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Interview with the UN's Jean-Marc Coicaud

unu_logo.gifThe best part of the WeMedia conference in Miami this past week, like any conference, was the people that I was able to meet. One of the sharpest minds that I came across was Dr. Jean-Marc Coicaud, head of the United Nations University Office at the UN in New York (also a published author, former fellow at Havard University and cultural attache to the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Dr. Coicaud has a great grasp of the power of technology and how it impacts the mission of his organization. Although he admittedly has a way to grow, he knows that it is a powerful way to bridge time and distance.

He took a couple of minutes to spend time with me and here is the interview.

[Feed readers please click through to the post to see the video.]

The mission of the United Nations University is to contribute, through research and capacity building, to efforts to resolve the pressing global problems that are the concern of the United Nations, its peoples and member states. You can learn more about the United Nations University here.

More interviews from this conference are coming up including the Chief Scientist at Reuters and the founder of the Hip Hop Caucus.

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WeMedia Miami

wm_logo.gifToday and tomorrow I am attending the WeMedia Conference in Miami. Despite yesterday's massive power outage it's been great to escape the snowy confines of Cleveland.

I'll be updating this post throughout the day today as events unfold. I'll be interviewing people on video and Twittering as well.

Print is dead:
Roger Black and Jeff Gomez - A good session from Roger and Jeff with a focus on where media is going. Basically, the content is king and the medium of delivery will adapt to the user's needs. A major question that was posed was "if print is dead, who killed it?". What are your thoughts?

This is a great piece of research that was mentioned in the session from Zogby.

Print reincarnated
Richard Sarnoff and William Weiss - Following up on the first session, Richard and William add to the agnostic approach publishers need to take with media formats. Sticking to print books will not work. Publishers cannot be paperback or hardcover, they need to offer the content in the ways that people want to consume them. Some of those delivery formats may not even exist yet. They're of the opinion that the publishing business will move primarily to digital in the next 5 years.

The power to change the world
Tons of great thinking in this session as well. More focus on the relationship of mainstream news gatekeepers and new media outlets. Added focus on how the two interoperate.

Quote of the session:
"The revolution may not be televised, but it will be uploaded" - The Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr.

Political World - Hype vs. Reality
Lead by Brian Reich, author of "Media Rules".

Key takeaways:

  • Emergence of social networks as an enabler
  • Technology as a driver to participation
  • Using mobile to organize people on the ground at the grassroots level
  • MTV Street team has a reporter in each state plus D.C. to cover what is happening
  • Traditional media is branching out to use new formats, but is it the same information?
  • Bloggers are starting to get the access traditionally held for traditional journalists
  • "Campaigns use what works" -- traditional media is still holding strong
  • New outlets are releasing new information in new ways to keep tabs on politicians
  • More informal organizations are taking on issues that are normally handled by large organizations
  • Supporters who "get" new media can lead the campaigns who take credit for the innovations
  • How do you recognize a person's interest and then allow them to participate in the way they want and not read the campaign's script?

Pitch it
This session is for entrepreneurs to pitch their project to a panel of VC and upper level marketing folks.

Key takeaways:

  • Presentations range in level of preparedness and energy; low prep could be overcome with energy, but low energy is a killer
  • Knowing the lingo helps keep the energy positive; look for a VC to get up to speed on the common terms
  • Know who your decision makers are and cater to them; eye contact and delivery are key
  • Be fluid in your ideas and listen for cues from the advisor; too many people sticking to the wrong guns

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Did the Super Bowl ads work?

This is not an advertising blog. There are plenty of pundits out there who know much more than I. But, I have an advertising question for you. It's been nearly a month after the Super Bowl bonanza. Which ads do you remember? Which ads did their job and created a lasting impression that lives with you a mere 22 days later?

For me, I remember very few of the ads overall. I do, however, still very vividly remember the Audi R8 ad as well as the emotions it conveyed. It also drove me to click through to the site to get more information (sadly I had to look around for it once on the Audi landing page).

I loved the ad for a number of reasons. I think it's well photographed, very cinematic and congruent with the Godfather reference. I think it was a great idea for Audi to take this approach to veer away from their usual image (safe, all-wheel-drive, semi-sporty). The R8 is a new kind of Audi. This is a car that competes on the Porsche, BMW M level and the commercial gets to that point. It's in your face, it's aggressive and it puts you on notice.

So, which ads do you remember? Did any of them convince you to make a purchase? Did they drive you online?

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Faster than a speeding bullet, more trendy than a SoHo hipster; the power of search data

Picture 3.pngAre you a spotter of trends? Do you revel in knowing things before your friends and colleagues? If so I am going to share a little information that will make you a very happy person.

A couple of months ago I came across one of the coolest RSS feeds that I've ever seen. Google Hot Trends now offers an hourly feed that shows the top 100 search terms. Every hour a new item is sent to my RSS reader for my consumption.

Why is this cool you ask? Imagine the power of the collective, "crowd sourced" data of millions of Google searches aggregated into one place. It's pop culture at its best. Want to get the scoop before mainstream media? Subscribe to this feed.

The type of information is unfiltered so you will get things like:

  • Scoops on sports trades
  • Celebrity news
  • Breaking business and economic news
  • World news
  • Scandals of all sorts
  • See how powerful TV is at driving search

To me, Google Hot Trends represents the real power of collective intelligence. In the case of Google Trends this is information aggregated across the globe, but imagine if you could do this only for technology or social media. The trends that you uncover would be catalysts for innovation and change.

What are you doing with your search data?

If you are running a web site, what are you doing with your search data? Are you storing it? If you're storing it, are you looking at it? If you're looking at it, are you analyzing it for trends and insights?

Search is as key to a site as your navigation. The data is extremely powerful and can tell you what your customers are looking for, what they really want and what you need to create more of.

How are you using your search data?

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Quote of the day

If you've seen any of my presentations, either in-person or on SlideShare, you may recognize this quote. I think it perfectly and succinctly sums up the position of marketers who find themselves at the crossroads of emerging media. I originally saw this quote in a Tom Peters (one of my heros) presentation and fell in love with it.

If you don't like change,
you're going to like irrelevance
even less.

~ General Eric Shineski, retired Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

Marketers who continue to do the same old thing month after month, year after year are going to find their messages falling flat. It's important to set clear and measurable goals for engaging in new media and look at emerging media to see what fits with your customers.

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Five keys to successful blogger outreach

iStock_000004507849XSmall.jpgMy post from last Friday entitled "Your last contact cannot be your first contact" generated some really great commentary. The idealistic, best-case viewpoint I took with blogger outreach caused most of the concern so I want to use this post to touch on five keys to successful blogger outreach in the real world. I highly encourage you to add your opinions in the comment section so we can all learn and grow.

The following five steps should give you a leg up on your next outreach endeavor:

  1. Use a tiered targeting approach: Let's face it. Resource and time are finite things and not all blogs are created equal. At the outset of an outreach program, companies need to identify tiers of bloggers they would like to reach. The tiers should be ranked by influence and reach (these are not the same thing) within the niche(s) you're focusing on . Tier 1 bloggers should get the most attention, tier 2 should get a bit less and so on. This will ensure that time is being allocated to achieve the best impact.

  2. Build relationships over time: As you put bloggers into your tiers, you need to start developing relationships with them (this is where my last post comes into play). I'm talking about forming real, honest relationships. It's easy to spot people who are trying to manipulate you. Read the blogger's content, delve into what their interest are, see who they read and engage with them on their turf (comments, emails, etc.). Ask what you can do for them before you need anything from them. Try to add value to the community they've created. I know that's the fastest way to my heart.

  3. Create relevant messages: This is, as David Berkowitz pointed out in the comments, a crucial step. You can make up for not having a previous relationship with somebody by delivering a spot-on message that is relevant to their interests. The message needs to be to the point and tailored to the blog as much as possible. You can break through the clutter just by writing clearly and focusing on the value and relevance to the blog's community. (Don't fake this either, it's crystal clear to a blogger what is relevant and what misses the mark.)

  4. You only have one shot: This is another big point to make that I think newbies miss all the time. When you contact a blogger, you need to make sure that you have the right person with the right message at the right time because you only have one chance. You should never "follow up" with a blogger unless they ask you to. You have to assume they've seen your message and either ignored it or are holding it for later. Let them make the next move. Following up can be seen as annoying and pushy in this situation. It's important to note that the better your relationship with the blogger, the more flexible this rule is.

  5. Be prepared for follow up: I am often amazed, when I do follow up on a PR pitch, at how unprepared the rep on the other end is. Normally I get a "it's all in the release" or "there isn't anything else available". You should be able to readily follow up with more information including pre-packaged social media content including quotes, videos, photos and logos that are blog-ready (often in a social media news release). Remember that most bloggers are pressed for time and the easier you make it for them to write about you, the more response you'll get. I've passed on relevant stories that require me to do too much leg work.

What would you add to this list? What is your pre-launch checklist for outreach to bloggers? Is it different from traditional media or the same? Are the two converging for you? Drop me a comment!

BONUS - Take a look at Valeria's recent post and her top four good, and bad, pitches. She echos a lot of what I mention here and adds some great insights (as usual).

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Launched: Kenneth Cole's "Awearness" blog

Setting foot into the blogosphere can be a paralyzing task for many marketers. Despite the technological ease of entry, there are major psychological and organizational hurdles that have to be overcome. This new series will look at the brave marketers who overcome internal and external forces to join the conversation.

kennethcole.jpgKenneth Cole is the latest major consumer brand to swing into the new media jungle. Their new blog,, focuses on social issues that are a major part of their business philosophy. If you are a Kenneth Cole customer you already know about the company's support of AIDS research and other causes as well as their quippy way of telling their story. Those things are combined here to tell a new story.

The blog has very little direct product messaging outside of a small link in the top right corner to "Shop Kenneth Cole". They've no doubt found that their customers share their social advocacy and it does in fact drive sales. The technology behing the blog itself is WordPress MovableType and rebranded to fit the Kenneth Cole look. The four main categories are navigable at the top of the page (social rights, hard times, well-being and political landscape).

I liked the way that they decided to launch this. Every newcomer should consider the following formula for launching a blog on the right foot:

  1. Tease the blog's launch well ahead of time and do PR outreach around it
  2. Allow people to be notified by email when it launches (one-click signup)
  3. Build a solid foundation of content (2 weeks minimum, but 1 month is preferable)
  4. Allow a group of advocates early access to build the conversation (comments in the case of a blog)
  5. Use imagery and video whenever possible
  6. Engage the head cheese (yes, Kenneth Cole himself has a voice here) to show commitment and understanding of the shift in the marketing paradigm

I think this is a solid formula to follow to get up and running. The following points are how I rate the effort overall:

Voice gold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgrey_star_sm.gif
The blog stays true to its mission and the content is very focused. The voice of the brand comes through in the content as well as the auxiliary content.

Pre-launch readiness gold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgrey_star_sm.gif
This blog launched with a very strong, focused cache of content. This allows newcomers to jump right in, see the direction, subscribe if they like it and start engaging through commentary. Having the top post be from the leadership of the company is a nice touch to set the tone right away.

Design/look-and-feel gold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgrey_star_sm.gifgrey_star_sm.gif
The design is clean and to the point. The blog looks as I would expect being a Kenneth Cole customer, but also sets the tone for the brand to new customers. I would like to see a few items be added to make sharing easier including a clear RSS icon, subscribe by email feature and more prominent social bookmarking icons (

Content quality gold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgrey_star_sm.gif
The quality of the content is really fresh, aligned with the tone of the site, carries through the voice of the brand and sets the stage for things to come. I love the use of photography and video to grab your eye and keep you engaged.

Content update frequency gold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgrey_star_sm.gifgrey_star_sm.gif
The team at Kenneth Cole is setting the bar high right out of the gate. The posting frequency is around 3-4 posts per day which makes me wonder if they can keep that up. The initial frequency sets an expectation that is hard to back down from once started. This is a key consideration for any company looking to start out. Make sure that the expectations match the reality of your finite resources.

Conversation gold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgrey_star_sm.gif
The conversations that were already going when the blog launched this morning make it clear the team knows what it is doing. These are not websites that we're launching. These are two-way conversation vehicles. The comments on existing posts make sure that newcomers feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. This is the same situation as in a classroom, nobody wants to be the first to raise their hand. The KC team has eliminated that anxiety.

Upper-level involvement gold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gifgold_star_sm.gif
The top post on launch day is from Kenneth Cole himself. This shows a firm commitment to the medium as well as positioning him as somebody who knows what social media is and why it is important.

Are there other measurements that you would add to this list? What do you think of Kenneth Cole's Awearness blog?

If you are ready to launch a new media effort at your company and would like me to cover your launch just drop me an email.

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Your last contact cannot be your first contact

I (like most bloggers) am on the receiving end of at least 3-5 PR pitches a day. Some of them are really good and on target, but the majority are really tired attempts. Now that I work on the other side of the aisle, so to speak, I want to give a little friendly advice to PR folks doing outreach.

Your last contact cannot be your first contact.

crisis.jpgTo make it crystal clear, if I am reading an email from you right now, I need to have heard from you before. I need to have had an intro email or have seen your name on a comment. Maybe you follow me on Twitter (and I follow you back) or you've added me as a friend on Facebook.

Those people who do this right break through the clutter and avoid my dreaded 'bad pitch' folder in Gmail. (I save these emails to show people what not to do.)

WAY too often I get a pre-formatted, "personal" email (I won't even mention the numerous emails that contain nothing but a press release). You know what I am talking about. It usually starts looking something a bit like this:

Hey [blogger name here],

I really love your blog [blog name here]. I think the perspective and insight you have on [industry name here] is amazing. Your last post on [post subject here] was really good.

[Insert press release here]


While this type of outreach does occasionally work, I can immediately tell what's going on. The ones who've taken the time to reach out and connect with me get through. It's more like P2P outreach in that the relationship is two-way and symbiotic. I often follow up with people who do outreach to get more info or see if they have something new for me.

Blogger "pitching" is not going anywhere. Bloggers are gaining influence and share of voice in media. The key for PR efforts is to choose bloggers that truly fit your product/service niche and build those relationships over time.

Once you have a blogger's attention it's important to offer them easy ways to consume the assets. Logos, video and copy should be online, be embeddable and easy to access (this is the premise of the social media news release). This limits waste and maximizes everyone's time.

Personally, I don't think that the wall exists between PR and bloggers the way it does between PR and journalists. We're all in social media and on the same playing field.

What lessons would you add to this for people in PR who do this type of outreach?

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Twitter and customer service; the big picture

iStock_000001289783Small.pngI debated when I started this series of posts whether I should use a specific service as the example or be more general. I chose to use Twitter because of the traction it has in the market and it's pretty easy to explain.

I've received some feedback here and on other blogs about how unlikely it would be to actually use Twitter for customer service. While I think that it is entirely possible to use Twitter (companies already are), especially if your audience is on the service, we need to look more broadly. Don't get hung up on Twitter.

A huge part of being a social media strategist and identifying what's next is breaking down new applications into their core pieces. So, let's break down Twitter. First off, Twitter is cleanly designed and the interaction is simple and intuitive. The most important point is that you can send data to it from the web, mobile, IM, email or desktop applications. Alternatively, you can receive data from it in the same manner. You publish how you want, when you want and you receive in the same manner.

There are a couple of ways that I can see Micromedia evolving to allow more companies to use a Twitter-like service for customer support.

  1. The re-branded Twitter: If you didn't catch the mid-January blog post, the underlying messaging service for Twitter is now available as an open source platform. It's codenamed Starling and companies can start developing now to create their customer service platform.

  2. The enterprise option: This could be based on the aforementioned Starling framework or something entirely new. The point here is that a company could host and integrate real time messaging into their support system. Customers could communicate how they want, when they want, where they want. The company would have their own SMS short code, email address and would need the staff to support it. Real time is scary, but it presents an opportunity to create strong, personal relationships with customers. Isn't that what it's all about?

  3. Something amazingly new: Twitter is limited to text. People have built applications on top of Twitter that use other types of media, but it ends in text. The next level of this type of service is to use video, audio and photos in addition to the text. Services like Utterz and Jaiku take strides toward this, but they lack the level of community that Twitter offers. Advances in mobile technology could allow real time video support anywhere, anytime.

The common theme is on-demand. The customer's demand. Right now too many customer experiences happen at the company's convenience, but the best service companies act when the customer needs them. I recognize that scaling up is an issue and programs like this should be rolled out in manageable waves, but the move is inevitable. If you don't offer it the next company will.

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Twitter and customer service; how to listen

buzz_listen.jpgIn last Friday's post I posited that Twitter, when used correctly, could be the ultimate customer service tool. It's immediacy, portability and sincerity are unmatched. As with other forms of social media I think that the first step for most companies should be listening. It's crucial to wrap your head around how the community works, see who is talking and what they're saying.

Similar to other forms of social media, listening does not even require you to have an account. You can use the resources that I've listed below (in most cases) without a username and password. The resources here will give you an idea of how your customers and potential customers may be using the service. This will help you create a customer service strategy for Twitter. It's very important to take time with this and make adding value to the community your number one priority.

Having great customer service is a huge PR benefit as well as keeping customers happy and loyal. I'm constantly amazed at how many companies get into trouble because of poor customer service. Generally it's things that could have been caught and resolved on the spot had they been listening. This ranges from 800 numbers to support emails to blog posts. It's key that Twitter (or other micromedia) is just one part of a larger customer service strategy. 

Here are some helpful Twitter tools to get you started on your listening journey.


Twittermeter allows you to track keywords across the public timeline of Twitter. Go in and search for your brand and competitors. If you can't find mentions for your category or niche. I guarantee people are talking, are you listening?
Picture 26.png

Twitter Karma

Twitter Karma gives you an easy view of who you are following on Twitter and who follows you back. This is a great way to make sure you're listening to everybody you can and that they're listening to you.
Picture 27.png


This may be the most impressive, explanatory application out there. Showing people this site seems to solidify the ideas and show them the global, real time nature of the service. It also illustrates the challenge of monitoring for customer service.
Picture 29.png


Tweeterboard aims to be a site that aggregates "conversation analytics" (though I think it under delivers on that promise). You can find a username and see how often it updates as well as some reputation information. It also shows who is talking to you and who you are talking to as well as showing the links that the user sends through the service.
Picture 28.png


Twitterholic looks at the Twitter timeline and finds the top daily users. This is a good way to see who has influence and is active on the system.
Picture 33.png


This service looks at the links that are being submitted through Twitter and ranks them by popularity. Note that the high use of TinyURLs (a URL shortening service) makes the links appear very vague and hamper the usefulness of this service.
Picture 32.png

Terraminds Search

Terraminds allows you to search both the public timeline and users. The results are very fast and listed by recency.
Picture 31.png


TweetVolume simply lets you see how often a term was mentioned on Twitter. The summation is displayed in clean bar graphs.
Picture 30.png


Another timeline search, this one allows you to search by combining a term with a user. Results are available by RSS or direct link.
Picture 35.png

Twitter Blocks

This visualization engine is built by Twitter. It allows you to surf the users based on who you're following and who their following. You can navigate as deep as you like and the interface makes it interesting and fun to do.
Picture 34.png

Tomorrow I'll go through ways that different types of companies can use Twitter for customer service. I'm planning to include IT services, CPG, B2B and retail. If you have another industry that you would be interested in seeing me cover please email me or leave a comment on this post.

Are you listening to micromedia outlets like this in your company? Why or why not?

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Twitter, the ultimate customer service tool

iStock_000003492530XSmall.jpgTuesday I wrote about why I think some marketers aren't jumping in to social media faster. In part, I think the feedback is too honest, some marketers don't want to listen and the last thing they want to do is create two-way conversations. Overall though, customer service is one of the best uses of social media and can have a major impact on corporate brand and reputation.

Twitter has been around (as far as we're concerned) for about a year. It's often misunderstood and frequently maligned by journalists and traditional marketers. Part of the issue is, in my opinion, the name of the thing. Twitter? Tweets? Twitterers? I feel dumb for saying these things and I always get the same reaction from people who I am guiding through the landscape.

However, to see the real value of Twitter you have to look past the name to the underlying potential. The underlying technology and architecture is the future of communication. It's a seamless publishing tool that you can use from web, mobile web, mobile app, desktop app, IM, widget, etc. and consume the content using the same methods. (You can check out my full presentation on Micromedia here.)

Here is a visual representation of Twitter's publishing and consumption model. The key is choice and flexibility on both sides.

Picture 24.png

Customer Service

Twitter is the ultimate customer service tool. It's live, instantaneous, community driven, open, two-way and multi-way, unfiltered and predictive. This is, however, only for the most advanced, customer-forward companies to attempt to use. You definitely need a black belt in customer service ninja techniques to do this well.

twitter_logo.pngThe first step is a piece of cake. Go to and register an account. Point a designer at the page and have them outfit it with a branded background and custom style sheet so it looks like your brand. The account can be protected while you are doing the legwork to set it up and train employees.

Now comes the hard part. Twitter is live and 24x7. Staffing needs to be done accordingly and it's not something that can be started and stopped. Would you abandon a call center or an 800 number? Absolutely not and Twitter is the same thing.

So how does it work?

Once you have the account ready and have the staffing in place you can start promoting it. Be sure to give an overview of how to use it, make signup easy, create a video that walks people through the system. Most people will just use the web version. You can use Twitter's API to basically re-skin the system on your site so people don't know they're using Twitter. Create shortcuts for them to make interacting easier (like adding the @ sign for them when communicating directly.

Once the messages come in, you have to be monitoring. If nobody is available, set up a responder that kicks them back a message and tells them when you will respond. The key is to be fast in response, be honest in what you tell them and allow the entire community to see the conversation. Get Satisfaction is doing this with crowdsourced service, but isn't using Twitter.

Seems pretty easy right? It's not, but the power of listening, responding to issues in real time, letting your customers see this and get a feel for the level of care that you're providing is priceless. The reps that handle this communication need to be specifically trained on the medium and the "rules".

I'm going to break out each of these steps in posts next week and show how the system could integrate into an existing customer service plan.

What do you think? Is this doable? What companies could pull this off and thrive? Some are doing it one-way (service alerts, etc.), but nobody is doing live, open customer service like this.

[Update: Make sure you read Joshua March's great counterpoint post. Weigh in on this from your point of view.]

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links for 2008-02-06

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You can't handle the truth! Social media and customer service

iStock_000002608363XSmall.jpgOne of the most common hesitations that I see with corporations looking to engage in social media is the realization that conversations are happening all around and that they have no control. This isn't a choice ("We should really let go of control") it's a fact and it's been the case for a long time. But, until now they have been largely undocumented, un-indexed by search engines and not in any way facilitated by the company itself. The conversationalists were only as influential as their personal network allowed.

Step in to the social media revolution and that has all changed. Micro influencers have the power to reach millions of people around the world. Blogs and other social media outlets are indexed in search results right alongside company websites and portals.

The truth hurts, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. Where social media shines brighter than any other marketing vehicle is leveraging the truth to create stronger customer relationships and convert bad experiences into great ones.

Is this for everybody? No. Companies who don't listen to people in the first place have no place in social media. You know who they are. Companies that have a phone system that bounces you around 15 times and makes you stay on hold listening to some Michael Bolton song 25 times. They have a suggestion box, but never do anything with the information. They have websites that are confusing and provide so little support that you are forced into a forum to find the answer you seek.

There are a lot of these companies out there. However, there are a handful of companies that see the value in customer input and take steps to make things better for them. They listen, when you call their 800 number you talk to a person and, even if they don't solve your problem, you walk away with a positive feeling.

Supporting customer service is a perfect fit for social media, but it takes planning and strategy to make it pay off. Here are steps that I see from listening through becoming a social customer service expert.

  1. Listen - I've said it before and I'll say it again. If you do nothing else after reading this post, go to Google and set up alert emails with your company keyword, your name and your URL. Then go to Technorati and do a search there as well. Keep these searches fresh. Learn who is talking about you, what they're saying and create an action plan based on what you're reading. Once you are fully committed, start reaching out to customers (happy and, most importantly, not happy) and join in.

  2. Analyze each medium - Every tool is different and this is another place where marketers can go wrong. Blogging is not Twitter is not Flickr is not Facebook. The rules change from one to the other and you have to know what they are before engaging. How do people get value in each network and how can you add to it?

  3. Conduct mock trials - I am not talking about 8th grade government class, but there is benefit to walking through different scenarios before jumping in. Imagine you create a Twitter account. What would you say each day? How will you add friends? How will you stay on top of replies and direct messages? How will you add value? How will you respond to criticism? How will you communicate in a crisis? These are all points that need to be discussed and can be done sitting around a table and talking.

  4. Start slow - Do NOT go out and sign up for a Facebook page, Twitter account, blog, flickr profile and MySpace page all in one day. Social media burnout is for content creators as well as content consumers. Pick the most strategic medium to belong to and start slow. As you become more comfortable you can ramp up and add networks into the fold. Any additions should compliment your effort and be on strategy.

  5. Be transparent - This is a no-brainer, but it's surprisingly tricky. You need to decide where your conflicts occur, how you'll deal with them and how you introduce yourself. I think the mom test works well here. If you wouldn't tell your mom what you're doing, it's not transparent. You cannot be too transparent here. More is better.

  6. Don't stop - This is the killer. It's worse than not having started at all. How many companies have you seen start using a tool and later abandon it. How many dead blogs and Twitter accounts litter the information superhighway? Just don't let it be you.

Customer service is becoming more and more crucial in this highly networked, searchable world. I've heard a saying that rings true to me in that "your brand is only as strong as your last contact". How many times have you gone in to a store that you love with products you adore and had such a bad experience that you are enraged and swear them off for life? It happens with me quite often.

Tomorrow I'll cover the ultimate customer service tool. Can you guess what it is? It's so powerful that only the most advanced, ninja-like customer service teams would dare to implement it. It's unmatched ability to connect and respond are astounding. Stay tuned.

Who have you seen use social media to respond to critics, engage customers and keep the conversation going full force?

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When did you switch?

I was reading a post from David Armano today about association and it got me thinking. He wrote out a number of brands and the word that he associates with each. It's a pretty clear and powerful exercise in the emotive power of brands.

As David pointed out in his post, he started (back in 1996) using and admiring Yahoo! as the de-facto internet company that "got it". They were to search and the web the way Google is today.


So when did you switch? When did your default search go from silly-sounding Yahoo to (at that time) ridiculous sounding Google?

For me it seemed like an overnight thing. One day I was a Yahoo! guy and the next I was committed to Google. It was nothing that Yahoo did wrong per-say, but Google fit my needs better. I didn't want the content that came with the portal concept, I wanted to find what I wanted in one click. Over time, the Google brand grew and it grew on me.

Did you switch? Millions of people still use Yahoo. They are still satisfied or unwilling to change major markers like email addresses or IM accounts. Why did you (or didn't you) make a switch?

In light of the Microsoft takeover bid, what would you do if you were Yahoo's shareholders? Would you merge or would you try to reinvent search like you did back in 1996?

On that note I saw this quote on Noah Brier's blog from Fake Steve Jobs on the Microsoft/Yahoo merger:

"The Borg-Yahoo merger won't work. Here's why. It's like taking the two guys who finished second and third in a 100-yard dash and tying their legs together and asking for a rematch, believing that now they'll run faster."

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links for 2008-02-01

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