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Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘Steve Sohn

Social Media – Naughty or Nice?

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It’s a given that social media’s usage and influence have grown wildly beyond what anyone expected just a few years ago.

According to a report by Navneet Kaushal of PageTrafficBuzz, as of January 2012, Facebook by itself was the destination for nine percent of all online visits in the US, and twenty percent of all online page views.

That’s not counting Twitter, Google+, and the many other social media destinations available online.

What’s interesting to me, though, is not that social media is huge, but that’s it’s huge enough to have sparked a discussion of what it means to be social.

Blogger Steve Sonn writes that a growing number of individuals are using social media in an antisocial way, by brazenly self-promoting their business and their personal brand in a one-way direction, rather than being “open, transparent, helpful and engaging.”

I like this concept, because it says something about the aspirational nature of why we communicate in the first place, and why we all seek out communities in which we can grow and thrive.

On the other hand, just as the music world has room for punk rock, there are those who want to bring the same “smash ’em up” sensibility to social media.

This Chronicle of Higher Education story by Jeffrey R. Young highlights just such a rule-breaker: Dean Terry, the director of the emerging-media program at the University of Texas at Dallas, who is committing what he calls “social-media blasphemy” with his new Facebook plug-in, “EnemyGraph.”

The service lets Facebook users identify their “enemies,” which then appear in their profiles. The report states that Terry originally wanted to use the word “dislike,” but that word was specifically banned by Facebook, in order to maintain a positive atmosphere for its users.

This “blasphemy” may be a tongue-in-cheek rejection of the idea that being nice, kind, and positive is the best way to approach social media. But I think it has the potential to create a lot of damage. Practical jokes may seem funny in theory, but in reality, they’re just mean.

So while I’m generally in favor of a little rule-breaking now and then, when it comes to social media, I prefer playing nice.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

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Written by Charles Primm

March 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

Customer Service is Critical

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Customer service is growing in importance as a path to a company’s financial and cultural success. Blogger Steve Sohn of Momentum writes that excellent customer service is a great way for a company to differentiate itself from its competitors. However, businesses that sell to individual consumers (B2C) are doing a better job than businesses that sell to other businesses (B2B).

When is a customer not a customer? The answer, I think, is “never.” Businesses have a responsibility to give the best possible service to everyone, whether they are individual consumers or other businesses, because even if you are selling to a business, you are still dealing with a live human on the other side of the screen or the phone.

More large corporations have come to the same conclusion that Sohn did, and are maximizing their return-on-investment for good customer service. Witness the great word-of-mouth for companies such as Comcast and Zappos.

Neither of these are perfect companies, but they have developed well-earned reputations over time for their quickness in addressing customer concerns and solving problems. In particular, they have become adept at using social media to solve problems.

Frank Eliason, the former manager of Comcast’s “social customer care” division, became famous (or at least Internet famous) for using the @comcastcares Twitter account to respond to customer service problems or issues. Brendan Brown of SocialTurbine writes that Zappos has enlisted its employees as its social media ambassadors, who Tweet and blog in a way that helps drive the company’s credibility to new heights.

My favorite suggestion from a Mashable article by Rohit Bhargava, “9 Ways Top Brands Use Social Media for Better Customer Service,” is number 3: “Help your customer service people feel like rock stars.”

If the employees on the front lines feel good about their company, and especially feel that their customer-centered efforts are valued and appreciated, they will go the extra distance.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm