Tag Archive: Social Media


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.

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/

For the East coast, we often only see the pictures and video of a natural disaster.  Whether it be Hurricane Katrina, the earthquakes in Haiti or the most recent oil spill in the gulf, residents of the eastern seaboard usually just have to deal with the occasional blizzard.  Hurricane Sandy gave us first-hand experience of what it is like to be involved in a natural disaster.  While Harrisburg didn’t receive the amount of damage as did places like Washington, Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey, the Harrisburg area still had to endure loss of power and more over the safety of loved ones.

While I know some people out there still are against Facebook and Twitter, I don’t know how I would have gotten through Hurricane Sandy without them.  Those people who lost power were still able to communicate with friends and family, but also were able to communicate with other people in the community.  A dear friend of mine has family that live in each of the five boroughs in New York City and was very afraid for the safety of his dearest relatives.  Facebook allowed them to reach each other in ways that may not have been available in years’ past.  He was able to know that even though they lost power, they were safe.  Facebook also allowed news media to chance to communicate with their constituents in a new way that should and will be embraced in our new digital age.

Twitter also allowed followers to know and understand what was going on in our surrounding areas.  For me, #SandyCenPa was a forum that people could discuss road closures and power outages and news outlets were able to disseminate information about speed limit changes and regional flood warnings that otherwise would have been impossible for those to access without power.  There were a series of other forums on Twitter:  #SandyNYC, #SandyPhilly and #SandyDC that allowed people regionally without power to get an understanding of what was happening around them and to know what areas were unsafe.

While listening to New York City’s own Ron and Fez Show on SiriusXM today, Ron Bennington made a great comment:  “The one good thing about this (hurricane) that we can take away is our ability to band together and help one another.”  I think social media in Hurricane Sandy helped everyone keep things in perspective and understand social media’s true power.

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.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