Where are your manners? Social media etiquette goes a long way.

Over the past week I have been more active on Twitter by participating in multiple Twitter chats throughout the week. One thing I have noticed is that there are people on Twitter (or any social media platform) that will drive you just as crazy as the guy sitting 5 cubicals away. I started to observe how people interacted via SM platforms and realized that it is just important to use etiquette when engaging and interacting with people online as it is in person. Think about how you would behave if you were standing at a conference discussing business with a potential client. Now extend that to social media platforms where your reach can go far beyond what you can sometimes imagine.

In an effort to avoid people from blocking, removing, unfriending or unfollowing you – or just to avoid looking like an idiot or jerk on SM platforms, I share a few tips that come to mind.

  • Comment on other people’s posts/tweets – but make it a genuine comment and not just a link to promote yourself. Feedback is always appreciated but remember, if you post a comment on a blog it remains forever (unless the blog owner deletes it).
  • Share interesting things and give credit to where it came from. Those sharing buttons are there for a reason.
  • If someone retweets you and adds a compliment, thank-them for the retweet but avoid retweeting their compliment – it can seem pompous – particularly if it happens often.
  • Posting and reposting the same content every few minutes is self-promotion on steroids. This clogs up feeds quickly and can  begin to frustrate your followers and you may be considered a noisy tweeter. If you are interesting however and your posts/tweets are truly thoughtful and interesting, go right ahead – people will probably appreciate it.
  • Thinking you are too high and mighty to respond to or follow someone just because you don’t think they are worthy of your time. Social media is about having the ability to influence and engage with others. @DawnWesterberg wrote a great post about the ability of SM to connect you to those who you would never connect with in real life and truly have an impact. Don’t get caught up in thinking that you are too great – its an easy way for that attitude to begin to shine through your content and possibly lose some followers.
  • When including a link in your status/tweet etc, make sure the link is valid and it doesn’t lead people to questionable sites. If the link is purely promotional in nature, disclose that as well.  Misleading posts that sound valuable and interesting only leading followers to a site that is purely promotional for a purchase is deceiving.
  • Promote others and when the time comes, they will likely return the favor and promote you.
  • ‘Argue’ a point until you are blue in the face. This is particularly annoying during a twitter chat. I experienced this over the past week. Different view points are good and its what makes a conversation interesting and how we can all learn from others experiences. But when it is clear that your opinion differs from most other on a particular point, just move on instead of continually argue – far past the point when others have dismissed the subject. Agree to disagree.
  • Give back. Social media is about two-way interactions. Be sure to give back and do it more often than you get.

This is by far not comprehensive. But as I have increased my interactions lately, I have noticed some of these very things happening frequently – and many have driven me nuts and even tempted me to remove a few of the people I follow. When I meet a new contact at a conference, I don’t stand in front of them and argue my points, shout in the room when they send me a compliment, talk about ME ME ME every two seconds and then shove promotional materials in their face. If I did, I would likely never get their business or even respect. It is the same over social media. Make the connections, learn from others experiences, share your own, connect with people outside your normal social circles and contribute often. Some day, the person you have connected with just may give you business or refer you to someone who will.

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When personalization isn’t so personal!

One thing that E-mail, Web 2.0, and social media enables us as marketers to do is become far more personalized in our communications. E-mails don’t have to read ‘Dear Investigator’, communications can be relevant to consumer interests, landing pages and personalized URLs (PURLS) can enable an extremely personalized experience with a brand. BUT nothing ruins it faster than when data is not carefully monitored for accuracy.

Our biggest asset as a marketer is our database. We work hard generating leads and compiling a house list of contacts that we hope over time will turn into customers that will turn into repeat sales. It is critical that we take the time to monitor our data for accuracy. While this seems so elementary,  I received an email this morning that made me stop and think about how many marketers might continually push this to the bottom of the to-do list. It doesn’t take too long for an ignored database to become riddled with errors and inconsistencies.  The email displayed below showed up in my inbox this morning – and it jumped right out at me – not because the content was so relevant (it’s not – I have a job) or the design was pleasing – but rather because it used personalization with the wrong name. I’m not Don! This turned me off and I hit delete.

We can get so caught up in crafting finely tuned, relevant content so please don’t overlook some of the most basic details – your customers name! After all, no matter how relevant the subject matter may be, if you start with ‘Dear Don’ and I’m not Don, I may not read the rest and be quick to hit the delete button. Thinking about some of our own personal assets that we treasure so dearly (house, car etc), we wouldn’t think about not setting aside time, resources or budgets to keep them maintained. Why then do we as marketers often overlook the importance of database maintenance?

I cleanse my list every 3 months. At a minimum, I encourage you to export your database as an excel list so that you can see if the email address appears to match the name. If not, remove it quick and strive to run an update profile campaign. And PLEASE, stop calling me DON!

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Using social media to enhance customer loyalty.

It’s pretty obvious the power social media has on a brand. Brands have the ability to interact and engage with their consumers over social media in a way that was not possible before.

This got me to thinking today about how brands can really leverage social media to enhance customer loyalty. I’m not just talking about the occasional coupon you send to just your facebook fans or twitter followers. But true engagement and interaction with your social media fans/followers in a personal way. People tend to post personal information and opinions over social media channels. They don’t often send you an email to tell you exactly what is on their minds, but they share it via social media. If you have been granted access to this by a social connection, then why not doing something far more personal with that information then what you would do by typical email. At any given time you are privy to knowing the pleasures and irritations of your customers as well as the comings and goings (thanks to location based utilities such as Foursquare and facebook checkin).

I was reading my monthly issue of Colloquy today when I read about this awesome campaign by KLM airlines – KLM Suprise. Using information shared over social media sites, KLM launched a campaign that would surprise travelers checking in at the Amsterdam airport with a customized gift. Some examples are as follows:

  • One customer traveling to New York had posted that he would miss his favorite team’s biggest soccer game of the year. The airline surprised him at check-in with a Lonely Planet Guide to New York which highlighted the best bars showing soccer games.
  • Traveler posts that he is excited about using his iPad on his upcoming KLM flight so the airline surprised him with a voucher for iPad apps.
  • Traveler posted something relevant to his upcoming birthday so the airline suprised him with a glass of champagne.

Pretty awesome isn’t it? I’m pretty sure that if this happened to me, I would be tweeting and posting all over the place of my experience. This is exactly what happened to KLM. There was such a huge viral response to this campaign – people posting photos, videos, tweets and re-tweets. It certainly had a positive effect on the brand. It’s long been known the power of word-of-mouth and social media proliferates this to the extreme.

Now, I’m not suggesting that everybody start buying their customers favorite bottle of wine or sending them movie tickets cause they are discussing what movies they want to see over facebook – but I am suggesting that marketers start thinking about ways that they can really leverage social media to enhance customer loyalty. So many marketers are still using social media as just another marketing channel – a quick and cheap way to push out information about themselves, the next promotion or the new product. Are you having a dialogue or a monologue over social media?

Its been reported that 80% of consumers follow fewer than five brands through social channels. Social media can really be used to influence customer loyalty and some of the smart brands are figuring this out. They will be the ones to remain on the short list of consumers brands they choose to engage with over social media. What are you going do to make that list?

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What’s driving traffic to your website?

A recent study by Forrester research shows that traffic generated from social media channels are on the rise, particularly amongst the younger users. Marketingprofs gave a nice overview of the contents of the report, which indicate that natural search and referrals are still the top two traffic generators.  The report finds that 14% of Gen Y (age 18-30) are referred by blog posts while 10% are referred by Twitter, compared to 7% and 5% of all adults respectively.

I took a look at my statistics today to see how I fall compared to the Forrester report. Natural search makes up 71% of my website traffic with referrals (email, blogs etc) referring 8% of my traffic.

This means a few things for me:

  1. I need to maintain my rankings in the search engines as it is currently the way most people are finding our business online.
  2. Our social media strategy is not bringing in much traffic. I have said before that pharma/biotech is more reluctant to use social media so this is likely contributing to the lower statistics for social media traffic compared to the Forrester report.
  3. We can’t lose site of programs such as Email. While it may seem boring and not conversational, it is certainly something that can’t be ignored if it is driving traffic to your site. Upon analyzing my referral traffic closer, 25% of it is coming from our monthly newsletter that we send out.

It is clear that staying relevant in the search engines and increasing my newsletter/blog subscriber base is important. Continuing to add  social media content will become more relevant for my business as the pharma/biotech industry increases its use.

The take home message: don’t get too wrapped up in all the newest things because that’s what everyone else is doing. Make sure you stay focused on the activities that are generating the most business (or potential business) for you. Keep in site the activities that are on the rise so you can ride that wave up as well (such as the social media).

What surprised me about the report is that Radio drives more website traffic than Twitter! I can’t even recall the last time I listened to radio – how about you?

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Does a mobile app make sense for your business?

Mobile apps

According to Forbes, 82% of US business executives and 28% of U.S consumers carry a smartphone. With the launch of tablet readers such as the iPad, more and more people are working with extreme portability. For both B2B and B2C marketers, integrating mobile marketing should be part of their overall strategy and is an ideal platform for brands to interact and collaborate with their customers.

So let’s talk apps.
I have an iPhone and absolutely love it. I am sure I will love my iPad equally as much when I get it (I am a fan of all things apple so I have no doubts). I have a variety of apps installed such as social media apps, banking and payment apps,  efficient utility apps (currency converters, time converters etc), travel apps and my favorite fast food ordering apps. I LOVE apps – I don’t have to bother with going to a users website to navigate all over, particularly when the site isn’t really designed for mobile. As I was using a variety of my apps today it got me thinking about whether or not it makes sense for a business to develop an app, and if so – which app platform (apple, android or blackberry).

When looking at mobile marketing, there are three basic ways to deliver content via a smartphone: normal webpages, websites designed for mobile devices and with native apps that run directly on the phone, which no doubt delivers the best user experience. Every business should develop a mobile friendly website to aid in having a strong mobile presence. Only then, should a business consider if an app would be worth considering.

Before jumping into the world of apps, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Know your customer base and their online behavior. Are they on smartphones? If so, which type (blackberry or apple)? Are they on Facebook, Twitter or email?
  2. Define your goals for the app. Does it give value to the user? Does it make your customer’s life easier or is it a gimicky marketing tool?

I myself prefer an app to a website when using my smartphone. I also am reminded of those businesses which apps I have downloaded on a daily basis. How about you – do you prefer mobile apps or websites? Does your business have an app?

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Are you drowning in the social media sea?

Drowning in the social media sea

Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn……and the list goes on and on and on and on.

Last week I talked about whether or not your business should ‘do’ social media and of course the answer is a most likely yes, but what that looks like for each business will be different depending on your product, your target market and where your customers are at. Appending social media profiles to your customer database will help focus your efforts and prioritize since you are likely faced with resources (including your time) that are stretched thin. In case you hadn’t already thought of the  ways in which this will help, a quick list is included:

  • what social channels are your customers on
  • where to focus your efforts
  • identify those customers who may be influencers (hint: how many friends or followers do they have)
  • determine which subjects are most relevant to your customers (look at their feeds and discussions)

But a few I hadn’t really tackled or thought about myself until I read another post from Social Media B2B:

1. Compare your prospects to your customers. Seeing how your prospects compare to your customers behavior and understanding the differences between these two groups will help you adjust your message.

2. Target new customers. Of course, once you understand the above, you can then target new prospects who behave socially similar to your customer base.

What do you think? Would this be helpful in reaching your target? I have begun appending social profiles to my customer database and to no surprise, in the biotech industry, LinkedIn seems to be the place where I need to concentrate my efforts. Nope – not ditching Twitter and Facebook, but certainly realize that driving conversations via social media for my customer base is probably best done by LinkedIn….at least today.

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How to damage your brand in 140 characters or less

By now I am sure many have heard of the Kenneth Cole tweet promoting their spring line using the situation in Egypt for increased awareness. Unfortunately, Kenneth Cole has removed the tweet, however much damage has already been done.

Kenneth Cole Egypt Tweet

Kenneth Cole Egypt Tweet

It has been the center of outrage today, both on twitter and facebook, not to mention just about a zillion blogs and media mentions. Now the company has a PR nightmare on their hands. A fake twitter account has been started in the companies name and is tweeting numerous distasteful tweets, such as the one below:

Fake Twitter Account - Kenneth Cole

Social media gone wrong at its finest. Kenneth Cole has to manage a serious situation with its brand, which they don’t even have full control over at this time. We’ll all be watching over the next few days or so to see how this pans out. How Kenneth Cole reacts will decide how well they recover. After all, we can all remember the social media catastrophe that Dominoe’s dealt with last year and their disgusting pizza making Youtube posting employees. Handled correctly, and dominoes was able to recover and turn their brand around.

Let’s see how Kenneth Cole does….unfortunately they used a very sensitive and political issue. More damaging than a few guys stuffing cheese up their nose. Take this to heart…make sure there is a very clear policy for social media in your company. Review it, implement it, and monitor it always. It only takes 2 seconds and 140 characters or less to have a social media nightmare on your hands. Manage your brand carefully!

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