Friday, 30 July 2010

What Your Company's Twitter Account Says About You!

What Your Company's Twitter Account Says About You

Companies large and small have started using Twitter as a way to promote themselves, interact with customers, and handle customer service.

Some do it better than others.

Of course, how you should run your company's Twitter account varies widely by the size and type of your company -- a small coffee shop will obviously want a different Twitter presence than a large airline or utility company, or a news website.

But there are certain universal truths to what your company’s style of tweeting reveals about your corporate culture, your attitude towards social media, and what you think about your customers in general.

Want to know what people think about YOUR company's Twitter account?

Take a look at it and compare:

Your Twitter: An automated list of headlines and links to your site, blog, etc.

What it says: We don't care about interacting with our customers, at least not on Twitter. We just want you to visit our website, where we might also not want to interact with you.

Your Twitter: Mostly retweets of nice things that other people are saying about you.

What it says: We don't have anything interesting to say, and we don't care about you, or we wouldn't be spamming you.

Your Twitter: Mostly apologies for terrible service, and cues to call/email your customer service department.

What it says: We should probably fix our business first instead of hanging out on Twitter.

Your Twitter: An engaging feed clearly written by humans, including a good mix of news, tips, deals, contests, photos/video and basic customer support.

What it says: We're here in earnest and we care. And in exchange for giving us some of your attention, we're going to reward you, or try to make you feel special.

Get a sense that #4 is the best? You're paying attention! Some of the best we've seen include Starbucks and Virgin America.

They obviously won't necessarily be the perfect model for your specific business, but they're at least in the right spirit. 

Article American Express Open Forum - The Best in Social Business

Thursday, 29 July 2010

TwitJobs Now Largest Social Job Community

TwitJobs continues to grow and is now officially the largest job community in the world, with over 120,00 subscribers to job alerts and updates across 10 social networks around the world!

How did they do it? "We talk to people", said Jason Barrett, CEO and Founder of the London based start up.  "Unlike other sites that have twitter accounts because their competitors do, we thought two way conversation on this and other platforms would be the best way to help more people individually."

"Twitter itself has a kind of built in customer service tool, as it reaches so many potential customers, using the right monitoring tools you can interact with 1,000's of people on an individual basis and in real time".  

Interestingly, TwitJobs has done all of this without funding or 3rd party investment.  "We had lots of interest, and still continue to get emails from potential investors daily, but we decided if the idea is strong enough (which we thought it was) and we could gain traction quickly, we could create this without investment".  Jason continues "It's not for everyone though.  We worked, and continue to work hard on TwitJobs answering individuals, and helping clients get the best ROI for their job advertisements.  Days can consist of 17/18/19hrs of work, but hey, if that helps one person find a job that they didn't see the opportunitiy for previously, we think its worth it."

TwitJobs handled over 60,000 last month, and continue to grow further with clients such as Nickelodeon, Mccann Erickson, Google, BBC, Debenhams and a whole host of other major UK & Worldwide employers.

"Employers know they need to use social media for their recruiting.  Right now, there's 100's of articles, events and seminars on social recruitment, in the UK alone, you could probably go to an event every day of the week, every week of the year.  The key here is to make sure you are focusing your efforts on results from day one."  "ROI in social is a big talking point, and to get immediate results is pretty much impossible if you are starting from scratch.  The TwitJobs community is a living, breathing community of active jobseekers that nobody else in the world has access to, that's how we offer fantastic value, and why our clients are so happy with our services".
 - The Best in Social Business

Keeping it Real from Twitter to E-mail: Customer Service Secrets from FedEx

Keeping it Real from Twitter to E-mail: Customer Service Secrets from FedEx

Delivered by FedEx. 

In “Delivering Happiness,” one of this summer’s most popular books from the business category, CEO Tony Hsieh explains how he kept the online shoe company on life support in its early days by draining his own windfall from a prior dot-com startup. Hsieh was willing to put his entire net worth at stake because he was confident the Zappos team had the right formula for success — a formula that started with customer service.

“Our philosophy has been to take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and the customer experience instead, letting our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth,” Hsieh writes.

Today’s entrepreneurs have a customer service tool that Hsieh didn’t have while he was building into an online retailer with $1 billion in annual sales: social media.

Like Zappos, FedEx recognizes that customer service is critical to building and reinforcing its brand. And as Marie Harl, manager of learning and innovation at FedEx, explains, good customer service begins with problem resolution and having positive interactions with customers where they want to have them.

“We have to meet our customers in their preferred channel,” says Harl. “For many of them, that means online through Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or chat.”

FedEx realized it needed to dedicate personnel solely to the concept of listening to and talking with customers through social media. Thus, the overnight courier launched its Blog Response Unit (BRU) team in April 2009. The five-member team reaches out to answer customers’ questions, address their complaints and solve their problems. 

A recent success story shows how great things can happen when you follow key tenets of social media customer service:

  • Make it easy for customers to find you. Harl points to one major sign that the BRU team is having the positive impact FedEx hoped it would: Customers are starting to seek them out instead of vice versa. And it’s a bonus when one of these customers is a so-called “key influencer” in the online brand management world. This was the case in June, when Andy Beal, founder of Marketing Pilgrim, went to Twitter to find out why his pre-ordered iPhone 4 wasn’t arriving on the day it was supposed to. He quickly found@FedExLina from the BRU team.
  • Prepare to switch from one channel to another. FedExLina invited Beal to e-mail her with more information, and the interaction continued there. “All social media is connected. We’ve noticed a lot of convergence this year,” says Jeff McGuire, multimedia development advisor for FedEx. “We’ll often steer customers that we encounter on Twitter somewhere else because it’s hard to help them 140 characters at a time — and there will be instances where you don’t want to share information with your entire Twitter audience.” 
  • Be swift and certain with solutions. FedExLina responded to Beal’s e-mail within 15 minutes, notifying him that his package wasn’t delayed, but rather the online tracking updates were temporarily delayed. While she had his attention, FedExLina reminded Beal that he could authorize FedEx to leave the iPhone at his doorstep if he went to the Apple website and completed a shipment release authorization form.
  • Steer clear of sales and marketing tasks. In most instances, online customer service reps should stick to handling customer problems and not view the interaction as an opportunity to sell something else. Positive word of mouth generated by a successful encounter such as this is profit enough. There are other means and opportunities to use social media as a sales and marketing tool.
  • Be real and reliable. Beal says he initially thought FedExLina was an automated account trolling for mentions of FedEx. He was pleasantly surprised when he discovered that she was not only real, but willing to help. “Wow! … A large international company that actually gets how to use Twitter!” Beal blogged. “Not just pushing marketing messages down our throats. But actual customer support — during one of their busiest days, I might add!” And that, as they say, is the sort of positive publicity that money will never be able to buy.
Paul Nolan is editor of SalesForceXP magazine, a bimonthly publication that provides sales managers with insights for getting “Xtra Performance” from their sales teams. - The Best in Social Business

Tuesday, 27 July 2010 rebrands as social search engine rebrands as social search engine

Stalwart search engine has unveiled its new look to the public, returning to its Q&A roots by supplementing search algorithms with human assistance.

The new website aims to provide a solution for web users seeking urgent or more reliable responses to tricky questions not available on the internet by incorporating social networking features that allow people to submit queries directly to other users.

In an official blog post, explained: "Today we've officially launched the public beta for the new, which combines our proprietary answers technology (specifically tailored to extract questions and answers from the Web) with the human insight of the thriving community drawn from our 87 million monthly uniques."

In its beta form, users can only access the service through invitation. By offering "the capability to pose questions to real people", the new aims to answer "those complex, subjective and/or time-sensitive queries that, no matter how advanced, computers simply can't address."

This rejuvenation of the somewhat struggling search engine - which currently ranks fourth in the US search market with a 3.6 per cent share, according to comScore - may allow it to distinguish itself as a viable alternative to the likes of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!

Or, as the blog post puts it: " is now uniquely able to offer the most comprehensive and convenient approach to getting answers, combining pages and people to help users find the answers to all questions - even questions for which no answer is published online." - The Best in Social Business

The State Of The Internet (Video) - JESS3

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo. - The Best in Social Business

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Blogging Might Just Make You A Better Person..

Iv'e noticed over the past couple of months, since having this blog, that once you have a blog you start to notice more.  Don't get me wrong I've blogged before, but when its for someone else's site, you think slightly differently. 

Although, when you have a blog or are regularly contributing to one, you start thinking a bit differently.  When you are out and about you start to think "I'll write a blog about that" "I'll take a photo of that for my blog" "what will peoples reactions be" "Will I generate conversation, if I said this?".  

Then, once you start thinking like that, you become better at noticing things that you'd like to include in blogs and, well just noticing things in more detail in general.  As you are keeping an eye out for interesting conversation points, business achievements to talk about, mistakes to highlight etc - these actions have to have a positive effect on you as a person too.

It's not just about writing about your brand new shiny product, service, special offer or just slagging off your competitor (some people are very passionate about their business! - avoid!).  It's about people getting a better understanding of you, what you see, how you see it, your opinions, thoughts behind your business, what you did to get there, what mistakes you made along the way, and how you coped with them all.  

Think about it, nobody is more qualified to write about your business than you.  It's like your "about us" page being a bottomless pit of information, photos, videos, insight and more.  I know if I wanted to use a specific product or service the blog (if it included information I was interested in) would influence my decision.  Similarly, if it was a rubbish blog that just talked about "shop", that would influence my decision too.

But, it's not all about me its about appealing to YOUR customers.  Ask them what they'd be interested to hear from you, that's as good a place as any to get started.  You know your customers better than anyone - prove it.  Make them feel special.  Make new ones.  Be dedicated - you might just be surprised by the results.

One of my favourite co-workers from years ago once told me, "Life is like a sausage machine...if you put in crap, you get crap sausages, if you put in the best, you'll get the best results".  Funny how little nuggets of info stick with you for different reasons!

Happy sausage making! 

Jason Barrett - The Best in Social Business

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Social Media Expert = Bad Social Skills ?

For a while there was a meme going around about how to qualify your social media expert and my take on that is that people find the partners they deserve - meaning if someone at a company doesn't do their homework or doesn't know what they want/expect and hires a snake oil salesmen... well, that's really what they were asking for by not preparing appropriately.  On the other hand, if someone legitimately researches the space and does some work to understand what they want and need, they will likely be able to determine those most able to help them.
I have a slightly different take on the social media expert conversation and it is that there exists an irony that many people highly active in social media don't actually have great social skills.  Now this may be a bit unfair (there are many people highly active in social media that DO have great social skills - and yes, that's my biased judgment) but it is something that continues to amuse and befuddle me although I understand why it happens.  Social media emerged from the technology sector and it gave a huge group of individuals who had previously struggled to connect socially a mechanism for doing so.  They finally understood the importance of social connections and conversation in moving their perspectives forward and found the means with social media to do so. And because their 'a ha' moments happened later in life, they are in a better position to appreciate and articulate exactly what the impact is - and they are quite passionate about its influence. That is a great thing because being right or smart is only half the battle when trying to move the ball forward - the other half is socializing the idea, winning friends, and building consensus. 
Social media has enabled a lot of very smart people to enjoy some of the benefits of social skills that others had all along.  This is not to be dismissed - it changes the balance of power and gives access to decision-making to a new segment of people.  But once it is brought into an enterprise setting it also sets up a show down at most organizations between the people who without social media were doing just fine on getting their agenda executed thank-you-very-much and those that felt a bit ostracized by the traditional decision-making culture.  It can be an ugly dynamic... which is why it is really important for anyone consulting in this space to understand both traditional social skills within the organizational context and how social media impacts the social process - the combination can be very powerful and is much more likely to win friends among executives.
My point is that using social media effectively and having good social skills does not necessarily correlate.. and it's important to be aware of because if you are looking for advice on how to socialize a business process and you hire a social media expert, you might end up with someone who understands how to get a lot of attention on Twitter... but may not get you closer to incorporating social tools and processes in to what you already do.
So what do you look for?  Depends on what you need but if you are really looking to socialize a business process you need someone who understands the business process, understands social technologies, AND has social skills. Qualifying someone for their experience with a business process or a technology is pretty straight forward but assessing good social skills is quite difficult - they are often subtle skills which is why they are so effective to begin with but it also makes them hard to identify. Here's my starter list. People with good social skills:
  • Warm up their audience - whether in one-on-one conversations or meetings or presentations, people with good social skills know that jumping straight to the goal without a little low impact warm up is not the most effective method to get their point across.  As humans we all need to assess the social situation and get comfortable before we will put ourselves our there. It's why so much air time is spent talking about the weather, sports, and entertainment.
  • Engage in an active dialog and questioning.  People with great social skills understand that they will only positively affect others if they understand the other person's perspective, concerns, and issues and expose some of their own perspectives. Every conversation is a type of negotiation.
  • Understand how social dynamics change between one-on-one interactions, small groups, large groups, and crowds - and use those dynamics to effectively drive their agenda.
  • Actively prepare for events - people with good social skills will do social research about meeting, conference, and event participants ahead of time. While 'serendipity' is great, they want 'serendipity' to occur with the individuals who can make things happen.
  • Have the self-awareness to understand how they are perceived by others in their group, organization, or market - and they don't try to convince others that they really play a different role.
  • Do none of the following: look at the ceiling/floor while speaking to others; continually talk about the latest, greatest thing that happened in their life or organization; present for an hour straight without scanning their audience, asking questions, or coming up for air; yell or act dismissively of others; continue to argue a point despite blank stairs and stunned silence; leave you with the feeling that they got a lot of information from you but gave you little information in return. 
Now don't get me wrong - there are a lot of experts in a variety of areas without great social skills and they can be extremely valuable in helping you understand the specifics of something - just don't expect them to be able to help you with a social strategy, management, cultural, or leadership issue.  Even in the social media space, if you want someone who will get you attention in a social media channel and you have a narrowly defined role to do that, not having social skills may be OK. Knowing what you want is always the key. If you are looking to integrate social into business processes or socialize your organization... being an expert user of social media is not enough.  Like almost everything in life, hiring people or expertise is much easier if you know what you want and where your boundaries are - and that is the hard part. Do you need social media presence or do you need a social strategy and should you be building a social media presence without a strategy?
Oh, and if you are hiring a social media expert just to satisfy the CEO who wants one but you really don't want to ensure the effort is successful... well, any random social media 'expert' will do... just be sure they don't know too much :)

Rachel - The Best in Social Business

Answers to your netiquette questions revealed!

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and soon-to-be-book Stuff Hipsters Hate. When they're not trolling Brooklyn for new material, Ehrlich works as a news editor at, and Bartz holds the same position at Psychology Today.
(CNN) -- The ground rules for online courtesy gelled sometime in the late '90s: Don't swear on public forums. Zip large files before sending. AVOID WRITING IN CAPS, AS IT IS RUDE TO CYBERSHOUT.
Today, as we spend more and more hours interacting online (Americans devoted twice as many minutes to social networking and blog-reading in 2009 vs. 2008, according to a Nielsen survey), there are more opportunities than ever for awkwardness, unintentional insult, rejection, creepiness and misunderstanding.
So this week, we're taking a break from broad-swath advice-spewage and instead playing Emily Post to our friends' and fans' real-life netiquette conundrums.
Frenemy territory
"A friend-of-a-friend whom I see in a group setting every month or two just randomly unfriended me on Facebook. I have no idea how I offended him, but now running into him is understandably uncomfortable. Should I just confront him?" --A Good Person, I Swear
We find it hard to believe you're totally innocent here, AGPIS.
The unfriend is a powerful symbol of cut ties -- We know plenty of sworn enemies who've steadfastly avoided it, still sending one another token Facebook event invites with fake smiles frozen on their tremblingly spiteful faces.
So if this snip-snip wasn't preceded by an actual blowout, you've got to ask yourself why somebody would want you erased from their feed -- do you update every 20 seconds with inane observations? Pen mushy posts on your girlfriend's wall?
If you're still coming up short, you could ... we dunno ... ask him what's amiss? If this makes you feel all squirmy-like on the inside -- revelation! Maybe y'all shouldn't be FB friends. Dude played FarmVille, anyway.
Word imperfect
"My co-worker sends business e-mails with a staggering number of spelling and grammar errors. It's at the point where we're all embarrassed he's allowed to communicate with the outside world, but no one knows how to tell him. He's like the guy in the office with terrible breath." -- Mortified By Proxy
Yeah, we hear this happens in fields in which employers value prowess in "math" and "hard sciences" and other such bewildering voodoo.
But unlike the close-talker who reeks of stale onions and rotting corpses, this guy probably knows his writing skills are subpar.
(Side note: This is why you must always, always, without exception, accept gum when offered and shove it into your mouth post-haste. I don't care if, thanks to a raging case of TMJ, the chewing motion will enflame your jaw and give you the bulbous chipmunk-y appearance of a college freshman who has just had his wisdom teeth yanked. Just assume it's a hint about your oral hygiene and start masticating.)
Anyway, the good news for you is that you can treat this like a bad breath scenario, with even less subtlety.
Vaguely blame it on the clients who've been subjected to his LOLcats-like missives ("They called me all confused, apparently they had misinterpreted something you'd written 'cause there was a typo") and offer that Altoid -- collaborative e-mails from your team (i.e., you write -- or skim -- the important ones).
Since that'll create more work for you, ask what else he can take on to re-level the load. Or just eat his soul. Wait, sorry, we were getting corporate America mixed up with hell. Our mistake.
Family values
"My little cousins/conservative aunt/Dad tried to friend me on Facebook. I don't need them/her/him seeing my drunk shenanigans or my angry status updates, but I get majorly guilt-tripped for rejecting their requests." -- Hipster Who May Or May Not Be Of Legal Drinking Age
This, HWMOMNBOLDA, is a common complaint and the reason many users keep scads of potential friends in Facebook deep-freeze. They're loath to hit "accept" and ashamed to hit "reject," thus locking acquaintances in friend-request limbo for all time.
Relatives, gung-ho about these newfangled social networking sites, are probably just excited that you showed up when they asked Facebook to find friends in their address book. (Fully 48 percent of parents merrily friend their hapless kids on Facebook, finds a survey from electronics shopping site Retrevo.)
But stand your ground. If you've traditionally limited your profile to your 677 favorite peers, letting in just one out-of-demo friend will throw off your delicate Facebook ecosystem (or just require a lot of freaking detagging).
You could allow them to see your limited profile (so certain portions -- i.e., all the snaps of you beer-bonging and then consequently darting around the yard sans pants -- just don't show up when they stalk you). But why bother?
Just mention that you only use Facebook to stay in touch with your good friends ("I'm just not that much of a Facebook person" is an effective lie), and direct them toward better ways to keep abreast of your goings-on: sweet weekly e-mail check-ins or your public Twitter feed, for example.
Relatives just want to feel close to their little angel -- no need to let on that you're currently foaming at the mouth and this close to quitting your job and finally starting that screamo band.

From CNN - The Best in Social Business