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!
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.
Some of you may have seen on your news feeds that Ashton Kutcher aka @aplusk is relinquishing the management of his Twitter account to Katalyst Media. I heard about it on What’s Trending. If you really care what Ashton Kutcher has to say about news topics, you may need to reevaluate your priorities, but that is besides the point. Ashton has since apologized for tweeting some misinformation about the Penn State scandal to his followers. The real question now is whether or not Kutcher should have given the reigns over to someone else?
Here are both answers as I see them:
Yes, He Should!
After watching the backlash of various celebrities like Gilbert Gottfried for their tweets, Ashton is better safe than sorry. This time, a simple apology seemed to have worked but everyone is vulnerable to a slip up from time to time. What happens if next time his comment is viewed as racist, antisemitic, homophobic or sexist? That’s only cool if you are a Republican presidential candidate. Right or wrong, actors are held to a higher standard and need to be conscious of their words. Ashton is making the right decision to secure his roles in future productions.
No, He Shouldn’t!
By handing over the reigns of his Twitter, Ashton has given up what it was that makes Twitter awesome. When someone tweets a celebrity, they are not-so-secretly hoping to get some sort of reaction out of their beloved star. Knowing that a third-party is tweeting for Ashton could take a little wind out of the sails of every 16-45 year old woman who tweets @aplusk ‘on the daily’.
Even worse, if it doesn’t hurt his following, other celebrities with opinions may choose to follow suit, save Ricky Gervais. What happens when Twitter is no longer a medium where you can get the attention of and interact with those you follow? Is it really Twitter anymore or does it turn into a branded Facebook status? I don’t know but I don’t think that any of us want to see an opinion-free, bland Twitter.
What Happens Now?
When the celebrity dies, the brands continue to live. Even a complete loss of celebrities will not kill Twitter. It has become more and more brand-friendly over the years and companies have started using it more effectively. Digital/Viral celebrities will never leave. However, Twitter will be poorer if it loses the honest tweets of our Pop Culture Heroes. Besides, a tweet can be deleted and apologized for. Just don’t let anyone catch your rant on YouTube or audio…cough…Mel Gibson.
If all else fails, take a page from sports icons. It takes one great piece of work (championship) for everyone to forget about the most heinous of crimes. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Lewis or Kobe Bryant how much can be forgotten and keep tweeting.
November 16, 2011 | Categories: Social Media | Tags: Ashton Kutcher, Branding, Celebrities, Facebook, Katalyst Media, Public Relations, Ricky Gervais, Social Media, Twitter | Comments Off on Ashton Hands Over the Twitter Reigns: What Now?
As social media experts, we still have so many things that we forget to do on a daily basis. Now, I could write a separate 1,000 word article on each of these topics but I have a growing fear of causing myself injury from typing too much on a daily basis. So, without further gilding of the lily, here are 5 things that “Social Media Experts” forget to do.
1: Integrate Other Media
In case you didn’t have the privilege of Melissa Burnett teaching your Creative Marketing class in college, I’ll give you a quick rundown. A fundamental element of every marketing effort should be to drive your customers to ALL of your other channels. That’s where ‘Integrated’ comes in on our business cards and agency taglines. If you’re doing a print campaign, make sure that it matches your digital campaign and has call outs for URL’s, usernames and appropriate hashtags. It seems like a fundamental idea but, if you look through your magazine collection atop your toilet, you’ll notice that many people forget such things on the regular. If you’re running TV spots, don’t forget to direct people to finish the story or join the discussion on social media and/or your dot com. One of the best instances of this was Right Guard’s “Love in the Shower” campaign that had great results on a limited budget. They had those results because of a solid integrated campaign, orchestrated by Defero.
If you’re not sure where to drive traffic or what social media goes with what medium, check out my previous article on the subject here. Also, when you integrate your social media into other mediums, be sure to add in UGC components. That shows people who weren’t already aware that your brand is one that actively participates in conversation with your fans and followers, not just talks at them. (On a side note, stay tuned for my next article on the importance of UGC.)
2: Establish Key Performance Indicators
Being quirky, funny and moderately entertaining is great but it doesn’t justify a budget spend. You need to establish what your social media will do. A great place to start is by establishing the value of a Fan, Follower, Subscriber, etc. For a previous client, I did this with the help of John Marzolph. We established a Facebook Fan value for a skeptical customer. On a side note, our own research came to almost the exact same conclusion as Syncapse’s research did 2 months later.
After you establish a value, establish analytics that will prove the success of your campaign. If you have a high value, gaining more people is a good place to start. Visits, comments, new followers, and a bunch of other statistics are telling but; don’t forget to use more complicated analytics that show how your social media actually caused a consumer to act. Place a value on social media specific coupon codes. Check the Google Analytics on your site to see if people are coming to your dot com from Facebook or Twitter. The more complex the campaign, the more key performance indicators you should build in. Otherwise, your success could be attributed elsewhere.
3: Integrate Digital with Reality
This is the kicker that takes a social campaign to the next level. All of my favorite social campaigns have a touch of reality in them. There’s not one set way to do this either. One company created a hangover monster and used it as guerrilla marketing. As the monster terrorized parties all over, the companies brand grew. Another company recently used a digital tip jar that only acted when you Liked them on Facebook. The Gran Turismo video game franchise constantly has test drives and races that integrate digital with reality. Mercedes Benz had a social contest where your tweets actually fueled the car of your driver in a distance race. There is no one way to integrate the reality and social media but creativity is constantly being rewarded and UGC components are rarely a bad idea.
4: Measure the Results…Constantly
This is the most important step and should never be done all at once at the end of the campaign. Build a system where you can constantly grade your progress at least once a week. Use your key performance indicators to create a list of goals that you’re looking to reach and see how you’re progressing towards them.
If you have the ability, I like Shoutlet as a Social Media measurement provider. I think that they’re management team is one of the best and brightest in the game and that you’ll find their services useful.
5: Adjust Your Message
Lastly, don’t be so stubborn. After you’ve ‘Stayed the Course’ through a few storms, be ready to adjust a little bit. Flexibility is key in a market that is fickle at best. If you missed the target a little bit, don’t ride that out until your contract is up. Prove that you’re an expert who can take responsibility when something goes wrong and evolve. If you evolve and come back with a strong showing, your client will trust you to continue that trend despite a slow start in the next round.
Whatever you do, just remember to only promise what you can deliver and then deliver those results. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Consider every social media campaign you do as a new life. Examine it. Oh, and be original. Originality is always respected even though it is not always accepted.
It seems like every week you will see dozens of articles, this one included, about how social media pairs well with one other medium or another. People are quick to pair social media with mobile, email, tv, outdoor, event and atmospherics. Why does this work? Well, people are always on social media and the world is inherently a social place. It would be weird if it weren’t. For any given situation, there is almost guaranteed to be a social media outlet that works. Allow me to give you a small glimpse into what social media could work for you and why in various executions.
Television, Meet Twitter
Television and Twitter share one very special bond that makes them incredibly compatible. They both live in the moment. That’s why they’re going to be the next story on an e-Harmony commercial. Twitter hashtags and trending makes Twitter a perfect reference for anything that is on TV. Being able to instantly share your opinion with millions of other people who are talking about the same thing makes Twitter perfect for any show. On Facebook, your friends may see a status but, on Twitter, the world hears about how you think @DiaFramps rocked #Heartless just a few seconds ago on #TheVoice. Consumers see this as a way to speak up in a crowded room without getting interrupted. Brands see this as a way to boast popularity and begin the conversation that they hope will end up everywhere. Now, it’s hard to watch a live event without seeing #_______ in the bottom corner and that’s okay because TV and Twitter are soulmates, despite how much they cheat on each other with different mediums.
Events, Meet Facebook
If you’re hosting a live event, you’ll probably be using multiple channels such as Twitter, YouTube and maybe even Foursquare but your lady should and most likely will be Facebook. Facebook still encapsulates everything that an event could possibly hope for. It can host pictures, videos, comments, questions, information and other social media via apps. It is your one-stop-shop for an event. Add to it that Facebook has the built-in ability to schedule and host an event and you have a way to tie any event directly to all of the consumers who already like you. This is especially handy when it comes to touring events, ENTER WARRIOR DASH. Warrior Dash is all over the place but it truly lives and thrives on Facebook. Facebook integrates everything in so nicely that events shouldn’t be shy about having a monogamous relationship with Facebook but since Facebook keeps all of it’s relationship statuses as “In an Open Relationship With”, events have no reason to stop messing around with Twitter, Flickr and Foursquare.
Email, The Menage Media
While multiple mediums could and probably should dabble with multiple social media touchpoints, email has always NEEDED multiple media outlets. This is probably for multiple reasons. The most likely of these reasons is the fact that email subscribers vary so greatly in demographics and preferences. Besides, email lists are usually built from your dot com presence. People need to see all of your other places and, when possible, how you highlight your fans on each medium. Each email that you send should highlight your open conversation with your consumers on each medium, especially Facebook and Twitter.
Mobile, Prepare for an Affair With Google+
That’s right. I’m making a bold prediction in favor of Google+. A lot of my regular readers think that I am an anti-Google guy but I think that Google+ will slowly take a big chunk out of the mobile market. For all of the great work they do, Facebook and Twitter don’t own an operating system and Foursquare gets shelved or deleted as often as it gets used. Google has Android and Google+ will find new and awesome ways to integrate with mobile phones…and tablets. This could be Google+’s doorway into mainstream social media. I am already a fan of the share tool. The network just isn’t enough for me to share on it as opposed to Facebook for my personal crowd or Twitter for my more professional crowd. Google+ already allows me to segment between the two. Perhaps, the ability to share within specific groups could make Google+ the Go-To service for mobile marketing.
(Interactive) Outdoor, Meet SMS/Twitter
People don’t sit down and watch media or interact with it for more than a few seconds. Even a funny outdoor ad is quickly taken a picture of and shared before people keep going on their busy schedule. Interactive outdoor is your only chance to get some pauses for interaction. People will pause if they can see what they’ve texted/tweeted on a billboard for everyone to see. The best example of this actually came from LG and they used SMS messages but the same could be done with a Twitter feed board on any internet-connected device. People will stop outdoors if they can see instant or nearly instant feedback from their actions.
While I have paired up some marketing but what I have seen through casual observation and research, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as law in social media. With the next big idea, you could completely throw my thoughts upside down. However, I did write this article after doing extensive research on customer interaction and engagement. Now, it’s time to ask what your thoughts are. What do you think about what I’ve said here and do you have any points of contention?
With all of the Buzz that has been surrounding Google+, many people have been left in the dark about how to use it, its purpose and how to even sign up. While it is still very much in testing still, people want answers. What is it? What will it do? Is this truly the anti-Facebook? Most of all, businesses want to know if Google+ is going to be big for them. That is, will Google+ be a profitable venture for them. After messing around with my account (Add me HERE) and reading numerous articles about what’s coming next for Google+, here is my educated guess on what it will mean for you.
In 1 Month
Google+ is nothing that is dramatically pressing. Do not buy into the hype that it is the next big thing and frantically do something stupid. While the Early Adopter crowd is huge, Google+ isn’t set to make a dent in the industry in the next month. There are millions more people on a ton of other networking sites that you regularly ignore. This next month is simply a time for your in-house digital strategist to monitor what is going on with Google+. As of right now, we’re not even sure what sex the people are that are signing up. One study said that Google+ users were up to 80% men while another came out saying that they were wrong and there are a lot of women on Google+. The bottom line is that nothing will change in the next month that could shape your business.
In 3 Months
In the next 3 months, Google will have launched their Google+ for businesses. The number of users will have grown but Google will still not be ready to compete with the likes of Facebook or Twitter. Only the most techy businesses will see a great deal of love for joining Google+ so early. It will still be the early adopters that are using Google+. Many who got the invites from their influential friend will already have become frustrated by the different UI and migrated back to Facebook, where they’ll stay for quite some time. The tech-savvy will spend their time learning about Google+ and teaching their friends but most people will still spend their time on Facebook. If you take pride in a strong digital presence, you may want to charge your Digital Strategist to create a business account and test the water with different promotions and network-building campaigns. Do not migrate for good. You will lose money if you do.
In 6 Months
In six months, Google+ will have started to become mainstream. I would predict more for you but I can’t. As a digital strategist, I can tell you that whatever I predict here is bound to change. That is the beauty and curse of the digital world. I can guess that Google will try to do something crazy to attract more people from Facebook. Google+ deals will get their first overhaul. My best advice is to monitor Google’s progress long before this time. Six months is a long way to predict in social media. I can predict that Google+ will be at 100 million users but I can guarantee that many of those won’t be active users. That being said, to tell you exactly how to plan for Google+ in 6 months would be irresponsible. I’m currently writing in the possibility of a Google+ account in all of my consulting contracts.
The moral if the story is that if you don’t have a digital strategist or agency, you will fall behind or jump too quickly. Get yourself some RSS feeds going and ask questions every few weeks and you’ll be ahead of most of your competitors. Other than that, good luck.