Archive | February, 2011

Is social media the right venue for you?

28 Feb

Sometimes it seems like everywhere you turn someone is telling you to be on Twitter, Facebook and so forth. Lots of companies are now advertising that you should follow them.

Let me say there is a huge benefit to being on social media. Some companies will find most if not all  of their target audience on social networks.  But, and there always is that but, if you are not prepared to be on social media, don’t be on it. It can hurt more than help.

Let me give you an example of how being on social media when you are not ready can actually cause more damage than any benefit.  Last week, I bought a mattress from Sleepy’s, “the mattress professionals.”  The mattress was supposed to be delivered on Tuesday, between 3 pm and 7 pm (and, no, this is not the cable company although Sleepy’s gives them a run for their money). By 6 pm, it was obvious the delivery was going to be delayed. I tweeted to @sleepys several times. No answer. Mattress finally got delivered at nearly  9 pm.  I did not receive a tweet back from Sleepy’s until nearly 5 pm the next day, asking me to email  my concern. The next day, they tweeted to email my concern (which I already had done.). By Friday, I had an email from them asking me to test the email address!!!! And, someone from customer service finally called me Friday afternoon.

Although there are many things wrong with Sleepy’s (and if you are interested in my opinion of this company just drop me a line), it adds insult to injury for them to be on social media and not to respond to social media.

Social media for companies, whether it be for customer service or for image, requires a sizeable time investment.  It requires monitoring for mentions. It requires responsiveness.

 

Is social media the right venue for you? Here’s a checklist to determine the answer:

  • I have the time and/or the staff to manage social media.
  • I have the understanding of how social media works.
  • I will respond to customer complaints on social media like I do on traditional outlets.
  • I will monitor for mentions consistently/constantly.

If you can’t commit to this checklist, social media may not be the right venue for you.

If your company does not have the staff/time to deal with social media, do yourself a favor, and do not get it to the game. You will make matters worse. By saying you have social media outlets, you are encouraging your customers to contact you there. If you are not there, then your customers will become even more frustrated. Frustration can lead to anger and upset. And because of the power of amplification, the problem will get transmitted to more and more people.

Your thoughts?

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How to become irrelevant

22 Feb

How many blogs have you stopped reading? How many products have you stopped buying? How many ads do you ignore?

If you answered just one to any of these questions, the reason is because whatever the blog/ad/product/service has become irrelevant.

Some irrelevancy is by attrition–meaning that you will stop buying a product because you no longer need it (like baby diapers when your child is potty trained). Other irrelevancy is because you just don’t care anymore or the information does not ring true.

How do you become irrelevant?

If you are a blogger:

  • You write about things that people don’t care about or are not interested in.
  • You write about the same things over and over.
  • You write about you, you and more about you.
  • You never update your blog.

If you are an advertisment:

  • You advertise the same offer, over and over
  • You advertise an offer with tons of small print
  • You advertise things that are just not true (we beat any price, for instance).
  • What you advertise does not match reality.

If you are a product:

  • You don’t work as promised.
  • You don’t fill a need.
  • You are not well priced.

If you are a website:

  • You have outdated information.
  • You look like you were designed in 1999.
  • Your visitors can’t find the information they need to make a purchase/visit your location/etc.

Basically, you become irrelevant when you forget what your audience needs or wants.

What makes you tune out marketing? Let me know what makes blogs/ads/websites/brochures irrelevant.

4 items to check on your website

14 Feb

Have you checked your website lately? Chances are good that you haven’t, especially if it is built on a non-blogging platform. But go ahead, check it for these four items today.

  1. Does it load quickly? How long does it take for the average person to open your website? If it takes too long, you may lose that person.
  2. Does it load correctly? Are all the pages formatted correctly, and is the format readable? I have opened pages only to find HTML gobbledygook.
  3. Is the contact information current and accurate? The basics–address, phone, email–should all be up to date and you should make sure they are correct.
  4. Do you provide the information your prospective customers or clients need? If you are a retail location, do you have your hours posted? If you are a restaurant, do you have your menu posted? If you are a salon, do you have a listing (including pricing) of your services?

It is worth remembering that people go to websites to find useful information. If they can’t access your website or find the information they need, THEY WILL GO ELSEWHERE.

What types of things do you look for in a website? What turns you away?

WaPo: Carney hopes and Pepco failures

2 Feb

Two items from today’s Washington Post caught my eye.  One was about Jay Carney, the new White House press secretary and the other was a letter to the editor regarding Pepco.

Speaking for the White House

Jay Carney is taking over from Robert Gibbs as White House press secretary. Carney was a journalist, and many people think he will bring a journalist’s viewpoint to the White House briefing room. Dana Milbank wonders “Can Jay Carney Hack it as a Flack” in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post. Few people will miss Gibbs, so maybe by comparison, Carney will already do better. I wrote about Gibbs snark here. If one thing Carney can learn from Gibbs is how not to act. I think the press corps are looking for information without sarcasm.

Proving advertising doesn’t turn the lights back on

Another hot topic this week (other than the ongoing protests in Egypt) is Pepco. If you live in the DC area you know that Pepco failed, once again, to restore power in a timely fashion following a weird snow storm last week. At one point, they had 300,000 customers without power and in many cases, it took them three or four days to restore power to all of them.  Witness how people felt about it, and more importantly, about how Pepco mishandled communications by reading letters to the editor in today’s Post. Notice the title of the piece includes the word “outrage.”

This latest episode in Pepco’s ongoing reliability struggle proves my point that no matter how many nice ads and promising assertions you make, you have to back them up with real action. As you recall, Pepco started running an ad campaign talking about all the stuff they are doing to make themselves more reliable and responsive. Well, sadly, it was just words. No one believed it then, and certainly, no one believes it now. Instead of spending lots of ad dollars on an image campaign, Pepco should spend some money figuring out how to increase its reliability, responsiveness and communications with customers.

The bottom line for both these stories is that communications matter a whole lot. How you handle communications, what you say, when you say it, can truly impact public opinion and your image.

Positive Power!

1 Feb

No, this is not a post about the power of positive thinking. It’s about the power of positive reviews.

How many times have you bought a book, gone to a movie, hired a contractor, eaten at a restaurant because you read/heard a positive review? I would bet that the answer is many times.

Case in point. The Washington Post raved about Helen Simonson’s bookMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand. In fact, many other reviewers also raved.  So I went out to buy it. And guess what, I am not liking it quite that much. But the sale has been made.

Getting a third-party positive review is definitely worth its weight in gold. This is why public relations is so valuable, even in the age of social media. You get one great review, and you will get lots of interest (and possibly lots of sales).  The sticking point lies in whether the product/service/movie/restaurant delivers the goods. You may get an initial sale but no follow up sales if the product does not live up to its review.

As companies look to save money, many are doing away with PR help. This is not good business. Good PR can lead to good reviews, which in turn, may lead to increased sales.

When has a review turned your opinion? Please share any stories.