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Social Media

Many organizations struggle with setting up a social media (or email) response strategy.  How do you trust front line staff to answer properly, if they don’t know the policies?  How do you have a consistent response, no matter who responds, or when?  And how do you minimize service costs, while maintaining service quality?

One thing is certain: if you don’t get your social media (or email) response strategy right, there will be complaints: they don’t care about me.  They are unfair. Why were you able to do it for so-and-so, and not me? And worse, these complaints will be made public on social media, crowding out the impact that your organization was hoping to make.  Poor service response is the ultimate anti-marketing strategy.

While I have written before on scenario planning and social customer service, here is how to start:

  1. Custom responses:  For the first three months, have a more senior person answer any queries, based on the applicable real-world policies.
  2. Template responses:  At the end of this time, analyze all of the responses, and create the “top-ten” pre-written template scenario responses.  These can be delegated to front-line staff to use; any issues that go beyond these questions can be escalated.  Periodically, these additional escalated responses can be added to the knowledge base for front-line staff use.
  3. Pre-empt with FAQs:  The template responses can also be cycled back into the website in the form of FAQs, thereby reducing user frustration (and possibly also reducing the need for any interaction at all.)
  4. Automate:  Technology can be used to identify issues, delegate, improve efficiency, and track social media-based service requests.  It can also be used to auto-respond to emails with suggested answers. (We don’t recommend using technology to auto-respond to social queries though: the risk is too high.)

This week’s action plan:  Every organization has a different front line:  it could be the receptionist, a contact center, a membership services officer, or the CEO’s assistant.  When was the last time you looked at the responses that everyone on the front line uses?  This week, double check that the message that is sent out is consistent.  (And that it is templated, pre-empted with FAQs, and possibly automated.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

What do eyeballs and friends have in common with each other? Except for the fact that your friends have eyeballs, not much. Or do they?

Let’s go back to the year 1999, the time the unshakeable belief that so long as you had “eyeballs” on your website, unstoppable riches awaited you. This was the age of web page “hits”, greedy (or gullible?) venture capitalists, and the 24-year-old vice-president. Sadly, it was not the age of business models, integrated marketing strategy, or prudent financial management. When the dot-com crash happened a year later, there shouldn’t have been a surprise.

I was there. I built my first company in 1994 and sold it in 2000. Like today, we were focused on helping traditional organizations with their Internet strategy and then implementing it. We did this for KPMG, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail’s Globefund and GlobeInvestor, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, what is now Workopolis, and many others. These venerable organizations are still around, and are highly reliant on Internet technology as a critical part of their real-world, revenue-focused business model. And as an advisor, we learned lessons along the way about building communities, discussion forums, relationships, and yes, transactions. Because our work was not rooted in “eyeballs”, but in real revenue and real expenses, we prospered along with our clients. Those agencies, consultants, investors, and companies who focused on eyeballs, crashed and burned.

Perhaps we’ve learned something over the last decade, but the evidence suggests otherwise. Instead of chasing eyeballs, people are now chasing Friends, Connections and Followers. We use terms like Twitterverse and Blogosphere, as if everyone truly understood what they meant. While it is true that the number of Friends may be a proxy for influence, unless there is a strong connection to the business model and bottom line, at best the chase is for a chimera.

And like the heyday of 2000, there is a sordid cast of characters who have become instant experts (Social Media Experts) who are whipping the gullible and the greedy into a frenzy. They used to be (and probably still are) experts in advertising, technology, selling information products, market research, and just about every other field. Some probably sold real estate, vacuum cleaners, and all manner of merchandise, before they too jumped on the bandwagon, started a blog, and are now the new gurus.

And what do we see when we look at the companies that are “successful”?  Twitter still doesn’t have a business model – yet they are able to raise millions of dollars without blinking. Groupon – which does have a business model, turned down a six billion dollar takeover bid several years ago.  Facebook, which does have a business model, is a public company with $350 billion valuation: incredible. And explain the 26 billion recently paid by Microsoft for LinkedIn?  (I did try in an earlier post.)  Beyond these players there are 500+ other Social Networking sites that are clamoring to be our Friends.  Its “eyeballs” all over again.

What does this mean? I may be proven wrong, but I believe we’re in line for another huge tech crash. Yes, there will be a number of big deals, but we can only have so many Friends. And investors will eventually wake up.

This week’s action plan:  Is your organization’s strategy dependent on any particular social site?  If you don’t have a plan to collect your relationships in an owned-by-you database, now would be a good time to start.

Action plan #2: It might also be a good idea to look at your stock portfolio.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

LinkedIn Connection Policy

by Randall Craig May 27, 2016

Do you accept every LinkedIn connection request that comes your way?  Or are you somewhat selective? More importantly, is there an overall approach that can help you make this decision in a somewhat more strategic manner? The case for an exclusive black book strategy: Relationships are all about depth, not breadth:  Accepting only your strongest […]

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Facebook as a Leadership Tool – You Be the Judge

by Randall Craig April 1, 2016

For many individuals, Facebook is a way to connect with friends, family, and just possibly, play a few games. For professional marketers, Facebook is a way to grow the brand, nurture a community of interest, and just possibly, sell. But for senior leaders, Facebook might have an even more important role – and one that […]

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Viewpoint: The End of Twitter?

by Randall Craig March 25, 2016

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: Twitter is in its death throes. It won’t be around in just a few short years. And when this happens, there will be no shortage of pundits who: “saw it all coming”, or perhaps “Twitter is dead – long live Twitter!” It wouldn’t be the first Social Media death. Consider those who […]

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Digital Efficiency and Findability: Anchors and Outposts

by Randall Craig March 18, 2016

Where do you call your social home? Likely it includes LinkedIn and Facebook. Perhaps YouTube and Twitter. But what about Instagram, Pinterest, Vimeo and Flickr? Or, the 500+ other social networks that exist? The significant challenge of social media is that you don’t know who is looking for you (or your services), nor where. What you […]

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Reputation Rescue

by Randall Craig March 11, 2016

Have you ever been in a situation where your personal reputation has been called into question online?  Or your organization’s brand is under attack from a special interest group, and it is emerging somewhat battered?  Not good. Of course, the best way to build a great reputation is to do everything “right” in the first […]

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Social Media Mistakes: Back to First Principles

by Randall Craig February 26, 2016

With all of the fancy tools and sophisticated strategies, sometimes we forget how easy it is to make a mistake – and not of the typographical variety. From time to time, it is a good practice to go back to first principles, and make sure that what we are doing today actually makes sense. Seven first principles: […]

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Instant Messaging: Channel of Choice?

by Randall Craig December 31, 2015

When you reach out to your members, clients, suppliers, regulators, or other stakeholders, how do you do it? In the olden days it was the telex.  Today, we choose between courier, the postal service, FAX, and email.  But what about using Social Media: how does this fit in? Or does it? Aside from advertising, there are […]

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23 Reasons to Skip Social Media

by Randall Craig November 20, 2015

There are many reasons why an investment in Social Media makes sense, but precious little about why it may not.  After advising on digital strategy and online engagement for over 23 years, here are 23 reasons why you should give it a skip: When your target audience isn’t online. When it is not “core” to […]

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Identifying and reducing Facebook risks

by Randall Craig October 23, 2015

While many people enjoy Facebook for personal use (connections to family and friends, posting photos, playing games), does it really have a role in business? Whether the answer is yes or no, one thing is certain: Facebook represents a risk vector that must be considered.  In no particular order, here are five risks to consider – […]

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Building a collaborative culture: seven internal social media tactics

by Randall Craig October 9, 2015

With so much focus on public social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc), many are now questioning how these same social media concepts might be used within the organization. The fact is that most organizations function exceptionally well precisely because of the real-world social networks that have always existed.  The difference is the name: water cooler conversations, […]

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Building engagement and community

by Randall Craig May 22, 2015

Engagement and community both seem to be the ultimate goals for those involved in the Social Media game. Yet building it seems shrouded in mystery; ask many successful community managers, and it is a combination of secret sauce, luck, and a strategy that has been built after-the-fact to explain their success. Building engagement and community […]

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Building Downstream Capacity

by Randall Craig April 24, 2015

Have you ever heard the expression “you’re only as strong as your friends?”  No where is this more true than with digital marketing, and particularly with Social Media. Too achieve a particular objective, organizations will often invest in a focused campaign.  It has a beginning, middle, and end.  Its results can be measured.  And when […]

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LinkedIn Connection Policies

by Randall Craig April 10, 2015

Must you be everyone’s friend?  Or perhaps from a practical perspective, must you accept everyone’s LinkedIn connection request?  The answer for most people, and for many reasons, is a resounding no. It is true that accepting a connection request yields numerous benefits, particularly around increased access and transparency: More of the data on your connection’s […]

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Finding the Social Media Tipping Point

by Randall Craig January 23, 2015

How do you know the “right” amount of Social Media? Too little Social Media is like spitting into the wind: no traction and no impact.  It also leads to discouragement: if the efforts are not making a difference, then why bother at all? On the other hand, too much Social Media is an obvious waste […]

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Social ROI: Connecting Community to Commitment

by Randall Craig October 10, 2014

Do you have a creeping feeling that you will never get an adequate return on your Social Media investment?  If so, you’re probably right. To improve Social ROI requires three key ingredients: the first reduces costs, and the second and third improve return. Improve program efficiency: Swap out experimentation and opportunism with goals, persona-based editorial […]

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Three Social Strategies

by Randall Craig September 26, 2014

Most organizations invest in their social footprint.  They start with a strategy, then execute it, monitor it, and if they are good, they feed these results back into the strategy.  A feedback loop is critical, as it both injects market knowledge into the organization, and enables continuous improvement. Unfortunately, this loop can also introduce a […]

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Four Tests for Auditioning your Posts

by Randall Craig September 19, 2014

Have you ever considered whether you should comment on a post that mentions you or your organization? As a leader, have you ever been concerned that someone in your organization might choose to respond inappropriately? If so, consider these four tests that a post needs to pass: Is the post legal? Many organizations operate under […]

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Growing Social Legs: Event-powered Communities

by Randall Craig September 12, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to briefly meet Lixin Fan, director of the film, I Am Here, at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival.  A documentary film maker, he described the challenge of condensing 400 hours of content into a 90 minute movie, as he followed his subject matter over a six month period. “Selling” […]

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