is the same as the photo pick-up). It took about 20 minutes to get up to the register and a young girl greeted me and began looking for my order. Sadly, I was not surprised that should couldn’t find the order. By this point, another woman who worked in the photo department stepped in. Her name was June. And let me tell you Walmart, give this woman a raise because she is the only thing that was positive about the entire experience.

She got on the phone with some mystery number and was on hold for another 20 minutes before someone was magically able to tell her that the packages had been delivered to the store that morning. Tell me, why was someone able to tell her this information but not me?

Anyway, after hanging up she began searching through the unsorted mail (why was it 12:30 pm and the morning mail hadn’t been sorted at Christmas)? In another 20 minutes, she was able to locate one of the three packages. Instead of having me wait any longer, she took down my name and number and told me she would personally call me letting me know by the end of the day they had located the additional items. Now that is customer service even though I was not happy to have to return to the store.

Walmart: This was the Sheridan Dr. in Buffalo location and the woman’s name is June and she worked in the photo department. If you are reading this, she deserves something for going above and beyond because over the past week no one else was doing that.  

At the end of the day, I received my photos (Brian picked them up) because I was really over Walmart at this point. When I looked over everything, the photos were printed much darker tin the calendars than I had ever seen (they are not that dark on the computer. The order was a day late and no one could tell me why their website wasn’t functioning correctly. June even said that she had heard there were issues with shipping to home functionality frequently (WALMART THIS IS A PROBLEM)!

Not only was this a case of poor customer service, it was also a case of a terrible website that is not supported.  Sadly this has cost Walmart my business for life because I know if I ever have a future problem, they won’t be able to resolve it.

Customer Service Matters

The world we live in is a connected one and requires constantly updated technology and technical support standing by. If you are a big brand and expect higher than normal volumes of traffic on your website at any point in the year, make sure you have a contingency plan if something goes down. And also, never tell your customers that it is user error or that you can’t get them any more information, it is a really bad customer experience and your poor customer service can cost you customers.

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Nurture over Nature: How to Guide Visitors through the Customer Door

customer experienceWe all know the saying, nature over nurture; however, is that true when it comes to the customer journey? Does natural instinct kick in when a customer comes to your website and they automatically know exactly what they are going to buy? The answer is obviously no, we have so many digital distractions on our websites now a days that a customer, unless they have been there before or knows exactly which model or services they are going to buy is going to get lost.  There are millions of businesses on the internet and the way you make your visitors feel on your site and through your other digital presences will make the difference between converting them from leads to customers. The customer journey is not a simple one, but as a business it is your responsibility to help them through the journey.

As businesses, we like the fact that most customers don’t come to an online store knowing exactly what they are going to buy because of the fact it often leads to customers buying additional products from us.

Come on, we have all been there with Amazon, we go for one thing like a new phone charger (the nature factor) and then $100 dollars later we now have a new cutting board shaped like a fish made of bamboo and four other things we didn’t intend to buy and chances are you forgot the phone charger.

But Amazon didn’t just allow nature to put $100s worth of products in your cart, no they nurtured you through different call to actions like New for You or my favorite Inspired by your Shopping Trends.

But how as business owners who may not have the wide-variety of inventory that Amazon has, be selling a service vs. a physical product, how can we turn site visitors into converted customers?

First you will have a little pre-work:

Step 1

  • For Retail Businesses:
    • Do you know what percentage of your site’s visitors put items in their shopping cart but don’t checkout? We have all done it, gone to a website put items in our cart and for whatever reason, whether we decided we didn’t want the items or simply walked away from our computers and closed the tab and just forgot it doesn’t matter – the potential customer still did not convert.
    • Do you know what percentage of those who put items in their shopping cart actually checkout? This number is hopefully much higher than that of the above. A Moz study of retail clients found on average visitors who put items in their cart checked out approximately 30% of the time that means 70% of visitors who had something in their cart did not check-out.
  • For Service-Based Companies:
    • Do you know what percentage of leads are converted into customers who use your service? This is important to know and then dive deeper into the why behind the leads who aren’t being turned into customers?  Is it due to the call to action, the copy overall on your website, the customer service delivery, or even reviews on external websites.
  • For All Business Types:
    • Do you know what percentage of visitors to your site walks through the digital door with a purchase in hand? It is important to note, there are a lot of factors that can skew this number so be prepared for it to be low. You may be surprised to learn that ecommerce as an industry only converts between 2-3% of visitors.

Step 2

  • Now that you have your benchmarks, you will need to set objectives for where you want to be. For example, do you want to increase the percentage of visitors who put items in their cart but don’t check out or is your objective to increase your total site visitors who convert? Be specific when you set these goals.

Now that you know what your benchmarks are and you have determined what your metrics for success are going to be, we can focus on four techniques for getting visitors through the customer door.

  1. General Email Campaigns

Now, not everyone collects emails on their customers, so if you don’t feel free to skip ahead but consider why you don’t have an email list of subscribers, leads, blog followers, etc?

Other companies have massive email lists and the more information you can utilize to develop targeted campaigns the better.

Not everyone has the luxury of having detailed information on their email list but you probably have more information than you think. For example, where did the lead/email come from? Was it through a contest; the website, or an in-person collection?  Where was the form filled out?  Location and source of lead can be great ways to start your targetted email campaign.

When sending out an email campaign, make sure it is segmented by a specific category/customer profiles and then personalized.  Email campaigns that utilize segmented lists have a 50% higher click-through rate. Utilizing segmented email campaigns will also help achieve a higher conversion rate with the next technique.

  1. Automated Email Campaigns

We all get them, emails on a seemingly random basis that offer us different deals for retailers, conferences, products and services at different times of the year.  These emails can come in the form of offering free promoted content such as a whitepapers or eBooks to get us to click to a website or a 40% off coupon.  These deals are extremely effective at making a customer feel personally tied to the brand as they appear to be completely customized to them.

If you plan to run a success email marketing campaign you have to remember you are trying to nurture your customers and show them that you care about them personally.  Automated campaigns can feel extremely cold if you don’t target them to the specific audience you are trying to convert with a specific message that appears personal.

Some techniques that help to drive successful campaigns:

  • Vary your content, this can be through different offerings, different incentives or different calls to action
  • Create a calendar of when your email campaigns are scheduled to run this can be part of your overall digital calendar you create that includes social postings or promotions
  • Utilize an automation tool and set up your varying campaigns through that
  1. Promoted Content

Just like an email campaign can work from some, other business find that promoted content works best.  Case studies, whitepapers, e-Books are all great examples of content, but they can’t stand alone.  Having great content is not the challenge it is getting it seen by your target audience that is the real challenge.  The reason you created this content, free or paid is to drive people to find out more about you and you can do that through a variety of means.

Promoting posts on social media channels in a targeted way can be a great way to introduce you content to a new audience.  Promoted posts can be either paid or unpaid.

If you are sharing content with an Influencer, it is highly recommended that you put a . before the @. Why you ask? If you tweet something at someone without the period, the only people that will see it are people that follow both of you, great if you want to tweet something amongst friends, not so great if you are trying to great viral content.  For example, if I wanted to tweet out the whitepaper I just created on Nature vs. Nurture to someone I think may retweet it  and expand my reach but not have the reach I could say:

  • .@SreWebSolutions check out this new whitepaper I created on #naturevsnurture in #business #internetmarketing

Another technique involves piggybacking on viral topics, trending posts or articles, or feature content.  There are several different ways to do this; however, if you are trying to promote content you have already created there are several tools out there.  I prefer to use Sniply to promote my content within others content because it is simple and I find potential leads are less turned off because the misdirection is less noticeable. This is the nurturing factor, you want to put your content in front of potential leads without them feeling like you are trying to sell them something.

Keys when you are developing promoted content:

  • Make it skimmable
  • Use headlines that encourage someone to pause and read
  • Stick to one problem you are identifying a solution for

The Call to Action (CTA)

Whether you are talking about body copy in your email or copy on your website, a call to action must be specific and must be utilizing the old newspaper term “above the fold” meaning a reader should not have to scroll in the email or on the website to find what you want them to do.  If you take a look at Amazon’s website, New for You is always above the scroll.

You never want to confuse your readers/visitors about what you want them to do because a confused customer is more likely to bounce from the site or not delete the email without clicking through.

Calls to Action must be:

  • Clear
  • Simple
  • Concise

CTAs that are original and directly state what you want the customer to do have a higher CTR and conversion rate than those that are indirect and unoriginal, don’t let your customers find out you borrowed copy from a competitor.  Customers will shy away from CTRs that have “the fine print” at the bottom especially if they feel suckered into paying for something.  Instead you want to go back to the nurturing mindset, make sure they understand there is no commitment this helps build trust.  You also want to make them feel like they are special and you want them, encouraging them to click with an incentive is important.  Remember you are telling them why they should waste their time and even more importantly in today’s day and age, their data, getting to another page.

Your call to action should avoid asking for money until it absolutely necessary

You want your potential customers to ultimately come to the conclusion of buying before you ever have to ask.  Think about it like this, when you go and buy a car you ultimately want to believe you decided what car is right for you and your situation, not have a sales person directly tell you what car you should drive and charge you for features you don’t need, the same should be said online.  It is more challenging to be the guy that gets a customer to buy online because you aren’t typically sitting with the customer and they have the world searchable at their fingertips to find reviews and your competitors.  But your call to action in an advertisement, mailer, email campaign, or direct content your website can help by making the customer question, “Why not you?” for the service.

It’s All About Nurturing your Leads

It’s easy to say you are going to be able to write effective copy, unfortunately not everyone does it. Internet marketing is about making your connections feel special, making them feel like the offer or Call to Action is just for them, internet marketing has to have the personal touch of in-person customer service.  Remember, it is simpler to nurture a lead that is on the fence about buying your product than it is to try and nurture your way into someone’s heart from the get go.  Allow nature to kick-start the process for you and then add the nurturing factor in to seal the deal. 

 

 

#LoveofLeaves

#loveofleavesNow a days the drink market is one of the fastest growing markets for companies in the food industry. Pepsi and Coke are constantly trying to outbid each other to diversify their product lines by acquiring smaller popular drinks. For example Gatorade is owned by Pepsi. Coke has made recent headlines by bidding for a stake in both Keurig Green Mountain Coffee and Monster Energy Drinks. What does this mean? Well the fact is the carbonated beverage market has been in decline for years while the beverage industry’s product lines are constantly expanding.

The popular brand Lipton is owned by UniLever which also owns products like Dove, Axe, Ben and Jerry’s and Vaseline. A few years back Lipton expanded their tea line to include Pure Leaf Tea. I have been a fan of this team for quite some time but have not been keeping up with UniLever’s marketing campaigns since starting work but I have to say their website looks awesome, especially the page showing off their brand’s most recent spotlights. What is interesting about Pure Leaf’s most recent campaign is that for every tweet, share and post with #LoveofLeaves, the company is donating one dollar to Wholesome Wave. You can check out this campaign, local Farmers Market and so much more on the Love of Leaves website. But hurry there is only a short time left for this marketing campaign and they are approaching the $150,000 goal!

I am really grateful that Influenster introduced me to this campaign (I had heard about the product before but had not heard about this great campaign). The idea of buying local and helping your community is a concept close to my heart and my company’s.

IMG_3399I love that my office, twice a week, is in a location where I can walk across the street to a local Farmer’s Market. It is nice to be able to hand the farmers money rather than paying for the fruits and veggies in the stores. Today was great because I was able to get 5 zucchini, 3 egg plants, 3 bell peppers, a quart of yellow and green beans and a quart of peaches for just sixteen dollars – that is simply unheard of!

I love not having to brew tea in the mornings during the summer just to be able to have it in the afternoon at work. I also like that Pure Leave Tea truly does taste like it was brewed that day and not been sitting in a bottle for months. When I bring it for lunch for that nice caffeine burst to beat the afternoon slump, I like to be able to keep it in the fridge so it really is like a nice iced tea! I recommend trying the Raspberry flavor of the tea. Just as a note I wish like Snapple that Lipton would produce more this tea’s flavors in the diet version because one bottle has 160 calories which is a lot for a drink.

***I received this product complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes. The opinions expressed in this blog are simply my own and created based on my love of blogging!***

"I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."

Working in Online Marketing

digital marketingIf you already work in marketing then what I am going to say may be a repeat of what you already know; however, if you are just entering college, looking for internships or trying to jump start your career I would consider reading what I am about to say. I have learned over the last 3 years that the world of online marketing is constantly changing and in order to enter into the exclusive club of the working digital marketing professionals you need to keep up.

When I say keep up, I do not just mean study hard in school and get good grades.  Keeping up in the digital world means going the extra mile:

  • Take the classes that challenge you.
    • In my undergraduate career I took the classes that drove my passions.  I did not take the “easy” classes that were considered GPA boosters.  I wanted to take the classes that would give me the experiences I needed to get to the places I wanted to be.
    • Take the classes that make you interesting in an interview but also applicable to the business.
    • Project-based classes may not be for everyone but I believe in the online digital world you can not simply learn from a book.  You have to experience it and do the current research.  In my opinion most online media books are out of date less than one year after publication.  That is how fast this world changes.
    • When most jobs require experience it can be hard to get your foot in the door with no initial experience which is where the class and project based experience can come into play.
  • Find a mentor or mentors.
    • You never know who may be able to help you find your niche in this crazy fast paced world.  Whether it is going out for drinks and talking business or strategy, staying after class to work on extra research and pick their brain.  It can never hurt you to show your passion for something to someone because they may be able to help you reach somewhere you never even dreamed of.
    • I personally have a few mentors that I have been able to look to for advice and guidance on classes, career moves and sometimes just balancing life.
  • Find your niche.
    • The great thing about the digital world is how big it is now and it is constantly expanding.
    • There is the social aspect, the blogging aspect, the SEO factor, the mobile app, website design, website development, digital advertising, and so much more.  All of these things are required in nearly every business.  I found that I love to do SEO and market research for companies trying to understand their consumers but I also love the social aspect of the online world and how customer opinions can really shape other customer’s opinions of your product, service or company.  I have always been an analytical person which is why I know that I will choose a job over the next few months during my MBA year that allows me to have evidence to back up my claims and arguments, allows me to fight for my passions, constantly collaborate on new ideas with people while also working by myself to get things done! I need a job that is as fast paced as my personality, constantly makes me think and is constantly changing directions.
  • Do work outside of class.
    • You can not expect to learn everything in a classroom or through class projects, that is why potential employers are looking for experience especially that applies to your field.  If you are young like me it can be hard to have the experience to get the jobs you want right out of college, I was fortunate to be able to start building my resume with applicable experience that counts in my years of experience during my sophomore year of college thanks to RIT’s co-op program, graduate assistantships and me finding a job at the perfect time at an agency that was extremely felxible and encouraging of my school.
    • But if you are not as fortunate, start building your skills on your own.  There are tons of free tools out there and resources to be able to gain new skills that do not require a professor to teach you.  You can teach yourselves.  Who knows you may surprise yourself and learn a skill you never expected.

I am glad that I am in an industry that is so up and coming.  One that more and more companies are looking to hire into.  Companies are placing more emphasis on research and development and digital marketing and the online world because that is where their consumers are and they are finally starting to see that.  I am very fortunate that in my young career I have been given the opportunities I have been.  I have been able to gain so much valuable experience that most people my age could never even dream of having.  As I graduate this Spring with my MBA I will be able to say I have roughly 3 years of applicable marketing and management experience as well as management information systems experience.  My experience extends from over a year at a marketing agency, over two years running and managing higher education social media accounts and almost a year working on a specific campaign to drive student engagement in college athletics, managing a large budget and promoting a variety of sports to the student body.  Some can argue that is not full-time experience; however, I can argue against that point, I have a year of full-time experience and for the rest of the time I was working 30 hours a week while being a full-time student and full time varsity athlete.  So if that does not say time management experience, I do not know what else will.

Sure it was tough and stressful sometimes; however, I still managed to have a life, to enjoy my undergraduate experience, play varsity basketball and be a typical college student I just did not sleep much but isn’t that what college is about?

I Think I Smell a CopyCat

Last week Facebook launched video posting in Instagram to a not so excited crowd.  Had this launch come prior to Vine for Android was released it may have had a larger effect and been welcomed more readily (at least by Android users); however, the new version of the popular photo sharing app has lead to mixed reviews.

I myself do not plan on going out of my way to use Instagram video.  I like the fact that Vine can only capture 8 seconds worth of video.  It makes you have to try harder to fit in everything and it is an interesting concept for marketers to try and work within a limit of 8 seconds compared to a 30 second TV commercial blocks.

So how do you capture someone’s attention in 8 seconds? Is it truly possible, because apparently Facebook did not think so.  Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram had potential to be huge; however, when they pulled Instagram photos from being shown on Twitter they lost part of my faith.  If I have to go to a separate app just to view a picture it is not worth it; however, if I am already on the app (Instagram) I will look at the pictures.  Normally I go out of my way to post a picture to Instagram and then to Twitter (separately) just to prove a point.  I like having a photo library to go along with my Twitter profile and Instagram photos do not save to my Twitter photo log.

It makes the most business sense to me at least for Facebook to want to be on Twitter, their biggest competitor, not attempt to force people off the social network.

Recently Mashable came out with a news update that shared how Vine was now more popular than Instagram on Twitter.  In my opinion this is due to the fact that people can watch your video right in Twitter and you do not have to leave the app in order to view the clip.

It is still to early to tell who is going to win this battle; however, I am curious to hear about your opinion? Vine or Instagram…the battle is on.

instagram/vine

Summer “Social”-ly

social mediaIt is summer time now for college students and for most high schoolers and that of course means NO SCHOOL or HOMEWORK.  So how do you fill your time?

Of course some people will be off starting the real world job circuit or maybe the job hunt, others will just be working a part-time summer job to pay for their summer adventures.  Some people will spend the summer in a drunken haze or hanging out by the pool or preparing for another sports season that is not that far off.  Whatever you are doing with your school-free-time, I am sure you are going to be on social media and it is important to be safe, smart and professional with your time, posts and pictures on social media.

Remember, no one wants to see pictures of you high or drunk out of your mind at a party last weekend.  These types of pictures are the kind that can get you in serious trouble with the law or your potential future.

Now a days more and more recruiters are turning to the internet as a primary way of checking out their potential employees and most of them do not want to see you just partying.  Sure it is okay to have a picture of you with some friends enjoying a summer BBQ with alcohol but you do not need to have the drunken “selfies” with a mixed drink or botled beer in your hand.  Even bar pictures are okay once in awhile but when they fill up your entire social media channel it can get excessive and allows employers to think that is all you do with your time.

The same thing goes with your posts.  Whether it is Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or another preferred social network think before you post.  Prospective employers, coaches, professors or family members do not need to hear how bombed you were with you friends the other night.  Being drunk and sloppy with people and online can effect you way past your hangover the next morning.

CMAC

The past three years in college I was very careful about what got put up on the internet with me in it.  I liked to be the one in the group with the camera because I did not want to be in a picture with alcohol in it.  Call me old school but I was not going to risk my future on one college party.  When I turned 21 my attitude changed (a little) because it is socially acceptable for me to have a drink in my hand with my friends.  I saw Luke Bryan at CMAC a few weeks back and was happily able to take pictures with my friends on the gorgeous summer evening and not be paranoid about what was going to show up online.

So my advice to everyone out there is to be smart when it comes to your summer social media.  Have a great time, share it with people, but try not to say or post anything that you may regret when you sober up.

Becoming a Community Manager

Social Media Community Manager

The social media world is constantly evolving and changing.  It is not all about posting content for businesses but how you manage your community of followers.  Large B2C businesses need to have community managers to help continue to build the trust between brand and customer.  It is important to create the community manager role once a community around a brand has been created.

In my opinion has a Chobani one of the greatest community management teams out there and they are not one of the top 100 companies.  They understand their clients and go above and beyond to serve them.  For example, if you purchase a Chobani and go to open it and it is moldy and email the company, they will send you free coupons for Chobani as an apology.  The company recognizes that Greek yogurt does go bad before the expiration date sometimes and they want to keep their clients happy.

So how can you become a community manager?

  1. Communications Skills
    • Working on your communication skills can be a great way to get your foot in the door as a community manager.
    • No one wants to see a brand spell things incorrectly or use incorrect language on their social media.
    • It is important to be both professional and personal on company social media, especially from the community manger perspective.
  2. Practice Blogging
    • Having your own blog on a topic you enjoy writing about can be a great way to show off your skills.
    • I know for me I love talking about social media, college and internet marketing because they are topics of interest to me.
    • Companies that blogging are helping their companies SEO but also keeping their customers informed about what is going on behind the scenes.
    • Blogging is a major area for wanna-be-community-managers, Mashable had a great quote from Mario Sundar the Senior Social Media Manager at LinkedIn:
      • “I’m constantly surprised by how few of those aspiring community managers actually spend time to manage a career blog where they share tips and tricks on what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “Everyone has a LinkedIn,Facebook or Twitter account, but career blogs are few and far in between. Build a brand for yourself with your blog before you actually get paid to manage one.”

  3. Add Value
    • If you are a brand manager and you are not focusing on adding value to your followers than you will see a drop off in following.
    • Community managers will often travel to speak at events.  If you ever see buses like the Cho-Mobile or the Oscar Meyer Wiener mobile the employees traveling around in those vans are serving as community managers or representatives.
  4. Build Relationships
    • Community managers harness the relationships that are built by the social media manager.
    • The community manager is often the one to respond to complaints and concerns.
  5. Learn to be a “brand”.
    • This goes right along the lines of Sundar’s quote listed above.  Create a blog that you can identify with, talk about things you are passionate about and share content that is relevant.
  6. Research
    • If you are going to work in social media you must be prepared to add research to your normal routine because of the nature of the field.  Social media is constantly moving around and the trends are changing. Understanding that the trends are constantly changing and what is popular one day may not be trending the next day.
  7. Have a Social Presence
    • If you are applying to be a community manager than you must have a passion for social media and the company.  Community managers have a passion for what they do.
    • In order to be a community manager, employers are going to search for your personal social media.  They want to make sure that you understand social media and have a personal following.

Community managers are the brand’s ambassador and are the middle man between the community that has been built and brand as it wants to present itself.

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Becoming a Social Media Manager

In today’s world of social media, there are new emerging jobs that we are seeing pop up all over.  Two job titles that are in high demand are Social Media Manager and Community Manager.  But what is the difference? This blog post is going to discuss what qualities companies look for in their social media manager and next week, in part two of this series, I will conclude with what qualities a community manager should have.

Now you may think these job titles are interchangeable and in some offices and businesses they are; however, in larger businesses both of these job roles are crucial to the success of the business.  Every business should have a social media manager and if they do not because they are not on social media than that is a whole separate issue from this blog post.  If a company does not have a community manager chances are the social media manger is doing both jobs.  I am a social media manager at the agency I work at; however, I would never say I am a community manager.

Think about it this way, in B2B businesses it could be sufficient to have one social media manager because businesses are not always asking questions and interacting with their clients as heavily on social media.  However, in B2C it is often better to have both jobs positions because the community around the business wants to be heard and responded too and the social media manager has other responsibilities at the business aside from responding to consumers.

A day in the life of a social media manager would look something like:

  1. Post daily updates on the company or brand’s social media pages.
  2. Look for company or brand mentions on all social channels.
  3. Monitor the company’s social media referrals through an analytics platform such as Google Analytics.
  4. Track conversion both through social media and also with the help of analytics software.

Essentially the social media manager is doing what you would think a basic social media position would entail without heavily engaging and responding to consumer feedback.

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Stay tuned for: Becoming a Community Manager

LinkedIn for B2B

build your networkBuilding a B2B business network can be a challenge for new entrants into this type of market.  There can be a lot of challenges but in the digital era there are so many resources out there to help businesses grow their network that is can be made a lot less stressful than it used to be.

One of those resources is LinkedIn.  You may be thinking, LinkedIn is for business that are looking to hire people or LinkedIn is for B2C.  That is not necessarily true anymore.  LinkedIn can be a great tool to connect with other B2B businesses through the Groups section.  But finding quality groups can be a challenge.  Social Media B2B developed a list of tips to follow when looking for quality B2B groups.

  1. Don’t Join Right Away
    • The benefit of LinkedIn is most information is available without commitment. You do not have request to join a group to see what people are talking about. For most serious groups you will need to be a member if you want to post and join the discussion; however, when you are figuring out what groups you want to join, you can simply browse the conversation.
    • Do not be afraid to be a “creeper”.  Doing your research is important especially when it comes down to helping your business.  You want to find groups that allow you to engage with influencers in your field or industry.
  2. Look at the Engagement
    • As a business, if you are looking to join a group and there is little engagement, than as a business what do you think you are going to get out of it? Especially in B2B, you should be looking to engage in conversation and make new connections. These connections can be anything from potential leads, new clients, business relationship to help talk through business issues or potential business partners.
    • When looking at different LinkedIn groups it is not just about the discussion posts but the comments on those discussion posts.  If no one is commenting on the posts than there is very little conversation being generated in that group and it may more of a resource group than a discussion group.
    • When looking at the discussion posts, make sure that you look at the dates.  If there is no recent content the group may not be active anymore.
  3. Compare
    • Using the previous two rules, it is important to not over join groups. There will be some overlap of networks and it will be hard for companies to keep up with all the different posts and conversations. Focusing on a few groups that will help your business overall is key to utilizing LinkedIn to its full potential. LinkedIn was originally created to enhance people’s networks and it has stuck to this main business strategy since its early years of development.
    • It will be harder to “creep” on closed groups without joining; however, you can join and then remove yourself if the group is not meeting your needs.
    • Closed groups are constantly monitored by community managers which helps to removed most spam that open groups can collect.
  4. Many Does Not Always Mean More
    • Joining 100 groups does not necessarily mean you are going to get the biggest ROI. Having strong connections from one or two groups can be just beneficial as feeding through 100 groups to find helpful information.

B2B is a very different business market and model than B2C.  There is more focus on networking and building relationships.  Any extra contacts you can receive may give you an advantage over your competition and LinkedIn could be the latest resource for B2B businesses and their employees.

courtney tennant

March Madness is about the Players

TogetherThis week, the athletic community was rocked when Louisville’s Kevin Ware broke his leg in a freak play during the team’s Elite Eight game against Duke.  Not only was Kevin Ware a prominent figure on the court for Louisville but the team’s closeness was never more apparent than after he got hurt.  The injury took place infront of the team’s bench and turned the team’s stomachs.  But instead of bowing out of the game, Louisville took their fallen teammates last words before he was rushed to the hospital to heart, “Win”.

Louisville came out of the lockerroom on fire and handily beat the Blue Devils.  Now who is to say that Louisville would not have won the game had the injury never happened but it was clear that the team rallied together to put together one of the most memorable games in program history if not the NCAA tournament.

The Louisville story topped the charts this week on Twitter.  #kevinware and #prayforkevin ranked higher than #MarchMadness proving that fans feel for a story.  But what was it about this story that made the athletic community come together.  In my opinion it was the fact that if you were watching the game and were an athlete or just a fan of the game, you felt for Ware.  It was a wake-up call to every athlete and even everyone, play in the moment because you never know what the next moment can hold.

Kevin Ware

I will probably never forget seeing Kevin Ware fall during that game not because I am a basketball player but because I am an athlete.  No one touched him, it was simple play that he made to block a shot and just landed wrong, a play I have made myself multiples times.  If you have ever had an athletic injury than whenever you watch someone have that same injury, you immediately cringe.  Whenever someone hits their head or rolls their ankle, I can not watch.  But this injury was different.  Kevin Ware’s bone popped out of his leg.

Louisville athletics and Kevin’s personal accounts were able to keep the thousands of fans that wanted to make sure he was okay informed.  It was a social media storm but a positive one.  One that may be forgotten by fans that did not witness the injury and only saw replays and cannot understand the magnitude of what happened live.  But it is something that will probably remain in the minds of athletes everywhere for years to come.  Life is fast and you never know what is going happen.  Play with your heart like the Louisville team did.  When you are a team, you feel what your teammates feel and will play for them, win with them and always the give the credit to them.

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