Tag Archives: Facebook

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours

By Stephen Rhodes

Back scratching is at core of social media. That is, mutual back scratching.

Most small businesses that I have met are still scratching their head over the use of social media. Many are there because they feel they need to be but haven’t yet figured out that these tools – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn- are not just billboards to advertise their wares.

Three Happy Polar Bears with Santa's and Captain's hat

Eventually people will tire of your self promotion and stop reading your posts. To be effective in any of the social media platforms, you must share not only your own content but also that of people following or liking you. It’s about dialogue and not monologue- providing people an opportunity to talk to each other over shared values, emerging trends, business opportunities, even quality of service.

Online reviews, and referrals can carry enormous weight.  So, be sure to acknowledge praise when you get it and  most importantly, respond quickly and efficiently to any customer concerns or problems.

To do that you need to be scratching a few backs.


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Filed under Content marketing, Customer Service, social media

Swapping spit and other marketing initiatives

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Yesterday I talked about engage, equip and empower your people in social media. Kimberly A. Whitler has lots to say in a recent Forbes article about building a conversation.

Engaging your customers is mostly like swapping spit. It involves more than just promoting your own content. Social media is about sharing, so share what you know -publish useful tips that can benefit others,retweet others and add comments to keep the dialogue going. When appropriate seek advice and always say thank you

tweetYou create a community by sharing. And, when you share it makes members of that community far more likely to share your content too. Recommend some of your followers who also provide engaging content.

Monitor and measure your social media activities There are lots of tools -Twitter analytics, Hootsuite, Klout to name a few.

Keep track of every Twitter mention and respond to them promptly.

Keep the tone of your @replies friendly, even when someone takes a shot. Be calm and try to solve the problem. Personalize the tweeter’s name in your @replies even if the mention is not aimed at getting a response from you, and acknowledge the feelings or opinions of the tweeter.

Yes it takes some work.

Some of the best at engagement.

With more than 2.8 million followers, Adidas Originals does a great job in tracking their brand mentions and replying to every tweet that gives opinions or feedback on their Twitter posts or products.

Delta Airlines and  Samsung USA have Twitter pages dedicated to customer support.Customers receive prompt help via @replies to product queries.

Coca-Cola has one of the most popular Twitter pages with more than 3 million followers. They  make a tremendous effort in acknowledging the tweets with personalized @replies.

Nike with 5 million followers and Starbucks with almost 10 million both excel at engaging their customers  even more with @replies that are very down to earth and of a much friendly tone.

Yes, big brands with lots of staff. The point is engaging customers works. Consider your resources, get to it and measure the return.

Also have a look at Reasons Why Your Followers Aren’t Engaging with Your Tweets.

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Filed under blogging, Communications, Content marketing, social media

Lost in the new world of advertising

By Stephen Rhodes

More and more, I hear clients talk about being lost when it comes to the latest trends in marketing, meaning, of course, social media.

It reminds me of the mid 90s when many small businesses migrated to the Internet because…well because they thought they had to be hip. Many jumped on board without much consideration for why they were among the newly converted or how it would help their business. “We gotta be there,” was the mantra in many boardrooms. Some are still trying to figure it out.

The same thing is happening today with social media. Businesses are setting up Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn, Flickr and even YouTube accounts without so much as a …how will this help our business grow?  “We gotta be there” is still the clarion call.

Advertising hasn’t changed much in 100 years. It’s still about  attracting attention, engaging minds, triggering  emotions, and changing the way people think. If you can do that you will generate sales.

What has changed is the delivery methodology.

If you want to influence behavior there is a spectrum of tools including direct mail, newspaper and magazine ads, commercial websites, radio and TV, and, of course, social media – the new darling of marketing.

The key is knowing which tool(s) works best for you. And not all tools will be effective for your business. I have a client who can track new sales every time we deliver a direct mail piece to a group of targeted clients. The key word here is targeted, often lost among the “I gotta be hip” crowd. But the point is, direct mail works for him, and he can see (measure) the return on his investment.

First and foremost is understanding your customers. Who are they and how can you reach them is the pivotal question. What do you have that they want. (the what’s in it for me question) Can I build an ongoing relationship and how can I capitalize on that to build an even bigger customer base.

These are questions you should ask every day.

Don’t get me wrong. Social Media is the future of marketing and communications. Building your own group of followers, a community of customers, all engaged and part of your business is a powerful opportunity to communicate a targeted message.

But take a measured approach. Who is your customer, what message do you want to deliver and what is the best way to get it there? Some things never change.

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Filed under advertising, Stephen Rhodes

Brands on the run

By Stephen Rhodes

A few weeks ago I mentioned that brand is not what you think it is, but what your customer thinks it is. And what your customer thinks  of your company is completely in your hands to control.

Witness the recent list of companies who have done their very best to change how their customers view their brand

Toyota noted for quality, particularly when compared to North American auto makers, has broken its promise with seemingly endless recalls. Google and Facebook have both felt the ire of their customers over privacy issues. Goldman Sachs, the investment bank, has suffered in the wake of the credit crunch in the United States.

In the past two weeks even the venerable Apple has run afoul of its customers with  its new iPhone 4. Apple finally acknowledged a problem with the iPhone 4’s reception but claims  it isn’t in the external antenna design, but rather with the iPhone 4’s formula to calculate signal strength bars. They promise a fix soon but it’s unlikely to remedy the reception problem, just the fact you will now know when you have lousy reception.

And then, of course,  there is BP.

Tom Bergin, of Reuters had a piece in the National Post BP’s colossal PR blunder about the Gulf oil spill.

“BP’s handling of the spill from a crisis management perspective will go down in history as one of the great examples of how to make a situation worse by bad communications,” said Michael Gordon, of New York based crisis public relations firm Group Gordon Strategic Communications.

“It was a combination of a lack of transparency, a lack of straight talking and a lack of sensitivity to the victims. When you’re managing an environmental disaster of this magnitude you not only have to manage the problem but also manage all the stakeholders.”

BP failed to understand the  attitude and perception it was building in its customers’ minds.

The rise of Twitter, and other social media tools, allows companies to monitor what people are saying about them but also help them to engage actively with consumers. It also enables customers to communicate with each other, and it is the stories they share that can shape the future of a brand.

Credibility and trust are pillars in brand management. Break the promise with your customer and it’s difficult to recover.

Your thoughts?

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Filed under Branding, social media, Stephen Rhodes

The Internet tailored for you by Yahoo

By Stephen Rhodes

CEO Carol Bartz wants to make Yahoo a shiny new penny again. In a recent interview she tells  Esquire “Yahoo has been here for fifteen years. We are the Internet.  Unfortunately, we sit in a paradigm that values the new shiny penny.”

Yahoo has lost much lustre over the last five years to some significant shiny new pennies.

The approach? Tailored content.

“Tomorrow’s Yahoo is going to be really tailored. I’m not talking about organization — organizing means that you already know what you want and somebody’s just putting it in shape for you. I’m talking about both smart science and people culling through masses of information on the fly and figuring out what people want to know.”

“If you’re a sports fan but have no interest in tennis, we won’t show you tennis. We would know that you do things in a certain sequence, so we’d say, ‘Here’s your portfolio. Here’s some news you might like. Oh, you went to this movie last week, here’s some other movies you might want to check out.’

Bartz calls it Internet of One. “I want it to be mine, and I don’t want to work too hard to get what I need. In a way, I want it to be HAL. I want it to learn about me, to be me, and cull through the massive amount of information that’s out there to find exactly what I want.”

She says in three years Yahoo will be the shiny new penny.

That, of course, presumes everyone else is standing still. The idea of tailored content isn’t new. I subscribe to a number of blogs based on content I want to read, all tailored to my interests.  When I am on Amazon.ca , they search my past purchases and offer me what they believe are complimentary selections. Sometimes they are dead wrong. On my Blackberry I can select the sports I want to follow through a little app called SportsMobile. And iPhone has thousands of apps that allow you to fine tune content.

And then there is the privacy issue related to data mining. Kids seem less concerned today about leaving an online footprint. But there is pushback and Facebook is a recent example. As personalized content unfolds, as it must, there undoubtedly will be more debate around what we are willing to share with the rest of the world, and perhaps equally important how companies like Yahoo and Facebook use that information to strengthen their brands.

Read the Esquire interview with Carol Bartz.

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Filed under Online marketing, Stephen Rhodes