Archive for the ‘opportunities’ 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.

Social Media Marketing? Not quite

June 23, 2011

The interwebs are chock full of articles about Social Media Marketing.  Indeed, every day it seems I am inundated with articles featuring Five Amazing Tips to Increase your Social Media Presence.

The below infographic illustrates the mindset of many such emails I receive:

Clever, but not quite right

In my opinion, using Social Media to simply talk about yourself misses the point.  What makes Social Media different than, say, a newspaper advertisement, is that Social Media enables you to listen to what people are saying and engage in conversations relevant to you and your potential customers.

So instead of using Social Media to promote your company, treat Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn like huge, interactive phones.  In addition to talking about your business, join groups to speak to potential customers, listen to what they are saying and discuss relevant issues.  In this way, you’ll gain credibility as well as increased sales.

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?

How Can Recessions be Good Things?

May 17, 2010

Recessions suck.  And this recession has been more painful than most:  food banks are depleted, children go to bed hungry and opportunities for advancement are put on hold, if not thrown in complete reverse.   But I’m going to make a counter-intuitive observation today:  that recessions have a significant upside to them, and for those fortunate enough to get ahead of the curve, they can be quite profitable.

For instance, this downturn started just as I was leaving grad school in December 2007.  At the time I couldn’t buy a job, and I found myself in a very precarious financial position.  Growing increasingly frustrated, I began attending networking events across the Southland, at which point I met real, honest-to-goodness entrepreneurs.  These people had taken an idea, brought it to life and sold the resulting firm for hundreds of millions of dollars.   For example, I met the guy who founded Ethos water and sold it to Starbucks, as well as the fellow who founded Atari and, later, Chuck e Cheese.  These folks were truly incredible.

Ever curious, I began looking for trends in their behavior.  One trait they shared was boundless optimism in general, and genuine excitement about this recession in particular.  This baffled and insulted me:  millions are suffering, and these people are excited?  “It’s easy for them to say,” I sniffed, “they are already rich and don’t have to worry about losing everything they own.  How cold-hearted can these people be?”

And then, just a few weeks ago, it made sense to me.  I attended a presentation on cloud computing where one speaker showed a very interesting trend:  every recession saw a correlating boost in technological innovation, thus opening opportunities that were not there before. 

But why do mass innovations happen during downturns?  For one thing, innovation isn’t required during good times because, well, times are good:  firms are hiring, people have jobs and all is well with the world.  But when bad times hit, people become increasingly innovative to avoid homelessness and hunger.  At the same time, firms are looking for ways to increase operational output with less money, allowing these entrepreneurs to sell their goods and/or services to willing firms. 

In a nutshell, recessions seem to spark opportunities, even as millions are hurt.   There’s obviously a lot more to this; what are your thoughts?