Verizon Beats Sprint on Social Media: An Anecdote

verizon vs sprint picture









As I’ve moved more of my technical writing over to the Vine18 Consulting website, I still plan to give you all some solid content here. This time, I’m going to tell you a story about how Verizon used social media to keep a customer and, Sprint lost out on an opportunity.

Problem: Verizon Charged Too Damn Much

There’s no getting around what the problem was. Verizon was charging me $190 (after fees) for two lines and 4GB of data. Yeah…I didn’t get the good family plan. The problem was only amplified when I saw that Sprint was advertising some pretty awesome deals. I mean, their digital and tv spots really got my attention.

Solution: See What’s Out There

As a social media professional, I probably do too much experimentation myself with how brands will engage with me on social media as a meaningful business solution. I did some shopping around and then I tweeted out to Verizon and Sprint that I might be interested in making a move. To their credit, both of them replied. The competition for my love was on.

Here’s Where One Lost

When they both replied, I was ready to go either way. If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I chose Harry’s over Dollar Shave Club because of their social media team. When both Verizon and Sprint tweeted me back, I was ready to hear their arguments. They both started off strong. Verizon moved our engagement to a DM thread that was handled by multiple members of their social media team. Sprint asked me to email support. Here’s the lesson.


If you act like you might be able to help me, help me. Don’t fake like you have the solution and then ask me to start a new conversation with you after we’ve already engaged in an opening conversation. At that point, Sprint was out as long as Verizon could deliver some sort of value. The burden is on a challenger to take down the champion. Sprint was ahead of the game too as I was dissatisfied with my service. However, they completely lost me when they wanted me to move the conversation.

Here’s Where Verizon Sealed the Deal

Verizon’s social media team must have a fair amount of authority. They offered me a program that saved me considerable money and all that I needed to do was tweet/DM them. When pulling the final trigger meant having a quick conversation, they simply asked if they could call and did so. They made the entire process a pleasant one and I never had to walk into a store, email a new person, or call an outsourced customer service line. After it was all said and done, they attached my Twitter handle to my account so that they know moving forward that they can solve my issues using Twitter. GENIUS!

What’s the lesson here?

Hire a crack social media team and give them the power to actually solve problems. This may mean that you’ll spend some money on the front end to hire good people. What it could save you in terms of money and confusion though makes it well worth it. If you need some software that makes this integration easy after you hire well, look at the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Cheers, folks!

See Me Elsewhere: Marketing to Millennials on Klout


A while back, I wrote an article for my friends at Klout about Marketing to Millennials. It occurred to me today that many of you didn’t get to read that article. I wanted to take this time to make sure to share the article with my regular readers.

In this article, I outlined how brands should approach creating communities with the Millennial generation. While classifying Millennials into buckets is a challenge to say the least, there are certain principles that are fairly universal in their application. Give it a read and make sure to tell me what you think.


Creating Blockbuster Content for Brands and Beyond: SMX East 2014 Presentation

I presented on how to create blockbuster content for brands at SMX East in New York last week. Below is my deck from that presentation. I was primarily focused with teaching attendees on how to create content with a purpose in mind. The content that you create should have a purpose in mind. You should measure that content’s success by whether or not the content delivers on that purpose.

Tweets about my preso:

Does My Business Need Google+?

Men at Work Reading GIF

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’d know that I am both a fan of Google+ and someone who is willing to admit that it isn’t always worth the extra effort to join as a business. That’s not a knock on Google+. That statement is true for almost all of the social media networks. It isn’t always worth it to get on Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or even Facebook. Deciding which social network to join takes some serious introspection into what your business needs are and whether a network satisfies those needs. Today, we’ll discuss a few scenarios that will make Google+ an essential element in a social mix.

For a long time, the play to get businesses has been the SEO play. While this is a strong factor in my recommendations for joining Google+, it is no longer the only one.

You Depend on Reviews

If your business depends on reviews (especially as a destination), you should be on Google+. If you’re either a hotel or a restaurant, it should be a no-brainer to get yourself on Google+. The Google Carousel is largely influenced by what your review mix looks like. If you want to appear towards the front, you should be actively seeking to attract reviews. It’s easier to not seem spammy about asking for a Google+ review if it happens to be somewhere that you already have a strong presence.

The bottom line is that local search will integrate more and more with Google+ as Google moves forward with its products and Google+ adoption grows. Don’t be behind the curve. Get ahead of it.

Pro Tip: Don’t depend on Google+ as the best way to actually find people for reviews. I highly recommend setting up some geocode filters on Twitter to listen for people who are talking about your brand. Build a legitimate conversation with them on another platform and then invite them in to review your business. The key is it feeling like a friend asking for a favor, not a brand asking for a review. (Learn about geocode filters.)

You Have a Brick-and-Mortar Location

As I mentioned in the previous point, Google+ has a definite play in the land of SEO, especially as it relates to local search. Google+ has gone back and forth about how deep this integration is but, with the introduction of My Business, I feel that Google+ will once again become a stronger player in local search results. Having an awesome page to click to can be a decision maker in a pinch. If you don’t believe that having beautiful pictures is a factor, do a user behavior analysis on your website and see if photo gallery isn’t one of the largest subsections that people visit before converting. I did this test with my travel resorts in Florida, Jamaica, Las Vegas, and North Carolina. My galleries were always incredibly close to my conversion point in the user behavior.

An important thing to remember is to not treat your Google+ audience like second class social citizens. The same way that you would give incentives to Facebook fans or Twitter followers, show some love to people who’ve circled you on Google+. As adoption gets greater, you want your fans to have the same expectations for awesome perks and news as any other social network.

You Put Out Content on a Regular Basis

Google+ is a great place to place content if you are trying to get your blog or articles indexed quickly. While most of the tests in this area are old, there is still a generally accepted correlation between content getting shared on Google+ and quick indexing by Google Search. Building on this, Google+ is still an easier place to make noise than other social networks. With Twitter being so quick and Facebook moving closer to a pay-to-play model, Google+ is rapidly becoming a more attractive place to share content. As a fan of seeding my content for ‘free’ amplification, I love Google+. In fact, among the major social networks, I would suggest that Google+ provides the best opportunity for seeding branded content. Take the time to join Communities that relate to your business and share articles inside of those Communities. It’s free and puts your content in front of people who are more highly influential on a per capita basis than many other networks.

You Have a Male-dominated Audience

Much in the same way that Pinterest is a place dominate by women, Google+ is currently dominated by men. According to research by Business Insider, Google+ is as much as 70% men. This could explain part of the reason that brands like Ask Men and IGN are doing so well on this network. It’s a great way to hit their target audience on a regular basis without getting dominated like they do in the Facebook News Feed. So, if you feel like your brand connects particularly well with a male audience, especially teens to early 20’s, take a second look at Google+.

You Are in Technology or Gaming

You could say that this point is a branch of the first but I don’t think so. Women are becoming more involved in both technology and gaming. This is a trend that shouldn’t be ignored and deserves its own point. Google+ is still a place where early adopters live and can see great success regardless of gender. The largest Google+ following that I know personally belongs to +Amanda Blain who has over 4.5 million followers and a very engaged audience. (Read her blog for more great Google+ info and geek awesomeness.)

You’re New to Social Media

Many social media experts have suggested that Google+ might be a great place to go with Facebook becoming more pay-to-play. Rather than pay a lot of money to get into the News Feed, why not examine if there isn’t an audience that you can reach for the price of your time on Google+. It isn’t quite as easy on the front end but it could end up being the best social media decision that you could make. building up a strong Twitter or Facebook following could be much harder given the highly competitive nature of both networks. Go where the competition is a little lower and build a core on Google+, branching out to Twitter and Facebook later if deemed necessary.

The conclusion that I’m trying to walk you to is that Google+ is no longer a ghost in the darkness when it comes to the social media landscape. There are plenty of examples of brands that do it well. There are many reasons to reconsider your Facebook-first or Twitter-only strategies these days. Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram have all proven to be networks that can drive legitimate amounts of business and at a much cheaper rate. Don’t follow the crowd. Find your own voice in social media and you might just find your own success.

If you have an instance where Google+ worked well for your company, Find me on Google+ as Tim Welsh or on Twitter as @TWel5 with it. I’d love to hear more case studies.

Google Alerts: The Easiest Linkbuilding You’re Neglecting


As many of us in the SEO world can attest these days, linkbuilding isn’t about getting you listed in directories; it’s about getting people to talk about your brand. In many cases, this means moving from a linkbuilding strategy to more of a content marketing strategy. (A lot of people throw around that phrase and continue doing the same BS. Don’t be fooled.) Thinking more in terms of a content strategy though doesn’t mean that you can’t grab some great low-hanging fruit on a weekly basis. Cue Google Alerts.

Why Google Alerts are Awesome

Google Alerts are awesome because they are easy and send you relevant links on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. One of the hardest things about getting people to add a link to your website is that you don’t ask people while the listing is fresh in their mind. The longer you wait, the less it seems like your brand actually read the article and the more it feels like you are simply linkbuilding. Google Alerts keep your linkbuilding outreach fresh and relevant. Also, it makes it incredibly easy. Your efforts are served up on a silver platter.

How to Set Up Your Alerts

There are a few ways to set up your Google Alerts. You can set them up to look for outside terms that might be relative but that isn’t going to give you the most likely opportunities. I like to set up my alerts to only notify me when it comes to branded terms. This makes it seem most likely that your brand found the article when Googling themselves and loved it so much that they had to reach out.

All that you need to do is go to Google Alerts and set things up. For your search, I recommend putting in your brand name in quotes to make sure that all of the mentions that you look for are incredibly relevant e.g. “Lido Beach Resort”. If you are dealing with a brand that has multiple locations, simply use your SEO brain to add a location tag onto your brand name e.g. “Hyatt Regency” + Tulsa. This will make sure that your results are not flooded by a national mention when you really only care about what is happening locally or regionally.

As far as frequency goes, you’ll end up very annoyed if you go with a daily update. Moreover, you won’t want to do outreach on a daily basis. What I suggest is setting up for weekly notifications. I also like to cast my net as large as possible for each of my clients when it comes to search. Therefore, these are the options that I go with in order:

  • Search Query: “Branded Name” + Location(optional)
  • Result Type: Everything
  • Language: English
  • Region: Any Region OR United States
  • How Often: Once a Week
  • How Many: All Results

Do Your Outreach

Set up a time period every week that you look through your Google Alerts. From there, email authors of articles directly. As the content is fresh in their minds, it’ll be refreshing to hear that you read it and cared enough to reach out. As always, don’t use a completely templated email. Mention a key element that proves that you at least skimmed the article.

Next, simply ask for your link, providing a valid justification for it. Side note, these links are a great time to look for internal links as they might be mentioning something specific that you do or service that you’re providing.

The end game here is relevant links on sites that mentioned you recently. It’s hard to argue against that. While search engines have gotten better at figuring out when you’re mentioned without a link, it will continue to be in your best interest to get the link. In my experience, this method has about a 20% close rate when done properly, far better than blind outreach.

As always, there are a lot of little tricks that you can use to make this method even better. I just wanted to give you the basics and wish all of my readers happy hunting.

Tim Welsh on Google+

Music: It’s What Your Brand’s Strategy is Missing

Over the last few years, and 2013 especially, everyone has been beating the drum about creating an experience with your branding. With companies like Red Bull skying above their actual product to become an icon, it’s not surprising that we’re all taking a second look at how we create a brand’s personality. How is it then that we all seem to miss one of the easiest ways to do this?

No matter whether you’re watching a movie, walking into the Octagon, about the get your code on or simply trying to push through the end of a workout; what helps you know how to feel? Music. In olden times, it was a legitimate legal defense to state that the music that you were listening to made you commit a crime. Music affects us and there is not denying that. Smell may be the strongest sense tied to memory but nothing takes you back to couple-skating in elementary school faster than some Blackstreet. Nothing makes you want to play football like some AC/DC. Nothing makes you want to buy some ______ and then go _____ like some _____> If you can fill in that mad lib, you may have the key to your brand’s success.

Let’s take a look at some of the tools at your disposal.

Throw a Concert

Yeah, I’m aware that this is probably the least likely scenario for your brand. Most brands can’t afford to hire a significant solo artist or multiple artists to throw a concert or concert series in their honor. If you have Mountain Dew or Adidas on your client list though, let’s get going. Throwing an event (and stream it online through your social channels) is a great way to promote your brand through music.

Yeasayer in Red Bull Concert Series

Yeasayer in Red Bull Concert Series

There is an inherent drawback to this plan. If the concert isn’t sharable, it is a one-and-done approach. This event has to be noteworthy enough to carry weight for time to come. Will people watch it again and again? This is why you might want to consider doing an event that teams up two artists who normally don’t team up or run an acoustic concert. These are events that will be looked up afterwards since there aren’t other videos just like it all over YouTube.

Spotify Playlists

One of the most underrated tools is the Branded Spotify Playlist. This has the added bonus of not costing a lot of money and diversity. You can also brand these playlists based on the activity that they’re meant to inspire. If you’re a fitness brand, why wouldn’t you have the perfect Pump Up Mix by _____? If you’re an energy drink that is branded around getting you through the workday, might I suggest some Eye of the Tiger in your blend?

I’m personally a fan of Spotify playlists over Pandora stations because it is more precise in your choices. You put exactly what you want on the mix. There are certain restrictions like having only one song per artist but that can be danced around a bit, especially if you can release an album for an event that you hosted. (See what I did there?)

Example from the show Parks & Rec: Benji’s Cool Times Summer Jamz Playlist

Other Musical Options

I could list out a bunch of great options but creating your own playlist or hosting your own music event are the main two that I would suggest. If possible, do both. That being said, one of the nice things about music is that it is incredibly versatile. There are always going to be new ways to get it to the masses. I’d love to hear from you guys on some of the other great musical initiatives that you’ve seen brands doing. You know where to find me in the Twittersphere.

West Jet Christmas Hits a Holiday Homerun!

Like many of my fellow marketers, I spent a good portion of this morning passing around the video of the real-time shopping promotion that West Jet pulled off. I don’t want to dance around it. This is the best piece of holiday marketing that I’ve seen in years. Really, it is one of the best pieces that I’ve seen for any brand in years.

In case you haven’t seen it, here is the video. Watch it and then I will tell you why I believe that it is so amazing.

When Was the Last Time You Loved an Airline?

In all honesty, when was the last time that you felt genuine affection for an airline? We show some preference. We all love to travel but airlines are almost universally villains in our minds. For a brief moment in time, West Jet made themselves out to be the only hero in an industry that is full of villains. That’s a huge accomplishment. Most airline marketing schemes are built on ride comfort or the lack of fees. This one was built on emotions…successfully. That is pretty amazing. West Jet seems to legitimately care about making people happy, not just getting their flight booked. (It is worth noting that Expedia has done a great job connecting emotionally but they are a travel service, not an airline.)

They Took Care of Kids

Not only did they take care of the kids, they reinforced their love for Santa. This jolly man in a blue suit (contrary to the Coca-Cola red) seemed to know the children. The only thing that he was missing was their deepest wishes. What he had was the ability to make them come true. To see the look of amazement on those children’s faces was worth the marketing dollars alone.

They Took Care of the Parents

The only thing that pulls at my heartstrings more than seeing a child get what they want is to see adults genuinely get lost in emotion when they feel loved by someone not required to love them. When that woman opened up the box to find her camera and was overcome with joy to get something that she may not have gotten were it not for West Jet really touched me. If you think that she’ll ever fly with another airline, I am willing to bet that you’d be wrong.

Product Placement

As a marketer, I can’t help but give props to West Jet for subtly giving the nod to Best Buy and others who helped them with this project. It never took away from West Jet but made us feel like the other stores were a part of making dreams come true as well.

It Was Authentic

This piece was absolutely brilliant because it was about a brand caring for people. Villains or not, we put airlines in charge of our safety and helping us reach out destinations to spend time with our friends, family and other loved ones. To truly make its customers feel like they take that responsibility seriously was amazing. I’ve watched the video four times already and I can confidentially say that I will fly with West Jet next time that I have the opportunity. Well done!

If you want to see another great piece of marketing taking place at an airport, might I recommend this piece from T-Mobile circa 2010: