Improve Your Brand With Better Customer Service On Social Media

Improved Customer Support

Improved Customer SupportAs a brand, the last thing you want is a reputation for poor customer service. This goes beyond interactions in brick-and-mortar establishments, should they apply, and it absolutely applies to digital interactions. Today more than ever customers are reaching out via Facebook, Twitter and Yelp to ask questions and leave feedback, and the amount of digital exposure can be tremendous.

While you need to have this feedback on your radar, even more important is your response or lack thereof. To help guide you, we compiled a list of tips to keep your engagement train on the right track.

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Manage Social Media Posts With Hootsuite To Reclaim Wasted Time

Hootsuite Streams

Save Time With HootsuiteHow many social media platforms does your brand use? If you’re using more than one, it might be worth your time to employ a social media management tool. There are several to choose from including HootsuiteTweetDeck and Sprout Social.

What’s so great about a social media management site? The biggest benefit is that you can access, monitor, post, schedule and track all of your posts and platforms from one central location. That’s right; you don’t have to log into a bazillion sites, post to each one and read metrics on a variety of dashboards.

For Matthew Iscoe, the marketing manager for Thriving Firm, a company that helps accountants create a sound practice, Hootsuite is the way to untangle his social media mayhem.

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Keeping Up With Inbound Marketing: An Interview With HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe

Keeping Up With Inbound Marketing: An Interview With HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe

Keeping Up With Inbound Marketing: An Interview With HubSpot CMO Mike VolpeOnline content continues to rapidly expand, and it can be difficult to keep up with the latest research. So what are some of the strategies and tools that can help content marketers succeed today?

Ebyline turned to Mike Volpe, the chief marketing officer at marketing software maker HubSpot, to answer these questions. Mike has been an integral part growing inbound marketing and is an expert on the state of digital content today. Read what he had to say about what tools and approaches show promise.

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TIME Social Media Editor Kelly Conniff talks Sandy, election coverage

Time Magazine Twitter

Time Magazine TwitterWhen news breaks, readers turn to social media to read and post updates, presenting opportunities for news outlets to engage with them and challenges in keeping up with multiple platforms and a 24/7 news cycle.

Ebyline recently discussed these challenges and opportunities with Kelly Conniff, who started as social media editor at TIME in September after working as social media manager at the National Geographic Society since 2009. Excerpts from that interview follow.

What social media platforms does TIME focus on?

Really the number one platform we’re on is definitely Twitter. We actually just hit four million followers today, which was amazing. Beyond that we also are on Facebook, and we just actually hit 600,000 [Facebook likes]. We’re one of the biggest news brands on Google +, and we should be in the neighborhood of hitting two million next week, which is just amazing.

We’re also on Pinterest and Instagram. We actually have two Tumblr’s. One is TIME magazine proper, and it’s very much kind of our behind-the-scenes look at how the magazine is made, how we put together our amazing covers, and basically how we do what we do. We also have one for LightBox, which is our photography blog that is very popular in the industry. That one focuses a little bit more on the photo projects that we feature every day as well as kind of promoting what’s happening in the photography community.

Tell us about the social media strategies you used during Sandy.

With Sandy, we had people without power and without heat, and it was an interesting situation in trying to wrangle people together to work out ideas. We realized that what people were looking for in this scenario were stories from people on the ground. People wanted to know what it was like to be in Staten Island, Coney Island, or in the Rockaways, or in Connecticut, or anywhere in New Jersey where they were hit really bad.

We decided to just go with a very low-fi hashtag campaign of asking people to submit their Sandy reports. I was so surprised at what we got, not in terms of the volume but the depth that people went into when it came to telling us about their stories. We aggregated up some of the best, most poignant, funniest, responses on our newsfeed blog. That was also a really great way to say, “Hey look, we asked you guys for something, and we definitely heard what you had to say and here’s what happened.”

Time Magazine CoverWhat about that amazing cover image from Sandy? Tell us about that.


We have a great photography department here. They worked with us to come up with the idea to hire five photographers who were covering different areas of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and areas that were really affected. These people are professional photographers who have shot for TIME in various capacities, including Ben Lowy who is well-known as very much an iPhone photographer.
We actually used one of the photos that was taken by Ben Lowy on the cover of TIME magazine, which is pretty amazing. I was so impressed that we did it because that week was such a huge week for politics and just everything that was happening in the world. We actually closed three issues that week. We had one with a Romney cover, one with an Obama cover, and then easterners in the Northeast got the Sandy cover.

There’s a lot of pressure to be the first on social media, especially around the election. How do you balance that with the need for accuracy?

For us, we were really more interested in what people were feeling and thinking and doing about voting instead of making sure that we were first. We had a hashtag campaign that was just #TIMEVote, and we asked a series of questions that were kind of the day before and the day of. It was a little different from what everybody else was doing, but we’re there for that analysis and thoughtfulness.

The night of the election when Twitter was going crazy and Facebook was going crazy, we focused on having a live blog that pulled in tweets from all of our correspondents. They sat there and looked at the projections and the results and gave their commentary in a way that not many other brands can. I think we really focused on being thoughtful instead of just predicting and trying to be first. I think at the end of the day that’s really what TIME is about.

Does TIME have a social media policy for staffers?

We do. It’s mostly informal and that’s actually something we’re working on kind of updating. One great thing about most people who work at TIME is that they’re very proactive in having their own accounts and being very thoughtful when they tweet.

TIMES has some impressive social media stats, but are there other ways that you measure ROI?

Yes, I think that’s something that all brands are struggling with right now because there is no hard and fast rule of how to do it. For me, I sit solely on the edit side, so I’m always looking for new ways to engage. When you sit there every day and you’re looking at your followers and you’re seeing what they say when they comment on a Facebook post or re-tweet you or comment back, it’s really all about making sure that people are not just pushing our ‘Retweet’ button or the ‘Like’ button and then just moving on to the next post.

 

Is being accessible to readers a good thing?

journalist accessibility

journalist accessibilitySocial media, online commenting systems and e-mail have made reporters more accessible to readers. Or have they? I won’t name names, but I know plenty of journalists and freelanec writers who carefully avoid the comments section of their online articles and rarely respond to @ mentions on Twitter.

In theory, being accessible to readers builds trust and transparency, while creating a pipeline of community-focused stories and credible sources. But does this actually work in practice?

One example of accessibility taken to new levels is The Register Citizen’s Newsroom Café, where locals can buy coffee or pastries, use public computers or free Wi-Fi and sit it on editorial meetings.

If you’re picturing a mob of outspoken readers or eccentrics with questionable agendas storming the newsroom, Matt DeRienzo, Connecticut group editor for the Journal Register Company, says that hasn’t been an issue. “We were surprised right from the beginning at how undisruptive the public was and how much they respected that it’s a working newsroom.” He does point to one incident where someone came to story meetings three or four days in a row and repeated the same thing about the same issue. An editor finally put the kibosh on the topic by saying, “I think we’ve covered that issue.”

The café opened in December 2010, and Digital First Media, which manages Journal Register Company (which itself recently filed for bankruptcy) is implementing open newsroom projects in other markets, including a pop-up newsroom with mobile newsroom vans launching in New Haven, Conn.

Of course, individual journalists have an even simpler strategy for making themselves accessible: the trusty Twitter profile.

Few users (including journalists) put their contact information front and center on Twitter, perhaps for fear of spam, off-topic press releases or angry readers. But in his classes for journalism students and professionals, Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia University’s first chief digital officer and a longtime social media guru at Columbia Journalism School, urges people to consider including an e-mail address in their profile.

“It makes it easier for sources to reach you and helps add an air of authenticity to your bio,” says Sreenivasan (@sree). “If you are a journalist or writer, you should be reachable, and an e-mail address is what many people are likely to want to reach you through, rather than a Twitter message.” (As someone who’s had many back and forths with sources in tweets or direct messages trying to move the conversation to a less character-restricted medium, I see his point.)

Sreenivasan practices what he preaches by posting his e-mail on Twitter and says he hasn’t gotten any crazy off-topic press releases or spam as a result. Fast Company contributor E.B. Boyd (@ebboyd) agrees, pointing out that her e-mail displays as ebboyd [at] fastcompany [dot] com so it’s harder for spam bots to read.

“You’ll get more stuff that’s not interesting to you by putting it out there,” admits Boyd. “But by not putting it out there, you won’t get the occasional assignment you want. When people want someone in tech to comment on a story, they can easily find me.”

According to Boyd, “the challenge for journalists is not trying to control whether their e-mail is on the web but developing effective ways to manage it.” After all, many journalists are now tasked not only with pitching, reporting, and writing stories, but are not expected respond to comments and e-mails, tweet, shoot video and perform other multimedia tasks.

Boyd’s strategy is maintaining two e-mail accounts: a Fast Company email that’s displayed publicly and a Yahoo e-mail that she checks more frequently and reserves for people she works with or knows. “If it’s a relationship that’s useful to continue, I’ll move them to Yahoo,” she adds.

New York Times reporter Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) takes accessibility a step further by including two phone numbers in addition to his email. Also in the “Twitter profile with e-mail” club is Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour). Stelter responded to an e-mail (saying he’s on deadline for a book) but Amanpour may have an overfull inbox: we haven’t heard back for days.

To those who scoff, or cringe, at the idea of putting themselves out there, Sreenivasan points out a fact that’s frightening or reassuring, depending on your viewpoint: your privacy doesn’t mean much anymore. “Many more journos’ e-mail addresses are public than they realize,” says Sreenivasan. “Most news orgs follow certain naming conventions and a lot of print newspapers list e-mails near bylines or at the end of stories.”

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