Social Media

Verizon Beats Sprint on Social Media: An Anecdote

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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.

DON’T MOVE YOUR CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT TO A DIFFERENT PLATFORM!

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

MarketingToMillennials

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.

Cheers!


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.


Miley Cyrus Can’t Stop…Yet: A Look at the Marketing Genius Behind Her ‘Breakdown’

Miley Cyrus Marketing Genius

It’s funny. Just about a year ago there would have been people that didn’t know who I was talking about in that title. Now, thanks to a VMA performance that was so sexual that it made Robin Thicke seem uncomfortable, nobody can ignore the giant that is Miley Cyrus. Some people have remarked that this is the sign that Miley Cyrus is falling off of the deep end but I would argue that she’s far from lost. In fact, while she may have prostituted herself as Sinead O’Connor suggested, Miley and her team seems to be very much on top of her image. Let’s break down why her team are geniuses.

She Hasn’t Done Anything That Can’t be Undone

Alright, Miley may have shattered any hopes of a strong, famous female role model for our tween girls with one performance. She’s suggested that we do some Molly and told her writers that  she wanted”…something that just feels Black” but these aren’t unforgivable offenses. Miley hasn’t done anything that can’t be easily fixed. She doesn’t actually appear to have a serious drug problem. She hasn’t committed any acts of violence to date. She’s been nothing but kind to dogs. She hasn’t’ dropped a sex tape or forgot to wear underwear coming out of a cab. She hasn’t even desecrated a mop bucket.

Instead, she has just acted kind of slutty. She cut her hair…in a way that she still looks cute. She put out some decent hits and one horrible song. (23 is one of the worst songs I’ve heard in years.) She’s made a joke out of her own exploits. She’s even commented intelligently on censorship and other social topics.

I think that we can all agree that she’s done things that we would never want our own daughters to do, but she has yet to actually cross any lines that would cause her career long-term problems.

Numbers Don’t Lie

Every time Miley Cyrus does something new, we all can’t help but watch. Whether it’s curiosity, some form of Schadenfreude or as a fan; we’re instantly on YouTube searching her name whenever we hear that she’s done something new.

Miley’s biggest hit prior to this new image was Party in the USA. That video has a very impressive 355 million views in 4 years on YouTube. In 3 months and 4 weeks, We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball have already reached 227 million and 202 million views respectively.  While 23 is a horrible song, We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball are still topping Billboard and Spotify playlists. Her media coverage is off of the charts. She just hosted SNL and has been in a number of skits on Jimmy Kimmel Live and every other talk show that she’s wanted. Her views have never been higher, her coverage wider or or sales numbers larger. If money equals speech, the public has spoken in favor of Miley’s new persona.

Lastly, Who Doesn’t Love a Comeback

While it’s too soon for one right now, the only thing that America loves more than watching our celebrities fail is to see them come back, conquer the haters and rise above with class. Every fan that rooted for her during her moments of ‘insanity’ will be validated. Every hater whose only real objection was how she portrayed herself to the world will be thrilled to see young Miley find her way to her wholesome home again. If you think that she is big now, just wait until she takes her next steps.

While I’ll be secretly hoping that she starts idolizing Alicia Keys and rebels from her current Kei$ha/Rihanna-like image, I can only smirk when I think about the marketing genius that went into creating this persona that Miley may or may not think that she came up with on her own.

Since I like to end a lot of my articles with a smile, I hope that you enjoy this video from College Humor of construction workers reacting to Wrecking Ball.


Harry’s Gives a Shave: How Good Community Management Trumped Promotion Dollars

Harry's Takes on Dollar Shave Club and Wins

As a social media professional that works a lot with smaller brands, I find myself often trying to show how social media can boast a solid ROI and help with a  client’s branding efforts. Little did I know, one of the best case studies that I could use in a room would eventually come from me.

As a self-proclaimed up-and-coming young professional and established bachelor, I take pride in being a bit more stylish than the average young gun. My inbox is always full of emails from a variety of modern designers and online retailers that serve me up with gear that you don’t really see around my parts (Midwest). So, when it came time to add some class to my grooming, I narrowed it down to two brands that intrigued me: Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club.

Harry’s came on my radar when they were featured in GQ’s fashion issue (isn’t every issue a fashion issue?). I liked the simple design that exuded class. I’ve always been one for the idea that simplicity is a sign of confidence and class. Only the insecure need to adorn themselves with distracting accessories and bling. When I logged onto their site, I liked the tone of their content and the fact that they really seemed to “Give a Shave.” In an Instagram comment thread, they even told me that they loved me. Alas, they were a finalist to become my grooming partner.

Harry's Gives a Shave and Loves Tim Welsh

I’ve known about Dollar Shave Club since their historically viral marketing video hit. Obviously, I was immediately captivated by their marketing efforts and loved their comedic tone. I still do. What I didn’t know is that they had such a quality product. I got to try out their razors and new Shave Butter when they targeted me with a Klout Perk. I was pleasantly surprised by how high quality both products were. I had no problems sharing my enthusiasm about their products after getting that perk.

With two good brands and quality products staring me in the face, I didn’t know what to do. Being a social guy, I took my question to my friends. In a series of tweets, Instagram pictures and Facebook posts; I outlined that I loved both products. I told my friends/followers that Harry’s told me that they cared about me and Dollar Shave Club gave me free stuff. Sometimes though, I was deliberately vague on which did what. The reviews were mixed. People seemed to be equally placed on both sides of the fence.

Shave Butter | Dollar Shave Club

It all came down to one post. I was running out of blades, my spotty beard was starting to come through and I needed to place an order. I posted a photo on my Instagram account with the two faced off. Whoever won this round would win my business and my loyalty. A few hours after my post (see title picture), Harry’s was the first and only brand to respond to my photo. They didn’t hit me with a final sales pitch; they merely stated that they want what was best for me and they’d love me either way. Nailed it. I was happy to make my commitment to Harry’s and eager to let them know about my decision.

How big was the impact of a few comments on Instagram? Well, I have 4 months worth of Harry’s blades in my medicine cabinet and I plan on using them for the foreseeable future. I bought my dad The Winston Set and a few months of blades for Father’s Day. I’ve convinced a few of my work friends to convert to Harry’s. I’m writing this article.

Like I said, I like both products and I still endorse Dollar Shave Club anytime someone asks me about their quality, but I’m a Harry’s man now and forever. I guess that the moral of the story is, “When it comes to community management, never forget to Give a Shave.”


Instagram Web Profiles: What does it mean for the future?

Instagram web profiles didn’t surprise anyone. Since it first started gaining popularity, we have all wondered how long it would take before web profiles were debuted. In fact, when we all started seeing our new profiles in November, the response was more “About time” than anything else. Many of my colleagues were more disappointed that it took this long than they were excited to see the new product. Even two months later, it seems like one question still hangs over all of our head, “What does this mean for the future?”

Facebook and Instagram Are Getting Serious

Instagram Web Profile | Tim Welsh

The relationship between Instagram and Facebook has been one that has been the topic of many blog posts in the industry. Will Instagram be given preferential treatment among all of the picture apps? Will Instagram’s love be exclusive to Facebook? Will Facebook simply steal some of the usability functions that Instagram has that Facebook’s photo applications have always failed to duplicate? While many of these questions still can’t be fully answered, it is clear that Facebook is setting the stage for a more integrated relationship with Instagram. Does anyone else find it curious that the new Instagram profile lays out in the same dimensions as the Facebook profile? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook eventually gives you the option to have your Instagram header take the place of your cover photo in the near future. Other functions that I could see coming include the quick, “Set this Instagram picture as your Facebook profile picture” button and the beginnings of a Facebook-based gravatar.

Third Party Instagram Apps Aren’t Going AwayINK 361 Web Profile

While Instagram was taking their sweet time creating the desktop profile, the market started filling with third-party apps such as Statigram and (my personal favorite) Ink 361. These apps not only provided a place to view online Instagram profiles but a variety of other services such as keyword albums, statistics, map overlays and the ability to save jpegs. Much like the rest of us, third party suppliers were not surprised by the Instagram desktop profile. When I asked Carel van Apeldoorn, CEO of Ink 361, about the new profiles; he said, “No surprise at all and we have been preparing ourselves for this.  We strongly belief that the market is big enough for ink361 to remain valuable for the instagram community and a significant group of users, like there are a variety of services that connect and support twitter.” He went on to remark that while there may be limitations in Instagram’s current profiles, “The fact that the features on the current web version are limited doesn’t mean anything to me, because the guys at Instagram are extremely talented and focused and excellent in execution. We haven’t seen any crappy stuff coming from them and belief that they will remain delivering quality. That said, this new developments gives us an understanding of the way they like to take the experience on the web, and this clarity is useful for us.”

There Will Be New Players

There is always one truth when it comes to the digital space. A new player will emerge. The most obvious choice for the next BIG thing is Path, a service that many have been jumping on with in the industry. Perhaps though, people will start to love the new filters that Twitter is putting out, although I find that scenario far less likely.