Friday, February 1, 2013 | 1 Comment
Join the conversation.
Tell us what you think.
Share your ideas.
Companies are eliciting consumer input at nearly every turn, but how often do you pick up the phone and call the 800-number on the back of a tractor trailer truck to tell them how they’re driving?
Whether they’re emailing feedback about your company’s latest product or posting a coupon on their best friend’s Facebook page, it’s not about you – it’s about them. The sooner you realize that, the better. So how do you encourage consumers to share and interact with you? Consider the best practices below.
Make it easy
One of the best ways to encourage consumers to do almost anything is to make it easy. Want a busy business traveler to fill out a comment card? Enable them to do it via their mobile device. If you’re a little more old school, give them a self-addressed stamped envelope. Staples aims to leave customers saying, “Now, that was easy” by providing customer service mobile apps and a mobile-optimized website.
On the other end of the spectrum, have you ever tried to provide feedback to the MBTA? It’s not very user-friendly and I can only imagine how much more inundated it would be with the collective fury of Massachusetts Bay if it was super easy to submit a complaint (especially via mobile).
There is, however, one feature that I haven’t seen many customer service portals offer. The MBTA allows you to upload a photo as part of your customer feedback submission. Genius. Sometimes a picture of a filthy subway car, or, on a more positive note, a picture of a T operator helping an elderly passenger with their groceries, is worth a thousand words.
Be open and embrace criticism
If you don’t allow consumers to post negative comments on your Facebook page or you censor unfavorable customer reviews or blog comments, not only are you turning a blind eye to potential problems, you’re telling customers, “if you’re not going to praise us, we don’t want to hear from you.” I won’t name names, but many companies do this, and you know who you are.
Show that you’re listening
I have a habit of falling in love with discontinued products – Crest Lemon Ice toothpaste, my signature shade of Revlon lip gloss, Crispy M&Ms, Trader Joe’s Salsa Tortilla Chips, OPI Lincoln Park After Dark nail polish and Trader Joe’s Chicken, Bean & Rice burritos – to name a few. Trader Joe’s has phased out not one, but two varieties of burritos that used to comprise my dinner roughly three nights a week. I was upset when they suddenly weren’t on the shelves, so I wrote TJ’s an email inquiring “what gives?”
Within a couple of days, I received a personally-written response from Ana at Trader Joe’s explaining that the burritos had been discontinued, along with a detailed overview of why TJ’s discontinues products. She apologized for the inconvenience, suggested a few alternatives I might like and encouraged me to contact her again. Much to my pleasure, one of those varieties of burritos recently reappeared in the freezer section. Within minutes of getting home, I made sure to email Ana and say thank you.
Share success stories
The Golden Rule always applies: Be kind to customers and, generally, customers will show you kindness in return. A grateful fan posted a feel-good customer service story on Panera’s Facebook page and the payoff was tremendous. It’s such a sweet story that I’m compelled to share it here.
A young man named Brandon Cook in Nashua, NH visited his dying grandmother and she mentioned how she wanted some real soup from outside the hospital, specifically, she craved some clam chowder from Panera. Panera only serves clam chowder on Friday, but Brandon called the local manager and asked if he could just have one bowl of clam chowder. She obliged without hesitation and when he went to pick up the soup, they also gave him a box of cookies. It seems simple, but it meant a lot to the Brandon, his grandmother and nearly 815k Facebook users who liked the post and shared 35k comments. Let’s stop for a moment…how much does clam chowder and a box of cookies cost and how much would it cost Panera to garner that many likes and comments using other means? Can you even put a price on that kind of widespread goodwill?
Social marketing isn’t merely having a Twitter account, Facebook page, blog, etc.; It’s sharing, interacting, engaging, and most importantly, listening and reacting. Tune into your real-world “focus groups” and you’ll be amazed at the breadth and depth of the valuable information they provide. Never underestimate the power of the people and their passions, whether they are burritos or the cleanliness of their commute.
Anne Norris is a senior consultant on Greenough’s social marketing team. Follow her on Twitter: @anne_norris
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Confession: I play adult kickball. That’s right, that game that you played during elementary school recess is now a part of my Sunday routine. And, no, this isn’t some pickup kickball league; this is the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA). I’m talking playoffs in Vegas. You get the picture.
Adult kickball may sound silly, but frankly WAKA has created a nationwide community unlike any other. With more than 20,000 Facebook likes, an active blog and a presence on Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Flickr and Foursquare, WAKA may just be the most vibrant amateur sport you’ve never heard of.
As it happens, WAKA is a goldmine for local businesses as well. In addition to hosting weekly kickball games, WAKA partners with local bars to hold after-game “socials,” a lucrative partnership that turns an otherwise dead Sunday afternoon into a win-win. And thanks to start-ups like LevelUp, players don’t even need pockets when they head to Tommy Doyles, a Cambridge bar which partners with WAKA. Patrons can use their smartphones to purchase food and beverages (while also receiving deals and other incentives).
WAKA’s success is due in large part to its ability to make connections. And these connections become even more meaningful as they span different types of media, and people. WAKA has a mobile-optimized site that streamlines registration, it partners with bars that my friends and I already like, and it embraces new technology that mirrors our on-the-go lifestyle.
Mobile payments technology by companies such as LevelUp, Paydiant, ROAM Data etc., are just part of the story. I, for one, am excited by new ways that old (the corner bar) and new (mobile technology) are changing how we socialize, stay active and network. For its part, WAKA is hitting a home run by understanding its audience – twenty-somethings – and catering to it on so many levels.
Monday, September 17, 2012 | Leave a Comment
In addition to Greenough’s social media listening platform, I love playing with tools, widgets and apps out there to test out hypotheses and satisfy my pangs of curiosity. One tool I’m a fan of is a free Twitter analytics service called Topsy. Yesterday, I was playing with keywords and testing different “rivalries” to see how they played out on Twitter. Purely to satisfy my own whim, I compared the number of times Twitter users mentioned the words “Twitter,” “Facebook” and “LinkedIn” during the past month.
A couple of noteworthy observations and patterns that piqued my interest:
- At only one point during the entire month does Facebook fall out of first place as the more-frequently-mentioned social network among Twitter users (on August 18).
- Unlike a lot of closely-related topics (e.g. Democrats and Republicans), Facebook and Twitter generally don’t follow the same patterns of ups and downs.
- Mentions of Twitter declined sharply on Fridays, while mentions of Facebook tended to trend downward on Saturdays.
- LinkedIn is mentioned significantly less than Facebook or Twitter.
One might think that Twitter (the topic) would be discussed more among Twitter users than Facebook (the topic), but that’s not the case. How come? I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I did some digging and musing to try to identify some possible contributing factors.
Potential reasons why Facebook may have edged out Twitter in mentions:
- When someone talks about Twitter, often they’ll just talk about tweets without saying where they were tweeted (for humans, Twitter’s the only place you can tweet); With Facebook, you use regular verbs that still require you to include the word “Facebook.” E.g. We liked the page on Facebook; He posted the photo on Facebook; I updated my status on Facebook.
- There are more aspects of Facebook to master, meaning that there are more tips, tricks, questions, etc. floating around out there.
- Facebook has more users than Twitter, so it stands to reason that it’d have more mentions, even within the Twitter channel. Facebook is not as open as Twitter and information doesn’t flow as freely, so Twitter is an easier channel through which to seek information or search for like-minded users.
- Facebook is just in the news more than Twitter – IPO, privacy issues.
- Promoting Facebook contests/giveaways
LinkedIn is no small potatoes in the social realm, so why is it barely a blip on the radar when tracking mentions on Twitter? I have a few guesses, but what do YOU think? Share your thoughts in the comment section on this or on any of the other observations that beg for further explanation.
– Anne Norris is a senior consultant, digital and social media. Follow Anne on Twitter: @anne_norris
Thursday, May 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment
How many of our Twitter followers are real buyers? What percentage of our tweets do followers actually see? Are those new Facebook likes really valuable over time? Certainly you’ve posed similar questions to your marketing team or agency.
Getting answers to questions like these is challenging work—and well worth the effort. But even with access to so much data, we can still tell very little about customers and prospects by observing their relatively passive social network participation. To really understand behavior, we must rely on a concept that is both so simple yet so poorly applied in social marketing that it borders on stupidity: stimulus and response.
Most classically-trained marketers understand the concept of introducing an offer (stimulus) and waiting for a response. And over the years we’ve learned to not just measure uptake, but also to understand more about why and when a prospect actually becomes a real marketing-qualified lead. Significant investment is made in refining this process, but I hear too many stories about this discipline not finding its way into social engagement.
Before I go into five discipline-building tips, I must offer one strong caveat: I’m not saying that you should simply treat social networks like any other channel – these are venues for strategic brand storytelling, not lead gen repurposing. So, with that said, I offer five steps for bringing stimulus/response into your social marketing strategy:
- Listen first. Take the time to understand your audience before engaging them – it’s okay to listen for a while. Don’t even think about promotion until you’re sure you understand the community’s vibe.
- Earn your way in. Don’t think offer first. That will probably deliver new followers, friends, members and circle joiners who are undoubtedly there for the wrong reasons. Share, help and tell stories before you even think of asking for something.
- Tailor, don’t generalize. Why not segment your followers, friends, members, etc., for more targeted, relevant campaigns. Sure, it takes more time, but you’d be surprised at how much more lift you get when you really understand what makes different segments unique. Generalize and you’ll just be another marketer to your audience.
- Stimulate in bites, not batches. A campaign within social networks needn’t always be a fully-integrated, highly-structured program that relies on aggregated metrics alone. This is especially true in B2B marketing where five well-nurtured social contacts could actually make a salesperson’s quarter. Try to understand a few prospects better through bites of engagement and tailored offers and see what that yields.
- Study responses by hand. If you’ve listened, earned your way in, tailored your campaign and taken the extra effort to engage in bites, you likely have a good idea of who’s who in your strategically-expanding social ecosystem. Look at who they are, study commonalities and refine your content strategy to match your ideal prospects. Don’t simply generalize anymore.
We love data at Greenough. We pore over it daily, but we also understand that social marketing isn’t driven by data alone. Yes, stimulus and response works well with highly-structured data analysis, and you should have a plan for that too, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and use it like a conversation instead of simply a scientific probe.
Scott Bauman is executive vice president at Greenough.
Monday, April 9, 2012 | Leave a Comment
At first, I was prepared to disagree entirely with Christine Dunn’s post from last week, “Email Is Still the Best Way to Share Content among Consumers and Businesses.” I’ve since relaxed my stance, but I still don’t believe it’s the “best” way, although I’ll concede it’s still important and valuable in many instances. But things are starting to change.
Just because email may be the “most-used method” today doesn’t mean it’s the best. Why is that distinction important? Because it continues to provide a false sense of security, especially for traditional marketers who are still overly reliant on tools they’ve always used. Yes, email is still the original killer app, but can it survive fundamental changes in how we interact with our surroundings and each other in mobile ecosystems? I’m not so sure.
I strongly agree with Christine that encouraging “smaller, more intimate groups of colleagues, friends and family” to share content is an important goal for all marketers. But I’m not sure if email is really the ultimate tool for doing this, it just happens to be the most familiar to many. The StumbleUpon study Christine mentions (overview here from AdAge) suggests that its users, a younger demographic, “want a direct line of communications,” but the fact that email is one of the ways information is shared doesn’t prove that it’s the best. Maybe it’s just the easiest from the SU interface. I’d need to see more data.
When I think of “direct line of communications,” however, I think texting. I’d wager that more people 34 and younger are communicating via text than email, at least outside of work. And even people older than 34 are growing increasingly more comfortable with texting. It is more immediate and fluid, something that can also be said of popular mobile apps used today for discovering and sharing content such as Instagram.
The discovery-sharing paradigm is much more complex – and potentially powerful – than standard approaches to outbound marketing. That’s another reason I was so eager to disagree with Christine. In fact, her reference to the BtoB marketing study finding that “email marketing is still considered the ‘workhorse’ of the marketing industry because it’s inexpensive and effective” really set me off because the bar for what’s “effective” in email marketing is often quite low.
The BtoB study offers unsurprising stats about how marketers plan to send more content through email, but that still doesn’t prove its value. The report summary teases the notion that marketers can no longer ignore email/social media integration, but I think strategic mobile integration is even more important; and not just mobile versions of online networks, but new methods to experience content that tap either new technology or new approaches to advance the discovery-sharing paradigm.
No, email isn’t going anywhere soon. But let’s not get carried away with its perceived value, especially considering the source (marketers comfortable with it). I don’t have the answers, but I do think that as we spend more time in a mobile ecosystem, email, at least as it exists today, may not be such a workhorse any more. At least that’s a possible sea change we should all be watching more closely today.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 | Leave a Comment
I‘m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan, so it pains me to write this. The Boston Bruins just launched a new “portal” inside the NHL.com Network and there are things I like about it and things I don’t. Mostly, begrudgingly, I like Bruin’s DEN, and here’s why:
It’s not a traditional website. I’ve said for years that websites, as we knew them, are anachronistic. Not that they don’t have value, but they are often too static, uninspired and, for the most part, are used sparingly by prospects and customers. Think digital brochure. The DEN feels dynamic and pulls in content from other dynamic platforms such as Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr. The story isn’t dictated by the Bruins exclusively – as is true of traditional websites or team sites – it’s co-curated by fans. That’s forward-looking and a lesson that is relevant to any brand in any industry.
It’s multichannel without feeling contrived. The Bruins understand that people are different, communicated differently and share liberally, especially when they are acting as “fans” (whether it’s inside a bar, outside the Garden or at a beach barbecue celebrating the Stanley Cup). Offering multiple channels for sharing different media types gives a more comprehensive view (feeling!) of what it means to be a Bruins fan.
It says, by its design, that “we do this for you,” and that builds affinity. This one’s hard for me since I don’t actually feel the affinity. A brand – or team – should feel like it’s yours. By featuring fans and making them central to the story, the Bruins make it less about the league and more about each individual Bruins fan. Is your brand connecting this way with its customers and prospects?
What I don’t like about the portal is where it features the branded content. The location of the Ice Girls and The Bear and the Gang takes a little away from the affinity-building mentioned above. I’d like it more if this content was featured less prominently than true fan content (maybe the carousel can rotate fan content instead).
The “Bruins Mobile” content doesn’t add much either – it’s an afterthought. Maybe I’m the only skeptic who sees this as just an ad for another ad revenue platform. Perhaps the Bruins can think of an innovative way to create/capture dialogue through mobile and feature that too.
Overall, this is a win; at least for now. I hope they don’t focus inward on the portal, however, but instead continue to focus outward on building the kind of multichannel engagement and affinity that makes DEN possible in the first place.
Friday, March 23, 2012 | 2 Comments
Just read through “The Rise of Digital Influence” by Brian Solis, and we all owe him thanks for his thoughtful review of digital influence, especially his inventory of vendors in the ecosystem today. But, Brian, I remain skeptical and I’m wondering whether that’s intentional. Let me explain.
To be frank, I’m coming at this with bias. I’m not convinced that Klout, Kred and others mentioned in the guide have a sound methodology (they might, but I just haven’t seen it firsthand). But that’s only part of my issue. I’m also troubled by something that Brian captures quite well in a quote from Danah Boyd: “When sociologists measure social capital, they do so from a distance precisely because people will try to game the system.” I believe that gaming is taking place in several ways, both intentionally (I want to be a guru and recognition/things) and unintentionally (I just want to get things) – and neither is really good for brands in the long run. Scores, badges and the like don’t necessarily equate to influence or, most important, loyalty.
This is why I believe that digital influence measurement is harder – and more time-consuming – than many realize. And I’m concerned that oversimplifying it into a simple score will undermine efforts to do the hard work that will always be necessary. The not-so-old-fashioned way of following the paths of influence, what David Armano calls “influence ripples” (referred to as “ripples of reverberation” in the piece), is hard, but at our agency we believe strongly that brands can be so distracted by what they “think” is the head that they miss the long tail that is curling around them (yes, I went there). Read more…
Thursday, March 15, 2012 | Leave a Comment
According to a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, approximately 66 percent of adult Internet users say that they utilize social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. And the evidence is everywhere. People are tweeting and posting from the sidelines of NFL games, NASCAR racecars, red carpet events, the bathroom (ew) and even delivery rooms. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that our social media addiction carries over into the courtroom.
I recently read Steve Eder’s Jury Files: The Temptation of Twitter on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. Eder refers to a new study in the Duke Law & Technology Review where, he writes, “one juror responded to an information survey by saying ‘nothing’ could prevent her from communicating through social media during a trial.”
It is with darn good reason that courts are concerned about what trial participants (primarily jurors) might say on social media. Insider information could leak before details can be made public and biases (or even perceived biases) could be formed based on a tweet or post. Even benign social media updates could raise serious questions about whether the juror is discussing the case elsewhere and could call into question a juror’s judgment/ability to follow instructions.
Late last year, a Florida juror sent a friend request to the defendant of the trial he was involved in and he was dismissed from the jury. Sounds like a clever way to get dismissed the next time you’re called for jury duty, doesn’t it? Well this juror didn’t quit while he was ‘ahead.’ He posted this comment on his Facebook page in response: “Score…I got dismissed!! Apparently they frown upon sending a friend request to the defendant… ha ha.”
But the story doesn’t end there: His friend request, coupled with this remark, got the fool charged with criminal contempt of court and a three-day jail sentence.
While the potential impact of a juror accessing social media is huge, these seemingly small threats toward justice are difficult to detect. In a survey conducted by the Federal Judicial Center late last year, 79 percent of judges who responded said they had “no way of knowing whether jurors had violated a social-media ban.” Well, if judges don’t keep a firm handle on social media behavior during trials, you better believe that attorneys will be watching social networks like hawks, looking for even the slightest juror indiscretion that could open the floodgates to a mistrial, throwing out a conviction or an acquittal.
Before you think me hyperbolic, consider this: In 2010, the Arkansas Supreme Court reversed a death sentence in a murder trial because a juror was tweeting about the case during deliberations. In fact, the juror leaked the trial’s verdict before it was officially announced. Someone with the defense spotted the objectionable tweets.
At some point in the future, jurors may even be required to disclose their Twitter handle, Facebook page and other social media accounts as part of a “social dossier.” Until courts come up with a way to effectively manage the outbound (and inbound) streams of communication, lawyers are doing themselves a great disservice if they’re not deeply immersed in social media monitoring and staying on top of social media trends and developments.
Here at Greenough we recognize that lawyers want to be lawyers, not experts in social media monitoring, and that’s where we can help. Working together, we can ensure that no social media funny business will jeopardize the fate of a defendant…or the future of our legal system.
Anne Norris is a senior consultant, social media, at Greenough. Twitter: @anne_norris.
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 | Leave a Comment
Much has been written in recent months about “consumerization of IT.” In fact, InfoWorld recently launched a channel dedicated to the topic. Overused phrase? Perhaps it is, but it’s also no buzzword du jour. Mobile devices have already liberated your “at home” persona, and now corporate IT is scrambling to protect itself as work personas and home personas converge within one or more preferred devices such as smartphones and tablets.
The title of a recently published Panasonic/BizTechReports white paper (available here) concerns me. Diagnosis Danger: Governance & Security Issues Cause IT Concerns About iPad in Healthcare Setting perpetuates fear that undoubtedly exists within many healthcare enterprises. That said, the white paper is frankly a bit self-serving; its main point seems to be that iPads (unlike Panasonic devices, of course) may not be robust enough for the typical healthcare setting. That’s a minor worry in my opinion, but a survey done with CIOs as part of the white paper clearly shows widespread angst.
Despite these worries from within, however, true disruption is underway, and patients, physicians and administrators are driving the mobile health, or “mHealth,” revolution, whether IT is ready or not. Christina Thielst, a hospital administrator who is active in social media through her blog Christina’s Considerations, champions this opportunity by putting a spotlight on ways mobile technology, even “consumery” applications such as FourSquare, are leading to deeper engagement. She doesn’t ignore the risks, but she does encourage her peers to push boundaries.
And push they are. A recent piece in Crain’s New York Business, Wired Docs, tells of physicians who are challenging their employers to “hook them up.” And we’re not talking about mere social media dialogue on Twitter or Facebook, we’re talking about doctors on rounds using apps such as Diagnosaurus on their iPhones to troubleshoot new symptoms.
There is no putting the genie back in the bottle; whether you call it consumerization of healthcare IT or mHealth, the movement is unstoppable. Consumers want it and understand how to use it. And so do many medical professionals.
But don’t take my word for it. Take the words of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at the recent mHealth Summit. Read her words carefully, especially her closing line: “This future is not here yet, but it is within sight.” That future is mobile, and those of us who have a stake in mHealth, from developers of new applications to the creators of new content to support them, have an obligation to keep pushing (and innovating) alongside the intrepid physicians, nurses and administrators who have taken up this cause. Sure, healthcare CIOs should be careful in these uncharted waters, but here’s hoping they are committed to doing so with sufficient speed to realize the full promise of mHealth as soon as possible.
Scott Bauman is an executive vice president for Greenough. Send him an email at email@example.com or follow him on twitter: @sbauman
Thursday, October 14, 2010 | 3 Comments
Remember the “House Rules” that were posted on your childhood refrigerator? Is it just me, or were these rules always daunting challenges despite the simplicity of their request? For example, “If you sleep in it, make it” seemed to always escape my list of priorities when I rushed out the door in the morning; “If you drop it, pick it up” was an easy rule to avoid, thanks to my family dog who was punctual to the point of neurosis when it came to windfall profits at the dinner table. I hated these rules, so I ignored them. While I didn’t appreciate these House Rules at the time, in retrospect I now understand that my parents were teaching me the importance of taking responsibility for my actions and contributing to the household.
A similar lesson is being instilled in Boston residents today, and technology is taking the House Rule “If you break it, repair it” to a whole new level. Mayor Menino and the City of Boston are promoting an iPhone application called Citizens Connect that allows users to report graffiti, request a traffic light fix, report damaging potholes, and clear any other obstruction or infraction they notice. Initiated in October 2009, Citizens Connect remains largely successful, attracting 8,500 users whose reports accounted for 14% of the Mayor’s total complaints.
When I heard about this program, I thought it was awesome; partially because it is a wonderful idea and the city is looking better by the day, but mostly because I found my escape route – I don’t own an iPhone! But fear not, my fellow chore-avoiding, non iPhone- using peers; the latest installment of Citizens Connect will create not only an interactive feature between contributing residents, but is also going to become available on Droid phones, and there will be a webpage accessible by BlackBerry and more conventional computers. Those with the application will be able to view not only the reports they sent in, but they will also view the reports of others and thus can post again to emphasize the problem, or move on to the next blight. The city also plans to make its data available to the public, allowing programmers to build their own apps, make mashups, and have other fun on the Web. These features will be available next month, and there will be a kick-off party November 8th at Ned Devine’s Pub in Faneuil Hall.