Handling Customer Complaints Over Social Media

It happens to the best of us. You do your best to offer high quality service and great products to your customers, but eventually you will have a displeased customer. Often this will be no fault of your own. It could be a failure with your shipping company, unrealistic service expectations, or a glitch in coding but in reality the problem isn’t what matters. What matters is how you resolve it. So, what do you do when a customer complains publicly on your Facebook or Twitter?

Customer Complaint

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Respond Immediately

No matter what the complaint is, even if you feel it is unwarranted and ridiculous, you must respond immediately. In order to respond immediately, you must be always listening. The complaint might be vague, but you need to respond in some fashion. The spotlight is on you now, and the world is watching.

Be Personal

When responding make sure you address the customer by name. Talk to them on a personal level. Nobody likes talking to a robot. Especially when they are upset. Which response would you rather hear? “Sorry for the inconvenience, we are looking into the issue” or “Hi John, I’m sorry you are having issues accessing your account. We are actively working on getting the problem solved right away. Are you getting any error codes?” Both responses say essentially the same thing, but one will go much further than the other.

Understand the Real Problem

Rarely have I seen an upset customer give all the details necessary of the issue of their problem. Ask probing questions. Dig deeper. The better you understand what went wrong, the more likely that you can fix the issue and turn an upset customer into a customer for life. Often times you will have to take this part private, but that is very easy through DM’s and FB messaging. Worst case, you could always take the old fashioned approach and just email them…I guess.

Make Sure the Problem Gets Fixed

Seems redundant, right? Once you tell a customer you are working on fixing the issue, you should well…fix the issue. Sadly, this is an area that I have seen a few companies fail. They respond right away, get all the necessary info, tell me that they’re going to fix the problem, but then I never hear from them again. The rep must have felt great for putting out a “social media fire” short term, but without fixing the issue, it’s just going to be much worse for the company the next time around.

Keep it simple, Always do what you say you will do.

Have you ever had a customer complain over your social channels? What advice would you recommend for handling an upset customer?

Want to know the secret to following 7077 people on Twitter?

I love Twitter! I’ve been using Twitter since 2006, back when everything you said got a response from someone, and there were no automated direct messages, and no spammers trying to get you to click their links and buy their junk.

Over the past few years, a lot of people have started following me. A lot of interesting people have started following me. Many of these are people who add value to my life, and thus to the lives of my readers. And many new interesting people have joined Twitter, so I’ve started following them. I used to think I couldn’t follow them all, so I kept my follower count down low. Has that ever happened to you, where you’ve felt you couldn’t possibly follow even 1 more person, or you’d never be able to keep up with it all?

I’ve got a secret for you: You can’t! That’s right – you can’t! You can’t possibly keep up with 2000, 5000, or 7077 people on Twitter.

At least not without help.

No, I’m not saying hire a virtual assistant to read you your Tweets. I am saying you need a better system for using Twitter. And it starts right here.

Getting Started Following 7077 People on Twitter

Before you begin, write down or type up a list of all the types of people you want to connect with on Twitter. My people include Milwaukee people, Chicago people, social media people, authors, speakers, and small business owners, to name a few. It’s important you make this list FIRST, and you’ll see why in a moment.

Next, go to Twitter.com and create some Twitter lists for these buckets. You’ll find the lists feature underneath the gear in the upper right corner of Twitter.com.

twitter listsOnce you click the Lists link, you’ll see a screen that says Create List. Make a list for each of these lists. It’s up to you whether you make the lists public or private.

creating twitter listsNow every time you follow someone new on Twitter, think about why you’re following them. Do they fit into one of these lists? If not, take a deep breath and ask yourself “Why am I following this person?” If they’re a truly interesting person who deserves to be followed, create a new Twitter list called Interesting People and add them there.

Then, when you have time on a snowy Sunday afternoon when nothing else is going on, go back and fit all the people you’re already following into one of these Twitter lists.

Just adding people to a Twitter List is not enough

Good work! Now you’ve created your lists. Now what?

Every time you use Twitter, limit yourself to looking at only the list you wanted to look at. Set a timer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever time you have, and get your work done. Don’t let yourself drift off into “playing” on Twitter when you have other work to do. Focus your attention on the one bucket, and work on that and only that bucket for the time you have. Repeat as needed for the other buckets so they all get your attention.

One last thing about Twitter lists

Remember  that bucket of interesting people you just HAD to create? After 30 days, try to think about how many times you’ve actually looked at that bucket. Was it often enough that you need to keep that list? Was it profitable for you, or did it provide the break you needed to be even more productive? Or was it just a time suck, a distraction from doing your real work?

So that’s the secret to following 7077 people on Twitter. Create some Twitter lists. Add everyone you follow to the lists. Be disciplined enough to only look at those lists.

What’s YOUR secret for using Twitter? Please leave a comment below!

How to Use Social Media as a Job Seeker

Common sense would dictate that if you are seeking employment and you use social media, you would use that network to locate your next job.

social media for job seekers

photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc

Yeah, I would think that too. But it seems that people are either afraid to reach out to their social network (out of fear of looking weak or whatever) or simple lack of understanding how social media can help. As the marketing manager for a group of staffing agencies, I’m posting job seeker ideas, job postings and other resources out there on our various social media to help. While those posts seem to have some reach, I wonder how useful it is to someone looking for work. I wonder if the reason those posts aren’t helping as many people as they could is because job seekers simply aren’t using their social media that way. They’re doing themselves a huge disservice.

There are lots of articles out there about job seekers’ social networks being viewed as a recruitment tool. If a person is interviewed, generally, their social media is looked up and reviewed for anything that could harm their chances of getting hired. We don’t need to debate the ethics of this, but it IS happening and if you’re a job seeker you have to do what you can to limit any negative exposure.

Here are some simple tips for job seekers to use social media to help them land a job:

  • Facebook.  Go through your timeline and profile. Are there any party pics or posts that might be used against you in an interview? Adjust your settings to hide as much as you can. It IS your page and you can have what you want on it, but you should hide anything that would risk a potential job.
  • Twitter. If you have a Twitter account you’re probably safe with whatever you post. You will want to clean up your profile if you have the “egghead” image or don’t have a Twitter header image. Make yourself as presentable here as you would in a job interview, professional.
  • Blog. Your blog is the expression of who you are and everything about you. Unless you have a ton of profane laced posts, highly controversial subject matter, tons of nude pics or other questionable material you are probably safe. But just to be sure, you may want to go through past posts and see which ones could be used to keep you from getting a job. Again, I don’t want to start the ethical debate about this here. This is a tip that could be the difference between getting a job and staying unemployed. Also, you can use a few of your posts on the blog as a makeshift online resume; sharing your skill sets, proving you know your industry, and sharing info about how you might solve a specific business problem.
  • LinkedIn. Ah yes. LinkedIn. I’ve blogged over and over about LinkedIn and how to use it effectively. If you are an active job seeker there is NO excuse for not having a LinkedIn page. Seriously, if you don’t have one, go get one. Right now. Do it. I’ll wait. Use every resource you can find to put up a professional image of yourself, fill out every section completely and find contacts. Make it very clear that you are seeking a job and join as many local LinkedIn groups you can find. There are plenty of job seeker groups in LinkedIn which will help you in your job search. Just Google “using LinkedIn to get a job”, and you’ll find a ton of resources.

If you have a professional headshot, change your profile pic on ALL your social media accounts to this professional shot. If you don’t have one, go to WalMart or some other low cost option that shoots portraits. For $10, you can get a professional headshot. It’s worth the investment. Don’t settle for a camera phone pic in front of a white wall. That’s just lazy and lame.

If you are seeking a job, I’m sure it’s not always fun and it can be easy to get frustrated. I’ve been there, recently, and I know it sucks. But if you use your social network to help find a job, it could help ease the stress knowing you’re using every available tool. Did I miss anything? What other ways can you think of to use your social network to help find a job? Leave your comments below. Thanks!

How to Teach Social Media To Others

Quite often I am approached by friends or referrals with the request to teach them about the world of social media. Some just want to learn more about the industry I work in and others are dissatisfied with what schooling has taught them and want to know how social media and spending time on a social network can be something turned into a career. Whichever the case I am usually glad to sit down with them in person or over Skype and discuss what it is that I do exactly – with mixed reactions, but overall quite positive and inspired.

Here’s how I usually like to approach the conversation:

1. There’s No Such Thing as a “Social Media Expert” – quit calling me one: This is the one that comes up even before we have our first conversation. Usually the first line is “I heard you’re a social media expert” followed by “can you teach me how to do what you do?” For me I always tell the person to backtrack, then follow up by saying that there is no such thing as a social media expert – because there truly is none. The industry is changing by the second, so how can anyone be an expert? You can be an expert at the English language, at baking a cake or at organic chemistry compounds, but not social media. We are all learning on a daily basis, and will continue to do so, and I don’t think we’ll stop.

2. Relate the topic to something understandable: I like to relate one topic to another because it’s important that people are able to see parallels with how social media is to how their life is. Remarkably there are many similarities. One I like to use is to compare the social media ecosystem and the aspects involved there into the dating world. When you’re able to make sense of a familiar thing (dating) with the unfamiliar (social media) people catch on, and you can guarantee a few laughs too.

3. Emphasize the Process but Don’t Forget the Experience: In my young social media career I’ve been asked if I spend time on Facebook and Twitter all day. The answer is a clear and obvious no as my job involves enterprise communities but even if I did, I would also be spending time blogging, targeting who I follow and preparing analytics to see how well social media is doing. In teaching social media to others I like to emphasize the process of social media, from scheduling content to preparing content calendars to analyzing important data indicators. In the same sentence I also tell those learning not to forget the experience, namely the valuable conversations and relationships built over social media.

4. Introduce them to the community: The social media world is big and overwhelming from someone who might be a newcomer. I always take time to ask if they would like introductions to folks in the space already who are running their own businesses, have a day job in the industry, are engaging thought leaders or are new just like them. Finding someone to relate to can be one of the biggest pluses for staying in the industry once someone has joined.

I do find definite joy in being able to share my career with others. If there is any aspect of what I do that I can share with you please do let me know! I’d be glad to chat – and of course, explain how social media and dating have anything in common!

What Apps do you use on a Daily Basis?

I’ve been reading a lot about different apps that my colleagues use to make their lives better and work load more manageable, so I thought I would make some additions and discuss some of the tools that I have in my tool kit. Lets go ahead and just follow through a typical day in my social media work world.
apps toolkit

photo credit: RLHyde via photopin cc

The Rules of the Day

I feel I would be remiss if I did not mention the first tool in my tool kit, the “go to” tool that I rely the most on in my daily routine…my coffee maker…ha ha ha. Okay now that is out of the way, and I am still not sure if that was tongue in cheek or really a serious tool, lets look at the real work horses in my arsenal

First things First

I’m a huge fan of Google Chrome, it is far and away my browser. I click on it 4 times first thing, one for each monitor. If you are not using multiple monitors, you have no idea what you are missing. Nuff said

The Big Four

When I fire up the ole desktop I always start with the same set up. On my right hand screen I pull up IQTell, in the middle I pull up BundlePost, and to my left I place Hootsuite and Buffer. This is a routine that is rarely deviated from. IQTell I have spoken about before and really love this tool, it brings so much organization to my daily routine. They recently updated the display and it is even more efficient now. Lets test drive the other tools in my tool kit. BundlePost is by far one of my favorite apps/software tools. The way it integrates with Hootsuite is great. Managing multiple accounts, and keeping up to date with great relevant content is what Bundlepost does best. It is also useful in so many other ways. Robert, Julia, Rich the BP team provide a great useful tool that is utilized by many social media professionals. Thanks to the BundlePost team for all that you do.

Hootsuite just keeps getting better and better in my humble opinion. An absolute must for those that really want to keep your social media accounts organized. They continue to integrate additional social media platforms, including Google Plus, it is one of the few that connects nicely with G+. I spend a good amount of time each day on Hootsuite. If you are serious with social media, it is well worth the extra money to add the Hootsuite University to your account. A great way to learn how to really utilize Hootsuite to it fullest.

I continue to get a lot of use from Buffer, another great tool for scheduling and monitoring multiple accounts. I tend to use Buffer more for add-ons, and Facebook posts. Both Hootsuite and Buffer provide toolbar buttons which makes sharing great content a snap. When it’s 2:00 AM and you find some awesome content that fits perfectly with a client’s recent blog post, using Buffer is a snap to schedule that content for a  better time for your client’s audience.

Add a Little Spice to the Mix.

Now throughout the day I will work with Tweetsprout, ManageFlitter, Twitter, Linkedin and FB, definitely Pinterest,  and probably Mailchimp as well. Throughout the rest of my day I will normally visit, Triberr, Steamfeed, Listly, Stumbleupon, Scoopit, Google reader, Evernote of course, and that is all pretty much before my noon break. Depending on the day, I will most likely pull up one of my WP press blogs, as well as Tweetchat to engage in some great twitter chat action. I am sure that the apps being mentioned are being utilized by many other of my Social Media friends. If not the same apps, variations of them depending on personal taste, likes, and dislikes. With the speed and volume of content we deal with each day, it is just about a necessity to survive.

On the Road Again

I find myself writing more and more these days, and I love to hit the road and find a quiet place to sit and write, for that all I need is my Galaxy Note smartphone, and my Freedom Pro mini keyboard. Utilizing the blue tooth connection between these two tools,  I can create content any time of the day. The freedom to write from any place in a comfortable, efficient manner is a great perk to this career. The addition of the keyboard really makes all the difference between using thumbs and actually typing – being able to utilize a fully functioning keyboard is so much more efficient.

apps

There’s nothing holding us down, or keeping us back these days. Entire companies are being run from laptops, smartphones and the apps that keep us moving forward in an efficient, productive manner. The sky is the limit, and you are limited only by your imagination. Technology and social media are changing the way the world communicates, and does business.

So what tools do you utilize in the course of your day? I always love to learn about what my colleagues are utilizing, so share your the tools you have in your business tool kit.

You are the Face of Social Media

Ok kids, time to lose the egg and the faceless profiles. The first word in social media is SOCIAL. How about we get a little personal here and start humanizing the digital experience? No matter the reason you engage in social media activity, either for personal or professional reasons you did so to meet new people, learn, share, network and build relationships.

No Face on Social Media

photo credit: Masked-Bob via photopin cc

Would you walk up to a prospect in person with your face covered up? What about wearing a logo mask over your head? That would be a bit awkward, don’t you think?

Technology is great, social media rocks. Mobile is cool and people are still people. While technology has changed the vehicles we use  the game is still the same, people want to do business with other people. Just because we use technology to help us run more efficiently, it doesn’t mean we should become completely impersonal.

It is well documented on this site the value of social media, from marketing to promotions, networking and referral traffic the list goes on and on. Social media does a lot. The more you put into it, the more you get out of it. After all, this experience is all about YOU.  So go ahead and share a little about yourself.

Whether you are using social networks as an individual or as a brand, make it human. Humanize yourself and your brand by including a picture and a name. Make it clear with whom your audience is engaging with.

How do we go about doing this you ask? You can start by answering these questions about you and/or your brand?

1. Start with yourself.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • What are your interests?
  • What makes you special, unique or different?
  • What is your role and relationship to your business?

2. Now for your business.

  • What business are you in?
  • How can you help?
  • Where do you operate?
  • Where can I find out more info? i.e. Include companies URL
  • Who are we engaging with (answer posts)?

Why is it important to attach a face to social media?

  1. Social Media is a great platform for networking but your goal should be to migrate the conversation and relationship into the “Real World”. In Real Life (IRL), we have names and faces that go along with our knowledge and personalities. Wouldn’t you rather have a conversation with a person’s name instead of a brand name or a logo?
  2. People want to follow and engage with real people. By not including a picture, you will affect the number of people who follow or connect with you. No one wants to follow an egg on twitter. Nor do they want to network or connect with a faceless profile on LinkedIn.
  3. Social is all about sharing and building relationships. When it comes to Social Media, you have to give in-order to receive. The easiest way to give is to share, start by sharing something about yourself. Like a picture, where you live, what you like or what interests you. The easiest part of social media should be sharing information about you. There is no right or wrong answer, no trick question. Just be personal and be yourself, you know… be social.

How do you feel about profiles that don’t include a picture? Do you think spam or being are missing the point? Please leave a comment below!

 

Twitter Tools That Help With Efficiency

If you’re as busy as I am, you don’t have time to spend all day finding content, and managing your Twitter account. Steven Hughes wrote a great post a few weeks ago about how to manage Twitter efficiently, and spoke about Twitter tools. I’ll expand more on that topic in this post. There are plenty of Twitter tools out there that make it a lot easier for you to do your daily Twitter work. Here are some of my favourite Twitter tools for content and account management that I could not live without:

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is my go-to command center for monitoring and responding to Twitter messages. I recently wrote a post that explains how I set it up so I’m always listening. Hootsuite makes it easy to manage all of your incoming, and outgoing messages on Twitter, making it a lot easier to follow conversations. It’s also a great tool to monitor conversations from your favourite Tweeps, and some industry hashtags. If you’re still tweeting directly from Twitter’s website – STOP. Start using Hootsuite, it will make your life a lot easier.

BufferApp

BufferApp is my content scheduler – I prefer the interface and the ease of use compared to Hootsuite’s content scheduler. With BufferApp, you set pre-determined times for your tweets to send out for each day of the week. When you find an article you like, you can “buffer” it in BufferApp, and it will be added in the dashboard for your next scheduled tweet. You can buffer 20 tweets at a time if you want, and you’ll be sure they will tweet out at the different times that you selected. Also, BufferApp has an easy analytics dashboard that shows you how many people replied to your tweet, re-tweeted, your total reach for that tweet, and how many people clicked on your link. It makes it very easy to track the performance of your tweets.

Buffer for TwitterTweriod

Tweriod is a neat little app – it calculates when your Twitter followers are most active by measuring when they mention and retweet you the most, and gives you an optimized schedule for the best times for you to tweet. You can get a free report that separates the results in weekdays vs. weekends, but if you pay a couple dollars for a report (and I suggest you do, it’s worth it), you can get optimized schedules for every day of the week. What’s AWESOME about Tweriod is that it integrates with BufferApp, and automatically fills in the best schedule for you.

Tweriod for TwitterGoogle Reader

You’re probably wondering how Google Reader is a Twitter tool – You can subscribe to your favourite blogs with Google Reader, and have the RSS feeds appear in one single location, making it easy to sort through a lot of content at once. You can also subscribe to Google Alerts RSS feeds, and put it into your Google Reader, so you can keep up on the latest news about a certain topic. What’s even better is that BufferApp has an applet that integrates with Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. When you go through your Google Reader, and find an article you like, you can schedule it right from Google Reader by pressing the “buffer” button on your browser – makes it ridiculously easy for you to schedule your content. Another added bonus – you can organize your content in folders. So all of your Social Media RSS feeds can go into the Social Media forlder, Marketing RSS feeds in marketing folder, and so on…

Reader for TwitterSocialMention.com

SocialMention.com is neat – you can search for topics across different social networks, blogs, video hosting sites, etc., and set up an RSS feed for your search results. Once you have your RSS feed setup, you can import it into Google Reader and make it really easy for you to schedule out YouTube videos, or any other content you found on SocialMention.

Tweepi

I use Tweepi for one thing – flush people that haven’t followed me back. Tweepi makes it very easy for you to sort through people that you have followed, and that are not following you back, so you can unfollow as needed. If you invest into Tweepi premium, you can also use it to find new Tweeps to follow, which might be useful for some.

These are the tools that I use day-in, day-out, to manage the multiple Twitter accounts I manage. Without these tools, I would waste A LOT of time throughout my day. I’m able to schedule content within 30 minutes each day, and manage my Twitter followers within 10 minutes each day. That totals 40 minutes of account/content management – the rest is dedicated to monitoring and engaging with Twitter followers.

How long does it take you to schedule content, and manage your Twitter followers each day? Do you wish you had more time on your hands for engagement? Please leave a comment below!

Why You Are Better Off Not Being Perfect Online

Nobody’s perfect, and no-one should be. Even so, people strive to show off an almost flawless existence, both off- and online. Today I’ll tell you a true story about something I learned that perhaps will change how you think about your social media presence.

Once upon a time, I went out with a guy I had gotten to know very well online. We had dinner and a good time at a nice restaurant. At the end of the night out he was very honest with me. He said: “Frankly, I find you more human since you had some wine. Your politeness felt a bit intimidating to me in the beginning of the evening.” 

photo credit: fotologic via photopin cc

Actually, I did not take offense. He didn’t mean to be rude and I knew that what he said was pretty true. In new or unfamiliar situations, I tend to put on the perfect face and act professionally nice. It’s my way of handling uncertainty. But it’s counterproductive: instead of showing my personality, I hide it. 

Obviously, the wine and the hours in the restaurant had taken my guard down. I was able to show the real me, and the real me was more likeable than my polite façade. 

Sometimes when I tell this story, people get upset over the guy being so honest with me. But I’m sincerely grateful that he was. I’m still acting professionally nice when I’m feeling insecure, but I try to remember that being the real me isn’t so bad after all. The life lesson I’ve learned is that people tend to think imperfect is more perfect than perfect. And this is true both off- and online.

Who Are You Online?

Building an internet presence is much about shaping your very own online persona. One thing I like about that is that you can control how you want to be seen and avoid the real worlds’ prejudices and preconceptions about you, based on looks, socio-economic status or origin.

What I don’t like about online presence is that so many people strive to shape their lives to seem completely flawless. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: Who hasn’t improved their life on Facebook? We tag ourselves in cool places (not when doing weekly shopping in the supermarket), upload only flattering pictures of ourselves (and perhaps less flattering ones of others) and craft our status updates so we seem successful, happy and popular (we don’t tell when we didn’t get the job we applied for, when we fight with our loved ones or when a friend doesn’t return a call).

Don’t Act Perfect If You Want to Be Heard

I have recently written a story on my blog about the un-me trend: a common quest for the perfect online existence where we can remove every unwanted part of our lives. But if you want to be heard online, if you want to stand out, I don’t believe in being perfect. 

To avoid a superficial appearance, I have three pieces of advice for you for successful interactions online, whether you aim for building a customer base, act as a thought leader or just establish a social network:

1. Find Your Own Voice

Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” That’s very true. No matter how much you admire other bloggers, business leaders or friends – you’re not them. You don’t think like them, talk like them or act like them. Perhaps you’re similar to them, but you’re still you. And to be credible online, you must show your unique personality: your story, your quirks and your thoughts. Everything that makes you the one you are.

No one is perfect, but being yourself will make you perfectly you. And people like that. You will notice they’ll listen to you more when you have found your own voice.

2. Don’t Claim to Be a Guru

There are many gurus out there, claiming to know exactly what to do in every single situation. But remember: one size doesn’t always fits all. Write about your own experiences and your own struggles. Tell people your story. They will love you for being a person with shortcomings like everyone else and respond to you as friends do.

If you claim to be a guru, you risk losing valuable, stimulating and spontaneous interactions. Few people dare to contact a guru without long and proper concerns. You don’t want that kind of stiff relations online, do you? And - who needs a guru anyway?

3. Act Like a Friend

People trust real people. The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey shows that 90 % of 25,000 consumers from all over the world trust peer opinions. If you want to persuade or influence people online, you must not only build relationships, you must act like a friend. And a friend is a real person, with all faults and imperfections of a human being. It’s someone who dares to show that he or she is just like everybody else. It’s a person who dares to be human.

What you want online is to be approached by potential customers or other people to collaborate or interact with, isn’t it? And if you use this advice, you will get there in no time. Think about what I learned: perfect is scary, but the real you is not. 

Interview: Mallie Hart From Social Solutions Collective

The other day I had the pleasure of interviewing Mallie Hart about her new project Social Solutions Collective.

“When you work with a collective that can provide you with everything from unique graphics to ghost writing for your blog, your social media marketing isn’t just covered, it ROCKS!” -Social Solutions Collective


1. What is Social Solutions Collective and why did you start it?

Before I was invited to write for Steamfeed I was contemplating creating a collaborative group of my own. Knowing that a variety of content, discussion topics and ideas collectively drive true social engagement, it seemed silly not to build a group to make the curation and creation of this content and discussion something bigger and better. With that in mind I started sending out feelers, to gauge interest and to see if anyone else thought it was a good idea. I would not have continued with the project if I had received “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING” responses. I got some great initial feedback, cautionary and positive, from Robert Caruso and Kittie Walker – both Steamfeed members – and then from parties of interest and I decided it was something I wanted to take to the next level.

2. How did you decide who would be a part of the collective?

Great question. First I had to decide how we’d divvy up topic areas. I felt we should have one person covering a specific topic so that we could build a deeper understanding and delve deeper into specific social business topics. So, each member covers a niche. For example, with my long time spent in the graphic design trenches, it seemed quite fitting that my niche cover social design. Current members fill a wide variety of niches, anything from content curation to best practices for non-profits utilizing social media. The niches drive who gets asked to join the group. As the “owner” of the collective, I have the final say on who fills a niche, but all potential new collective members are discussed by the group before we even let them know we are interested in them. While someone has to take that final ownership role, we do try to make decisions in a collaborative and collective fashion.

3. What goals does the SSC have?

Our overriding goal, and, in fact, our tagline is “Social media and social business solutions collective intent on doing social right.” To take it a bit further, much like the crew at Steamfeed, we have seen and been disturbed by the shift and focus in social media toward a certain group of “experts” that don’t appear to walk the talk when it comes to engaging in the behaviors and actions that make social such a valuable part of business marketing and interaction. While we have no intent to point the finger at any one individual or action as “wrongdoing”, we do like to discuss what we call “less than social” practices and actions. We discuss them in a general sense, rather then throwing any individual or company under the bus. It’s equal parts education and entertainment, so I guess you could call us edutainers, though I don’t know if Grandma Mary has taken legal action to make term solely her own!

That being said, the second name in our title is “Solutions” and we have lofty goals for products, services and eLearning opportunities in 2013 and beyond. We think this blurb from our web site explains it quite well:

“While we all run our own businesses, some of us more than one, we understand that in the fast-paced, ever changing world of social media you don’t want to work with a jack of all trades, master of none. Sure, each member of our collective excels in a multitude of social situations. But, we also know we all have our “best” skills. By coming together, each of us with a different “best skill”, we can each offer real solutions that can be rolled up into one rocking package.”

4. Is the SSC a girl’s club only?

Ha ha! While it has turned out that way, that wasn’t our initial intent. If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you I’m not particularly interested in the “Go GIRL Power” movement. Initial salvos regarding interest in the collective were sent to an equal number of men and women. For whatever reasons, none of the men gelled or made the connection that makes our group really click. As we continued to move forward we found that our style of communication and decision making appealed to most of the women, but fewer to the men. So, it sort of turned into a group of women with the intent to discuss and share ideas in our bid to showcase social done right. Our following, which is growing in a slow and steady fashion, is a very nice mixture of men and women. We have some growth goals and plans for 2013 which we hope will continue to appeal to a wide audience. We also have an interview series planned (so it’s quite funny I’m your first interview), and we have as many males on our want list as we do females, perhaps more!

5. Is there anything else you would like the SteamFeed community to know about the SSC?

I put this question to the group members, as their opinions – both collectively and individually – matter very much. We support and help each other, as well as our fans and followers, by sharing knowledge, tools, tips and more, and by answering questions posed by the group and by those same fans and followers. Though we do work together as a collective, we each have our own unique ideas and voice, which allows us to look at every angle before we answer a question, allowing for understanding of the gray areas that are so much a part of social business. We realize there are no tried and true, this is black and this is white, solutions or answers that fit every unique social question or issue. We are a diverse group, though we are all women. We are young and not so young. Some members are new to the entrepreneur scene while others are more seasoned. We span the United States and even have a voice from Canada. So we bring unique perspective to each niche, to each question we are asked and to each idea we generate. Then we collectively turn our unique ideas and understanding into a supportive and savvy group effort or answer.

Want to learn more about the Social Solutions Collective?

Website: socialsolutionscollective.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/SSCollective
Twitter: https://twitter.com/collectivess
Linkedin Group Discussion: SSC LinkedIn Group Discussion
Google+: http://gplus.to/SSCollective
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sscollective/

Five Facebook Fizzles You Can Fix

What’s a “Facebook Fizzle” and why should you want to fix it?

So, you’ve got a great business, enthusiasm that rocks the planet, and you make the decision to jump onto social media.  Facebook is your most frequented hangout, because you’re already there hanging out with your friends.

You make your page.  Put up a few key posts.  And you’re ready to “go viral.”

Instead?

Fizzzzzzzzle…

Facebook Fizzles

photo: WAGirlInNC

There are reasons for this.  Ready to know some of them?

Five Facebook Fizzles You Can Fix:

1. No Branded URL

When a page is first started, Facebook assigns a link, or URL, that is long and includes several letters and numbers.  It is hard to remember, and is a lot to look at!  Many Page Admins head into the wild social yonder with their good intentions and this crazy-long URL.  They’re so busy trying to accomplish brand awareness, that they forget one very easy branding opportunity.

The Fix: While it’s been rumored that some pages can begin with a custom or branded URL, for most, you can only arrange a vanity URL after you have at least 25 Likes for your page.  A number easily achieved.  Once you have those initial twenty-five, you should rush to https://www.facebook.com/username to assign and save a custom link for your brand.  Keep it as simple as possible, while reinforcing your business name.  This establishes credibility and brand recognition.  It is also easy to pass along to others.

Bonus: You can also get a vanity URL for your personal profile too!

2. Foot-Long Posts

When Facebook gave us the opportunity to use 5000 characters per post, this was good news, as sometimes there is just more than 250 characters to say.  However, in exploring Facebook, I frequently see well-meaning page owners posting their hearts out, with little or no “likes” for their posts.  Often these posts are wordy.

People are busy, and they want to be able to scan quickly and respond.  Many words does not fit in to the few seconds we have to grab fan attention.  Also remember that mobile users have a small screen and run through their news feed quickly.  So competition to reach fans is tougher here, with a consistently growing population.

The Fix: While you do have to say something great to get good response, there is also value to being clear and concise.  A study by Salesforce and Buddy Media revealed that posts with 80 characters or less get 23% more interaction.

3. Incorrect Grammar And Misspellings

Too often I see posts made with poor grammar and misspellings.  The one thing to remember when you are displaying content online is that this may be the only opportunity you get to make an impression on your audience. When people see mistakes and weak phrasings, they lose trust and often look elsewhere.

Hopefully your goal is to establish a level of trust with your Facebook community, and for them to see you as a credible source.

The Fix: Be sure the person writing and posting your Facebook content has excellent language skills and is a good speller.  Some report using Google Chrome for their automatic spell check.  If you want to be really sure, here’s a free tool that could help: http://www.gingersoftware.com/.

4. Social Greed

Are there a few individuals that post only as their brand on your page?  Others that always have a link to their own stuff in their comments?  Or, they’re all about, “Download my new Ebook,” or, “Read my book!”  How many assuming comments on our wall, or messages to our personal Inbox do we need to receive?  They are usually from a newer “friend” and go something like: “I’ve just published my new podcast, and I know you’re going to want to listen.  Please also share it with your friends/fans.”

Yikes – That’s like going on a date with an octopus!  And the quickest recipe for getting people to tune you out.  Fizzzzle…

Some are just beginning and are naive to how things really work.  This is forgiven.

The Fix: Interact on Facebook Pages as yourself – an ambassador of your business – and occasionally as your brand to instill brand awareness and recognition.  Optimally, you’ll want to frequent Pages where you can be a resource and add value to a conversation.  Share links other than your own, yet share your information when you have established some social clout with a group of people, and offering your link will not appear spammy.

Use tagging to give credit or attribute.  Appear “ungreedy” by responding to genuine tags and offering a thanks for the mention.  Even engage in the conversation.

5. Spammy Behavior

A lot of the behaviors mentioned above as “socially greedy” are considered spam.  Is your small business spamming other business brands on Facebook?

Everyone that owns a Facebook page wants people to visit it, like it, and frequent it.  But the reality is that people did not join Facebook specifically to get updates about your brand and your page.  Over-posting will result in unlikes and fans opting to hide your messages.

Are you tagged often on business flyers for their upcoming events?  Ouch – It hurts, doesn’t it?

The Inbox — Whether personal or on-page — Do you receive messages encouraging you to like pages, purchase new products, or hire people you’ve never met?  Fizzle!  Don’t you feel hit with a paint ball?

Not experiencing these things?  Maybe you’re the one doing it…?  If not, it’s only a matter of time before that tag, message or link arrives.

The Fix: Pretty much rinse and repeat the fix for Social Greed.  If you are new to Facebook, and learning social media etiquette, people understand.  It is the repetitive behavior that frustrates people.

So, The Five.

Are you ready to go out and Facebook “Fizzle Free?”

Any Fizzle-lous behaviors I missed listing above?

Please tell me your thoughts or any questions in the comments box below… :)