Cut Through Customer Support

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the seriesIs Social Media a Time-Suck?

Make a choice: Would you rather spend the December holidays with your crazy Uncle Bob the roadkill taxidermist attached to your hip, or spend the afternoon trying to troubleshoot your computer modem by phone with your cable company? If you’re like most people, you’d ask Bob to pull out the photos of the lifelike armadillos. Let’s face it; these days, customer support can be a pain in the rear, not to mention a huge time suck.

Thank goodness, you can turn to your social network to help you out. Here’s how:

  • Tweet first. There are a number of major companies, including Zappos.com and Comcast, who have customer service reps following twitter streams and searching for their brand name in search of unhappy customers. If you can post your issue in 140 characters or less, go for it! Hint: make sure you use the company name – spelled correctly – in your tweet, and employ hashtags where warranted. In other words: “My #HP OfficeJet 5600 won’t print from my MacBook Pro. Anyone have any ideas?
  • Take it to Facebook. Many companies have branded Facebook pages where you’ll receive a personalized response within hours, or even minutes. That way you can go about your business instead of sitting on the phone, frantically working your way through the automated telephone tree. Hint: Post a message on their wall rather than trying to contact them via Facebook message. The public aspect of your plea for help will ignite a faster response.
  • Try their website.  Bypass the 800 number and email in favor of a live chat. You can get a live person immediately (or within a minute or two) instead of playing hurry up and wait on the phone. Live chat not available? Try the email contact form. You may have to wait 24 hours for a response, but you can use that time productively.
  • Record a video. If all else fails, record a video and post it to YouTube. You never know what a visual plea for help, or a bad review, will do for cutting through the red tape. Be calm, though, and leave room for a response; if all you do is spazz out, they’ll just write you off as a nut.
  • Record a screenshot or screen video to demonstrate your issue.  I’ve found this to be tremendously helpful, especially with software issues.  Nothing is more frustrating than to describe your problem and hear “well, it works on our end”.  The video evidence often reveals what the true problem is.  Use a tool like Jing which can save your captured video and gives you a hyperlink you can share on social media.

The key here is to take control of your own time rather than letting someone else determine your destiny. Don’t let “them” tell you that you must sit on hold for 45 minutes before you get a living, breathing person to listen to your problems. Save time and take it online.

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Share Important Announcements

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the seriesIs Social Media a Time-Suck?

You’re changing the name of your podcast. You just gave birth to a baby girl. You’re heading to Los Angeles for an upcoming trade show. You are releasing a new online product. All these are perfect opportunities to use your social media networks to help spread the word far and wide.

When you have something that you want to share with the widest possible audience, leverage your networks – all of them. Here are some tips to make sure your news gets the attention it deserves.

1. Don’t be afraid to post it more than once. Particularly on Twitter, stuff gets lost in the noise. If people don’t catch it the second you post it, it may be gone forever. Use a tool like Tweriod.com to see when most of your followers are online, and post during those times. And post it a couple of times over the course of a day or so. Those who already read the original post will just delete it without thinking twice about it. 

2. Create an opportunity to connect. Turn a newsy announcement into a way to engage with your audience. Instead of just saying “My new product launches next week,” say, “Check out this sneak peek of my new eBook that I’m launching next week. Let me know what you think!” Or, “My daughter is here – here’s her birth photo. Guess her birth weight and the person who’s closest will win a free 30 minute consultation with me.” People are looking for new and different. Give it to them.

3. Talk about the news before it happens. Telling people about what you have in progress not only helps them feel engaged, it also serves as a subversive way to promote yourself without sounding promote-y. Say, “Just finished the last chapter for my eBook. Have you signed up for early notification?” Or, “I’m interviewing so-and-so next week for my next online class. Do you have any burning questions you’d like answered?”

4. Interconnect your social media networks. Place an announcement on Twitter that sends your followers over to your blog to read more. Record an announcement on YouTube and then post it on Facebook. The stronger the interconnections between the spokes of your network, the stronger the overall network.

As an aside, it’s also important to note that with recent changes in the search engines’ algorithms (the mathematical equations they use to determine if your website shows up in the search engine’s results for a given query) the recommendations above are now considered “Social Signals” – and may give your website an unexpected boost!

So, get a jump on press releases and publicity, and don’t sit back and wait for the newspapers to find you. Instead, you can do some promotion yourself by leveraging the members of your network.

The post Share Important Announcements appeared first on Ken Ivey.

Take a Quick Break

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the seriesIs Social Media a Time-Suck?

Whether you’re working in an office or at home, taking regular breaks is essential for your mental and physical well-being. In the traditional office, you could head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee, or head down to the proverbial water cooler. But when you work for yourself, taking a break to join into humanity is a little more involved. You can get in the car and drive to Starbucks for a quick latte, but that takes time and money.

You could call up a friend to check in, but who talks on the phone anymore?  Instead, here are a handful of things you can do to take a much-needed mental vacation, all from the comfort of your own home, all via your social media networks:

  • Head over to Facebook and see whose birthday it is using the notification feature. Then leave them a birthday message on their wall (time: 5 minutes)
  • Catch up on your favorite non-work-related blogs. Or read a few of the industry movers and shakers and leave them a thoughtful comment, linking back to your own site. (10 minutes)
  • Post a question of the day (hashtag #QOTD) related to your niche, but in a “just for fun” sense. For instance, “What’s the last ___ you purchased for your ___?” This is a fun way to engage your Twitter followers, as well as gather some informal intelligence. (5 minutes)
  • Yes, go ahead and succumb to the Farmville or Plants vs. Zombies pull and log in to play for a limited time. Set an egg timer next to your computer and stop when time’s up. (15 minutes)
  • Check out the latest videos in your niche (did you know you can subscribe to other video creators’ YouTube channels?). Leave a comment or create a video response. (15 minutes)
  • Log into LinkedIn and update your status. Then check in on some of your groups and see what the hot topics are. Offer your expertise where appropriate. (15 minutes)
  • Do the same with Facebook. Visit some of the groups you belong to and leave questions on the wall, comment on others’ posts, and leave links where possible. (15 minutes)
  • See who’s commented on your blog lately and visit their websites, leaving comments and thanking them for visiting you. Reciprocity goes a long way to establishing relationships. (10 minutes)
  • Go to the iTunes store and see who hosts the leading podcasts in your industry. Visit their blogs and start establishing a relationship with these movers and shakers. (5 minutes)

Any of these ideas takes less time than a trip to the local Starbucks counter – or a trip to the water cooler, for that matter! Use your break time wisely and you’ll receive the double benefits of refreshment and audience engagement.

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