Monthly Archives: March 2011

Creating your Engagement framework

I’ve been talking to a client today about engagement. They want to connect with customers – and they also want to define a structured way of dealing with objection handling, positive comments and criticism.  They’re trying to re-invent the wheel and are spending a lot of hours doing so.

The great thing about social media is that by its very nature, frameworks are created and shared as a positive example of best practice sharing.  Here’s something I’ve found on David’s blog which is how the US Air Force responds to web postings (see original version on wikipedia and the amended V2 larger version here):

Air_force_web_posting_response_assessment_v2

If you hate graphics and prefer bullet points to work through, here’s my version from social media workshops I run which includes some different considerations.

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With either framework, you should aim to come up with a flow chart of your own, pertaining to your specific business and your product / service / support requirements.  Not every framework should be identical but adjusted and amended to fit your business. Putting this into a flow chart, and training your team so that they know which response to use in each situation will prove invaluable if a customer rants about your product on his blog / website / twitter  stream etc.  Having structure in place, will enable the team to effectively showcase successes, deal with negative perception and quell issues before they arise.

Where’s your framework? Smile

 

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Why Dunbar’s number still matters in this Facebook obsessed age

I came across this neat video from Jacquesparys  today on YouTube when I was researching the growth of Facebook and social interaction

Jacques has certainly done his homework over this in his university project.  he talks about the growth of Facebook and uncovers some amazing stats:

  • 49% of Facebook users live in the Americas, 25% in Europe and 27% in Asia
  • Almost 50% of users log in every day for an average of 55 minutes
  • over 50% of users talk to their friends more online than in real life
  • Users would rather walk the dog, go fishing, go for a walk instead
  • There are over 60 billion photos on Facebook
  • The average user has 345 friends but maintains the same ‘inner circle’ of 150 friends
  • There’s sufficient momentum in Facebook for its user base to self sustain and continue to grow
  • We can maintain our relationships with minimal time and effort

Its interesting that research carried out by Robin Dunbar in the 1970’s still applies in this internet obsessed age and out need to be in some sort of community. – even if it is carried out largely online instead of face to face.

But weak ties still count in relationships – and Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with lesser connected people – no matter how infrequently this happens…

It’s about the discount–not the relationship

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I found an interesting post on Nasdaq today talking about the differences in what companies think that their customers want, compared with what their customers actually want from them.  IBM carried out a study and talked to more than 1000 consumers – asking them how they used social media.  Company executives were also asked their opinion about why they though consumers interacted.  There are some interesting callouts from the study which seem to contradict the way that we think we use social media:

 

  • Consumers use social networks to stay in touch with family or friends
  • Consumers use social media sites to find discounts and for purchases
  • Companies feel that they are under pressure to engage with their customers
  • Companies believe that consumers hope to feel part of the community by this type of engagement

 

This is all very well in the B2C space, where, as consumers we’re searching for the best deals around.  This is how Groupon has become so successful. 

Groupon offers discounts (and earns its revenue by taking a fee of 50% of the Groupon offer price plus VAT).  Groupon has a way of retaining their customers.  Have a look at what happens when you try to unsubscribe! http://www.groupon.com/unsubscribe 

Loyalty, offers, discount and deals matter in the B2C space.  But what what about B2B?

With B2B relationships are important.  With B2B, companies rely on their partner network to sell their services, products and licenses.  I think B2B connections are all about relationships.

Sure, companies can offer their partners suppliers discounts and offers – but I don’t think that’s the only reason that partners connect.  Business partners need information, news, and roadmap knowledge so that they can tailor their own businesses to align with the direction of the company.  If they don’t have this early information, then a partner could invest in creating a solution offering which could be aligned with a product that is about to be sidelined or sunsetted.  An investment error like this could be a significant issue for a small business – much more than a potential partner service, discount or free offer.

Customer connections matter.  Relationships matter.

If you’re only aiming for a light touch or one time engagement with your customer, then a special offer will work wonders.  It will initially get people through your door.  It’s the relationship that you have with the customer after that first contact that might keep them coming back.

And that’s all about how you make the customer feel.  Part of a community that receives discounts might be the relationship that keeps them coming back to you.  Ask Groupon…

Image credit: Flickr

Social networks: growth in users is slowing

Interesting post by eMarketer predicting that the growth in social network users is about to become saturated. 

US Social Network Users and Penetration, 2009-2013 (millions and % of internet users)

This is not bad news

It means that marketers have little work to do, to attract new people onto their environments.  Everyone is there already.  Now all marketers have to do is create compelling enough content and eye catching  visuals, to persuade the existing users of social networks to interact with their brand. The report also shows that email is dying as a means of communication which highlights the focus that needs to be made for social media activities and a co-ordinated approach. Firms like Starbucks have already gained great traction in using social media to their advantage – with the opportunity to give gift cards through Facebook.

So all you need is that spark to get your customers and partners interested in your product. 

Safety settings on Facebook

Another infographic – this one is worth bookmarking and telling your less social media savvy friends about .  This is how to navigate Facebooks Safety settings from Zone Alarm..

 

If in doubt – say no.  Deny instead of accept, restrict instead of open.  Then you will worry less Smile

The blog is not dead

 

Image credit:  Flickr

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The topic of blogging comes up again and again – it’s been coming up for years too.  How to get readers on your blog, how to grow your blog, how to get noticed on your blog.  I’ve been talking about this for ages, when I was at Microsoft, online and at in person events.

We’d spend ages speculating about what made a good blog, what made a great blog, who we wanted to read our blogs, what if Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates read our blog.  How we got traffic, how we’d manage negativity, trolls, comments, links, leaks etc.

I was reading the social media examiner post which shares tips from bloggers about growing your blog traffic.  So I’ve found  one of my old posts with my  to tips for my own blogging best practices and here they are:

 

  • Blog regularly.  Find your blogging frequency and try to stick to it (see tip below)
  • Be patient –building up a blog readership takes time
  • Answer every comment is a timely way.  Don’t keep your audience waiting
  • Don’t sell – you will soon turn readers away
  • It’s not about the numbers – it’s about your influence
  • Be Authentic – and true to yourself
  • Expect criticism – and be humble – no Egos please
  • Don’t blog when you’re  miserable or angry – or drunk!
  • Be generous to others and Link to them in every post
  • Apologise readily.  You will not be right all the time

 

 

Here are a few more tips for blogging effectively.  I originally wrote this post 3 years ago – but most of the points are just as valid now:

 

  • Decide what you want to talk about.  Get a blog “voice”.  The scatter gun approach, covering every topic you can makes readers wonder what you’re all about.  If it’s a technical blog, choose a few topics and stick to them.  You’ll get loyal readers who are interested in what you’re interested in too.
  • Blog regularly.  Whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly, don’t let your blog readers think you’ve stopped blogging, or flood them with 20 posts in a day and then nothing.
  • Don’t blog excessively long posts.  It’s a blog, not a novel.  Use a shorter post to link to the longer article.

My section on “How not to get fired” is still important too:

  • Stay grounded.  This is important.  The extra exposure can easily go to your head (it’s like being catapulted onto the front page of the tabloids, being top of all the search engines and talked about by everyone).  Remember you’re still the same person (but with a blog).  Don’t become an EGO.  Remember, as Andy Warhol said.  Everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame.  You can fall into obscurity as fast as you have risen into fame.

With our growing dependence on Twitter – and the time we spend creating microblog messages, blogging is often forgotten.  We don’t have time, we don’t have the content – we’re too busy gathering content from everyone else, sharing links and interacting that we tend to forget just how important blogs are for our credibility…  Your credibility, my credibility…  You are NOT TOO BUSY TO BLOG!

Anyone who has ever used Twitter search knows how easy it is to find tweets from people who are talking about a topic at the moment – but as a knowledge repository??  Think again…

And put your thoughts down on a blog instead Smile

 

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How Google has changed SEO

This is an interesting infographic and blog post from SEO Book (larger image here).  Its interesting how the infographic shows that Google introduce new features that change the way that search is carried out, and making website owners tweak their SEO to ensure that content stays above the fold on the first page of Google.  There’s another interesting infographic showing how Google actually works here…

Google's Collateral Damage.

I wonder how the introduction of social components into the mix will affect Google search algorithms over time.  Social objects, without any specific tweaking appear high up in search results across the board.  I wonder how long it will be before we’ll need SEO for social object too?  Interesting thought…

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