Business – Companies That Use Twitter For Customer Service

At this point, most companies have jumped feet first onto the social media bandwagon. For some businesses, incorporating tweets, status updates, and pins has been a huge success. For others. . . the transition over to social media was a bit of a flop. Why? Because you gotta have a plan.Getting into the social media marketing game isn’t as easy as one might think. While social networking platforms carry a certain essence of spontaneity (and that’s what we love about them) businesses often make the mistake of tweeting off the top of their heads, or posting a picture without considering all the possible angles. Oops. Now your primary demographic is offended. Good luck smoothing that one over.

When social media for business is done right, it should feel fresh and like it was written on the fly, but in reality it was painstakingly crafted to convey a very specific message, tone, and purpose.

One of the areas for opportunity that businesses often overlook, is the potentially valuable customer service they could be providing with social media. Fortunately, we have some examples of companies who got it right. Here are five businesses that use Twitter to provide awesome customer service to their clientele.

1) Ford

The Ford company actually has a dedicated customer service handle @FordService. This account provides support for the company’s two primary brands, Ford and Lincoln. Its purpose is to answer driving-related questions, concerns, and address any other service issues. The idea behind an additional handle is to keep complains and problems off of their marketing-focused brand accounts. Pretty great idea.

2) Nike

Nike is another brand that has opted to create its own customer service handle. The @NikeSupport receives over 265 inbound customer service-oriented tweets every day. Even though the brand receives an overwhelming amount of customer tweets, 55% of the time a Nike rep responds to a customer tweet in less than 30 minutes.

3) Instant Checkmate

This startup grew very quickly in just a short amount of time. As a result, they relied heavily on their existing social media accounts as a lifeline between themselves and their rapidly growing customer base. Their handle, @instntcheckmate has almost 1,500 followers and addresses everything from technical support, to customer feedback. Their Facebook page is also being used for member support.

4) Microsoft

The tech giant, Microsoft, was an early adopter of using Twitter for customer service. The company launched the handle, @MicrosoftHelps back in 2009. Since then, the company has extended its Twitter-based support to an international audience. In 2010, Microsoft announced that the company was extending support to both French and German speakers with the new handles @MSVousAide and @MicrosoftHilft.

5) Whole Foods

Social media customer support for a healthy grocery store chain? Now I’ve officially seen it all! Unlike most nationally-recognized brands, Whole Foods has adopted a decentralized approach to social media marketing. Instead of having a single Twitter feed to represent their brand, Whole Foods actually encourages all their stores to start their own Twitter accounts and tweet about local events and store-specific promotions. The result? With hundreds of Whole Foods Twitter accounts, this brand now has one of the largest corporate presences on Twitter.

The value of a strong social media presence for a brand is only going to increase in the coming years. Using sites like Twitter for customer service is a great way reach out to the public and build trust among your customers. Take a lesson from these five companies by turning off the sales pitch and just trying to be helpful. Sometimes the selfless approach can, in fact, payoff.

Business – Reasons Why Marketers Should Be Obsessed With Storytelling

Don’t yell to the masses; whisper to a few. People will choose to talk about it. Give away your ideas. When your ideas are widespread and you are trusted, you don’t have trouble making a living.__Seth Godin

Marketing as we know it has changed, if you are still hanging to your old marketing strategies, chances are you are putting in much more effort than you used to and generating less response than you expect. Consumers are tired of being sold to, they now require permission to be sold to and the earlier you work on telling them what they need and want to know, the better for your marketing campaign. When your company’s marketing story aligns with your audience’s worldview, they will  have something to discuss and  share.

1. Storytelling is the new marketing

The new marketing today is about telling stories to prospective consumers and buyers who want to hear it, in a way they can identify with, so they are likely to either listen, respond, connect and most importantly tell their friends.

Companies that are successful at story telling are integrating their company’s history, goals, culture, values, and audience into every component of their content marketing strategy. And they are connecting with their audience like never before.

2. Consumers want to buy from people, not a corporate entity!

You can start off by allowing some of your employees to provide social proof of your values by sharing videos, images, and quotations, your brand message throughout your content strategy. Involve the people behind the scenes, put a face to the message, get a voice behind the story, communicate the positive energy in the office, increase your human element in your story and tell an awesome brand message that connects with humans. Remember , you want to sell to people like yourself.

3. Connect like-minds and they will tell your story

You job is to create a great brand people can identify with and are passionate about and they will do the marketing for you. Connect like-minds who share a passion and interest with your story or message, create an environment where they can openly share their concerns, suggestions and feedback. Your job is to listen and address issues and the problems. People want to feel like they a part of something.

4. Pull, you can no longer push!

Consumers are  now in control of what they view, what they share, and how they view what they see. Marketers no longer push their messages across, because you could be pushing your prospective customers away. You need to pull customers in with engaging, useful content and sharable content. And they will in turn share your great insight, information and educative material with other like-minds who could eventually sign up for your product or service.

5. Stories are better shared on social media

Every business is represented by people (employees) trying to connect with other people (consumers). And guess what, consumers are connected and they keep getting social. Go find them where they hang out and speak in a language(story) they understand.

—-Lessons from selected marketing professionals:

Seth Godin, best-selling author

“Marketing is storytelling. The story of your product, built into your product. The ad might be part of it, the copy might be part of it, but mostly, your product and your service and your people are all part of the story. Tell it on purpose. Choose your story (or the competition’s story) wisely, because you have to live with it for a long time, and if it’s not authentic, if it doesn’t hold up, you’re left with nothing.”

Cameron Uganec, HootSuite’s Director of Marketing and Communications.

“The best marketers and communicators have always used storytelling to connect and inspire an audience to act. They have used traditional storytelling structures to share their messages; there’s a beginning, there’s a middle and there’s an end. As storytellers we need to answer these questions. Who is the hero? What is the plot? What is the setting? And, a scary thing for some marketers, what’s the conflict? If you’re telling a story, there’s always a conflict. It’s not always unicorns and rainbows and the hyperbole that lazy marketers often resort to.”

Susan Guneliusa 20-year marketing veteran and President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc.

Make sure your brand stories are page turners by focusing on the use of perpetual marketing in your efforts where one piece feeds off of the next. Leave your audience wanting more, and they’ll come back again and again. Consider using “Watch This Space” hooks on your website or Facebook Page, or try releasing teasers via Facebook, email, or Pinterest. Perpetual marketing tactics offer the perfect opportunity to include offline and mobile marketing in your brand storytelling initiative, too.”

Busoness – Advertising Trends—Internet, Television and Gaming

Advertising trends have changed dramatically and marketers have become creative with ways to keep up with the pace of technology and media while, at the same time, fully understanding how the consumer responds to advertising, in general, which is vital.   One of the most recent promotional vehicles that involves internet advertising is called “viral videos”; and it’s quickly replacing conventional advertising, as we know it.Viral videos wouldn’t be making their undeniable mark in the advertising industry if it weren’t for the likes of YouTube, blog, TiVo, Facebook and basic email.  Bottom line is, people are no longer interested in television commercials and even less interested in print ads.

Viral Advertising:

Viral advertising refers to one type of Internet marketing technique that effectively incorporates already-existing social networking technologies, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, as well as a host of others throughout the world, to promote a product or service.

Advertising campaigns are meant to reach the masses, of course; and since 47% of Americans, alone, use some type of social networking service, it behooves businesses to utilize popular social media outlets to increase brand awareness via the Internet.

Viral Advertising can take the form of video clips, e-books, text messages, Flash games, webpages and others; and the goal with viral advertising is to utilize as many as these modes, as possible, to transmit a knock-out advertising message across political, economic and geographic borders—profit is the name of the game!

Viral videos:

The viral advertising realm is taking full advantage of utilizing viral videos which are used through internet sharing venues.  This type of advertising on line, videos might be only a few minutes in length.  One of the most notable viral videos was the overnight sensation, Gangnam Style by Psy.  From December 21, 2012 to August 8, 2013, the music video had been viewed more than 1.59 billion times on YouTube, alone; and it became the first music video to ever reach a billion viewings.

Hooks:

When it comes to advertising, success relies on “hooks” which are intended to draw the consumer in, preferably within the initial introduction of the ad.  Hooks are rhetorical devices that intrigue the listener so much, that he or she wants to listen to the rest of the advertisement.

Whether it’s emotional appeal, a thought-provoking question, an astounding statistic or fact or a catchy musical passage, the advertisement becomes a human magnet, of sorts, and draws the viewer in and keeps the viewer interested for the duration of the ad.

Hooks you might recognize:

Hooks are carefully crafted and repeated with every advertisement; and if the hooks are clever enough, sales have been known to double or even triple. Here a few you just might recognize:

** “Can you hear me now?”—Verizon

** “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” – Federal Express

** “You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.”  Pepsodent Toothpaste

** “Good to the last drop.” – Folgers Coffee

** “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!” – State Farm Insurance

The triumph of great marketing hooks is when those hooks become so engrained in people’s mind and so well-known, they become a household word or a topic of discussion.

Conventional Advertising Is Sinking:

The advertising industry journal, Adweek, reveals that conventional advertising such as radio and television ads and print ads, for example, are falling by the wayside and sinking like the Titanic to the tune of billions upon billions of dollars each year that are no longer ear-tagged for conventional advertising methodologies.  This is why companies like National Ad Force Digital have been so successful over the last decade.

The research firm, Nielsen, states that this spiraling pattern shows no signs of recovery, and understandably so.  Video advertising is on the rise and insightful advertisers are capitalizing on the video-advertising bonanza.

Webisodes:

Web channels on the Internet have developed a new form of entertainment incorporating only a few minutes of runtime and they are called “webisodes”.  Webisodes, many times, utilize humor, such as Burley and Carl’s which makes fun of professional athletes and their teams.

The humor involved targets mostly men between the ages of 18-34; and sponsors can jump on the advertising bandwagon to promote their wares—at times in the frame around the screen or sometimes as part of the entertainment.  Internet advertising, via webisodes, is gaining immense popularity and companies such as Doritos, Coke Zero, AT & T and Dove are reaping the benefits of webisode Internet advertising.

Product Placement Advertising:

1:  Television Programs:

Since audiences, who watch pre-recorded programming through such means as TiVo, tend to fast-forward any and all commercials, an advertising trend has emerged that has managed to remain one step ahead of those feisty consumers who just can’t bear the thought of spending their down time watching any advertising of any sort.

Enter: “Product Placement”!  Product Placement, also known as “Product Plug”, has to do with literally, placing the advertised product in the program itself.  Case in point:  On Survivor, the host of the program, Jeff Probst, announces how one can win a crate full of goodies—cool tools, furniture and camping equipment—all with the Sears logo!

Or how about the endearing 1980’s E.T. character who ate Reese’s Pieces; and then there’s Spam which made its presence known in Kill Bill Vol. 2.  Product Placement is almost subliminal yet obvious—a virtual paradox that has become big business; and Product Placement’s continued growth is akin to a body-builder on steroids.

2:  Video Games:

Advertisers are, also, figuring video-game advertising into their budget—and they are onto and into something big!   Money that, at one time, was spent, almost solely, on TV and print ads is now being strategically redirected to in-game advertising.

Video games are the new breed of Product Placement and the potential for advertising profits is endless.  Sales from video games each year is in the tens of billions of dollars and in-game advertising isn’t jumping off this bandwagon anytime soon.

Here’s how it works:

Video game publishers partner with well-known product giants, such as McDonald’s; and in the game, The Sims Online, for example, animated players can buy virtual McDonald’s food for their hungry sims.  In the game, Need for Speed Underground 2, Product Placement for Best Buy, Cingular Wireless, Old Spice and Burger King mesh together beautifully–but the paradigm doesn’t stop there.

Research indicates that gamers actually like advertising in their games since the real-world ads offer an added dimension of realism.  Another case in point:  one is playing a Major League Baseball game and the game player notices ads behind the home plate that are up-to-minute and were, in the real world, recently seen on television.

The advertisements, within the game behind the home plate, whether displaying a new movie release, a new model of car or a brand-name tennis shoe, could actually change each day, depending on the decisions of the advertiser.  The technology behind in-game advertising is rising to new levels in that technology is allowing advertisers a way to update their ads even after the game’s release!

Yes, advertisers have the insane option of tailoring and modifying their advertising  based on whatever changes the advertiser deems timely and appropriate.   If Burger King promoted an entirely new product 6 months after one bought a video-game that was embedded with Burger King in-game advertising, that new Burger King product would, voile`,  show up during game time, even though that new product was never in the game before.

Don’t ask me how they do it!

About the author: As the operations manager for an internet marketing organization, Dan functions as a posting visitor so as to undergird businesses from the USA. He is from LA, and is drinking in these days with his charming woman plus their 3 children. D. man welcomes readers to preview his G Plus home soon.

Business – Few Google+ Hacks Everyone Should Know

Think Google+ is a ghost town? If it is, it’s one of the most rambunctious ghost towns you can find on the Internet. An estimated 60% of all Google+ users log in every single day.  While the growing social media platform might not topple Facebook any time soon, it has silenced early critics and developed a number of cool features that you can’t find anywhere else.If you want to make the switch (or if you’re already an avid user of the social network), you should be familiar with all its neat little tricks and hacks.

Here are six ways you can make the most of your Google+ experience.

1) Know Your Hotkeys

If you navigate the interface with just your mouse, you’re moving at half-speed.  Here the basic hotkeys all Google+ users should know.

  • @  — Send feedback to Google
  • / — Select the search box at the top of the page
  • Left Arrow Key — Navigate to the icons on the left (such as Home or Photos)
  • Right Arrow Key — Navigate from the icons on the left side to the main page
  • j — Move down in the stream
  • k — Move up in the stream
  • n —  Load new posts
  • l — Move to the next comment on the current post
  • p — Move to the previous comment on current post
  • r — Comment on the current post
  • ? — Open the full list of keyboard shortcuts

2) Use Hashtags

Want your posts to be discovered by other people? With hashtags, Google+ has you covered. Just put a # before any word in your post, and it will automatically be grouped with similar content. For example, if you use the hashtag “#infographic” like this, they can simply click on it in order to automatically browse through similar content.

3) Get The Surplus App

Have a very active Google+ account?  Then you should be using the Surplus App for Chrome. It will give you real time notifications every time there’s an update in your feed. Plus, it allows you to switch between multiple accounts easily. A must-have if you’re a power user.

4) Mute Posts

Want to stop seeing notifications from specific posts? Just click on the right-hand side arrow and select “mute post.” Even if the conversation continues about that post, you won’t hear about it.

5) Disable Resharing

Ah, but what if you don’t want your posts to be discovered by other people outside of who you have in your circles?  Google+ has you covered too. When you want to really protect your privacy, you can “disable resharing” on each one of your posts. That means that your circles can see it, but they won’t be able to share it with their circles, keeping your content safely contained.

6) Change It To a Facebook Layout

One of the biggest complaints about Google+ is that the layout isn’t quite as intuitive as Facebook. If you’re having some difficulty making the transition, you can slap on some social media training wheels by changing the layout to look like the number one social network. Just install this style and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Next Gen Social Network

Facebook didn’t become the 800 pound gorilla of the social world overnight, and Google+ has a lot of work to do before it claims the top spot. But if you want to really experience what this up and comer has to offer, knowing all the cool little tricks that Google offers will help you get a fantastic online experience.