Category: Social Media Tips


I’ve been very fortunate to have the opportunity to teach a variety of social media related classes in my time at Central Penn College and am fortunate this term to be teaching a social media marketing class.  I get to show my students how to listen on social, how to create a content calendar, and this week’s topic, how to deal with customer comments.  The irony is that I had a situation last memorial day weekend that provides a perfect case study for what we are speaking about in class this week.

The situation:  My wife and I took a much-needed mini-vacation to Pittsburgh over Memorial Day weekend.  From my time at Slippery Rock, I still have friends in the area that we usually stay with.  The years however have caught up with us and my friend now has two young children, so staying with them isn’t an option.  We decided to stay at Motel 6 at 2834 Banksville Road just outside of the city, mainly because it was the closest to his house.

The room and hotel itself weren’t bad (you get what you pay for in the hotel industry more than any other) and certainly would have been sufficient for our one evening stay.  The issue arose when I went down to get coffee in the morning.  I went to the lobby to see if they had a continental breakfast of some kind.  Unfortunately, they didn’t.  This wasn’t a major issue because we had early lunch plans anyway and they did have coffee.  After I got my coffee, I needed to use the bathroom and went to the attendant at the front desk to ask where the bathroom was.  She proceeded to question that I was a guest in the hotel and that the bathroom was only for guests.  This was shocking to me.  When I told her that I was a guest and then showed her my room key she then told me that I should “Go upstairs to my room and use that bathroom”.

I want to preface the rest of this piece by saying that I have worked in the service industry from the time I was 15 years old until just before I started teaching about three years ago, so for the better part of 15 years.  In that time, I worked at every sort of restaurant you could imagine and even in a hotel.  Treating a guest in this fashion is absolutely unthinkable.  I could understand if I wasn’t a guest in a large city I suppose, but telling a guest to walk upstairs to my room to use the bathroom is unthinkable.

This is not the main issue for me though.  The main issue that I encountered was the lack of response that I received from their customer support and via social media.  The lesson that we are discussing in class this week is how to deal with comments that a business receives via social media and the importance of timely responses.

Here is the aggravation that I went through regarding this complaint I made:

#1 – The day of the incident, I immediately emailed their customer support (around 8:30am).  I received an automated message saying that their customer service department was open seven days a week from 9a – 10p, so I expected to hear from them later that day, which I did not.  In fact, I’ve yet to receive an email from them four days later.

#2 – Then I decided to take to Facebook.  I sent them a message explaining what happened and again did not receive an immediate response.  It took them nearly three hours to contact me back and when they did, all they did was to give my the number for customer service.

Let’s think about it this way:  If I’ve already emailed them and sent them a message on Facebook, do you think that I want to spend time on hold waiting for them to respond to me again?

#3 – Finally, they sent me a message that said that if I provided them with my information that they would contact me immediately.  I did so at 1:30pm and here it is five hours later with still no response.

The point I’m trying to make here is simple:  Businesses have an obligation in the day and age of social media to respond in a timely fashion to customer complaints.  According to research, it takes 7 times as many resources to convert a new client than it does to retain an existing one.  They very easily could have reached out to me at the beginning of this exercise and tried to make the situation right.  If they did a good job, not only would I have remained an existing customer, I may have then taken to social media or my blog to discuss how wonderful of a job they did in taking care of the situation.  Social media has changed the way that customers do business and companies that don’t recognize this now are doomed for failure.

So, at the end of the day, Motel 6 took an opportunity to professionally take care of a situation and make me a life-long customer and tossed it aside.  All I really wanted to know is that I was heard and that the situation was going to be handled with the respect I was due.  Unfortunately, this did not happen.  So I encourage my network to please reconsider staying with Motel 6 until they shape up, or at least make this situation right.

And then of course, this happened just after my stay:  http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2015/05/26/undercover-sting-on-prostitution-at-hotel-on-banksville-road/

I will update this situation should they respond.

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As someone who has had a successful blog for the better part of three years, I often have students show great interest in blogging.  There is one question that continuously arises:  What should I write about?  Students have an easy time understanding why blogging is so important:  It gives them a place to showcase their writing ability, their knowledge of their chosen field, and their dedication to do something not (usually) required in a college curriculum.  The issue remains:  How do you develop content?

Answering this question is something that took me quite some time to develop an understanding for.  At first, I had the same quandary.  I started my blog after an influential moment in my life, the first time I attended Harrisburg University’s Social Media Summit.  I took great notes on each panel and decided that I would write my commentary about what I learned to share with my network.  The problem arose after I wrote about each session, accomplishing my initial goal:  Now what do I write about?  The tips that I discuss are ways that I’ve managed to keep my blog going strong over the past few years and I believe these tips can help any blogger for both the short and long terms.

Tip #1 – Develop a frequency of posts and stick to it

When I first began blogging, I felt that a weekly blog piece was the direction that I wanted to pursue.  After about two months, I felt that this was a goal that was very difficult to achieve.  I wasn’t because I didn’t like to write or that I had trouble finding inspiration; it was that I was working multiple jobs.  Making sure I was doing my job to the utmost of my ability superseded the need for a weekly blog.  Since then, I have vowed to have at least one blog per month.  While I’ll admit that some months I didn’t have the opportunity to write, I’ve averaged about 10 blogs per year.

For those starting a new blog, my advice would be to start with what you are comfortable with.  Don’t be unrealistic and think that you’ll be able to blog daily, or even weekly.  If you love to write and have plenty of ideas at your disposal, make an idea bank with potential topics.  That way, if something doesn’t strike you between entries, you always have ideas to fall back on.  Secondly, don’t write just to write.  Be inspired about your topic.  Show that it is relevant to your career path or at least of interest to you.  The worst blogs are those that show no passion, as if the writer is just going through the motions.

Tip #2 – Follow Influencers on Social Media/Reach out for comments/interviews

Social Media has been a communications revolution unlike any the world has witnessed in the modern era.  The world has totally changed the way we as humans communicate with one another.  This also allows us amazing access to those that influence our field of choice.  One strategy that I’ve employed is to look at the field that I’m involved in and find those that are on the cutting edge.  I continuously read and interact with these individuals so I can be in the know of current and important topics.  This has been one of my largest inspirations when it comes to writing my blog.  Also, reach out to your network and ask them questions.  I’ve never had one person turn me down for a three question email interview when I told them I was writing a blog piece.  People want to help you and you shouldn’t feel intimidated to contact them.

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Tip #3 – Read articles related to your field

Beyond following people that are influential in your field, it’s important to constantly read anything you can find about these topics.  To be successful in the modern age, one must love what they do.  You have to be able be immersed in the topic on a daily basis.  Read at least two articles a day about your field of study and understand the current problems or issues that go along with it.  This will help you become educated and more importantly, well-rounded in discussion.  You can then use this knowledge in interviews with potential employers.

Tip #4 – Develop an informed opinion

This tip is the most important of all with regards to developing content; you must form your own opinion.  No one wants to read a blog that conforms to the status quo; people want to read viewpoints that differ from the norm.  This is where your knowledge of your field can truly come in handy.  Show your audience that you know what you are talking about and (more importantly) have something of value to say!  In the modern day, audiences have more content at their fingertips than they could read in a 24-hour period.  If you don’t provide some sort of value to them, you risk losing them forever.

I encourage you to give blogging a try.  I cannot explain enough the value of a blog to your potential long-term career goals.  I give this example every time I speak on this subject:  Most college students are acquaintances or even friends with others in their major.  What these people really represent is competition for every job that we seek.  Stellar grade point averages are expected now from college students in the open market, so every available job is like a chess match.  With things equal, who gets the job:  Someone that has demonstrated great knowledge of their field via a blog or someone who doesn’t have one?

Professor Paul Miller, Central Penn College

paulmiller@centralpenn.edu

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495/

The following piece will help you understand how to write an effective blog piece as well as how to build a following, maintain an audience and grasp writing in the digital age.

In today’s present job landscape, blogging is one of the greatest things you can do to leverage your position as a potential job candidate.  There are several reasons why this is the case.  When you apply for a job, often times you are in a battle with tens to possibly thousands of other people vying for that same position.  Blogging is one way that you can take the upper-hand over many of your “opponents”.  It is a way for you to be seen as an expert in your field, but also allows possible employers to see that you are willing to go above and beyond.  Most people are not forced to blog; they do it because they like to write about certain topics.

Starting a blog is easy.  There are numerous free blog-hosting sites at your disposal (Hubpages, WordPress, Blogger.com, etc.).  Take the time to research each and determine which is the best option for your future blog.  When you choose a site, get to know the tools available to you.

Once you have chosen a site, you should think of a topic(s) that you want to write about.  For college students, something specifically related to your field of study will not only help when it comes time to search for a career, but also add an excellent section to your resume.  If you are looking for inspiration, refer to people who you look up to in your field for ideas.  Often your professors can help point you in the right direction by giving you a list of topics. 

Understand that it is critical to blog about things that are important to you because you should never look at blogging as a chore.  You want to sound excited and offer your readers something of value.  Don’t rehash articles you read; try to create a fresh and unique perspective.  Reach out to your network for help, as most people are extremely interested in helping you succeed.  When starting out, try to keep a common focus.  While branching out is okay sometimes, your readers will begin to expect certain things from you.  Veering too far off topic may be more detrimental than beneficial.

Consistency is one of the most important things about blogging.  As you build your readership, your audience will begin to expect posts from you.  Your first piece that you write should introduce yourself, your focus and your frequency.  If you think that you would like to blog weekly, tell your audience.  If that is too much of a commitment, try bi-weekly or monthly.  You don’t need to add stress to yourself by having to constantly create content, and you always want to make sure that what you are saying is relevant.

After writing your blog, share the link on your social media channels.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the feedback that you get almost immediately!  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are some of the best and easiest ways to drive traffic to your new blog. 

Another way to drive traffic to your blog is by posting in LinkedIn groups.  If you are writing a blog about a specific topic, find a LinkedIn group that is similar to that topic.  For example, if your piece is about social media for small business, look for a small business owners group or a social media marketing group.  You can quickly make a post to the group discussing what your blog is about and why the user should go to your post and learn more.  This can be a way to bring people from out of your network to your blog, but also a way to add new influencers to your network.

I would highly encourage anyone to start a blog.  If you are a student, blogging can help by putting you above other applicants after graduation and give you an added aspect on your resume.  If you are someone looking for work, blogging can help potential employers see you as an expert in your field.  If you are someone happily in a career, blogs can help enhance your standing as an authority figure to your peers.

Here is a blog start-up check list:

1. Research Blogging Sites

2. Formulate a Topic

3. Determine the Frequency of Your Posts

4. Write/Edit/Revise your Post

5. Post the Link on Your Social Media Channels including LinkedIn Groups

6. Revise Your Strategy Constantly

7. Repeat steps 4 – 6

Good Luck!

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@kollisionmedia.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

Before I begin to review Rachel Strella’s latest webinar, I must begin by saying how influential Rachel has been to my career.  I first met her at this year’s Social Media Summit at Harrisburg University.  Since then, I have used the things that I have learned from Rachel to help my career in such ways that I can’t even explain.  Rachel is an amazing speaker and takes the time to answer the many questions that I’ve had in the time we have known each other.  Thanks so much Rachel!

Since I work with many small businesses, I feel that this webinar spoke to me in ways that will not only help me, but my clients as well.  I want the focus of my business to be helping small businesses understand the importance of social media and comprehend the power and short-falls of the medium.  This webinar allowed me to have a firm grasp on how I can help small businesses employ social media strategies for their benefit.

Rachel discussed four major shortcomings for small businesses:  time, resources, money, and social media knowledge.  I’d like to take the time to discuss each of these in regards to the businesses I work with.  Time is a major issue for small businesses, mainly because many owners of small businesses find themselves “wearing many hats” as Rachel puts it.  Small business owners often are accountants, salespeople, social media editors, marketing managers, and many other jobs that they simply cannot afford to hire people to do.  This can be a major problem for them.

Resources also are also at a minimum for small business owners.  While many view resources as money; time, knowledge and even lack of employees would certainly also fall under this category.  For this entry, we will consider resources and money as one.  Because small business owners do not have the resources or money to employ salespeople or social media editors, both of these may lack in comparison to corporate competition.  This is one of the many reasons owning a small business can be a very stressful enterprise.

Social media knowledge may be the most important of the four reasons listed above.  Many small business owners do not have the knowledge needed to conduct a proper social media campaign.  Many feel that simply having a Facebook or Linked In page is all they need to do.  Even if they do post occasionally, the content is not where is should be.  That is why I feel that hiring a consultant for social media is the one simple thing that businesses can do to help elevate their business if they do not have the knowledge already.  Hiring a consultant is not all that needs to be done, however.  You must implement a plan and stick to it!  You must set both short-term and long-term goals and stick to them!  There are ways to make social media work for you, but only with the proper knowledge and follow-through.

I like to compare social media campaigns to caring for a garden.  In the spring (the beginning of your campaign), you must prepare the soil.  You must buy quality product (social media consulting) and plant it at the right time.  From there you must care for your garden (post quality content) and water your garden (have short-term and long-term goals).  After a  few weeks, you will begin to see the “fruits” of your labor (Return on Investment).

Rachel made another interesting point in the webinar; there are a series of shortcomings that small business owners find themselves falling into.  The first shortcoming for small businesses is that they treat social media like advertising.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, social media is a two-way form of marketing.  Where traditional advertising is a one-way medium, social media allows fans and followers the opportunity to interact with the business in a whole new way.  Those businesses who view social media as a one-way medium will never see the advantages that social media has to offer.

Another shortcoming that Rachel discusses is the notion that social media will fix what is wrong with a small business.  This is one thing that I struggle to get business owners to understand.  Social media will not show ROI within a few weeks.  It may not show ROI within a few months.  But if you stick to goals that you have set for yourself, social media will become a valuable part of any business, be it small business or corporate business.  Many owners think that a one-month campaign is enough time to determine whether social media will work or not.  I encourage those of you reading this to understand that social media will never go away.  It is one long, never-ending opportunity to connect with your customers and clients in a new and different way that can add so much value to your business.

The one overwhelming theme from this webinar was this:  A small business owner with no social media training is like myself trying to fix my own car.  I have no knowledge how to fix an automobile, nor do I claim to.  Those owners need to understand, use, and leverage the power of social media.  This can only be done by hiring a consultant, taking classes or webinars or making a serious effort to learn on their own.  So please, if you are a small business owner, understand what course of action you need to take and take it!

For more information on Rachel Strella and Strella Social Media, follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelStrella

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

It never ceases to amaze me how much there is to learn about social media.  While I feel that I am well-versed in SM, I will never consider myself an expert.  Obviously social media changes constantly, but by viewing the Strella Social Media Webinar about Social Media ROI for Small Business I was able to have a better understanding of how to deal with the different levels of clients that I serve.  This webinar is still available at:  http://instantteleseminar.com/?eventID=32042523 and I highly encourage you social media editors and business owners alike to view the webinar and learn about how social media can assist your marketing plan.

One portion of the webinar that stood out to me was the difference between social media strategies for large corporations and small businesses.  Rachel was quick to point out that corporations obviously have a much larger budget and are able to do much more than are small businesses.  Small businesses simply cannot afford to pay someone on staff to do only social media.  Often times there is someone on staff who has a myriad of tasks at hand other than social media.  Simply put, social media is a skill and should not simply be delegated to a secretary or an intern.

Traditional advertising has often been viewed as a one-way form of marketing.  Whether it be a television commercial, a radio spot, a bus wrap or an ad in the paper, these forms of advertising offer no way to produce feedback.  Social media is a medium that embraces feedback almost instantly in most cases.  Social media offers not only branding for your business but also a way to network with your clients in real-time, something traditional ads do not do.  Often times, however, businesses view social media as a one-way form of marketing.  They put out a message and do not follow-up properly or engage fully.  Rachel made a statement that stuck with me, “Social Media is an ongoing relationship that never ends.” If more social media marketers would understand and employ this statement into their everyday thought process, social media could be much more advantageous to them.

The most important thing within the webinar for myself specifically has to be the goal setting timeline that Rachel spoke of employing.  When starting any sort of social media campaign, it is extremely necessary to set goals.  By starting with 90-day goals, after the time period has elapsed you can evaluate these goals to determine what has worked and what hasn’t.  The next step should be a 6-month plan, in which after the 6-months you can again evaluate if your plan is working, what you can do to change it and where you would like to go in the future.

When getting started with a social media page, it is important to temper expectations.  There needs to be a strong balance between building your page and posting strong content for the readers to enjoy.  By offering something valuable to your readers, they begin to trust you and turn to you for information in the future.  When you first start a Facebook page for example, posting three times per week is a good place to start.  Any more than this, readers may get turned off if you are not offering value and strong content at the same time.  Any less than this, users will not engage at the level you are seeking.

The final point that I would like to emphasize is the importance of learning and understanding the skill that is social media.  Rachel made a great point in her webinar, “If you do not have the means to sustain your social media strategy, you should consider hiring an independent contractor.”  Often, you would end up not only having a better social media product, but saving yourself money in the process.  Keep in mind, as social media independent contractors, we want to see you succeed!

I appreciate the fact that Rachel Strella and Strella Social Media have begun producing unique content for the social media world.  I must say that I have great admiration for her and her company and look forward to her next webinar, Social Media and Small Business, Pitfalls to Avoid on October 15.  For more information please visit http://www.strellasocialmedia.com or @RachelStrella on Twitter.

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

Where would I be in my career without Strella Social Media?  Today, they held a webinar about starting, maintaining, and calculation of Return-On-Investment (ROI) for small business.  As someone who has not only been a fan of small business, but also involved heavily in social media, I could not have imagined a better topic.  Rachel Strella has a real talent for speaking and really excelled in her effort today.

I encourage everyone to view the webinar at:  http://instantteleseminar.com/?eventID=32042523, especially if you own a small business and are interested in the ways that social media can instantly become your friend.  Rachel offered many different insights into using social media for achieving  both short-term and long-term goals, online and offline.

One specific thing that I will take from this webinar is the importance of communication between the business itself and the social media editor.  In many instances, those doing the social media posts are not always employed at the business they work for.  While they may technically be employed “by” the company, they rarely are employed “at” the company and work from a remote site.  Without proper communication, this often can lead to lead to posts with little adequate content.  Rachel also stressed the importance of a scheduling calendar, which leads those on the creative team to understand what posts will occur at what time.  This also always allows proper promotion for larger events or specials on a monthly scale.

The Harrisburg area is lucky to have Rachel Strella’s social media presence.  She is an innovator in her craft and should be considered so within the community.

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

With the prevalence of social media in our society, many small to medium businesses have been faced with this question:  Where do I start?  This entry will take you step-by-step how to start a social media strategy from nothing, with a brief description of why each step is important and if you should employ different social media outlets.

1.  Have a message to convey and the time to convey it.

Before you even attempt to start a social media plan, you need to have a clear vision of what message you want to disseminate.  Sure you can create your pages, but what really is the point if you aren’t going to put the effort into the maintenance of the page.  Social media is certainly an example of the adage “You only get what you give”.  Have a clear plan and execute it; it is that simple.

2.  Start a Facebook for Business page.

There are still people out there that refuse to engage in social media as is the nature of new technology in the communication world.  However, there is no reason a business should not have a Facebook page.  The pages are free, take little time to maintain, and best of all are the easiest way to engage with current and potential customers.  Facebook is the easiest way to drive people to your business website (which I’m assuming you would already have, if not please create a webpage before beginning a social media plan).

Setting it up is easy, just go to:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and complete the steps.  I would strongly advise reading the Facebook Pages Terms (http://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php) before getting started.  While it is the typical legal red tape, it is still important to know the guidelines that Facebook mandates.

At this point, this is where Social Media Strategy differs depending on the type of business you are.  Every company needs a message, the time to convey it and a Facebook business page.  Your plan from there depends on if you are a professional business (such as a Law Firm or Accounting Company) or a casual business (Retail store or Restaurant).

Professional Business:

3.  Create a Linked In Business Page

For professionals, Linked In is the number 1 asset to networking.  I have discussed multiple reasons why this is true in past blogs, so let’s assume you know the value of Linked In for individuals.  Those same reasons that Linked In is important for the individual is the same for a professional business as well.  While the Linked In for business page is somewhat more complicated that starting a Facebook for Business page, it will bring double the returns than Facebook assuming that it is done properly.

To start a company page, you must first add the company to your personal profile by saying you are employed there.  At that point you will be allowed to create a business page for the company.  By doing this, you can easily allow of your connections to be invited to the business page and have a built-in base of followers.  By encouraging other members of your staff to do the same, commanding a large group of followers in a short time is quite easy.

4.  Create a Twitter Handle

Regardless of what kind of business you are, Twitter is a free and easy way to promote your services, show expertise in your field and engage with people who are like-minded.  Create a Twitter handle (the letters behind the @, ex. @Foursquare) based on your business name.  Tweet important events, specials and articles written by you or your peers for your followers to view.  Understand that because of the 140 character limit, you have to be brief and concise.  This is not a detriment, in fact the 140 character limit has made Twitter what it is because of its’ simple nature.  Even if you don’t start tweeting right away, following those in your field (including the competition) can be a way for your business to stay up-to-date on current market trends.

For a professional business, these 4 steps can be the beginning of an effective and (best of all) free way to market your business to potential clients, family and friends.

Restaurants, retail outlets and other commercial ventures can use other means to attract and engage with potential customers using social media.  Assuming Steps 1 and 2 are complete, the next steps will allow your business to grow by interacting with your client base.

3.  Foursquare

Foursquare is an amazing asset that is not being utilized to its’ full potential by commercial businesses such as restaurants, pubs and retail stores.  In a past blog entitled Foursquare:  An Innovative, (kind of) New Social Media (https://paulmmiller.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/foursquare-an-innovative-kind-of-new-social-media/), I describe Foursquare and why I love it.  Foursquare has an easy process to begin using for businesses.  Sign up (or log in with your Facebook ID), go to the business page and on the right side of the page there is a link that says “Do you manage this venue?  Click here”.  The verification process does take a little more time than the creation of a Facebook business page, but it’s worth it.

There are many reasons to use Foursquare as a “casual business”.  If you go for dinner at a trendy new place and have a phenomenal evening, you can leave a tip on the business page, tell your friends how great of an experience you had, leave photos of your food or view, etc.  Your friends see these experiences and become inspired to try the place based on your recommendation.  In 2012 and beyond, everyone is critic; be it food, restaurant, or other retail venue.  You also can create specials that could begin with loyalty bonuses and continue with discounts aimed at driving business during slower periods of the day.

4.  Twitter

This aspect is similar to part 4 above for the professional businesses, but the need to engage is much higher.  Whereas with professional businesses, Twitter should be used as a tool to enhance your knowledge of your given field, Twitter for the casual business should be used to promote your company.  It is very important that any specials that you may have are disseminated to people who follow your business.  Even if they don’t decide to attend this event, the name recognition alone will go a long way in creating a successful online brand for your business.

Truthfully, social media is all about what you think makes the most sense for your business.  These words here are not the end-all be-all, but I would love to see more businesses take advantage of these tools out there to make their venture more successful.  Not one thing in this entry costs any money whatsoever, only time and a message.  The fans will come if you manage your pages appropriately and the business will grow.  Face it, join social media now or be left behind.

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495