Tuesday, November 12, 2013

5 Tips For Dealing With Social Media Complaints About Your Brand

Last week social software provider Lithium released a study that reveals 53 percent of consumers expect a brand to respond to a tweet within an hour. But what if the consumer is tweeting about a bad experience? The number jumps to 72 percent of the consumers expect a brand to respond within an hour!

So if you are responsible for managing your company’s social media activities, does this mean you can never turn off your phone or if you do, are you running the risk of angering your customers even more by not responding within an hour? Not exactly, but realize you need to respond to the complaint as soon as you are aware of it.

Being unresponsive has the potential to turn a small complaint into a larger and more public issue. On the other hand, responding quickly and in a negative manner to the consumer’s concern can have equally as much impact to your business.

For example, by now I am sure most people have heard about the British Airways customer that was so fed up with the company’s handling of his lost luggage that he took his frustrations to Twitter. The customer paid Twitter to promote his tweet so a wider audience would view his complaint. The tweet went vial and led to a very embarrassing situation for British Airways. While this is an extreme case, you need to be aware of what your customers are saying in public about your brand and have a plan of action.

So what can you do?

Here are five tips for dealing with social media complaints from your customers.

  1. Begin with determining who is responsible for monitoring and responding to complaints through your social media channels. During your normal business hours, the person managing your social media accounts should be responding or a designated backup person with access to your accounts if your are out of the office. If you plan to respond to complaints afterhours, have a plan on who will be monitoring your accounts and set internal guidelines on how to handle issues such as will you attempt to resolve the issue afterhours or the next business day.

  2. Respond to the person as quickly as possible and offer an apology about their experience. Remember, it does not matter what experience your brand was trying to provide, the customer’s experience and expectation were not met. Learn as much as you can about the person’s concerns and ask for their suggestions on how you can improve the experience next time. 

  3. When responding to an online complaint, it will be natural that you will want to defend your brand. However, it is important to remain calm when responding as your initial approach to the situation will influence the outcome.  You never want to respond out of anger or attempt to talk down to the customer. The last thing you want to do it compound the situation by trying to prove the customer wrong. A good rule of thumb is - do not try to win the battle as you may end up losing the publicity war.  Case in point: See how the Kansas City Chiefs insulted a frustrated fan here and lost the publicity war. 

  4. Be sincere in your responses and follow up communications. Most of the time the person just wants acknowledgement of their concern and reassurance that someone is listening. If the problem will take some time resolve and the customer is expecting an answer, take ownership of the issue and provide the customer with a definitive time on when you will provide them with an update. And most importantly, follow up when you told them you would!

  5. Take the conversation offline as quickly as possible as it will provide you with greater flexibility and privacy in the manner. Once the conversation is offline, you can now ask for sensitive personal information that will help you research the complaint. Moreover, it will provide you and the customer an opportunity to discuss the manner without other users chiming in or limit the conversation between due to character limits for a Tweet.

Following the above guidelines will solve most of your social media complaint issues. However, there will be cases in which the consumer will not be happy with your solutions regardless of your best efforts. In this case, you need to know when to walk away from the issue. Prolonging the conversation will only feed into the ire of the consumer and provide the person and the public with more content for bashing your brand.

I would love to hear how you dealt with complaints through a social media channel and what tactics worked and did not work in the comments below.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

How to Add the LinkedIn Share Button to Your Blog Posts

In today’s social media intense world, people love to share a breaking news story, a funny video, or an informative blog post to one of the many social networking sites. You need to keep this in mind when creating a new website or blog as it is important to provide your visitors with an easy option for sharing your site's content. Providing your readers with an easy option to share your content will help expand your brand's voice and exposure.

After posting my last blog, I wanted to share it on LinkedIn so I naturally looked at the bottom of my blog to discover Blogger only offers the share buttons for Gmail, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, and of course Google+. I wondered - where is the LinkedIn Share Button? Clearly, there are business related blogs that people are sharing on the LinkedIn site, so why is the LinkedIn share button not integrated into the Blogger template and more importantly how can I add it to my blog?

There are two very easy methods for adding the LinkedIn Share Button to your blog if you are using Blogger.

First option is naturally from LinkedIn. LinkedIn provides a simple tool for creating the share button of your choice. Just enter your URL, select your design format, and click get code and you are on your way. A very simple process for non-web designers like myself. Below is a screenshot from their site and here is a link to their site. 

It is important to note if you are using Blogger, by Google, this code will not add the share button for each of your blog posts. This option will only add the share button to the side of your blog and allow users to share a link to the URL you entered at setup. If you are more interested in sharing a single page, this is the option for you. 

However, if you are looking to have the share button to appear after each blog post, this is not the option for you. I’m sure there is a web designer that can code it for you, but if you are looking for a do-it-yourself option, I found an easier option for you. 

After numerous failed Google searches on how to properly add the LinkedIn share button, I stumbled upon ShareThis.com. This site provides you with a very easy process for adding the LinkedIn share button as well as the option to add share buttons for any of the other social media sites. Here is how you do it.

Go to http://www.sharethis.com/get-sharing-tools/ and select the platform you are using and click on next.

Select your button style

Customize  your options and when ready click the Get the Code button

Pick your Share Widget Style and Go

A new window will open up in Blogger. Click Add Widget. Viola! Your blog will now display the share buttons after each of your blog posts similar to the look at the end of this post. 

I hope this helps you and your readers share your content when using Blogger. If you find an easier way or know of a better solution for adding the LinkedIn share button, let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Adobe’s Latest Commercial Shows Why It Is Important to Understand Your Data Before You React

This week Adobe released a new commercial for their Marketing Cloud Service.  It is a well-produced ad by the award-winning agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners that hooks the viewer in and produces a good laugh while delivering Adobe’s message. Below is the ad. You can also find it on YouTube here.

In the ad, a fictitious encyclopedia company begins to see a spike in their web traffic and orders. The two employees quickly interpret the data as a sudden sales spike and escalate their findings to management who immediately contacts his supplier stating, “We’re back!” This leads to a chain reaction of production and shipping of the company’s encyclopedia. The ad ends with a couple watching their young child paying with their laptop and repeatedly hitting the buy now button. The ad concludes with the question “Do you know what your marketing is doing?” and a case for Adobe’s marketing cloud suite of services. The ad is quite funny and I am sure I’m not doing it justice with my description.

So what can we learn from this ad?

Before we can make a decision based on the latest data, we need to understand the data and be able to validate it. In this case, a sudden spike in sales should have raised a flag to investigate further; however, the commercial would not be as funny if this happened. Any abnormality in your data such as a sudden spike or decline could be a result of a data or system error. For example, the user could have selected an incorrect date range or applied a filter that removed some for the data. Alternatively, there could be a system issue such, which is omitting or duplicating data in your raw data output.

Whenever I am analyzing data, I prefer to compare my data to my previous results to determine if there are any trends or abnormalities. I also recommend reviewing the raw data prior to manipulating it in Excel for potential errors such as duplicate data or values outside of the normal range. Excel offers several options for assisting you in validating your data.

In the ad, the small child is clicking repeatedly on a banner ad. Let us assume that the company just released a new marketing campaign and experiences an immediate increase in sales. The company could assume that the two events are related – the basic cause and effect logic – new campaign released and our sales increased so they must be related. However, we know that correlation does not imply causation. To confirm the two items are related, the user will have to eliminate multiple variables including internal factors such as a pricing change or an improved ordering process and external factors such as a change to the competitive landscape, regulations, or scarcity of resources.

My last point is if something appears too good to be true, it just might be. If you are not confident in the data or your results, ask someone else to review the data. Another set of eyes could discover the error or provide insights on the abnormally. While the ad is funny, it is a reminder for us to understand and verify your data before taking action on it.

What are some of the tools/tips you use for validating your data?

Link to Adobe’s Marketing Cloud Service

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Google Launches a New Healthcare Company, Calico

In case you have not heard Google is starting a healthcare company called California Life Company or Calico. This new company will be led by former Genentech CEO, Arthur Levinson and will focus on heath and expanding human life.  Levinson will also remain in his current roles as the Chairman of the Board of Director for both Genentech and Apple. 

For a company with a primary focus on search, advertising, and most recently mobile phone technology, this is certainly a step outside of their core business. In the press release from Google, Larry Page the cofounder and CEO of Google stated “Illness and aging affect all our families. With some longer term, moonshot thinking around healthcare and biotechnology, I believe we can improve millions of lives.”  Beyond that Google has declined to provide any additional details on how the company will operate except it will be managed as a separate company.

Can Google solve the ultimate quest for longevity or at the very least extend the quality of life by a few years? Using Google’s expertise in technology and data analysis combined with the Arthur Levinson’s experience, I have to believe they have a chance to be successful. I am not alone in my opinion. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, believes they can be successful. In a released statement Cook said, “For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn't have to be this way. There is no one better suited to lead this mission and I am excited to see the results."

Google’s philosophy of “10x thinking” is certainly at play here and we can only being to imagine what they plan to do. Will they find a cure for cancer? Will they improve healthcare and treatment options by developing new technologies for predicting, diagnosing, and treating diseases based on our biological and environmental history? Any quest to improve our quality of life has to be admired. I wish them well on their new venture.

What are your thoughts on Google's new healthcare company? Do you think they will be successful or a failure?