Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

The 5 hats social media pros wear May 7, 2014

social-media-expert hatSocial Media is a new(ish) field that will always be a new(ish) field because of it’s nature to continuously evolve and change. When it was first introduced as a marketing tool, it was just something many marketing professionals added to their job. Today, the position is driven by content creators who happen to be good at many things. Here are five hats social media pros (SoMePro) wear:

1. Writer
Obviously, writing content is a big part of being a social media professional’s job. The SoMePro must write for blogs, Facebook, Twitter, e-books, emails and etc.  Over the last few years, the recommended frequency of sharing content has increased, making the SoMePro’s job more focused on creating content than ever before.

Bad Image Use2. Designer
It’s proven that images and graphics offer better engagement than text alone; therefore, it’s the SoMePro’s job to create captivating images to accompany every message shared. Coming up with a photo or graphic for every message can be daunting, but understanding the difference between when a graphic is necessary or not is equally as important.

I’ve found one news station guilty of not understanding the difference. They have a stockpile of images they pull out for tragedies that personally, I fin inappropriate and annoying. The result? Unsubscribed. The other layer to this is that you must either find royalty free images or create your own. With those circumstances, a little Adobe knowledge goes a long way.

3. Learner
In the number of years I’ve worked in social media, every platform has changed it’s layout, statistics and algorithms. Oh yes, the magical a-word, algorithm. Social media is not something you learn once; it’s constantly changing and there’s always something new. In addition to evolving platforms, new platforms are being introduced everyday. The SoMePro should always be scouring the internet for inspiration, knowledge and best practices.

4. Fixer
The fixer is also known as the good, old-fashioned customer service representative. It is the SoMePro’s job to foster relationships with customers, happy or unhappy. It’s proven to be much more expensive to gain new customers than it is to retain customers, which makes it very important to resolve issues with unhappy customers. Often, simply acknowledging a customer’s concern can salvage a relationship, while thanking a current happy customer can be just as beneficial.

5. Analyzer
While writing is an important piece to social media, there’s no point in writing anything if there is no proof that it is working. There were many claims that social media could not be measured, but that has changed drastically, even in just the last year. It is not that it cannot be measured, it’s that it is measured differently than traditional media. The SoMePro will check the stats on every post, every day, to determine what resonates with customers and look for trends that spike engagement. This information is then used to drive future content that builds a relationship and pushes sales.

Bonus:
6. Detective
The SoMePro is constantly searching the web for every mention of their organization. When a mention is found, it must be evaluated for credibility to determine what action to take. Is it a legitimate issue? Is it an employee posing as a customer? The SoMePro knows how to dig into the data to answer these questions. Something the rest of the world tends to forget is that nothing ever disappears from the Internet; this is what SoMePros call entertainment.

These are just five of the hats SoMePros wear, but rest assured, there are plenty more where this comes from. What would you add to the list?

 

Customer service best practices:Online support January 8, 2012

Have you ever spent time in a call center or worked in any form  of customer service? Everyone says you should work at least one service job in your life to better appreciate what those people go through. Usually, this refers to restaurant services, but I’d have to argue that retail services is equally as challenging and does not result in a tip at the end of the experience.

I know this statement is unfair because I have never worked as a server, but I think it is important to recognize retail customer service as a demanding field as well. It’s easy to complain about something, but it’s even harder to listen to the complaint and resolve it with a big smile on your face.

It started when I was 17. I was working at Toys R Us on Christmas Eve and was faced with a very unhappy customer who accused me of being blind and racist when I literally exchanged no words at all to her. How do you listen to someone throwing drastic accusations at you and manage to still smile and offer to assist them with their needs? It’s not easy!

Knowing what it is like to be on the other side of customer service doesn’t necessarily guarantee you will be an angel when you have your own problems as a customer. You know the feeling. Your furnace broke, your computer froze  or your Christmas gift didn’t show up  on time, or at all. It’s time to talk to someone, but the dread of waiting on hold on the phone or in line at a store makes you re-think your situation and in turn, gives you more time to spend with your problem making your angrier.

I think the most brilliant move in customer service is the ability to chat with a representative online. My first attraction to this method is that I don’t have to wait long to talk to someone! The representatives are extremely timely. I also like the fact that you can surf the net while they type and entertain yourself. They can also send you to helpful links which is less confusing in type than over the phone. I also like that I don’t have to talk to a person. I think typing something calms me down and I don’t get as worked up about my situation; that may have something to do with the surfing the net component as well.

I recently contacted Sony to question why my three month old computer was freezing and going blank. It’s funny because you can always pick out their scripted phrases like: “I’m sorry to hear that,” “Thank you for confirming,” and “I understand your frustration.” Here is an excerpt from my online support chat:

My representative was very helpful and listened to my questions. I have also used online support with Charter, Sprint, Dell and an apartment complex- to name a few. Not only does online chat support ease the pain of customer/company interactions, it also benefits a company’s sales. Answering a question before the potential customer leaves, and the ease with which it can be answered, increases the chances that a person will purchase something for the first time. It also can relieve a customer’s anger so they might return again.

When given the choice, I always turn to online chat support to resolve my issue before calling, emailing or putting on shoes and visiting the store. What is your preferred method of customer service?

 

Naughty or nice? December 6, 2011

I would say the following story classifies me as both nerdy and a little naughty, but hopefully Santa is not looking.

The story begins on my birthday. I was excited to spend my birthday weekend in Chicago and was taking the Mega Bus both ways. At a rest stop, a girl told the bus driver that the bus was leaking on her. He said there was nothing he could do and she switched seats.

At the time, I was annoyed because I remembered my brother’s first Mega Bus trip where the air conditioning went out during the summer and someone complained causing them to arrive three hours later than anticipated. I was not in the mood for that! So that was that. She got a little wet and we moved on.

After my weekend, I got on the bus headed back to St. Louis and somehow managed to get my own seat even though nearly every other seat was filled. I was excited! I plugged in my phone and programmed Daniel Tosh into Pandora and commenced chillaxin.

After our rest stop, the bus started moving again and I was minding my own business when the bus litterally POURED water out from the air conditioning! Stunned at first, I suddenly realized what was happening and quickly stood up to see water still pouring out from above me! I grabbed all of my belongings and asked to sit with the kid right behind me as it stopped raining.

The seat was wet, I was wet, my purse was wet, my phone was wet… get the idea?

Knowing the bus driver’s answer from the previous trip up, I did not say anything to the driver since there was nothing she would do. The next day, I was thinking about how social media has changed customer service and while seeing what other companies do to engage their consumers on Facebook I decided to test Mega Bus.

They failed.

I posted this on their Facebook Fan Page:

I didn’t want to sound completely obnoxious, but wanted to complain enough that it would solicit a response. I pressed enter and waited. They posted pictures right after I posted, but no response. They liked other people’s posts, but still no response to mine. They even did another full post today, but nothing in response to mine. I’m disappointed.

After dealing with this from a business stand point through my internship, I understand how annoying it is when people post silly complaints on your company’s page, but I also know how quickly and effectively we dealt with every issue. We had HootSuite and Buddy Media set up to monitor what people were posting and saying about us on Facebook and Twitter. Additionally, we checked it with our own eyeballs constantly!

That was my naughty deed, but my nerdiness is shown in how much I care. Social media is a great tool to better your customer service but if all you are doing is pushing your product and not actually listening, it is not effective.

 

 

 
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