Archive for the ‘strategic communications’ 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.

Don’t Do This on Twitter, Part Duh

February 1, 2012

(Note: I was going to call this Part Deux, but this one takes The Duh cake.  Mmmmm, cake.)

So my significant other and I went to a local bar/restaurant to watch the 49ers game, she being a San Francisco native.  In the middle of the game they switched bartenders.

Unbelievably, this new fellow ignored us:  he did not ask us if we wanted anything, never refilled our water glasses (!!!) and completely disregarded us for over an hour.   We had never seen, or heard, of anything like this. Rightfully furious, the Sig Oth Tweeted her disappointment, saying:

Bar X then favorited that Tweet.

Yup, you read that right:  this bar decided that her criticism, broadcast to over 100 million active Tweeters, is one of their favorite things.

Wow.  It is not every day that I find myself with a loss of words.  This is one of those days.

What can you do if you get criticized on any social media site?  For starters, here is what you should not do:

(1) DO NOT FAVORITE THAT CRITICISM.  

(2) DO NOT DELETE THE COMMENT. (Some tools, like Yelp, do not allow you to delete criticism anyway.)  If you can delete the comment and do so, you are sending the message that you do not care. And you are missing an opportunity to improve your brand.

(3) DO NOT IGNORE THE PERSON WHO IS CRITICIZING YOU.  Ignoring the comment implicitly validates the criticism.

What should you do?

Engage that person in a conversation!  For instance, you can reply with, “I am sorry you feel we did not provide 100% customer service.  What can we do to make things right?”  and/or “Please call us so we can talk about this.”

Remember: social media is not really marketing.  Rather, it is a conversation:  a place to listen, manage your reputation, connect with people worldwide about myriad topics and turn criticism into an opportunity to improve your business and enhance your brand.

So if you are facing a social media challenge, don’t ignore it.  While you’re at it, don’t brag about it either.

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.

Thoughts on Social Media

January 31, 2011

These days companies are scrambling to understand what social media is and how they are supposed to use it.  The first question many business leaders may ask is, “How can we use social media?”

While logical, that’s not quite right in my opinion.  Instead, the first question should be, “What are my business objectives, and how can social media help me meet those objectives?”

Social media is a tool and can be used in many ways.  The analogy I like to use is a hammer.  A hammer can be used to install a window or break one.  Similarly, social media can be used to get you new clients or ding your reputation.

So the first thing you need to do is understand what you are trying to do:  do you want to recruit better candidates?  Improve your sales and marketing?  Bump up your website on Google search?  Enhance employee communication?  Something else?

Next you’ll need to get your messaging together, which I will discuss in a later post.  Meanwhile feel free to add your comments below about this new and exciting field.

“Just Do the Right Damned Thing”

July 14, 2010

In case you haven’t noticed from my previous blog posts, I strongly encourage people and firms to communicate honestly by getting to the core of what you are trying to accomplish with as few words as possible.  This video captures the kind of honest, straightforward communication I’ve been ranting about, and is probably one of the most compelling things C-Span has ever aired.  The message cuts through all the spin and hits you right in the gut:  People are suffering in the gulf.  Things will likely get worse before they get better.  And people need help.

The young man in this video finishes by saying “Just do the right damned thing.”  Granted, what doing “the right damned thing” means is up for debate; indeed, it is a lot easier to write a song than fix a catastrophe like the ongoing nightmare in the Gulf.   Regardless of what “doing the right thing” actually means, isn’t his passion and heartfelt sincerity refreshing compared to the lies and obfuscation we’ve seen since the spill began?

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.