Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

How to handle mistakes on social media

March 22, 2012

We’re all human.  As such we make mistakes.  But when we make a mistake on social media, it is out there forever and it cannot be undone.  This can be very, very scary for some, and it keeps many people on the sidelines and away from Facebook or Twitter.

Some mistakes are bigger than others.  Take McDonald’s for example.  They started a social media campaign about McD stories which quickly got away from them and made them look pretty stupid.

But the potential for making a mistake should not deter you from using social media. Indeed you could actually turn a mistake into a strategic advantage.

Here’s one way to handle a social media mess-up:

  1. DO NOT HIT DELETE.  Remember, this stuff is out there forever. If you do delete it, someone will dig it up and throw it back in your face, making the situation even worse.  So resist the urge to click delete.
  2. Address the issue.  If you make a mistake, own up to it and quickly apologize to all offended parties.
  3. Learn from it.  Once is a mistake, twice is a habit.  Learn from your mistake and incorporate what you learned into your social media strategy.
  4. Blog about it.  Yup, you read that right.  If you make a mistake, share what you’ve learned and use it as an opportunity to connect with your audience.  While you’re at it, offer concrete recommendations on how others can avoid making similar mistakes.

With this approach, you can create critical thought leadership and offer compelling content for your audience.  In fact a mistake could turn a negative situation into a positive one and improve your reputation.

One final point: don’t let the fear of making mistakes deter you from using Facebook or Twitter.  Instead, use these challenges as teachable moments so we can all benefit from your errors.

In the long run you will benefit with an improved reputation, greater wisdom and a more socially engaged company.

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Thinking about replacing your website with a Facebook page? Think harder.

March 7, 2012

If you are thinking about replacing your website with a Facebook page, perhaps you should think a little bit harder.

See, some companies have scrapped their websites and replaced them with Facebook pages.  This is not a good idea.

Why?  Because using a Facebook page as your website is like changing your car’s oil with a hammer.  Or using Excel as your calendar.  Or have a rabbit herd your sheep.  (Never mind that last one.)  Websites contain, or at least should contain, content about your organization. Social media sites like Facebook enable conversations with your stakeholders.  Why would you want to use good tools for the wrong reason?

Granted, it might be a good idea to make your website socially enabled — that is, to install a social component.  But it is generally a bad idea to replace the site with a Facebook page.  I’d suggest you keep your website and use social media to connect with your audience.

Mmmmmm, secret food…

June 29, 2010

Okay, I’ll admit it:  I am a junk food junkie.  Very few things give me a greater rush than Taco Tuesdays at Del Taco, except maybe a Wendy’s Frosty.  And I just love the idea of secret menus, especially from a communications perspective (more on that below.)

The author of this blog post has a partial list of establishments which offer secret menu items.  While In n Out Burger lists theirs on their website – hence they are not so secret – other places do not, including Burger King, McDonald’s and Fatburger.  If you want a good sampling of unknown menu items, sit near a Starbucks barista for 10 minutes and try to decode what some people order:  “I’ll have a half-calf 24 degrees bloopity skim light bibitty foam three-quarter bloppity whip ditty boop.”

Somehow, these baristas take their orders without spitting in customer’s faces laughing.

From a communications perspective, I am also a fan of secret menus.  They make customers feel they are part of an undercover society, where a select handful of people have the inside scoop on what’s going on behind the scenes, and only they know the mystical key words that will open a treasure vault filled with extra whipped cream or something.  Secret menus also seem to evoke a sense of childhood wonder and mystery, taking us back to our hidden forts in the back yard where only a password will grant you access.

So yes, I am a sucker for fast food, and I totally dig secret menus.   When you think about it, secret menus are a very clever and challenging marketing tactic:  after all (In n Out burger notwithstanding) how do you market something without marketing it?

Spirit Airlines — Doubling Down on The Stupid

June 23, 2010

Evidently Spirit Airlines has doubled-down on a really stupid idea.

For the uninitiated, Spirit Airlines is attempting to capitalize BP’s oil spill by running ads depicting the beaches they service as full of oil-soaked women, not crude oil gushing from deep beneath the earth’s surface.  Hardy har har.  One disgruntled person wrote to Spirit and got the following response:

Thanks for writing to Spirit Airlines, and for your feedback about our new marketing campaign.It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with this sale. We are merely addressing the false perception we have oil on the many beaches we service, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots.

Please accept my apology if you find this campaign offensive. It is certainly not our intent to offend our valued customers. We’ve actually received positive feedback from many who appreciate our efforts to stimulate travel to the state.

I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.

Again, thank you for your feedback. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

Shorter Spirit Airlines:  You’re not as funny or clever as we are, and that’s your fault!

If I may get on my soap box for a moment, I’d like you to highlight one point in this response:  “I’ve forwarded your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Oy vey.

Too often, as in this case, communications is not considered to be an integral part of a company’s business strategy, leading to disastrous results like this.  Leaving comms out of the decision-making process is a huge mistake, and yet it is so common.  A company that communicates well has everyone on board, and on the same page, from the very beginning so there would be no need to forward “your incident to our Marketing Department for further review.”  Once more, Corporate America:  Communications decisions are ultimately business decisions and should be treated accordingly.

This ad campaign should have never been green-lighted.  Let’s hope cooler, saner heads prevail and this ad campaign gets squashed.  Sadly for Spirit Air, that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

As a side note, the most commonly used word in their response is “Feedback”.  In fact, they use the word three times in five short paragraphs.  Don’t you think they should emphasize things such as “Concerns” and “Service” instead of something as dry and emotionless as “Feedback”?  Yeesh.

How did you get this “harmonized communications” idea?

May 5, 2010

Good question!  I get this one a lot.

A couple of years ago I met with two women who worked together, full time, in the same office.  Both of them helped run a small firm.

I asked the one woman, “What does your business do?”  and she gave one answer.  I asked the other woman, “What do you do?” and she gave a different answer.  Then, they turned to each other and started arguing!

It occurred to me that, if they don’t know what they are doing, how do their customers, their employees, their suppliers etc…?  The answer was, they didn’t.

So I proceeded to narrow their unique value proposition to three words (I modified an approach that a prominent branding firm used) and created a harmonized comm strategy for them.  And lo and behold, their comms were more consistent, harmonized and effective. 

That’s the short story of how I got started on this path.  So far I’ve used this approach on dozens of organizations and have seen amazing results.  So here I am, plugging away, using this approach on numerous kinds of organizations. 

How did you get on your career path?

Trying to fix stuff

April 28, 2010

Okay, so I’m trying to get this blog, er, harmonized with my website, specifically the font. Bear with me folks.