Archive for March, 2013

It’s so fun-ny, how we don’t talk anymore…

That’s what Sir Cliff Richard said in 1979 and that’s what a lot of other people are still saying now too.

With more than 8 trillion texts sent a year and over 400 million tweets sent per day, there are those who say that social media and texting has killed real conversation. They say that we never pick up the phone anymore. They shriek that we are disconnected as a community.

In 2013 though, we don’t have to do this to stay in touch. We can read updates, we can tweet, and we can share articles we think our friends will be interested in. We should of course, still make the effort to chat on the phone and have real-life conversations. But have you ever wondered how many of your friendships wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for social media helping you stay connected?

We would hope that we’ve seen the last generation of old ladies keeping the gasman on the phone just for someone to talk to. We are more connected than ever. Whether that’s to friends and family, or to strangers on the other side of the world.

The same goes for brands. Consumers have more access to brands, and brands have more access to consumers. Brands are still in the relatively unchartered territory of having to listen to customers. Really listen. Because customers are telling them out loud, in public what they think of their company. How they can improve, what they are doing right and what they want from them.

Does that sound scary?

It shouldn’t, because it’s gold.

Previously if you cared enough about the future of your company, you might carry out research to see what your consumers really thought. Brands were in a position of power, they didn’t have to listen to the ‘little man’, but that wasn’t necessarily a good position to be in.

Unhappy customers could still vote with their feet and go elsewhere, before the brand even got the chance to rectify a problem or even know that there was one.

Social media can guide your company in the right direction. It can help ensure that you’re making the best decisions for your company and the right decisions for your company to succeed.

Sure — it’s a brave new world when everything is so public and people can openly review your products and services in front of the whole world.
But if this is going to help shape your company vision and inform the decisions you make, who better to listen to than your customers?

That conversation must be two-way though. All too often we still see negative reviews unanswered, decisions being made behind closed doors and brushed under the carpet.

Recently, Amazon UK was on the receiving end of some pretty negative reviews on both their website and their social presences. One of their sellers was stocking unsavoury t-shirts, which once picked up, caused a flood of comments, posts and reviews, all asking for the merchandise to be taken off the Amazon site.

Inside the walls of Amazon, decisions were being made and they were acting upon their customer’s demands. However, you would have had no clue of this on their social platforms. Their Twitter feed was still happily posting and all comments and mentions were seemingly being ignored.

Percol coffee





This had the effect that, even after they had removed the merchandise, people were still threatening to stop using Amazon if they didn’t remove the goods, long after the goods had actually been removed.

Amazon’s open review system is fantastic, it’s an extremely transparent way for consumers to judge the quality of their potential purchases, and as a result we’ve seen countless companies adopt the same system. It’s just a shame that, the same transparency hasn’t yet filtered through to the way some brands manage their social media platforms.

In order to mitigate the amount of posts and let people know they were being heard, ideally Amazon would have made sure the social team was in place to do the following:

  • Release an update on their social pages to apologise and reassure customers that they are looking into complaints and reply direct to customers where they were able to do so
  • Release another update to confirm that they have dealt with the offending products

On the surface of it, ignoring the problem does mean that eventually the problem will seemingly go away. People will inevitably get bored of tweeting about it and they will move on to the next big drama – but what does that do to the reputation of your company?

Miss Representation





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Just like our personal relationships, brand and consumer relationships only work if they are two-way. A friendship won’t survive if only one person is making the effort to keep in touch and the same goes for brands. Listening is one thing, but brands also need to make sure that consumers know they are listening.

Otherwise, you may well eventually find your brand at the bottom of the friend pile.

What Does Facebook’s Graph Search Mean For Brands?

Facebook Graph Search is coming. The latest and greatest new feature from everyone’s favorite (or “favorite”?) social media platform is Facebook’s jump into the search space. While not a tool to search the entire web, Graph Search is a useful tool for users to search through their Social Graph to find the results that are the most relevant to them. Facebook is betting that this more targeted search will make users more likely to engage with more content and people on Facebook. Google and other search engines have tried to make their results more relevant and targeted, but Facebook’s access to each user’s shared social connections means that they can go a step farther and make each search result an implicit recommendation from a “friend”, therefore increasing engagement with those results.

Assuming that Graph Search is the game-changer that Facebook hopes it is, many opportunities and changes await for brands on Facebook as well. Here’s a rundown of some steps that brands can take to optimize their Facebook presence for Graph Search.

Location-Specific Graph Search Results

The biggest change for many brands is going to be the increased prominence of local Pages. Brands with multiple local locations will want to claim any local Pages that they do not know under Facebook’s Parent-Child relationship, and update all local Pages with accurate contact and location information. While in the past it was useful for such large brands house all content on a master Page, with Graph Search it is important to publish relevant content to local Pages as well. There are tools that let brands publish content to all Pages at once, which, combined with targeted content published to each specific local Page, will keep local Pages relevant to users and highly ranked in Graph Search.

Acquire Relevant “Likes”

The more connections you have the more likely it is that your Page will be discovered. This means that gaining as many fans as possible is more important than ever. Applications and Facebook Ads to drive Fan Growth may now help drive engagement through more than just News Feed interactions. Of course, you want relevant Likes that sustain, so acquiring relevant fans who find value in your brand and providing consistent, relevant content to those Fans will keep your Page high in the Graph Search rankings.

Encourage Photo Sharing and Check-Ins

Where in the past photo tags and check-ins would have a one-time benefit to the Page from a broadcast into the News Feed, these types of engagements will now have a long-term benefit from Search. Encouraging users to tag a Page and check-in to a location will now prove to have additional benefits. In addition, Photos are their own category in Graph Search, making photos with your brand Page tagged in them an important part of your Graph Search strategy. In addition, photos from a brand’s photo albums will appear with equal weight to those posted in status updates, which will provide incentive for brands to be more strategic about what photos they put in their photo albums.

Additional Advertising Opportunities

While Facebook has not announced advertising opportunities within Graph Search yet, it is hopeful that they would not build a feature this big without the ability to include advertising at some point. Expect “Paid Results”, much like we currently see Sponsored Stories in the News Feed. This opportunity extends to the brands, as they will have the ability to insert themselves into searches that users make into their own social Graph, meaning that ads will need to be even more targeted and personalized.

When Graph Search is rolled out to all users we will know more about the unique challenges and changes that this feature presents to brands. For now, all we know is that those who adopt and adapt early will be able to reap the rewards.

How The Black Keys’ drummer could teach brands a thing or two.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the land of Twitter, @BurgerKing and @Jeep were hacked and @MTV and @BET pretended to be.

If you were following Twitter closely, you might have also seen the Twitter spat between Justin Bieber and the drummer from The Black Keys, Patrick Carney.

The Black Keys had enjoyed a successful night at the Grammy’s with three wins for the band and another for the lead singer Dan Auerbach. Afterwards, Carney was interviewed by TMZ and asked whether Bieber should have got a Grammy by now. He replied with “He’s rich, right?… Grammys are for music, not for money… and he’s making a lot of money. He should be happy.”

Bieber then took to Twitter to publish this Tweet to his 34 million followers.


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Almost immediately, Bieber’s loyal following had waged war against Carney. While this would have sent many running for the hills and deleting their Twitter accounts, Carney held his own by replying to comments using humour and retweeting particularly funny ‘disses’.











Finally he boldly started to assume the singers identity by gradually changing his name to Justin Bieber and replying as if he was the singer. This of course, further infuriated Bieber fans – as well as picking up some unsuspecting followers who thought he was the real deal.











Aside from annoying a small number of his real fans with a few days worth of ‘Justin’ tweets, he actually managed to ride the storm by meeting it head-on and he also got a lot of love from how he was handling the angry Bieber-fan onslaught.


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So what can brands learn from how he handled himself?

Carney dealt with the situation swiftly, without fear and he let his personality work for him.

He was of course, able to be far more ‘cheeky’ than most brands could hope to get away with and while we would never advise brands to use these particular tactics, there are some take away lessons here for brands posting their day-to-day content or experiencing their own social media crisis.

Don’t be scared.

Carney didn’t shy away from dealing with negative comments. Brands – particularly if they are new to social – can be tempted to bury their heads in the sand when dealing with difficult posts (or sometimes, any posts) and may choose to ignore them, hoping they’ll go away.

Ignore the ‘wrong’ one and it could have the potential to turn a customer service issue into a full-blown social media crisis. Rule number one — Make sure you respond quickly to questions or problems.

Carney was swift to act, replied to posts and also retweeted them so it was clear to everyone who visited his profile or anyone following his updates that he was dealing with the situation and may have even discouraged some angry tweeters from joining in. We’ve seen a lot of high profile cases recently where people have been driven off Twitter by a furious mob, simply because they felt like it was easier to run away, rather than weather the storm.

For these larger, social media crises, make sure you have a process written down for managing this type of event – while we’re sure Carney didn’t have his plan in place before the Grammy’s, his quick thinking did help him survive the fallout. Brands may have to go through a series of different stakeholders before a plan can be acted upon, so it is essential that this process be nailed down.

Be yourself. Be human.

We’ve all heard it before, but it’s true. Social should be social. People aren’t interested in interacting with boring staid messaging. They want to feel like a brand or person has an identity. Whether that’s in everyday posts or in how they handle a crisis.

Behind all the big strategies, campaigns and messaging should lie a human heartbeat. Carneys’ decision to go bold and his brilliant use of light-hearted humour in the face of some pretty nasty and sometimes homophobic posts, made this into a much more positive news story that it would have been if he’d hidden away from it. He could have passed this over to an agency and released a statement but he chose to ride the storm with his own personal brand of humour.

For brands, you will know when posts require a serious response but it’s just as important to know when it’s okay to interact in a more human, relaxed way.

People want to feel like they are interacting with a real person. I’m sure everyone following Carney’s news feed feels like they know him a bit better, even when he was masquerading as Bieber, and if you manage to convey this type of messaging for your brand, it will go a long way to help building some brand love amongst your following.

Use humour.

Don’t be afraid to use humour in your messaging if the situation or your branding allows it. A serious customer service issue would not be the place for this method but as Carney saw, treating his crisis with light humour, worked pretty well for him. You also saw this with the recent Burger King hack on their Twitter account. Once they had regained control, instead of releasing a very serious statement, they made it light-hearted and recognised that they had picked up a lot of new followers.


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Carney, Burger King and Jeep have all have seen this positive side of their recent social media crises as they’ve added some hefty numbers to their Twitter follower count. It goes to show that if dealt with in the right way, a negative can be turned into a positive. If they keep the right mix of entertainment, value and transparency and let their ‘brands’ personality shine through, they may just keep all their new followers happy.

Keep this mix in your social feeds and you’ll start to reap the benefits too!