Find It, Store It, Share It

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We have all been there: during a browsing session you find a great article or blog, but don’t really have the time to dedicate to it right then and there; what do you do?   Have no fear, the tool exists that allows you to not only store it, but package it into a content-specific magazine.

Flipboard is a social media aggregator that brings the content of your choosing to you to your tablet or smartphone, then allows you to easily share it across your chosen social network.  It is not only a sharing tool, but an customer engagement method as well.  Create your own magazine and fill it with relevant content aggregated by Flipboard.  Now you have a content marketing piece to share with others.  Invite customers and brand advocates to curate the magazine with you – keep them engaged with you and your brand.

Here are 2 examples:

  1.  For Social Media Tips & Strategy: “Social Utilization”
  2.  Culinary Fun: “For The Love Of Food (And Wine)”

As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

Cheers,

Toby

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Too Many (Social) Lines

Fishing

It is often said that less is more and when it comes to social media, I agree 100%.  All too often, companies believe the more (social) lines they have in the water, the better their reach; wrong.

Imagine you on the water in search of that elusive trout, tuna, or other trophy fish: the more lines you have in the water, the greater the chance of a bite.  Yes, line volume may create more opportunities, but how many lines can you successfully handle at one time?  It is better to manage one or two very well than many poorly: hooking the fish is one thing, but the goal is to land them.

Social media channels are your lines: the ways to reach and connect with your customers.  How many channels can you stock with relevant content, monitor for activity, and really respond to?  Too many channels that have stale content or go unmonitored will ultimately hurt your efforts.  It is best to use social media channels as a rod and reel rather than a net.  Understand what channels your customers use, how many you can effectively manage, and master those.  Too many lines and you may lose that big fish.

 

I look forward to your comments.

Best,

Toby

Growing Your Community

Hootchat

Improve your customer engagement and customer service with an online community.  This is my recap of the 12/17 #Hootchat hosted by @HootCommunity.

Q1: What are the first steps to building a new online community

  • Know why you are building the community: customer service, engagement, marketing
  • Determine the best platform: Paid: or Free: LinkedIn or G+

Q2: What are some strong brands with online communities

Q3: What are common mistakes when trying to grow your online community?

  • Trying to grow too big too fast & prioritizing member numbers over engagement
  • Not having a clear definition of success
  • Putting up a community without a Community Manager

Q4: What are ways you can engage your online community offline?

  • Engage via: private chat, email, or my old school method… the phone & have an actual conversation
  • WebEx conferences with community members – Google Hangouts or Skype work too
  • Some platforms allow private groups – create one and invite your MVP / power users

Q5: How does growing your online community help build brand credibility?

  • The more conversations you have, the more loyal your customer, the more loyal – the more they talk about you
  • Along with credibility, you have a great customer service and solutions place as peers trust each other
  • Support communities are AWESOME customer service centers: trusted, fast, and low-cost

Q6: How do you identify potential advocates and ambassadors from your online community?

  • Analytics: How often they come, how many answers they provide, answers marked correct by others
  • What is the “tone” of their conversations? How do they engage other members?
  • Get into your community and participate

Q7: What are some non-traditional ways to grow your online community?

  • Start with a tweetchat, build a list, slowly invite people from the list into the community
  • No matter how you find and invite – DO IT SLOWLY – set up the space, be ready for volume, have content
  • NEVER invite ppl to an empty room – have a team to greet & respond as well as content for them to consume

Q8: What is one thing you can do right now to start growing your online community?

  • Know WHY you are building it
  • Have customer-centric content
  • Participate & respond to questions

A more complete transcript is available in my Storify recap.  Please join #Hootchat every Thursday at 3pm EST.  Thank you for your attention; please leave your comments and questions.

Managing a Community Team

Calm

I recently participated in a discussion with fellow community managers about managing a community team as well as social efforts.  Here are my tips; I hope you find them helpful.

I have 10 engineers who assist within our community. Their prime responsibility is helping increase communication and interaction levels within the community as well as promote and confirm knowledge so answers can be provided to customers in a timely manner.  It is important they concentrate on engagement and asking questions rather than providing answers for two reasons.

1.  Communities work becuase people want to help others and share their knowledge; if we simply rushed to provide answers, members and power users who wish to contribute would stop coming.

2.  Athough they are not providing answers, being part of conversations shows we have a company presence within and care about what our members have to say.

I hold weekly meetings with the team to discuss:

1.  Traffic

2.  Their activity: log-in, comments made, comments they made marked helpful by community members

3.  Training and best practices with examples from within the community

Best practices for online behavior are:

  • Read twice, post once.
  • Write in the first person.
  • Stay on point; keep discussions relevant and germane.
  • Some conversations need to be moved outside of our Community.
  • Remember that you represent the company / brand as well as yourself when you engage.
  • Allow Community members to answer first, then confirm the solution.
  • Offer value, avoid redundancy, and be sure to read the other comments first.
  • Keep discussions professional; never resort to insults, slurs, or obscene language.
  • Protect your credibility, correct your mistakes, and don’t alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so. Transparency is key, and expected.

Regarding Social: I use twitter and LinkedIn to drive traffic to specific discussion within my community and track progress with Hootsuite, utm codes, and Google Analytics.

I look forward to your comments, additions, and suggestions.

Best,

Toby

SMART objectives for the Community Manager

 

No matter your profession or industry, it is important to establish relationships and collaborate: how does your way stack up to others, is there a better way, take a new look at the challenge or goal you wish to overcome.

SMART is a great way to look at goal setting; here are mine for Community Managers.  These are examples, but you will get the idea of how to think (and plan) SMART.

S:

  • Develop a community MVP program
  • Train and nurture community moderators
  • Increase the quality, quantity, and timeliness of answers within the community

M:

  • Has the program(s) been implemented?
  • Has the answer rate goal been achieved?
  • Have membership or discussion goals been reached?

A:

  • Where are you now: answer rate, membership, etc. and how hard would it be to reach the goal? 10% gain? 80% gain?

R:

  • Does the CM have the background, attitude, and resources to meet these goals?
  • Every question will be answered within 20 minutes – may not be realistic.
  • Grow the answer rate from 30% to 40% – more realistic.

 

T:

  • How long will implementation take?

Plan, design, and launch a community MVP program within 9 months

I welcome your comments and conversation.

Best,

Toby

Building your brand with authenticity

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Good day everyone – brands love the reach and potential connectivity of social, but they often forget to be authentic.  Authenticity = trust and trust = customer loyalty.  These are my answers from a favorite tweetchat: #Hootchat hosted by @HootCommunity

Q1: What does it mean to be authentic?

Have a real picture, not an avatar – use your real name – speak directly

  • It is great to RT and share other’s thoughts, don’t forget to share yours
  • Admit mistakes and take responsibility

Q2: Why does authenticity matter?

  • Customers do business with and promote brands & services they trust
  • Nothing kills authenticity like a canned email

Q3: What are some online habits of authentic people (or brands)?

  • Companies who don’t just give me survey, but the results as well
  • They don’t only listen on social, but respond as well

Q4: Who are the most authentic people or brands?

Q5: How does authenticity help build your personal brand?

  • People are willing to promote your personal brand, write you a recommendation. authenticity = trust
  • Social is a reputation you cannot defend or put into context, what do ppl see about you?
  • Just like a corporate brand, authenticity builds trust: clients, employers, community members

Q6: How can brands be authentic when interacting?

  • Don’t hide behind or defend a bad policy
  • No canned emails – say “thank you”

Q7: How can you screw up being authentic?

  • No way to reach a person within your organization: horrible phone tree or no contact emails
  • The emailed response comes from a “DoNotReply email address” No way to respond or have a conversation

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to reading your comments.  You can read a more complete transcript in my Storify recap.  Join into #Hootchat, 3pm EST every Thursday – look forward to seeing you.

Don’t Just Inform, Learn

collaboration

You are under stress about customer service: resources are limited and you know that an engaged and educated customer will not only be a happy one, but will also better utilize your product.  Self-service is cost effective and fast: time for a knowledge base of articles your customers can access on their time to answer their questions.  Great in theory, BUT…

No matter how well the article is written, it may not completely answer the customer’s unique issue.   “Was this article helpful?” If the customer cannot ask a question he still has a problem and will be frustrated.  Frustrated customers seek other options that make their lives easier and that means lost contracts and revenues.  What can you do?  A knowledge base is great, but blogging is better.

Like a knowledge base article, a blog is customer-specific content that provides self-service.  Blogging is better because it not only allows customers to ask questions, but gives you the opportunity to engage and learn from them.  Answering their particular question through engagement satisfies, educates, and makes them feel heard; increasing their loyalty.  In addition, you may uncover ways to improve your product as well as opportunities to increase wallet share.

Don’t just inform, learn.

Your comments and questions are most welcomed!