Author Archives: Kerry Waller

Handling Social Media Complaints

Handling social media complaints is scary for some because managing a Twitter or Facebook account doesn’t necessarily mean you have any customer service experience. By putting your business out there on social media you are opening yourself up to both positive and negative feedback. What’s important to think about is how you handle a complaint when it arises.

Asda apologises for offensive Halloween costume

Asda recently withdrew a Halloween ‘mental patient fancy dress costume’ after complaints that they were stigmatising people with mental health issues. Tesco also had a ‘psycho ward’ outfit which they withdrew. Amazon were stocking an outfit, but Asda took the brunt of the publics complaint and tweeted the following apology. (If you want to follow the thread of Asda’s apology and the many replies, click here)

handling social media complaints

The apology seems sincere, was posted without delay and they put their hands up admitting they were wrong. They followed the tweet the same day with two more:

Handling social media complaints

They donated £25,000 to Mind Charity and Tesco followed suit.

Thorpe Park’s lacklustre apology for offensive park attraction

The other recent issue is one involving Thorpe Park who have an ‘Asylum’ maze which includes an actor playing a mental patient chasing guests out of the maze with a chainsaw. This has not received (as of yet) anywhere near the coverage or level of complaint that the Asda fancy dress costume has caused, but is perpetuating the same stigma. And from what I can see is just as bad, if not worse.

Handling social media complaints

I’m not here to discuss the ethics of either Thorpe Park or Asda (although they are clearly in the wrong in my opinion!) but I’m interested here in the companies online responses to the complaints. Asda appeared to have instantly recognised that this was wrong, they withdrew the costume instantly, publicly apologised and admitted that it was unacceptable. Thorpe Park however, have responded with this:

Handling social media complaints

Cassian Lotte Lodge’s blog post shows the original complaint letter and the response received. What Thorpe Park seem to think is that it’s OK to keep the Asylum attraction because its been there for eight years and has never been complained about enough to warrant change. It’s sad that they don’t realise that times change and along with that, so do their responsiblities.

However, back to Thorpe Park’s community manager position… “We’re sorry for any offence caused”. It really is very copy and paste, standard, not particularly sincere. It’s not easy to get tone and sentiment across in 140 characters but Asda managed it in my opinion.

Customer service!

A friend of mine had a great response from The Royal Mail Twitter account when he tweeted about a parcel that hadn’t arrived on time. The Royal Mail account seems not to be controlled by a mere community manager with the Twitter logins (like many others I’ve dealt with) but someone who actually had some power to do something and solve problems. If you use your Twitter account for customer service it’s great if it is connected to the other departments of your business so that complaints can be resolved as well as listened to.

How should YOU respond if your business gets a complaint?

First of all don’t panic.

To respond or not to respond, that is the question…

Is it valid or malicious? Have a good look at the issue at hand. Do you think the complainant is in the right? If someone has a complaint, they are unlikely to be the only one. Remember not everyone is on Twitter voicing their opinion directly to you! If it’s malicious or abusive feedback, I say ignore it. No point getting caught up in an online dialogue where someone is after an argument rather than a resolution. It could be more damaging to your business to continue the thread. However, in the majority of cases, I advise responding.

Ignoring a complaint on social media is kind of saying, “Look we’re online trying to engage and sell our product/service but we only want to hear from you if it’s good!” You’ve got to take the good with the bad. Responding to complaints mean that you can improve your business and maintain credibility with your customers. You just need to ensure you do it genuinely – people respect honesty.

How to deal with a complaint on social media

Ignoring the complaint won’t make it go away.

I don’t know what to say!

What will correct the mistake? Think about what is the right thing to do. What steps will you take offline to deal with the issue? Perhaps some staff training, changing or adapting a product or service, replacing an item or providing a refund. Whatever will make things right, communicate this to the customer. And do it honestly, personally and ensuring your have stakeholder buy in – i.e. don’t promise something that the boss says you can’t deliver! Ensure when you speak on behalf of a company that the sentiment is company wide.

Also, be timely. An apology even a couple of days later has lost momentum and looks bad, like you haven’t been bothering to listen. Or that you’ve been busy creating a response which can make it appear insincere. People will forgive many things but not being ignored or waiting unnecessarily. 

See, it’s not so difficult!

Promptly. Apologise. Sincerely.

handling social media complaints

 

 

Do I Need a Social Media Plan?

Many small businesses I work with are pretty sure they need to have a social media plan… because everyone else seems to. There was a time when the owner of a new business wondered whether they needed to have a website or not! And look what happened there. Social networks are here to stay and more and more people are using them all the time. And new ones will emerge. So it makes sense to be involved, have a social media plan and to get yourself up to speed so you can start engaging your customers and listening to them.

In case there was any doubt in your mind about the actual statistics, take a look at this site.

http://www.personalizemedia.com/the-count/

It’s an incredible, real-time set of numbers that will drive home the reality of how many people are using social networks!

The Count

And remember those people are there interacting with other people and brands and many could be your customers. They are sharing a variety of content and opinion and influencing/being influenced by others. So from a business perspective you can be online with them – listening to what they say about your brand and industry, joining the online space and marketing your business through conversation rather than advertising. It may all sound like learning a new language but it’s easy when you know how.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you want some help with how to go about developing a social media plan, which networks to use, how to use them and establishing some objectives so you’re not running blind but instead have a clear focus.

Click here to get in touch!

Don’t be a spammer on Twitter!

I think Twitter is the most discerning of social networks and it drives me nuts to see people abusing it, broadcasting, spamming, boasting about numbers of followers, etc. They seem to have forgotten the quintessential point of social networking: users curate their own feeds.

Twitter had this sussed from the start – if somebody you followed started to bore you or posted too many updates throughout the day, you can simply unfollow them! So why some accounts think they can bombard people with links, dull content and no personal updates, is beyond me. You won’t see your followers grow that way.

social media spam infographic
I’m a firm believer in keeping social media use honest and organic. Don’t focus on achieving high numbers of followers – focus on the quality and relevance of those followers. Social networks allow businesses to focus their attention on those who are actually interested in their product or service if, and it’s a big IF, they engage people with an interesting Twitter feed; varied content, not too much advertising, and a lot of personality!

Better to have 100 followers who are interested in what you’ve got to say and are all potential customers, than 1000 customers who wouldn’t know what your company did if you covered it in spam and posted it to them.

Be interesting, be creative and watch your audience grow naturally.

 

Don’t know if you can tell but I am pretty passionate about how businesses use social media – if you ever want me to present a talk to people in your business, just give me a shout!

 

 

 

Twitter & The Great Escape Festival

The Great Escape Festival hits Brighton every May and has been going strong since 2006, establishing itself as Europe’s leading festival for showcasing new music. Multiple venues are full of live music for 3 days, the city is full of music heads and, to quote someone I follow on Twitter, “New Road Brighton looks like there’s a white male indie band breeding machine on the go…” (@caracourage).

Twitter was founded in the same year (a couple of months before) and so using the social network to add value to the first festival was not an option. Now, because everyone is using smartphones (I was actually told off for Tweeting during a gig by a friend who didn’t believe I could appreciate the music properly and tweet simultaneously) Twitter is an extremely valuable tool. You can follow the hashtag #TGE12 to keep abreast of what everyone is saying about the Festival (there are other hashtags around including #TGE2012 but the former is the one used by The Great Escape Twitter account).

On Twitter @GreatEscapeFest is not only tweeting about news and shows around the festival and informing us of gigs all over the city that we may have forgotten were on, but also actually communicating with it’s community too. Nice to see a human presence behind the account!

I love the fact the community manager behind Great Escape is out watching gigs (or has sent people out in their absence) to take photos and are enjoying the festival like everyone else. That makes that Twitter account far nicer to follow.

I also rate how they manage complaints and comments: after a complaint about queues, they managed to solve a problem. Now that wouldn’t have happened before social media unless people actually bothered to call – if indeed there was anyone to call.

Social media is now a critical component not only in terms of promoting events and raising awareness, but also in terms of sharing. People with smartphones love to share photos and comments about where they are and what they’re doing. By utilising social accounts, festivals turn their customers into promotional vehicles. Of course, they can’t control whether people share positive or negative experiences but if they have a crisis management plan in place then they are at least prepared for the eventuality of negative feedback.

I hope that @GreatEscapeFest continues to engage music lovers after the event to help keep The Great Escape up there the leading new music festival in Europe and give it’s social participants something back. A Storify of tweets, photos and videos would be a great way to curate something special from the masses of rich content out there. I’ll look forward to seeing what they do!

Now I’m off to catch some more live music and, despite my friends objections, I will certainly be tweeting too (@kerrywaller) #TGE12

Brighton’s Great Tweets

I scanned Twitter for a few minutes before I even got out of bed this morning (yes, I’m a Twitter addict) and two of the tweets I saw instantly registered as great tweets. I knew straight away that I would, at some point, refer to them in a conversation or training session with a client. This is because they were examples of how brilliant Twitter can be for business – if it’s used cleverly.

No one really wants a brand to advertise to them on a social network unless they’re giving something away or providing some useful information. So it takes a great deal of thought from business owners or community managers to create the right online ‘voice’ and balance of content which people will engage with.

best restaurant tweeters

A lot of what I do with Social Brighton is training people about best practice on social networks and teaching them how to build networks and engage their audience whilst marketing their business and managing the perception of their brand. And I often use examples of accounts to inspire them or, in some cases, to show them what not to do. These accounts are sometimes local, sometimes global and they span many industries depending on who I’m working with.

I’ve decided to share a few of them here now and again in the hope that it will help Brighton’s businesses get their social activity moving in the right direction to meet their business objectives. We can always learn something from others!

The first great tweet I saw this morning from @Metrodeco is a great tweet because they show they are real people. Through tweets like this we feel like we get to know them a little more – it isn’t just a business shamelessly trying to sell us something. We learn that they hire talented baristas and we know that they make a great looking coffee.

Personally I like the china and wonder what Corey looks like too – maybe I’ll have to go in and see!

best restaurant tweeters

The second tweet that caught my attention was from @BrightonNick who posted a photo of this incredibly huge fish and a chef preparing it for some delectable sushi. Not sure about you but this certainly made me think about @moshibrighton1 as a venue to visit soon!

best restaurant tweeters

I’m well aware there were many other brilliant tweets out there but these were the two that I saw in my Twitter stream and gave me the idea of this new series of blog posts about Brighton’s Best Tweeters.

Have a great weekend! I’m planning on going out for coffee and sashimi myself…

Facebook Timeline for Business Pages: Think Content!

Facebook Timeline is coming to brand pages on 30th March and, as I mentioned in a previous post ‘Facebook Timeline for Business: What’s New?’, there is more emphasis now on posting decent content to encourage more interaction with fans. As always with Facebook it’s all about engaging people. If you post dull content that nobody interacts with, you will end up not being able to reach them because you won’t appear in their feed. The focus now is really getting your fans to:

  • like your posts
  • comment on your posts
  • share your posts
  • vote in your polls

If people do not interact with the content you post in the above ways then you will cease to appear in their newsfeed. And obviously if they hide your posts visbility then you won’t either. You will however still appear in their ticker feed (top right corner of your page) but you will not be visible to their wider networks.

So what should you do?

You need to take a fresh look at what you post and how it relates to your audience. Go back to the roots of your social media strategy and answer the following questions:

  1. Who are your audience / target market?
  2. What are they interested in?
  3. What does your organisation do/offer/talk about that they will want to share?
  4. What times of day and days of the week are they online (and interact most with what you post)?

When you’ve answered the questions above you should have a better idea of how to engage the right people at the right time. If your frequency of posts has been low you will probably need to increase the amount of times you post (once a day is apparently not considered to be enough anymore) to make any kind of impact.

You will certainly be wise to look at the times and days that you post in particular. If your audience are online more at the weekend and you work Mon-Fri, you should schedule a higher frequency of posts over the weekend. By using the metrics available to you with Facebook Insights and services like Bit.ly you can monitor this and adjust your social activity accordingly.

As for who your audience is and what they are interested in, that is obviously unique to your brand or industry.

Another way of utilising Facebook Timeline and creating interesting content is to build the history of your brand by posting historical milestones or important moments in time. Red Bull have tried this approach and have created an interesting chronology of their brand for their audience. Food for thought perhaps!

Time to get your thinking caps on. Comment on this post or on Twitter and share your ideas!

 

 

 

Make your own Hashtag Infographic with Visual.ly

By using the lovely site Visual.ly you can create an infographic based on either a certain hashtag (below) or a personal Facebook ‘Monster’ by allowing it to access you Facebook profile and information (you will not see THAT below). You do have to sign up and wait for an invite from Visual.ly before you can get going but when you’re in, it’s all about the infographics: creating, uploading and sharing. I chose #SXSW as it was a recent hashtag I was following on Twitter.

This is just a bit of fun but I love the way that there are sites like this that allow any of us to create something visual that doesn’t look like you made it on Microsoft Paint. Social media is all about posting content that people want to share and it can sometimes be really hard to come up with ideas. There may be an opportunity for your business to create something like this, especially if you start your own hashtags on Twitter or join in with other hashtags yourself! Food for thought possibly.


infographic created with visual.ly

Facebook Timeline for Business: What’s new?

Facebook Timeline is coming to brand pages whether we like it or not so lets get to the bottom of what it means for your business. There’s a fair bit of reluctance out there…. but lets embrace the change and make the most of it. On 30th March your page will be changed by Facebook anyway so better to be prepared, understand the changes and amend your social media strategy accordingly.

Page layout

There is now a large cover image at the top with an avatar underneath and a chronological series of updates, including posts where others have commented on your brand. There are rules about what you can and can’t include on your cover image (such as no contact details!) which you can read here.

Red Bull Facebook Timeline

Whereas before you only had an avatar and possibly a welcome page to ‘brand’ your company, there is now more scope to make an impact upon first visit. Although individuals may only visit your page once when they first decide whether or not to ‘like’ you, it is an opportunity to brand your page so that it represents your company and what you’re about. Notice how Red Bull’s image is not a photo of a can!

If you want to design your own cover image, the size needs to be 850 x 315 pixels.

Underneath this the rest of the page consists of a chronological timeline which is similar to your personal profile. The focus now then is on content and what you want to be seen by people. More of that in the next blog post.

Tabs

You used to see: info, wall, photos etc, down the left hand side of your page – only 4 of these are visible now and one of them has to include photos. So have a think about what you want people to see. Depending on your location, you may not need people to see the map and opt for something more interesting instead. Brighton Source, for example, have opted for this image which matches their current issue and looks great!

Brighton Source Facebook Timeline

Messaging feature

Your fans can now interact with your business (if you choose not to disable this option) although you have to wait for them to start messaging; you can’t initiate the conversation. This needs careful consideration – by not disabling this feature, you could be opening up your brand to comments, questions or abuse that you are not prepared to handle. However, if you choose to leave this feature active and have a strategy in place, you are actually promoting your brand as one that is prepared to listen to customers and could repsond to questions, gather valuable feedback and diffuse negative comments.

Admin panel

I think this is a really useful layout, giving you a snapshot of notifications, messages, new likes and insights. You can expand them all for a more complete view of the data. The information here is really important so don’t ignore this panel; it gives you the data you need to tailor and schedule your updates for maximum impact/reach.

Transparent Metrics

Don’t be scared but anyone can now see any brand page’s metrics which include largest group check in’s (if your page is also a place), most popular age group, city and week. Find a business page on Facebook Timeline and click on the ‘Likes’ tab to the right of photos to see some data about them.

Now this might seem scary to a lot of businesses but social media best practice is all about embracing transparency and so at least you now have the chance to see how other people are growing communities and monitor the performance of your competitors.

There is more emphasis now on what content you post and how you can manage the posts on your page, which warrants a separate blog post – watch this space!

Have you taken the plunge yet or holding on until the last minute?

Getting started with Google Reader

Google Reader is a truly wonderful thing once you get used to it. It can save you no end of time, improving productivity and really is so simple to learn. Everyone who uses the internet and reads content from different websites can benefit from getting their head around Google Reader so I thought it would be useful to write a quick post to help people get the most of this tool.

What is Google Reader?

Google Reader is a web based aggregator which reads RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication).

If you’re interested in how RSS works then read about the science bit here. Or check the Google Reader blog here. Otherwise lets just get on to how to use it!

How do I use it?

Set yourself up with a Gmail account if you don’t already have one, and then on the menu bar along the top left where you can see ‘Images, Videos etc’ click on ‘More’ and then ‘Reader’. This takes you to your Google Reader page which you will now start to personalise and fill with what interests you from the web.

Now have a think about which websites and blogs you regularly read or like to visit to keep up to date with new posts and articles.

Lets say, for example, that you are interested in films and often visit the Guardian website to read their reviews. Go to the Guardian website and find the page you want.

 This is the universal icon for RSS. Look for this RSS symbol on the web page and click on it. It is in the top right on this screen shot, but can sometime be found on either side of the page or sometimes at the bottom – you just have to scan the page and have a hunt really! Sometimes, there may be several RSS icons for different feeds within the website, just choose the one related to what interests you.

Guardian screenshotWhen you click on the icon, you may see a page that looks like something has gone terribly wrong but don’t worry – it (probably) hasn’t! All you need to do then is highlight the URL at the top (which will be the same URL as the website you were on before but followed by ‘/rss’) then ‘copy’, open the Google Reader tab then click on the red ‘subscribe button’ and paste the URL into it and click ‘add’.

You have then added the feed to Google Reader and every time the Guardian website updates it’s content on this page, you have that information in Google Reader without having to visit the Guardian website. Once you have completed the same process for all of the websites and blogs that interest you, you have all of this information in one place; a personalised page without having to trawl the internet looking for information! Sometimes you may see a Google Reader button (below) which you can use instead of clicking on the RSS icon.

Once you have several feeds in Google Reader it is worth organising them into folders. This is done by hovering your cursor over the title of the feed on the left hand side and then clicking on the little triangle that appears to it’s right and choosing a folder to put it in, or create a new folder. There are also other options here to play around with and customise how you would like Google Reader to organise feeds for you.

It really is worth spending some time and putting the effort into filling Google Reader with feeds because it will save you hours in the long run! Now every time you visit it, you have the latest relevant web content to scan through and just click on the ones you want to read. Your page will look something like this.

I really hope this has been useful. Tweet me with any questions @social_brighton and I’ll do my best to help!

Please let me know how you get on!

Social Media and the small business in 2011

When you consider that 98% of 18-24 year olds use social media, 800 million people use Facebook, 100 million people use LinkedIn, and 177 million tweets are sent per day, it’s not surprising that a social media expert would be the most helpful new hire for a small business!

Social media holds enormous potential for customer engagement, marketing opportunities and increasing the profile of your business to attract new customers. One half of small businesses in 2011 successfully connected with new customers and that figure will only increase in 2012.

This excellent infographic provides some food for thought. Do you have the skills to embark on a social media strategy in your business?