Tag Archives: social media

20+ Resources to Help You Achieve Your Professional New Year’s Resolutions

clockIt’s the beginning of 2013 and if you’re like me, you’re starting to tackle both personal and professional new year’s resolutions. And although many argue that the new year is arbitrary — that we should be continuously striving to do better, no matter what day it is — I like January 1st as a purposeful starting point for improving yourself at home and at work.

No matter what you resolve to do better in 2013, useful resources abound to help you make good on your business-related new year’s pledges.

Check out the following handy resources if your professional new year’s resolution is to:

Read more books

Fast Company put together an awesome list of The Best Business Books of 2012: Find Fulfillment, Get Productive and Create Healthy Habits. At the top of my professional to-read pile is Daring Greatly by Brené Brown.

Get organized

Time Management Ninja is one of my favorite organization blogs. They have a nice compilation of their best posts on the Best of TMN page. They (like me) are huge fans of Evernote – the omniplatform app that lets you grab and organize information and content across all of your devices. For example, I used the Evernote web clipper to grab the Fast Company book list, and then pulled it up on my Evernote iPhone app when I was at the bookstore. Instant access to the list when I needed it.

Improve your social media marketing

There are thousands of articles, lists and pieces of advice out there to improve your social media marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are such moving targets it’s hard to keep up with best practices. My advice? Read, read, read. A few articles have stood out to me lately as particularly innovative and helpful. I really like this article from the Australian blog Socially Sorted on doing better at Twitter: Make Twitter Work for You – 10 Ways to Rock Your Tweets. If you’re a Facebook marketer, this 2013 Facebook Marketing Pledge from Jon Loomer is spot on.

Network

I’m a huge fan of the value of in-person networking at events and conferences. Eventbrite is a great resource for finding in-person networking events, classes and conferences. If online networking is your goal, Twitter chats are a great place to connect with other professionals. If you are a marketer like me, I like this compilation of marketing Twitter chats from the folks at Raven Tools. To find chats on other topics– and there’s a chat on just about every topic these days– check out this exhaustive list of Tweetchats by day of the week. It’s also worth searching for networking groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and now Google Plus.

Write more (and better)

Whether your goal be professional writing, blogging or creative writing, help abounds to rev up or refine your writing mojo. I’ve  recently discovered the writing blog Write to Done, which covers a nice scope of topics related to writing technique, motivation, inspiration and promotion. For bloggers, Problogger’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is now a classic reference for launching or relaunching a blog. To keep yourself motivated through the month-long process, assemble a group of blogging friends and do it together.

Polish your brand

If your 2013 goal is to kick it up a notch with your personal or business brand – by launching or relaunching your blog, commissioning a professional logo or creating an email newsletter, I’ve created a resource list of the sites and services I recommend most.

photo credit: ladytimeless via photopin cc

I accidentally posted this photo to the company Facebook page. Doh. (Image altered to protect the innocent.)

I was at my college reunion when it happened. My friends and I were at an outdoor luncheon looking through old yearbooks, laughing and pointing at photos of ourselves. I snapped some pictures of the yearbook pages with my phone to share with friends who couldn’t be there. One particularly funny photo was of my friend D., who was wearing a necklace bearing the name of her old boyfriend. Ha! I snapped a photo and posted it to Facebook for my classmates to see. (For the record, she was sitting right next to me and was fine with the post.) “Hey ‘95-ers!” I captioned. “Check out D.’s necklace!”

Only it didn’t post to my personal page. I accidentally posted that photo to the company Facebook Page.

Commence panic.

If you’ve ever used the Facebook iPhone app as a Page admin, you understand it isn’t difficult to make this error. The app doesn’t clearly indicate from which (or to which) account you are posting. It also doesn’t allow you to delete a post. But I digress…

So I’m in the middle of an outdoor luncheon in a tent on a college campus, and I’ve just posted a silly personal photo to the company Facebook Page that I can’t erase. What to do?? My mistake wasn’t exactly of the #gettingslizzerd variety but embarrassing nonetheless.

I knew that it was not just about the mistake, but how I handled it. How a community manager deals with errors can make the difference between it being a blip on the radar versus a major embarrassment.

Here’s what I did.

I ducked out of the luncheon (literally ducked, under the side of the tent) and ran in search of the nearest computer lab. While running I used my phone to post a comment to my photo acknowledging the error. I couldn’t erase the post from my phone, and I knew it would take some time to get to a computer– the college campus had been renovated since I was a student 15 years ago and I wasn’t sure where the computer lab was. Rather than having the photo pop up on our fan’s walls without explanation, I decided to come clean. “Oh no!” I posted. “I’m at my college reunion and I just posted this by mistake!”

I ran into the campus security office. Although a bit taken aback by my urgent need to find a computer lab, the staff was kind enough to steer me in the right direction. I located the lab, logged onto our page, and erased the photo.

Then I cursed Facebook (again) and returned to the luncheon for a glass of wine.

Phew.

The result? Not a peep from the fans. Overall, it ended up being a non-event.

So, what did I learn from my mistake? A few things.

1. It’s always a good idea to respond quickly and sincerely. Even humorously, if you can manage it. If you’ve read about the Red Cross story, you know that response is where they really shined. Their error became a case study for handling social media faux pas instead of a blight on the brand’s reputation. Kenneth Cole, on the other hand, responded to his ridiculously offensive tweet with another that was almost defensive in tone, making an already bad situation even worse.

2. This is when the community relationships you’ve built pay off. Despite my panic, deep down I knew that our fans would forgive a bit of human error. After all, our fans know there is a real person behind the page. And although I post on behalf of the company, I occasionally post in the first person (or rarely, from my personal account). Our fans know me. And so when I do mess up, I can say things like, “Sorry guys, I made a mistake.” And their reaction is “No big deal,” rather than “Ooh, Big Untouchable Brand just screwed up!”

3. It’s okay to erase your mistake. As a community manager I feel very strongly about maintaining transparency. I don’t believe in erasing posts from the community unless they explicitly violate the rules of engagement. But sometimes you need to press delete. Obviously leaving the photo on our Facebook page would just cause more confusion and embarrassment over time. Even worse is failing to delete something that has offended your fans, because leaving it in cyberspace implies that you stand behind it. Which brings us back to Kenneth Cole, who left his offensive tweet and non-apology up for several hours before finally removing it and issuing a real apology. Too little, too late.

4. Finally, the no-brainer. If you’re a Facebook Page admin, stop and think before posting photos from your phone. I wish I could say I trashed the Facebook iPhone app after this whole debacle, but I didn’t. The truth is, I use it pretty frequently. But I’m going to be a heck of a lot more careful with it in the future.

What is your biggest social media faux pas?

Community Managers should be willing and able to provide customer service through social channels.

Last week I posted a photo on our company Facebook page. It was a teaser photo of a large pile of boxes in our warehouse. A shipment of strollers had just come in, and we were excited to share the news with our customers. As our Facebook Page administrator, I often post photos to Facebook and Twitter to spark conversation and create buzz about the great products available in our retail stores.

Inevitably, the questions started coming in via our social channels. “Do you have a red one available in your Boston store?” “How much does it cost?” “Will it fit in the trunk of my Mini Cooper?”

That’s when I put on my Customer Service hat. Because as you can imagine, Community Managers wear many hats. (Nine, according to Lauren Vargas.) That day, I called a Retail Merchant to check the stock on red stroller models. I looked up the price of the product and asked a Center Associate to clarify any discounts or promotions available to the customer. And I emailed a colleague who owns a Mini Cooper to ask if we can experiment with fitting an umbrella stroller in her trunk.

I posted the answers within a few hours. The next day, a customer posted a comment on our page reporting that she made a purchase and thanked the staff for their help. All in a day’s work as a Community Manager/Customer Service Agent.

Some would argue that Facebook and Twitter should not serve as a customer service channel for a company. But guess what? Customers are going to ask questions via your social media channels, no matter what you say they are for. It’s best to have a Community Manager (or two or three) who is ready to put on the Customer Service Hat whenever necessary.

These are my tips for successful Community/Customer Service Management:

Respond quickly. I like to post responses within a few hours during the workday, and within 24 hours if it’s off hours or the weekend. Our clients post questions to our page because they know we will answer. And when you provide customers with the answer they need, when they need it, they are more likely to shop with you.

Don’t delegate. You may be tempted to ask the customer to call or email customer service to get their answer. Don’t! Try your best to provide the answer yourself via the platform they asked the question. If it’s too complicated for you to solve, still answer via the social channel, get their contact information, and then have your customer service agents contact them.

Know who to contact to find the answer. I’ve been working for Isis a long time so I know exactly who to call for what. I have good relationships with my colleagues—I know who owns the Mini Cooper and it’s not at all awkward to ask her for a favor. Community Managers should have the opportunity meet with and communicate with different departments in the company on a regular basis. Those relationships are especially valuable to a CM, who tends to touch every part of the company at one time or another.

If you can’t find the answer right away, simply say so.  If you can’t post an answer right away, don’t ignore the question. Tell them. “I’m going to ask [department/staffperson] about that and I’ll get back to you as soon as I know the answer.” Most customers are very understanding and will be pleased that you responded, even if you can’t answer them yet.

Be prepared for complaints, too. Advice for handling complaints is another blog post entirely. But in a nutshell: 1) Don’t erase it; 2) Acknowledge it (perhaps with an apology, perhaps with an offer to look into the problem); and 3) Follow up outside the social channel.

Community Managers, is customer service one of the hats you wear?