In recent years, building one's professional image has created a lot of buzz around the need to have a personal brand. Turns out, everyone has a personal brand, whether you realize it or not: Your personal brand is the reputation for you or your business. It is the image that conveys who you are.
Individuals use various media to promote their personal brand, including social networks. We invited Alyssa Barnett to cohost a Twitter chat to discuss the topic Social Networks for Personal Branding. Alyssa is a social media content strategist for Hunter Public Relations, and she manages the social strategy and channels for her CPG clients. She is also a member of the NYWICI Young Professionals Committee.
Here are Alyssa’s tips on how to use social media for personal branding.
Why is it important to think about your personal brand on social media?
According to a 2016 study from Career Builder, 60% of businesses investigate the social media accounts of potential employees. Your profiles can either strengthen your candidacy or hurt it. Why not give yourself a bigger edge in a competitive job market?
What kind of benefits can you gain from public social media profiles?
Expanding your network is definitely a big benefit. It really helps to get opportunity knocking! If someone is doing a search for professionals with your skills and your social media profile reflects that, you could get the opportunity of a lifetime via a DM.
What are the top three things you need to keep in mind?
1. Consistency (of your message, username and tone)
2. Clarity (can anyone understand what you're trying to say? For example, don't use acronyms that only people in your organization or industry use)
3. Personality (you should be professional — but not boring!)
Are there any topics you should avoid discussing on your social media profiles?
Unless your profession really calls for it, it's best to avoid hot topics like religion and politics. You don't want to lose future opportunities to heated public arguments or unnecessary discrimination.
Can your personal brand extend beyond your own channels?
Absolutely! Whether it's writing a guest blog or getting involved with an organization you feel passionate about, their mention of you on social media gives you credibility.
What is your favorite social media channel?
My favorite channel is definitely Instagram. I’m a very visual person and photography has always been a passion of mine. My second favorite is LinkedIn because it’s such a great place to organize the connections I make.
There is no doubting the power of social media, which allow us to connect with people across the world at the touch of a button. No longer are first impressions made with a handshake but with a profile glimpse. In this digital age, it is important to embrace this tool for what it is and to use it to its full capacity. Finding the balance between being yourself and being professional can be hard, but here are a few tips to help you on your way.
Put your best foot forward with your profile picture
In college, my sorority’s rule of thumb for profile pictures was would you feel comfortable showing this picture to your grandmother? The same should go for social media profiles. You should have a tasteful photo, preferably with you smiling, that shows off your personality.
Write a strong bio
Your bio is your digital handshake. Sometimes you have as few as 140 characters to let everyone know who you are and what you represent. Make this space count. Outline what makes you, you! This is a great place to not only mention your industry but your hobbies as well. Are you a runner? A dog owner? What is your alma mater? These facts open you up to finding common ground with your connections and can be great conversation starters.
Keep your info updated
Always ensure the most relevant and timely information is reflected on your profiles. Typically, social media are the first place people go to fact check or learn more information. Anytime you change titles, companies or locations, you should be updating your profile.
Avoid risky topics when possible
When possible, it is best to avoid posting about political and religious views or monetary and personal issues. If you feel strongly about these topics, use your judgement. You never know what may offend your online community or can be seen as an overshare. You should also be prepared for comments on counter opinions expressed to your post.
Accept the facts
As you continue in your career and social media continue to grow, the lines between work and personal life become blurred. How public you want to be with your life is your decision, but it is much easier when you accept that coworkers, bosses or clients are going to want to connect with you online.
Sometimes, having a public profile, especially in the communications industry, can be the easiest and most fruitful route. Why not use this space as another way to showcase your skills and savvy? Besides, even though you may think something you said online is private, understand that it never really is. Screenshots can be taken, posts can be shared and digital footprints last forever.
Keep your digital game strong, put your best foot forward and rule the social space. And most importantly: enjoy tweeting, snapping, posting and connecting! It’s an amazing world we live in, and we are lucky to be able to connect so seamlessly.
Social Media have increasingly become a significant factor in building and establishing one’s career. It’s highly likely that your boss, co-workers and recruiters have some form of a social media profile, be it through LinkedIn, Twitter, a website or blogs. Making the most of your social profiles to share your work or take part in online conversations is therefore critical, as it can put you in a favorable light to establishing connections that will propel your career forward.
There is great power that lies in Twitter that goes beyond receiving immediate updates from those that you admire or friends and family members. Through using hashtags, you can join or follow a conversation and connect. I was able to set up an informational meeting with an editor from Huffington Post by tweeting the editor. I was at a networking event and didn’t get the chance to speak to the editor, so I sent her a tweet of one of her quotes from the event that I found useful and insightful. We later exchanged messages via Twitter, and I was able to meet and discuss with her over brunch.
Another affective tool is Twitter Chats, which are a great way to network wherever you are. Twitter chats are often organized through companies around a specific topic. You can follow along through the use of a hashtag. It’s a great way to follow, learn and network with influencers or experts in your industry or desired industry. NYWICI also has regular Twitter chats (#nywicichat) that cover a wide range of topics, from the newest trends in social media and technology to salary negotiations.
LinkedIn is a platform that helps you maximize your opportunities to obtain a job. It’s imperative to be active on LinkedIn by checking your feed regularly and engaging with others or connect with thought leaders in your desired industry.
A great way to connect is by using personalized invitations. That way, the person you want to connect with has a better sense of who you are and why it’s valuable to make the connection. You can go as far as to inquire if a coffee or informal lunch meeting is possible. Be sure to communicate your message in a concise manner. It was through LinkedIn that I was contacted about a freelance social media project.
Instagram can help you to showcase your work and connect with others. Following individuals and businesses that you are interested in helps you keep up with trends that matter in your industry. That way, you’re using relevant or popular hashtags to draw others to your page, and it helps you to make connections with those who share similar career goals or interests.
Also, using the hashtags that are associated with the networking events you attend is beneficial. By posting pictures of what’s occurring and using the relevant hashtag, you create an opportunity for those in the same room to inquire about you and reach out.
Digital platforms offer more opportunities to expand your network beyond exchanging business cards. Take a proactive approach to start or join a conversation and make the most of your social media platforms.
Have you ever sent a tweet and immediately regretted posting it? According to a YouGov Omnibus survey, 36 percent are concerned they didn’t properly consider a response on social media and that they sounded "foolish." As social media usage continues to rise, there is concern about social media ethics.
Joyce Sullivan (@JoyceMSullivan), founder/CEO of SocMediaFin, cohosted the chat. As an industry expert, Joyce shared useful insight that should enlighten you on the ethical restrictions that apply to social media usage.
That said, she also emphasized that traditional ethics rules still apply online.
What is social media ethics? Adhering to Social Media Ethics means conducting yourself online just as you would in any other public circumstances. Treat those you encounter online with fairness, honesty and respect, just as you would offline. Verify information before passing it along and be honest about your intent before sharing. If you're representing a brand, an organization or a cause, know their social media rules; avoid conflict and confusing actions.
Have social media changed the rule of business? Social media have had a major impact on businesses and the customer service that they offer. Social media now act as a social help desk and reflect the quality of responsiveness of any business. Social media have provided customers with an instant forum to ask queries and leave feedback.
What are the first rules of responsible social media use? Assume everything you write online will become public (which seems obvious — but many forget this!). Even if some apps promise anonymity or disappearing posts, always assume that what you post will become, and remain, public forever. Though it may appear that posts disappear as quickly as we put them out there, they can always be found. Be prudent in your posts.
What would you consider to be the top "deadly sin” of using social media? Using others' content without permission, going rogue, being negative and being selfish. But here is one particularly "deadly": Posting without attribution — always give credit through use of "h/t," "via," "RT," "MRT," handle name etc. Remember, it's not always about you — it's fine to talk about your work; however, be generous to others and share their news!
What would you consider you "Top Do's"? 1) fairness 2) honesty 3) give credit 4) share others content 5) promote with generosity."Be fair, generous and kind. It's more than just being nice! It's great for business."
Joyce sums it up by offering this final piece of advice: “Assume everything you write online will become public — so act accordingly and be proud of what you share. My tried and true "gut-check" before posting any public message on social media is: "If in doubt: don't."
In 1920, radio transformed elections. In 1960, TV reigned. Now, online media rank supreme, with election campaigns morphing into constant social-media-streams, customized to fit distracted users’ devices and attention spans. In the 2016 presidential elections, social media are the key battleground for any politician hoping to make the cut. According to The Hill, “9.5 percent of political media budgets could go towards digital media — a total of $1 billion.”
“Access to information has been revolutionized,” says Jessica Singleton (@jessay286), chief digital officer at the City of New York and a panelist at NYWICI’s Cocktails & Conversations “Technology’s Influence on Politics” that was held during social media week on Oct. 20, 2015. The sold-out event brought together a panel of media experts at Bloomberg’s sparkling headquarters in Midtown to discuss the changing media landscape of political campaigning. Panelists also included Gillea Allison, digital strategist at Blue State Digital (@gilleaa), Geoffrey Borshof, CEO of Mosaic Strategies Group (@MosaicSTG) and Julie Wood, director of Global Communications at Kickstarter (@juliewood). The moderator was Melinda Henneberger, a senior writer at Bloomberg (@MelindaDC).
President Obama's tweet announcing his victory in 2008 (in the so-called “Facebook election”), was retweeted 157 times. His 2012 victory tweet (during the “Twitter election”) was retweeted more than 800,000 times, according to a study on social media use in campaigns conducted by the University of North Carolina. The 2016 election might turn out to be the “Instagram election” with its quick and quirky graphics and reach even the youngest voters — 300 million of whom use Instagram more than any other social media platform.
Democrats have held an edge over Republicans in their online-driven campaigns, since they make it a habit to recruit young tech talent early on who are fluent in every conceivable social media platform. The party has surpassed the Republicans in engaging people online, explains Gillea. “Democratic voters help get the message out for Democrats.” They are eager to topple the top-down approach that is driven by mainstream editors and elite thought-leaders. But not just age, also gender affects social media campaigns: “Women are sharers by nature online,” says Gillea. “Campaigns can capitalize on women’s social influence and ability to organize communities.”
So, are we better off perusing a constant stream of news, or have social media skewed the message completely, causing voters to tune out eventually and politicians to put up their guards? Social media give the power back to the people to make up their minds and take action, says Jessica. “Tech in elections on a global scale is revolutionary. Decisions are made because people get more information.”
The confluence of streaming video apps — like Vine, Meerkat, Periscope and Snapchat — could be a political game changer and democratize information gathering and distribution as never before. Everyone is searching for the authentic voice, says Julie. “Drumpf seems to be succeeding the most at that. And campaigns have to find their authentic brand voice to succeed.” In this environment, voters demand more and raise the quality of what to expect, states Gillea. It has set standards in what the experience should be like and has elevated the expectations from politicians.
That said, Geoffrey argues that digital has also triggered an “accidental transparency”: messages go viral, trend immediately and as a result cause politicians to clam up to become less authentic and truthful. They know that they are observed 24/7. “Accidental gaffes go viral; it changes the game,” cautions Geoffrey. On the other hand, politicians can utilize social media whenever traditional media won’t give them adequate coverage or won’t cooperate.
The constant need to feed the news stream can lead to redundancy and sloppiness. “You have to be current when promoting articles,” warns Geoffrey. Only very good older material should be pushed again to be picked up by social media. “The notion of outdated on the internet is outdated. But the up-to-date physical “ask” still makes a big difference. Don’t expect your content to drive itself.”
At the end, however, digital hasn't changed everything and final decisions are still being made by how compelling the politicians are, according to Julie. “The medium has changed — but people haven’t changed their voting habits.”
Trends in social media continue to evolve and new platforms are popping up everywhere. With more than two billion people using the Internet and this number growing by the day, it is difficult to fathom how to keep so many people engaged. Social networking users alone spend an average of 3.2 hours per day online. Vast technological developments require that marketers develop a strategic approach to social marketing to take full advantage of the opportunity to connect with their audience.
In our recent Twitter chat Rules of Social Marketing, we were fortunate to have Sheryl Victor Levy as cohost. For the past five years, Sheryl has been leading digital strategy and solutions for PHIL & Co., a full-service marketing communications agency in Manhattan. Sheryl also is the founder of Savvy Strategy, a digital coaching and marketing consultancy, working with individuals and clients in the entertainment, licensing and non-profit space.
Sheryl shared the following useful tips for social marketers:
What are the benefits of social media marketing?
Real-time brand extension, crowdsourcing brand perception, building loyalty and deepening customer relationships.
What is the best social strategy approach?
Know that there's no one size fits all.
Develop a strategy based on business goals, consumer/audiences, communication goals and resources.
Research competitors and brands that are doing it right.
Survey your community: What do they want? What will they respond to? How do they want info delivered?
What are the top three habits of successful social media marketers?
Listen, strategize and optimize
What are some tips to create an affective social media marketing campaign?
Definitely know your audience. Do a lot of listening. Develop a persona and know their wants and needs.
Be genuine and transparent. Consumers can see through brands! Match your tone to your product.
Craft content that is searchable, shareable and relevant. Use hashtags so your audience can find you
How can you determine which social platform is right for your business?
Platforms must match your audience and objectives. Facebook for example, is the broadest, yet doesn't work for Millennials.
Twitter is great for leveraging trending topics. Instagram is better for visual representation and reaching Millennials.
Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, YouTube all have a value and should be used strategically.
What does the future of social marketing look like?
Multicultural, niche, commerce, personalized, mobile and offering a seamless brand experience
Social marketing is affective, and with billions of Internet users, it is advantageous to meet consumers where they are engaging. “We live in a “multicultural world,” states Sheryl, and she suggests, “Marketers broaden their reach. Video, images and graphics lead the way in digital trends. People are becoming more visual. The proof is Facebook acquiring Instagram.”
According to a 2012 Nielsen report on social media, nearly half of U.S. consumers reach out directly to brands and service providers to voice their satisfaction or complaints, or to ask questions. In addition, a third of social media users prefer to use social media rather than the telephone for customer service issues.
Today many brands recognize the importance of having a presence on social media, yet not many include a social component within their customer service teams. According to the Aberdeen Group, a lack of resources and technology are the top two reasons why customer service teams are not using social tools for customer support. Yet customers are less likely to buy from a company that does not respond to questions on social media. When brand mentions are voluminous, this often spurs companies to add social tools to their customer care teams. Walgreens and Publix decided to add social tools to their customer service efforts because they average 100,000 social media mentions a month.
Responding to customers on their platform of choice
It was interesting to hear at the conference that several companies are now eschewing inviting customer complaints to a traditional customer service channel like telephone or email. While in some instances it might be advisable to invite frustrated or angry customers to discuss issues in a more private forum, several presenters at the conference were recommending instead that issues be resolved on the customer’s platform of choice and by the first point of contact whenever possible. Companies like Hertz, FedEx, Mastercard and Zappos are able to accomplish this because they have business practices in place that empower their employees to resolve problems. This eliminates having to redirect an issue to a different department or to a supervisor or manager and minimizes the customer’s frustration. Phil Blum, Social Media Customer Care Manager at Time Warner said: “We give customers the opportunity to use the channel that they best prefer, and in the process, we direct volume away from the call center and reduce queues and wait times.” In a best-case scenario, customer care on social media can become a powerful advocacy engine and inspire open brand evangelism. This approach may not be possible for regulated industries like banking, for example so there were lively discussions during Q&A sessions.
The power of wit and humor
Many brands have found success in defusing angry comments by using humor. When a customer was irritated that he missed his movie because he had to wait on line at UPS, he took to Twitter, and a witty response from the UPS team turned the situation around. After he received his refund, @ScottyTheP tweeted a thank you to UPS, cementing his status as brand advocate: “I have to say that your email and movie ticket refund offer is the single greatest Customer Service Response I've ever received in my life, refreshingly witty and totally awesome!”
Gauging Issue Resolution rather than time spent
Zappos has long been recognized — and bills itself — as a service company that happens to sell shoes (and other items like clothes, handbags and accessories.) They place extraordinary value on engaging and treating both their employees and their customers well.
Most customers expect an answer from social media within an hour; Zappos strives to answer queries in less than 30 minutes, but this is a goal, not a measured key performance indicator (KPI). Since they prioritize developing a relationship with their customers, Zappos gauges the resolution of issue rather than the time it takes to resolve it.
Zappos also shared one of the most creative job applications ever: an engaging video created by Tyler Williams, who wrote a song about Zappo’s core values and videotaped himself singing it and playing all the instruments. Not surprisingly, Tyler was hired!
Transparency and sharing a consistent message are essential for social customer service teams to work seamlessly with all other business units within a company. Panelist Bill Gerth shared that his team at Comcast created a social media committee that includes representatives from each social stakeholder within Comcast. Bill and his staff hold weekly social stakeholder meetings at a tactical level and quarterly meetings at a senior level, and they use a social stakeholder distribution list to help communicate messaging. They also provide yearly goals to the committee, which helps forecast growth and identify how social media activities affect their organization.
Another best practice that was emphasized during the conference was to allow employees to use human language when responding to issues rather than corporate speak, which is alienating. The first step is to train workers on company policies and procedures, but the next one is to trust them to use their best judgement when communicating with customers. When implemented as part of a customer care strategy, empowering social media teams to resolve issues on the customer's preferred platform, the judicious use of humor and cross collaboration within a company will help position organizations to meet changing customer expectations and cultivate brand advocates in the process.
In the July/August 2013 issue of Fast Company, social media influencer and author Baratunde Thurston wrote about his twenty-five day digital hiatus from email and social media. As a matter of fact, Twitter activity around the hashtag #Unplug is often a trending topic and many users are actually declaring that they too will #unplug from social media.
There is no doubt that the use of technology has increased over the past several years. I must admit, Twitter and Gmail monopolize most of my time on the Internet; therefore, it was no surprise when I stumbled upon one article that shared some of the detailed statistics for how people use the “Top Social Media, Apps & Services.” And while I had a pretty good idea of how popular social media had become over the years, the use of some of the following social media sites surprised me – especially My Space.
Evernote: 60 million users
Facebook: 1.15 billion users
Foursquare: 33 million users
Gmail: 425 million users
Instagram: 130 million users
LinkedIn: 238 milion users
MySpace: 32.6 million users
Pinterest: 70 million users
Twitter: 500 million users (200 million active)
With statistics such as these, it is safe to say that people spend a large part of their day on the Internet. There is a popular saying; “moderation in all things,” which simply implies that people should not do or have too much of anything. I ask the question – can people have too much of social media? It’s easy to get caught up in social media, as well as useful apps and services that seem to make our lives easier? Sites such as Skype and MeetUp allow us to connect with others; iTunes, Pandora and Spotify bring us all of the latest music. And then of course there are the social networks such as Twitter and Facebook that keep us up-to-date on all that is going on around the world almost every minute of the day. As much as I consider myself a “geekess,” I believe it is important that we “unplug” from social media a few hours a day including weekends.
Sometimes people justify the excessive use of social media with the argument that it keeps them connected with family and friends and also allows us the opportunity to meet new people. While that may be true, we can actually do this offline. It is good to take a break from technology to rejuvenate, refresh and relax our mind. Can you recall the feeling you have when you get home from a long work-day and finally get the chance to sit and unwind? We can actually experience that same feeling of relaxation when we “unplug” from the Internet and detox from all of the techology we encountered throughout the day. Below are some suggestions on how to “unplug.”
In the morning before work or school, use that time to reflect on the day's tasks
During lunch break, instead of grabbing our cell phone to check Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, use that hour to rejuvenate and relax our mind. This will help us feel refreshed and recharged
During morning or evening commute to and from work, leave our mobile device in the bag. Enjoy the surroundings and do some sightseeing as we walk to our destination
Don’t check mail or text messages while having dinner with family and friends. Give them all of our attention; the texts and email will be there when we're done.
Unplug on the weekends (at least one day). Schedule time for yourself to do an activity that brings you joy.
Encourage your kids to do the same.
Fast Company’s Unplug edition gives a nine-point digital detox checklist that you also might find useful. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves staring at our computer screens and mobile devices morning, noon and night with no separation from work or play. Well, it’s time for me to unplug for a few hours.
Kirstie Foster, Director of Public Relations and Social Media — General Mills
Kirstie said that while data and numbers create a powerful story, they aren't the whole story: it's important to listen to your community and to prioritize your intuition and judgement.
Kirstie also mentioned the Cheerios interracial ad that drew offensive and racist comments on YouTube earlier this month. General Mills responded by disabling comments and with a blog post expressing surprise at the negative reaction. (The company did not pull the ad.) The blog post drew the attention of the TODAY show, leading to an on air interview with Camille Gibson, Vice President of Marketing. Here is the interview clip, in case you didn't see it:
Kirstie also shared that the social media department of General Mills does not have a large budget so they use free and low cost tools including Google Analytics, bit.ly, Topsy, Twitalyzer and Social Mention for social media analysis and reporting. She recommends "Finding Your Rich Uncles," meaning networking within the company and partnering with brands that have a budget for joint efforts.
Karlijn Vogel-Meijer, Manager Social Media — KLM
Karlijn gave an inspired and dynamic presentation that left no question that she and KLM have wholeheartedly embraced social media. The 2010 volcano eruption in Iceland jumpstarted KLM's foray into social media. People were stranded in airports everywhere and were asking questions and looking for alternate flights and travel arrangements on social media platforms. KLM was one of the first airlines to start using the hashtag #ashcloud on Twitter both for travel information updates and customer service. The company now has 65 people listening and responding on social media in nine languages. Their response time is about 15 minutes and issue resolution time is nine hours.
Karlijn said social media is integrated throughout the company. She emphasized that they don't stop at listening to what people are saying on social media, they use the information they learn. Karlijn gave an example of KLM's successful promotion in Europe and Asia that asked people to share their favorite location to bring down the cost of air travel tickets. She said that people don't respond to a sale that originates from a corporate mandate, such as "$99 flight to New York City." Also in the works at KLM is a game called Aviation Empire, set to launch at the end of month. Aviation Empire gives participants an idea of what it's like to run an airline.
In conclusion, Karlijn asked the conference attendees "Is social media measurement worth the investment?" Her last slide with the words "Hell Yeah!" drew laughter and agreement from the audience.
Katherine Smith, Director Social Media — PETCO Animal Supplies, Inc.
Katherine (Kat) has a no holds barred persona and a colorful presentation style. The PETCO social media team experiments and learns from and trial and error. In terms of reporting, Kat said she is an advocate of MSU (not the Big Ten school, but rather the phrase Making Sh$& Up.)
Kat said the most engaged day for the PETCO brand is Saturday, or Caturday, when people share photos and videos of their cats online with the hashtag #Caturday. While admitting that a popular weekly photo caption contest is not revolutionary, Kat also described it as relatable and human.
By listening on Twitter, the PETCO team learned that many of their customers like reality shows, which has influenced their media buys. In addition, Kat said they segment listening and reporting by common interest, such as breed specific topics.
After the PETCO discussion, it was time for lunch. We'd also had a hot lunch buffet on the previous day, but somehow the selections were more appetizing on day two, as evidenced by this Vine shot by one of my fellow attendees:
Jonathan Pierce, Director, Social Communications — American Airlines
In a savvy move, Jonathan shared with conference attendees that American Airlines had set up a dedicated hashtag for conference attendees, and that anyone needing help with their travel plans should use both #AmericanAir and #CSMNY. The announcement drew applause and much appreciation — last Thursday was a rather dreary and rainy day.
American Airlines has an integrated team of 19 who capture, manage and analyze data about social media. Jonathan's team focuses on presenting analytics and data in a visual style. Eschewing boring graphs and spreadsheets, Jonathan is an avid proponent of infographics, animation and video. He shared an engaging video with us as an example, but unfortunately, I can't share it here because it contains proprietary data and information. I will say that it included upbeat music, interesting animation and branded yet clever graphics to share data and numbers.
Both days included some overarching themes which I've summarized below.
Who owns social?
No one owns social: an integrated approach with input from all departments is invaluable. Social is no longer the intern's job, it's now the responsibility of the most capable people within an organization.
Listen to your communities
Their conversation topics may surprise you, but by listening you'll learn what's important to your communities and you'll be able to sucessfully tailor communication and advertising.
Take your time
It takes time to build a successful community and to learn/ synthesize what your community is saying, but the payoff is invaluable.
There's no one size fits all success metric for all corporate social media, it's important to look at all the metrics available to detect patterns and trends for your brand. It's important to customize and determine what's most meaningful for your brand.
Trust your gut
Data and numbers paint a compelling story, but they shouldn't be used in a vaccum. You have to also use your intuition and judgement.
Go beyond analytics
It's not enough to simply analyze metrics, you have to act on what you learn.
Responding to a crisis
Thoughtful answers trump quick answers that might fuel a crisis. A measured, thoughtful response from a brand engenders positive feelings and can negate or turn around a negative feedback or review.
Customer service and breaking internal silos
Using social media as a customer service tool can be a catalyst to align internal company processes and department collaboration.
Using social for customer service really seems to help improve internal processes and even help develop products/strategy #CSMNY
In addition, highly regulated industries (like banking or fast food) can benefit from having a dedicated legal resource on social media who understands the medium and can act as an internal liaison.
After the first day of the summit, I made the rounds and spoke with some of the new social media platform vendors at their exhibit booths. Long touted as the premier social media listening platform, Radian6 is used by many of the panelist companies, but it's an expensive tool. I'll be exploring the differences between some of these platforms in a future blog post, so stay tuned.
Read about Corporate social media management software here.
Last week, I attended the Corporate Social Media Summit in New York, an edifying two days and well worth my time. I go over some of the highlights of the conference below, but I wanted to start with the first thing that struck me about my experience: the unexpected charm of seeing an Art Deco era hotel up close in the middle of Hell's Kitchen.
One thing I've always loved about New York is that it's entirely possible to discover something new about the city every day, even after you've lived in the area for several years. There are certain parts of the city in which I expect to see beautiful architecture and lovely store fronts, but on the corner of 8th Avenue and 34th Street…not so much.
If you are in the area and have a few minutes, it's worth it to take a walk through The Hotel New Yorker lobby and be transported back in time. There is an enormous chandelier in the middle of the airy, open entrance, and even the conference rooms have beautiful light fixtures; but viewing them probably isn't possible unless you are a guest or attending an event there. I don't know what it's like to stay there, but reviews are mostly favorable.
I've previously written that I have mixed feelings about live tweeting events: I feel torn between wanting to listen intently and sharing what I'm learning in real time. This time, I opted again to listen and take notes, but I also decided to create my first Storify for the event, curating the live tweets (and Vines!) of other attendees.
The Vine below, shot by a fellow conference attendee, is a great snapshot of what the area around The Hotel New Yorker looks like:
The Highlights—Day One
Bob Stuart, Chief Marketing Officer and Joseph Eckroth, Chief Innovation Officer — Hertz
Bob shared with conference attendees that Hertz is the only car rental company right now that uses social media to book cars and for customer service. They answer Twitter in 12 languages. Joseph said that Hertz introduces new ideas using their hub in a chat forum to see if there is interest and decide whether to move forward based on user feedback. Hertz is heavily invested in providing new technology that allows their fleet of cars to "talk" to each other. Joseph was candid about some of the company's failures, including a traditional self-service kiosk that received numerous complaints from customers. Hertz successfully relaunched the kiosk as an express rental kiosk with live agent access, resulting in awards won. Hertz is the only company that offers this type of kiosk. Joseph also mentioned that in April, Hertz hosted a hackathon to create an app for in-vehicle tablets.
John Heath, Chief Marketing Officer — Chobani
John presented an indepth profile of Chobani's Turkish CEO and founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, who is the center of the brand's compelling story. Hamdi bought a yoghurt plant in 2005, not being sure how his idea of providing affordable, natural strained yogurt would be accepted by U.S consumers. They build their business on social media, and by 2009, Chobani was featuring live tweets on outdoor billboards. In 2010, they were the #1 Greek yoghurt in the U.S. They encourage their employees to answer customer service questions in their own voice rather than providing a corporate script. Chobani is the Turkish word for shepherd. In Turkey, shepherds are known for their unconditional giving. Chobani donates ten percent of its earnings to charities worldwide.
Bill Tolany, Senior Director, Marketing & Integrated media — Whole Foods
Bill's presentation stressed that the Whole Foods social media strategy mirrors the company culture, in other words, nothing is centralized. Social media channels include a corporate presence but stores also run their own feeds. The company provides content globally that stores can use if they choose to.
Jean Niemi, Director of Social Media — Home Depot
According to Jean, Home Depot discovered that their sales people aren't the best social media ambassadors for the company and social media is now a corporate function. Home Depot has partnered with Funny or Die and the Onion to produce content. Jean also shared that the top key performance index (KPI) for Home Depot is engagement and sharing is the top indicator of engagement.
Kimarie Matthews, Vice President Social Web, Wells Fargo
Kimarie said that Twitter and Facebook forums are so public in nature that people are not as comfortable discussing finances there. Wells Fargo decided to build their own online community to provide a measure of anonymity that facilitates sharing among users. While their online community self corrects, the company also has a powerful and extensive comment filter in place to screen out "bad words." According to Kimarie, although their online community was built slowly, Wells Fargo now has a relationship with a third of all U.S. households.
Farryn Weiner, Director of Social Media Worldwide — Michael Kors
The charismatic Farryn shared that her main goal when she started at Michael Kors was to build a tumblr for them. But she says that for the first six months, she and her team only listened to what tumblr users were saying about their brand. In that time, the company discovered a fervent group of Michael Kors watch advocates on tumblr and developed their creative based on the conversations taking place among this existing core fan group. In terms of finding brand influencers, Farryn advised to start small, identifying perhaps 100 influencers, learning about their preferences to figure out a strategy for them and then scale up to include more influencers. Farryn strongly encouraged brands to listen first and to avoid interrrupting conversations by broadcasting advertising messages on social media. She stressed that brands are defined by what their customers say about them, so it's important to listen in order to learn what they care about.
Read about the Highlights from Day 2 of the summit here.
Read about Corporate social media management software here.