The Death of Facebook has been Greatly Exaggerated (and other social media insights)

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By Sue Brady

social media montageSocial media has seen a lot of change this year, and the coming year will be no different. Social media is only going to become more important in our personal and professional lives.  A huge 73% of Americans have a social network profile!

Messaging. Messaging apps have taken off, enjoying huge popularity, especially with the younger adult crowd. WhatsApp (bought by Facebook for $16 billion) leads the pack with 900 million monthly active users. Facebook Messenger is second with 700 million. It’s an astounding number of people now communicating in a way that would have been completely foreign just 2 or 3 years ago. Back in the day at AOL, we used AOL Instant Messenger (aka AIM) to communicate with our coworkers and friends. It was easy to keep your buddy list open on your computer to see if the person you wanted to chat with was around. But now, with the proliferation of cell phones, and apps to make them even more useful, you can ‘chat’ with your friends/coworkers using your phone. Being near a computer isn’t important.

Popular Social Media Sites. What hasn’t changed much is the popular social media networks are still popular. The most used social media network is still Facebook with 1.55 billion monthly active users. In the US, Facebook is well ahead of the pack in terms of market share based on visits, at 45%. The next market share giant is Youtube, with half that market share at 22%.

Ebizmba just published its <slightly different> list of  traffic rankings and found that:

Facebook tops the list at 900 million unique monthly users

Twitter has 310 million

LinkedIn has 255 million (though 400 million registered users)

Pinterest has 250 million

The remaining platforms fall well below these sites, but still have millions and millions of users:

Google+

Tumblr

Instagram

Marketing Spend. In terms of marketing budget allocations, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn rank the highest for investment. Facebook introduced the ‘buy’ button this year, adding to its usefulness as a platform for marketers. Advertisers are learning how to use Facebook and other social media platforms to sell product. It’s not a fad people! If you haven’t tested Facebook in the last year, you really should give it a try. Facebook made almost $4 billion in ad revenue in 2nd quarter, 2015, most of it from mobile. It’s working.

Checking In. What is dead however is the concept of ‘checking in.’ The idea of using your phone to let people know where you are at the moment you are there, didn’t really catch on. In fact, only 3% of Americans say they have ever ‘checked in.’

Videos. But what IS happening with increasing frequency is people are posting and watching videos. Youtube isn’t the only place, though there are over 1 billion users there watching 4 billion videos a day (with a billion of those views coming from mobile devices). 81% of US Millenials use YouTube, followed by Gen Xers and Baby Boomers after that (source: expandedramblings.com). Vine launched in January 2013 and has 200 million monthly active users. 12 million Vine videos are uploaded to Twitter every day. In one article I found written by Molly Buccini, she sited that Videos trump photos for engagement by 62%! She also states that ‘video shares’ have gone up by 43% since the start of the year. If you aren’t already using videos in your social marketing, now is the time!

Social media spend by brands has seen dramatic growth. According to Statista, spend will go from $7.5 billion in 2014 to over $17 billion by 2019. Make sure you’ve allocated enough of your marketing budget for 2016 to Social Media to take advantages of the opportunities!

7 Steps for Using Social Media in Times of Crisis

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By Sue Brady

Ambulance

There will be a time in the life of your company where you may need to manage a ‘situation.’ Thank heavens for social media. Social media has transformed the way companies can talk to their customers quickly and broadly.

One of the many advantages of using social media to manage a crisis, change of event, weather situation alert and the like, is that you can reach a large number of people quickly. Amber Alerts are a great example. You can sign up to follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and even have alerts buzz your cell phone. It’s a powerful way to use social media to have many eyeballs looking for a lost or abducted child fast.

If your company plans to (or might have to) use social media to relay timely information, have a plan. Waiting until you’re in need is NOT the time to create a plan.

Step 1: The first step of course is to know where on social media your audience actually is. This might require some research on your part that goes beyond looking at where you have the most followers (thought that’s critically important as well). Let’s say your customers tend to be active on Twitter. Look up some of your faithful followers that also Tweet, and take a look at the links they tweet out. You may find patterns that will give you some ideas of other websites/social media platforms where you’ll want to have a presence. Marketing tip: you can do this to find new places to advertise and attract new customers!

Step 2: Identify who in your company is going to post. This may be a team of people or just one person. If approvals are required prior to posting, make sure the chain of approvals is clearly spelled out, including who can approve posts if someone is not available.

Step 3: Know who your influencers are, so that they might be able to help you get the word out too. Influencers are consumers who follow you and have a large following themselves. Influencers can be a very effective way to spread your message even further.

Step 4: Craft your messages to be accurate and consistent. When creating messages to serve as notifications, make sure the facts are correct, the phone number you are showing is working, the URL you are providing works.

Step 5: Include a hashtag to make it easy to follow the topic. This also can give you control over where the conversation happens and is critical especially on Twitter.

Step 6: Monitor what’s being said about your situation on social media so that you can respond or change your approach as needed. If a statement you’ve made is being misinterpreted, you’ll want to correct that in a hurry.

Step 7: After the crisis is over, make sure to pull the team together to discuss how well your plan worked and whether or not you should make changes.

Last summer, I was on a train with the hubs headed downtown for an outdoor Lucinda Williams concert. The train was definitely not as crowded as we expected it to be (it was Taste of Chicago weekend, an event that attracts over 1 million people), but it wasn’t until we overheard a passenger tell someone else that The Taste had been flooded out and cancelled for the day, that we realized why. We wanted confirmation so of course pulled out the iPhone, and looked up #tasteofchicago on Twitter where the closing was in fact posted. If we had thought to look, Chicago had done a fine job of letting Chicagoans know of this unusual event cancellation.

Postscript: We thought it would be just like Lucinda to do an impromptu concert in her hotel bar and certainly didn’t want to miss that. We searched twitter to see if we could figure oGuitarut where she was staying. Alas, we could not. We hung out for a while downtown and then headed home. Epic social media fail on our part. The next day we found out that Lucinda in fact DID play an impromptu concert that night. She played at a local bar, and she told fans about it via social media. But we had stopped checking by then and hadn’t heard the news. We missed out on an opportunity for a concert by one of our faves, in a small venue, and at no charge!

#epicsocialmediafail

 

Get Your Twitter On: The Changing World of Customer Service

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It’s no secret that social media is playing a bigger role than ever when it comes to customer service. Customers expect responses fast when they tweet to a brand. A study by Lithium (social software provider), found that 72% of consumers who tweet a complaint expect a response within one hour! Twitter understands the role it plays in enabling Customer Service and  recently removed the 140 character limit for direct messages. Now brands can direct message responses to customers without worrying about how many words they are using.

I recently attended a Content Marketing World (aka @CMIContent) Twitter chat. They cover great marketing topics that I find relevant. If you’re curious about something, it’s a great way to gain insights (and no one needs to know you’re there!).

Last week’s chat was about social media and customer service, with @jaybaer. I thought I’d recap some of the content that was shared because it was so good.

The first question to get us rolling was: How has social media changed the game for customer service? Here are some of the responses:

@mikemyers614: (social media) means the lights are always on and the “phone” must always be answered. We’re all 24/7 now.

@dmboutin: brands are accessible where people are already spending their time, instead of a 800 # in the fine print

@sgoldberger12: Social Media Has Amplified It. Those Who Engage Expect Quick Answers. Customer Service Is Ever More Important.

@ardath421 (social media) means that customer service needs to be served up wherever the customer wants it

@LeadPath (social media) allows us to respond at real time to customer concerns and feedback. It lets us engage with our customers

On the topic of how B2B is different from B2C in social media:

@LeadPath: With both B2B and B2C you need to remember you’re talking to customers.

@mewzikgirl: the advancement and immediacy of response/resolution in B2C has changed expectations, and B2B has to grow and adapt

The key thing to remember is that you are still talking to people, in both B2B and B2C.

On whether you should answer all questions posed to your company in social media:

‏‏@dmboutin: Yes. Look at cost of customer acquisition & retention then tell me addressing all concerns isn’t worth it

@Magnani_Dot_Com: The user doesn’t see all the messages being answered, they simply see theirs going unanswered.

‏@LUCYrk78: It’s 100% realistic. You make the time and team to ensure customers are listened to. It’s today’s expectation.

@netvantage: Realistic, no, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

‏@CTrappe “Thanks for your tweet” is not that great of a #custserv response.

‏@flinds: An effort should be made to address all complaints on (social media), even if just to tell them to email. Being noticed goes a long way.

 There were many suggestions on dealing with negative comments online.

@mikemyers614: Removing or editing is a dangerous thing. Chances are if one person says it, 10 more are experiencing it. Deal with it. Fast.

@Jaybaer : Respond to every hater, both the Offstage Haters (phone, email) and the Onstage Haters (social, review sites, forums).

Jay has a book about to be published on this very topic that I can’t wait to read. It’s called “Hug your Haters: How to Embrace your Complaints and Keep Your Customers.”

He adds: But my best tip is the rule of Two. Never respond more than twice online. Take it offline.

I wrote a post a while back on dealing with trolls. That might help too. You can read it here.

And on handling positive comments, the common answer thread was to turn those commenters into brand advocates by acknowledging them, retweeting them, doing something nice for them, asking them if you can use them as a recommendation. What others say about your business is so important. 90% of customers are influenced by reviews!

My daughter works for a minor league baseball team and sometimes is assigned to tweet during the games. She seriously texted me this just this afternoon, and I swear I did nothing to prompt it!

I’m so proud.

Why it Matters What People Think (About You)

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By Sue Brady

ListeningSo many reasons why it matters what people think about you (and your company):

Your employees represent your company
You recruit new employees
Your customers leave reviews
You might need to find a new job

EMPLOYEES

First let’s think about your employees. Employees are on social media, they talk to their friends and colleagues, they network and have networks. They can be influencers and even more importantly, they can be brand advocates. An employee who likes your company will say nice things about it, they’ll recommend their friends to work there or to buy your company’s product. They’ll work hard to make you succeed because making you succeed makes them succeed. Do your best to make them feel appreciated and valued. This goes beyond paying a fare wage. Work environment, recognition, nice working space all matter. It matters what your employees think.

RECRUITING

If people are saying nice things about your company, others will want to work there. Your reputation is valuable and important. When you show up on a college campus to recruit, you want the students to have heard of you as a good place to work. Where do they hear that? From friends, online reviews (if you aren’t checking glassdoor.com you should be!), their parents, articles. You want potential employees to seek you out. The reputation of your company matters.

REVIEWS

If you sell a product or service, do a Google search for that product with the word ‘reviews’ after it, and see what you get. Are you reviewed positively on cnet.com, yelp, glassdoor, Amazon, Angie’s List or other sites that matter for your business? BrightLocal does an annual study of consumer usage and attitudes, specifically focusing on online reviews. Last year they found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations! And 85% of customers indicated that they read up to 10 reviews before they purchase. Reviews matter.

FINDING A JOB

When was the last time you found a job by sending in a resume cold? The truth is, your network, and what they say about you, matters. A couple of years ago, ABC News did a story that reported that 80% of jobs are filled through networking. I thought about the last few positions I’ve held. In the last 5 places I’ve worked, either someone who knew me professionally called to see if I’d be interested in a position, or someone I knew got my resume to the right person. Networks matter. And most people want to help. Very few will not help you when asked.

The key message here is think about your reputation in the marketplace, both professionally, personally, and as a company. And make sure it’s where you need it to be. You can find me on LinkedIn…

Related links:

The Customer is Always Right

A Peak Inside the Coffee Cup

How I’m Obsessed with Making my Company Customer Obsessed

What Shake Shack Can Teach us About Marketing

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By Sue Brady 
Shake Shack

Shake Shack came from humble beginnings, just like so many successful businesses. Starting out as a hotdog cart in 2001, it took 5 years for the owners to open up their second cart. Last week on January 30th, 2015, Shake Shack launched a successful IPO and raised $90 million with a company valuation of $1.63 billion. There are now 63 shacks in 9 countries, and they plan to open 10 stores a year.

Their food is high fat and high calorie in a time when consumers are demanding healthier choices. Yet they are unquestionably successful. Did they use marketing to hype up the brand? Did they buy space ads and DRTV spots to let the world know they were coming? Did they buy a TV ad to run during tonight’s Super Bowl? The answer is pretty much a solid no.

So what’s driven their success? It seems to be almost 100% grassroots marketing. They value neighborhoods and community, and mostly, they seem to have figured out what their customers want (customer obsessed!). They integrate with the neighborhood when they open a store front, using neighborhood businesses as suppliers (including items from the local bakery in their frozen custard for instance). They use reclaimed materials to make their tables.

Word of mouth and social media has been and will continue to be Shake Shack’s friend. Per an email from their Marketing Director sent to Ad Age:

“We began at the time when social media really took off. We focus on fun and engaging social media, in-Shack messaging, PR and selective advertising.”

If you scan their Twitter feed (a modest 36,000 followers – compare that to McDonald’s almost 3 million followers), a large number of their tweets are in answer to questions about the possibility of opening a Shake Shack in an area where they don’t currently do business. They use Facebook as well and have over 130,000 ‘likes.’ They have giveaways and live tweet where their carts are in Manhattan.

Shake Shack launched with no plan. They opened their first cart to support a local art project in Madison Square Park, with no idea of a future. Long lines lead to more carts (the 2nd one opened 5 years later) and eventually to brick and mortar locations.

One of their key differentiators from other fast food joints is that their meats are organic and antibiotic free. They use 100% Angus beef in their burgers. They don’t precook their food to make the lines move faster. And that seems to be why customers will wait an hour, or longer, to order and consume a burger.  (They have a webcam so that fans can view the line in Madison Square Gardens before heading out -though it’s not up at the moment.)

Another differentiator from say a McDonald’s is that they don’t franchise. Their strategy is to be the anti-chain. The New York Times called Shake Shack the “anti-chain chain,” in Dec. 2009.

The CEO has acknowledged that they are likely to spend more on marketing in the coming years as they expand into new markets. They currently use in-house designers for their creative, though I expect that’s likely to change as they get bigger.

Generous employee benefits certainly are helping with the buzz. They pay better than minimum wage, with starting salaries in NYC of $10/hr (and at least $9.50 elsewhere). They offer health care benefits (health, dental, vision, disability and 401k ) for employees who work over 25 hour/week. They pay Shack Bucks each month to give employees a share of the company’s topline sales for that month (up to 1% of total revenue). These strategies breed loyalty. The managers all received options in the IPO and could all purchase stock at the IPO price.

And let’s not forget. Their customers love their food. From the fresh meats, the secret menu items, the vegetarian option or two, to the beer and wine they also sell, their formula is working. They even sell Shake Shack doggie treats. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that in the US last year, almost 9 billion burgers were ordered by hungry burger fans.

One of the CEO‘s mottos is:

The bigger we get, the smaller we need to act.

And that for certain is a part of the charm of this unlikely success story.