Before The Wheels Come Off The Wagon


Your company has an online community and utilizes social media – GREAT!  Listening to and engaging with your customers is always a great idea, but this blog is not about social benefits; I am going to discuss planning for the inevitable problem.

No matter your product or service, there is no way to avoid problems and the public complaints that follow: mistakes will be made and customers will get upset.  They will turn to Twitter, Facebook, or your Community to let you (and the public) know about their pain.  How are you going to triage and manage these complaints and keep drips from becoming a flood?  Have a plan.

Each firm has different staffing levels and available resources; this chart is a guide to help you formulate your triage plan.  No plan is perfect, nor will it prevent issues; however great companies do not hide from trouble, they take ownership and tackle it.


Don’t let your fear of public complaints keep you from utilizing social media or creating a community.  Have a plan and the thick skin to deal with it – your customers will reward you for it.

I welcome your questions and comments.




Community Manager ROI: Customer Retention


I have to take my hat off to Andrew Dennis (@AndrewDennis33) for this excellent piece on the importance of customer retention.  Andrew shows why it is important to retain customers, I am going to discuss who can help you make it happen.

Think about your online community and all the customers who visit and participate daily. These folks are not only paying your bills, they are potential brand ambassadors and peer to peer customer service reps.  Your Community Manager engages this valuable group daily, is their advocate, will triage their issues, and gains their trust.

When it comes to ROI, a strong community will:

  1. Provide peer to peer support: customers will answer each other’s questions and share tips.
  2. Develop a knowledge base from conversations and answers provided within the community into a two-sided knowledge base for customer self-learning.
    • Internal: what the product was designed to do
    • From Customers: what the product CAN do
  3. Provide trusted product reviews for potential customers.
  4. A reduction of formal cases filed with your Support or Engineering teams.
  5. A treasure trove of customer-centric content for your social media efforts.

Thank you Andrew for clearly communicating the importance of retention, now we must work with our Community Manager(s) to make it happen.  I look forward to your comments and questions.




Run Your Business Like a Rock Band


Good day everyone, I wrote this some time ago, but some lessons need to be remembered.  This piece was inspired by an article from “The Boston Globe:”

What businesses can learn from the Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead provided us with more than memorable summer nights; they showed the way to business success. I will focus on two ideas and how they relate to Community Management and Customer Service.

1. Be Transparent
“The Grateful Dead’s authenticity endeared them to fans and allowed the band to experiment. They found that mistakes are quickly forgiven if a company is transparent about what it’s doing.”

Trust is everything in business and your business will disappear if your customers do not trust you. Come forward and admit to your mistake, apologize and fix the problem or policy. Problems happen, the very companies do not sit back and hope the problem goes away, they take action to fix the issue AND admit they made a mistake.
Transparency is not just about customer service, it relates to your financial accounting too. Enron (and others), lost customer trust and fortunes because of greed and terrible ethics. Don’t keep two sets of books.
Great service and sound ethics are foundations on which you should build your company.

2. Give, and you shall Receive 
“The Grateful Dead removed barriers to their music by allowing fans to tape concerts for free. That brought in new fans and grew sales for concerts, records, and merchandise. They showed that when content is free, more people hear about a company and eventually do business with it.”

Customers are demanding access to knowledge in order to self-solve their problems. Providing an open knowledge base lowers your customer service costs, increases customer satisfaction, and shows your company is a thought leader. The Consortium for Service Innovation has published a paper about how Mathworks has turned knowledge-share upside down by publishing their entire knowledge base within their Community.
I can hear the question now: “But support contracts are a large part of our revenue, we can’t just give away our knowledge.”
Give away the knowledge, not the support. Customers who pay for a service contract are NOT paying for information, they are paying for immediate support and people to solve their problems for them.
Stop funneling your customers into horrible phone queues: listen to them on social media and build them a community where they can interact with you (and other customers) to learn, share knowledge, and solve their problems.

Rock on!


#TwitterSmarter: Manage Your Productivity and Time on Twitter

My recap and answers I have provided for the 9/1542017 #TwitterSmarter chat hosted by @MadalynSklar and guest @WriteOnLinline.  Join the conversation every Thursday at 1pm EST.


Q1: How important is setting time for content creation, blogging and networking on Social Media, including Twitter?

  • A social calendar is priority one – too much is going on during the day to “wing it”
  • Setting times for content creation and publishing must be build into your content / social media strategy

Q2: What are steps to consider when setting goals for your Twitter activities (content creation, promotion, engagement)?

  • What % is Twitter in your overall plan? Is it the top, do you also manage a community?
  • How are you using Twitter? Social listening, customer service, blog / community promotion
  • How are you managing twitter – Hootsuite, Sprout, TweetDeck – How many on your team
  • What is your triage plan for questions

Q3: What are your best tips for managing your time on Twitter and staying on top of your Social efforts?

  • Build dashboards () from your lists
  • Set notifications

Q4: How can you build a Twitter Strategy that maximizes your efforts, your time and drives results?

  • Ensure you are measuring your efforts to know what works, what needs to be improved. UTM codes – Google Analytics

Q5: What are some tools that can help you manage your time and be productive on Twitter?

Q6: What are your favorite hacks to stay committed to keep consistent with execution and engagement on Twitter?

  • Twitter lists of people by specialty.
  • Social done well is about engagement and building trust, not something you “do.”
  • Define success and measure your efforts
  • Tweetchats

Q7: What are some simple techniques to balance real-time conversations and scheduling?

  • I have never use auto tweets are replies – respond and make it personal
  • Be authentic and share who you are
  • Balance scheduled content with real-time interactions
  • Balance personal content with 3rd party content

Q8: What’s your advice for anyone who’s starting out with Twitter & finds it challenging to be productive on a daily basis?

  • Don’t try to read everything in your feed
  • Ask a few questions and remember to thank people for their answers
  • Join a tweetchat and network
  • Lists and dashboards help you organize, consume, and respond

If Twitter is part of your business, and it better be, please join #twittersmarter to interact with fellow professionals and learn some great Twitter tips.  I look forward to your questions and comments.




#Bufferchat: Building Digital Skills


My recap of the 9/13/2017 #Bufferchat hosted by @buffer.  Join the conversation every Wednesday at 12pm EST.

Q1: How do you make time for building new skills?

  • Building new skills must be done – boost your productivity and work smarter
  • Often I learn about new tools during tweetchats, make note of them, then check them out later
  • You cannot afford to not continuing to educate yourself

Q2: In your opinion, what are the 3 key skills marketers need today?

  • The ability to listen – The willingness to respond – Pick the right social networks

Q3: Do you feel like marketers need to learn coding skills? Why or why not?

  • Coding? I guess it depends on how the marketer is reaching their targets
  • Having HTML knowledge is important

Q4: What do you think businesses can do to help close the “digital skills gap” that exists today?

  • Do a better job with FAQs or Self-help documentation for their products
  • Set up online communities so customers can visit, discuss, and learn from each other
  • Online communities help your customers help each other (and lower costs) Sponsor meetups or write blogs that cover how-to issues
  • Send their employees to training sessions

Q5: What are low-cost ways you can strengthen your digital skills toolbox?

  • Tweetchats!
  • There are many (free) online tutorials, start with YouTube
  • Don’t just consume – blog about or upload skills you have – you may make some great contacts – share your knowledge
  • Do some searching and find a community that covers the software or skill you want to learn

Thanks again @buffer – see everyone next week!  If you have questions about online communities, I am always happy to chat.




Engagement Before Membership

As a Community Manager, I love interacting with my members as well as talking shop with my fellow CMGRs.  We agree that creating a supportive environment that encourages problem solving and knowledge sharing is the most rewarding part of our job.  We are also metrics junkies always seeking the quantitative data that helps us tell our stories.  Which to you think is more valuable: total membership or engagement?  It is true that the greater your membership, the greater potential you have for reach and engagement; too bad one does not guarantee the other.  No matter your social network or community, without engagement and collaboration your large count is just a list of individuals. Social media networks and communities are about interaction and the sharing of knowledge; the more members / followers who contribute, share, and collaborate with each other, the more valuable the network.

The charts below are from a personal foodie community I created, manage, and am very proud of: We Love to Cook (and Eat) : stop by, ask a question, post a picture, or get hungry.  This group is 564 members strong, very engaged and responsive to one another.

In the last 28 days, 416 of the 564 members are active, that’s 74%!  From the 2nd chart: for 136 posts, there are 426 comments and 1,609 reactions .  Numbers like this make me proud: not only are members active (4.85 posts per day), but they are engaging with and responding to one another.  No matter your social network or community, without engagement and collaboration your large count is just a list rather than an asset.

How can engagement make a positive impact in my B2B community?

  1. A better educated customer
  2. Reduced volume of formal cases
  3. A knowledge base of solutions and best practices
  4. Problems get solved by other community members (customers)
  5. A consistently growing volume of keyword rich content boosts SEO
  6. Company participation builds trust, rapport, and loyalty with customers

In short, build your community and engage within it; membership is easy, but engagement provides value.

I look forward to your questions and comments.



Please note: Facebook defines Active Members as: Members who viewed, posted, commented on or reacted to group content.

#TwitterSmarter Recap: How Do I Become More Influential in Social Media?

4-20-2017 2-45-45 PM

: What book, audiobook or podcast are you reading/listening to?

  • Answer: Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey – awesome cookbook

Q1: How would you define a person having “Influence” on Social Media?

  • Follower count is a good indicator of influence as well as score
  • A blogger with lots of RTs / shares
  • Influencers are able to drive traffic and influence opinions

Q2: What are some underused tips for a person to build and expand their influence across Social Media?

  • Use a few different networks – be real – ask & answer questions
  • Remember that communities are social networks – find one that captures your interest and dive in

Q3: What are valuable ways to build a rapport with influencers to help you expand your influence across Social Media?

  • My mom always told me to say please and thank you – treat others with respect
  • Reach out to thought leaders and ask for their help or advice
  • See if you can provide THEM with answers
  • Ask other if you can collaborate on a project or blog

Q4: Does a person need a strategy to build their influence on Social Media?

  • You better have a plan
  • Know how much time you have and how many networks you can manage
  • True engagement takes (costs) time – how much do you have to “spend?”
  • Before jumping into a network or community, do your research

Q5: How can content creation and curation help a person boost their visibility and become more influential on Social Media?

  • Curation is how your content is packaged – if not attractive, it will not be consumed
  • our content must match the interests if your community

Q6: Are there any specific platforms that can help a person build their influence strategically?

  • – remember tweetchats & communities too
  • Where do thought leaders & influencers of your industry participate? Those are the networks to utilize
  • No matter the platform(s) DO NOT spread yourself too thin

Q7: How can different Twitter tools help us to measure our influence with the audience we wish to converse with?

  • For tweetchats – how many likes, RTs and convos are you getting
  • Most communities are based on gamification or a point system to measure your participation & influence
  • When was the last time you checked your score?

Q8: What are some common mistakes people make when it comes to building their influence on Social Media?

  • Too many lines in the water – they belong to too many networks
  • My Blog on this subject
  • They are trolls
  • They only ask questions, never supply answers or say thank you
  • They DM sales pitches

Look forward to your comments or questions – see you at the next #twittersmarter chat.