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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
June 24, 2013 | Categories: General Marketing, Social Media | Tags: Community Management, Dollar Shave Club, Harry's, Social Media | Comments Off on Harry’s Gives a Shave: How Good Community Management Trumped Promotion Dollars
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
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.
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.
Google+ is better than Facebook. There, I said it. I’m not a hipster or someone who is trying to rebel against mainstream social media. I don’t hate Facebook or any other social media platform (besides tumblr). I love them. They reassure my sense of self-worth and campaigns on each of them pay part of my rent every month. I’ve long preached that Facebook will see the rise of any competitor and adapt to become better. I guess you could call me more of a Facebook advocate than any other social media platform. Still, I believe that Google+ is actually a better network than Facebook. Are you hesitant to agree? Well, let’s break it down piece by piece.
There is a reason that Facebook needed to buy Instagram and is reportedly a little afraid of Path. Their mobile apps is horrible! My last update separate the app into three categories, none of which have worked properly. Meanwhile, the Google+ app continues to work without error. It gets used less but it has never disappointed me or made me think about throwing my smartphone at the nearest wall. Facebook, a company noted for many good things, continues to struggle with mobile applications. This could be a problem for Zuck-dawg and the gang as more and more of us do most of our social media engagement on our mobile devices.
Arguably something that we are all continuously yearning for, video chat has emerged as a necessity. Everything from TV’s to phones are getting in on it. So, who has a better video chat? Google+. I wrote a long time ago about Hangouts and why they won’t convert us. It appears that I was right. While Hangouts are much more seemless than the Skype chats provided by Facebook, they haven’t caused us to convert. When I want to video chat, I turn on my real Skype account. Don’t get me wrong. I was all over the Facebook Skype chats for the first 2 months. Now, I go to better video chatting services from Skype itself or Google.
Circles were divine. They allow us to easily grab and throw people into their most relevant social segments. The lists on Facebook have gotten much better but are still a bit cumbersome to deal with, especially when on a mobile device. Circles have finally allowed us to have one profile that serves every purpose and relates to all of our social circles. I can easily share my favorite articles with my industry people and post my politically incorrect observations to my friends in the same 5 minutes, nobody the wiser. (If only Klout took into account my posts that weren’t public.) I have found Facebook lists to be a little more taxing but that could be chiefly due to the fact that Facebook’s edits came later, an attribute that rarely leads to the most seamless integration.
With Google’s newest profile update, Google+ now has the best of Facebook’s last 2 profile layouts. You can either choose one large banner image or 4 of your most treasured images to serve as your header. Admittedly, I do like the Facebook Cover Photo better than the Google+ banner image as it is larger and easier to work with. Google+ needs to add a feature that allows you to blow up an image. Finding images over 900 pixels wide isn’t easy. Still, when it is all said and done, I like the larger profile image of Google+ and I feel like the ability to choose between two styles gives Google a +1 in this category.
Ease of Sharing
Let’s be honest. We all share A LOT of videos on social media, most of them coming from YouTube. Of course Google is going to have a leg up here. You can search out videos directly from the homepage and watch them together with your friends. The automatic photo upload is incredibly handy as you get to choose if those pictures ever go public. The new Google+ share button and +1 buttons are very easy to implement and use. The only problem with sharing on Google+ is that there’s nobody there to see it.
WHY IT DOESN’T MATTER!
I think that you’re getting the point of this post. Google+ has successfully (as long as you don’t mind #whitespace) integrated some of the best elements of Twitter and Facebook into one platform. Their listening and search elements are amazing, as you would expect from the leader in search. Everything about Google+ is top-notch. So, what’s the problem? There Wasn’t a Need! Coming up with a great product is amazing. However, if there is no need for that product to exist, what’s the point? Every other social media platform that has shown success has answered a need. When Xanga was big, it allowed those of us who can’t code to continuously write our thoughts online. MySpace allowed us to connect with a network of friends and give updates. Facebook gave us a more exclusive social networking experience and has since evolved into an all-you-can-eat buffet of social interaction. Twitter has given us the ability to live quickly and connect with celebrities on a daily basis. YouTube gave us video. Pinterest gave a place to share dreams without the annoyance of words. Where does Google+ fit in this saturated landscape? It might not.
If you’re like many marketers, you’re still asking yourself one question, “Should I write off Google+ or focus on it?” It depends. While Google+ may have not found its way into most of our social media daily rituals, it is still gaining users; especially bloggers hungry for high Google rankings. Google+’s SEO advantage could lead to a boom in the next 6-8 months. I am not so bold as to say that it definitely will but I could see it happening. Where leaders go, people will follow (he says while remaining skeptical about the claimed 30 million active users stat). Still, most of my network’s unwillingness to transfer to a slightly better Facebook will keep Google+ an engagement cemetery for the foreseeable future. Sorry, Google. Having a better product doesn’t always make you the winner.
Klout, the self-proclaimed and often debated Standard of Influence just took March Madness to a whole new level. It has been suggested that some schools are more influential than others. Well, what better way to settle that debate than by a bracketed tournement of champions hosted by the site that has done the best job thus far of measuring the influence of users in the social media realm? I give you, Influencer Insanity!
Don’t Scream It, +K It!
While I am still trying to figure out exactly how much a +K helps your Klout score, it is clear that a +K is a vote of support in the Klout world. Much the same way that Klout is a popularity contest, +K’s are like a vote for you to become prom king, at least in a certain realm. So, when it came time to vote for the most influential school, why wouldn’t Klout use their easily understood +K function?
Why Influencer Insanity is Genius!
This tournement of Influencer Insanity could introduce Klout to more college students (and alumni) and form the habit of +K’ing things. Based on a previous #KloutChat, I know that I’m not the only one who sees a day when a +K button will appear on brand pages so that users can vote for Nike to be considered more influential on Athletic Apparel. Could this +K challenge, March Madness ripoff be something more than just another marketing ploy in social media? I think so. This is part of the foundation for a more influence-measured tomorrow.
The Conclusion: New Life for Klout
When I asked Lan Nguyen, a marketing associate at Klout, about the tournament; she said, “We wanted to capture the spirit of March Madness with our own brackets revolving around influence. We put schools head-to-head in a competition to get our users engaged with one of the most important features of Klout — the +K. By giving +K, you are not only signaling your affinity for that school but you are indicating that they’ve influenced you in some way.”
After reading that, is it so far-fetched to see a day when companies who already look at Klout will look to this tournament as a doorway into the possibilities of Klout? Audi and other brands have already started using Klout scores to gauge who to give Klout Perks and coupons to. Why wouldn’t they use this platform to reestablish (or establish) their dominance in an area. Why wouldn’t Audi, a brand that has made great strides in North America over the last 10 years, use their partnership with Klout to try and take down BMW and Mercedes? Why wouldn’t K-Swiss, a company whose latest campaign with 72 and Sunny (Read my Kenny Powers is Marketing F@cking Genius) take a chance to poke a little hole in the armor of Adidas, Under Armour and Nike? I would. The bottom-line, I think that Influencer Insanity is just the beginning of the Madness to come. Well done, Klout.
March 19, 2012 | Categories: Social Media | Tags: 72 and Sunny, Audi, College, Higher Education, Influencer Insanity, Influencers, K-Swiss, Kenny Powers, Klout, March Madness, Nike, Social Media | Comments Off on Klout and Education: The Influence of the University
Mark “Zuck-Dawg” Zuckerberg preached about the proliferation of sharing on the internet in his F8 address in 2011. According to Zuckerberg’s Law, the amount of stuff that people share doubles every year. That seems pretty crazy and it has led to more and more companies flocking to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. What if there was a site though that existed totally on sharing. If you’re thinking that Reddit and StumbleUpon have been around forever, you’re right. But, what if there was a site that existed strictly in the sharing realm that had a continuous stream of new and popular multimedia shares? Well, as I mentioned months ago in my Sites to Watch: Pinterest article, there is such a site.
The new rush for companies and advertisers has been to find a way to use Pinterest. It provides a unique opportunity for marketers and companies to connect with women in order to drive traffic and purchases. Here is everything that you need to know about Pinterest.
Pinterest is for Women
No matter what opportunities exist for expansion, the fact is that Pinterest is STILL site that is dominated by women. According to statistics, Pinterest’s user base is 80% women. That could be because the most prevalent areas to share are weddings, interior decorating, fashion and fitness; areas that women tend to be very interested in. Another interesting note is that boring states seem to be more involved in Pinterest. (It’s about time the Midwest led the charge for something.) States like Oklahoma and Utah have the most Pinners. If you want the full demographic breakdown for Pinterest, check out the article from Ignite Social Media.
There is opportunity for men to join and Pinterest seems to be working on cultivating a men’s area of the site. However, the numbers are not there yet to justify a company with a male-dominated customer base to make a heavy spend. Still, keeping this format in mind will be greatly beneficial when designing plans going forward.
Pinterest Drives Traffic
Despite being a straight picture feed on the boards, Pinterest drives traffic to the source site. According to our friends at Mashable and a Shareaholic study, Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined. That’s right. Furthermore, the study showed that Twitter barely edged out Pinterest; by 0.01% of referral traffic to be exact.
This can most likely be attributed to a few things. Firstly, Pinterest was designed specifically to drive traffic. People share a link that is meant to be followed. When some people look at the Pinterest wall, they see pictures. As an SEOcial Specialist, I see a page full of links. Think of Pinterest as a fun, ever-updating directory that users flock to. On Twitter and LinkedIn, there is either a constant stream that lives strictly chronologically or not enough time on site to drive any marketable traffic. Pinterest users aka ‘Pinners’ spend hours on the site both dedicated and passively surfing.
What can you take from this stat? Format links so that they are interesting in a single picture. If you run a fashion or crafts website, that is simple. If you run a service website, you may have to get a little creative. Try meme-style photos that can engage interest and evoke an emotional response.
Pinterest API is Coming; Pinterest Buttons Exist
Not many API’s have been more highly anticipated than the Pinterest API. While there is obviously areas of opportunity, the lack of a public API has made Pinterest hard to integrate into various other mediums.
Still, if you have the infrastructure and product, I would suggest adding Pinterest buttons to your social media arsenal. Get the Pin It and Follow Me on Pinterest buttons straight from the source today. If your site caters to women, fashionistas, the to-be-wed, teachers or parents; you’re already behind by not integrating these buttons. Google+ buttons help search engine rankings. Facebook buttons boost sharing. Pinterest buttons boost traffic!
I have inserted the Pin It button to this post just to see how it works. I predict a high bounce rate but a traffic boost. I’ll let you know how it works.
Pinterest is Social
Much in the same way that people misuse Twitter as a soapbox to shout on, there is a bad way to engage Pinners. Like any other social media site, engagement is key. People need to know that there is a soul behind your pins. It will take a little time to set up a foundation for pinning. You need to build your boards, find similar pinners, follow their boards and tag when appropriate. Pinterest is not just a feed site. It is a social media site and should be treated as such.
Stay tuned for more Pinterest updates and an extensive “How To Pin” from me. Ever since Klout decided that I was influential on Pinterest, I have taken up the mantle to help others better understand and use this innovative service.
February 15, 2012 | Categories: Mobile, Social Media | Tags: Need to Know, Pinterest, Referral Traffic, Search Traffic, SEO, Social Media, Women | Comments Off on What You Need to Know About Pinterest