Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is Your Social Media Strategy Showing Up Other Corporate Strategies?

I had an interesting interaction yesterday with my local cable and internet provider, Charter Communications.  The company is infamous for poor customer service and has recently made great strides in trying to boost their corporate image.  In general, they have a great product.  In my experience their High Speed internet blows DSL out of the water, and their Cable products are also excellent.  The problem is, their customer service is terrible - and I mean TERRIBLE.  After a month of issues with our cable and 2 days of issues with internet, and countless hours on the phone with CSRs we were fed up - and I tweeted about it.  In less than 5 minutes a CSR tweeted back saying they were sorry about the troubles, and asked what they could do to keep my business.

I have to say, I was impressed by the speed and by the cordial, helpful demeanor of the CSR.  Had we called in (again) we would have spent at least an hour on the phone...plugging and unplugging - booting and re-booting and most likely the problem would not have been solved.

I thought it was interesting that I could get the issues solved quickly and painlessly via social media, yet their larger and most used customer service operation is completely deficient and still tarnishing the image of Charter Communications.  In one interaction, @UMatter2Charter2 helped me solve our issues and, more importantly they were able to retain a customer - and not just any customer, one who tweets & blogs about it!

In my experience, the newness and novelty of social media is hard for some to process.  It is easy to keep it in it's own little cage where it can go wild and not mix with the other animals.  The lesson we have learned from Charter is to pay attention to the successes of social media and apply those concepts to other areas of our businesses. 

UPDATE: Our charter problems were solved expediently this morning by a tech.  There was a filter outside that was impeding our On Demand & Internet services.  We are happy for now...let's see what the future holds.

your life your blog

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Should you be my friend?

YES. You should be my friend - unless you are selling acai berry products, porn or MLM schemes. Otherwise, I have found tremendous value in expanding my networks on Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter.

I manage networking on each of the 3 social media slightly differently:

Facebook is primarily for friends, family and acquaintances. I try to keep my status updates on less business oriented, however, I have created a corporate fanpage for Automation Service that is maintained by my Marketing Coordinator. Our goal for the fanpage is to maintain a very clean, customer-centric fan base that we can use as an outlet to carry on a more casual dialog with our customers.

I manage two Twitter accounts; @missy5ft2 and @reman_controls. @missy5ft2 is my personal account and I focus on tweeting about personal interests which include Automation Service , remanufacturing, the process controls industry, marketing, social media, hobbies and special interests. @reman_controls is Automation Service's corporate presence which is more focused on industry related news, process manufacturing, and interests of our customers which include hunting, fishing, sports, and food. We do follow the 80/20 rule that most social media experts suggest - 80% posting about your audience's interests, including retweets and 20% posts related directly to company promotion.

My networking theory on Linkedin is basically as I stated before: Please connect with me, unless you are selling acai, some crazy MLM or work-from-home scheme or are in the porn industry. I work diligently on expanding myLinkedin network, primarily by joining groups that match my interests and pursuits. I have also started my own group - The Process Automation Social Media Club - geared toward those who are in the process automation industry who use social media. I find linkedin to be a tremendous asset, and am now networked with people that I would normally not be able to reach due to time or lack of access.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How Twitter is like Purgatory (Dante's Inferno - style)

Back in the ole college days I read Dante's Inferno and since then I have had a very clear image in my mind of purgatory. Thousands of souls ~ with the face of Edvard Munch's The Scream looking up out of a red, foggy, boiling pit...moaning and moaning for attention and release. Sometimes that's what twitter feels like to me. Bits upon bits of information looking up out of a pit moaning for my attention, and ultimately release via the click through. My vision of purgatory has slightly changed recently with the addition of the souls holding Blackberrys, but I digress.

So how do you wade through the lost souls and get to content that is meaningful to you or your company? Here are the 2 methods I find most helpful:

1. Third party tools: If you're reading this blog, chances are you're an information junkie like me. I am constantly struggling to control my urge to read EVERYTHING. New third party tools are born everyday, but the twitter tool that I have been using for a couple of months is hootsuite. Hootsuite (@hootsuite on twitter) allows you to organize your searches with intuitive tab-based columns. Some of mine are process controls industry related info, Hobbies & Interests, Mentions and DM's, and competitive research.

2. The game plan: This is a critical step for me. I absolutely must work "social media" time into my daily plan, otherwise it can easily take over. I'm pretty old-school about my game plan - I still write it down in a notebook. You can use your smart phone, outlook, or your company's calendar or any scheduling program...whatever works for you. As long as you stick to your daily game plan you won't be sucked into twitter purgatory.