Note to Nonprofits: Don’t Fear Social Media!

June 22, 2010

If I had only five minutes to address a group of small business owners and nonprofits regarding their overall marketing strategies, I would use that time to warn them about the dangers of NOT using social media as part of their marketing mix! Time and time again, over the past year, I have heard the following concerns from trepidatious clients, “We’re afraid….. We’re worried that someone might post content that’s negative or harmful; We don’t want to engage in media that we can’t control!”

If you’re afraid of what people might say about your company/organization on your social media site, then your problem is two-fold; first, depending upon how real that threat is in your particular situation, you already have a public relations or customer service problem that desperately needs attention (and social media is a powerful tool that can actually help you in this arena); and second, the real truth is that if someone wants to use social media to complain about, or slander, your product/company/image – they’re probably already doing it on their own, their friend’s, your competition’s, and/or any number of other social media venues that you’re not even aware of! The worst possible mistake that you, as a business owner or nonprofit leader, can make is to have no official social media presence of your own to promote a positive image of your business/organization, or to not weigh in on, or respond to, conversations about your product that are already going on around you!

The reality is that social media, whether we like it or not (and I personally LOVE it as a marketing tool) is here to stay. In fact, the lastest electronic media research reports that social media networking has replaced email as the third most popular activity conducted “online” (only behind doing a “google” search and downloading or using online software). Not since the advent of the internet itself has something so immediately and completely transformed the way we market and/or communicate about our “products” to the world. In this new digital age where interaction and conversation have become the driving force behind successful brand strategy and product marketing campaigns, the danger lies not in engaging in the conversation, but in turning your back on it and the millions of potential customers, supporters, volunteers, and/or donors who can be found there!


Memorial Day 2010

May 31, 2010

We love hamburgers and hotdogs — especially cheeseburgers — but let’s not forget why we celebrate Memorial Day with family picnics (or, if you’re like us, coding). Thank a veteran today, and honor those veterans who are no longer with us.

OSC would like to thank those men and women who have fought and given their lives for our country and our safety.

Happy Memorial Day.


Wellspring

April 23, 2010

OSC recently designed and developed a full content management using WordPress for Wellspring, a beautiful residential treatment in Bethlehem, CT. Each visit we made to the campus allowed us to enjoy the breathtaking grounds.

Our goal with this site was to capture the beauty of the campus and imprint it onto the site itself. We are pleased to add this project to our portfolio.

Wellspring

Wellspring


Your customer service front line

April 23, 2010

Recently, while maintaining a client’s Facebook Page, I noticed several complaints from different people about different things. This particular client is an independent newspaper that covers quite a wide area. They have a decent sized newsroom, but unfortunately, you can only cover so much. However, the complaints were about lack of coverage on certain events.

A couple of years ago, people might call in and complain, or send angry letters to the editor. People still do these things, but now they can get in touch with their newspaper through the paper’s Facebook Page; it’s arguably a lot faster to log in to your Facebook account than it is to look up the paper’s number or address. A couple of years ago, people may not have expected a response from a company on Facebook. There were less companies on social networking sites than there are now, and it wasn’t the norm. Now, however, people more than expect a response. They may drop you completely if you ignore them. (Personally, I wouldn’t remain a follower of a company’s Twitter account nor would I continue to Like a company’s Facebook Page if they continuously ignored my questions and concerns. I also wouldn’t stick around if the company failed to even acknowledge its customers at all.)

The game has completely changed, making your social networking profiles your front line in customer service. With just a few clicks, a couple of apologies, and a link to the paper’s contact information, I was able to help my client’s customers get in touch with the newsroom, and an event that wouldn’t normally have been covered did get covered. Several people who normally just lurk the page Liked and commented on their approval of this event being covered when the original poster of the complaint commented again to say thank you.

And that’s it. You don’t have to spend hours on your social networking profiles. Within a few minutes, you can show your customers your appreciation, and help them get what they want from you. It’s so easy, it’s inexcusable not to utilize these tools. Here are a few tips that will make you and your company social media rock stars when it comes to customer service:

  • Log in at least once a day. Spend a few minutes reading any posts and replies from your customers, and respond to as many as possible. Sometimes, you might have to kind of filter through; you may not be able to reply to every comment, but you should at least answer any questions.
  • Have a contact page on your website that you can quickly refer customers to. This can apply especially to Twitter, where you might not have enough characters to point a customer to your email address or phone number, but it also cuts down on time. Imagine how much time you’d save when you’re just copying and pasting a contact link rather than pointing them to the proper method of contact. (Do they need a phone number? Email address? Mailing address? Your contact page should have everything all in one place, and should even have a quick and handy contact form so that your customers don’t have to leave your site.)
  • Thank your customer for expressing their concerns, and apologize when necessary. We do this when engaging with someone face to face, but sometimes digital interaction can seem a lot less personal. By remembering to use your manners and make the customer feel special, you can break down that seemingly impersonal barrier.
  • Follow up. When my client’s customer posted on the paper’s Facebook Wall thanking the paper for their coverage, I followed up by thanking him for his support of the paper. When you make it abundantly clear that it’s all about your customer rather than it being about your business, you make them feel like your brand truly does care. In this day and age, it’s very important for companies to go back to their roots and show appreciation of their customers, and social media makes it easier than ever.

How has social media improved your company’s customer service? Share your success stories in the comments below!


Elizabeth K. Barone is a web designer, social media marketing consultant, and is addicted to Dunkin Donuts iced coffee.

Hungry for more social media tips? Join OSC when we present SOCIAL MEDIA: THE NITTY GRITTY on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 at 8am at the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce (83 Bank St., Waterbury, CT). To attend, contact the Chamber at 203-757-0701, or visit http://waterburychamber.com.


New Facebook Clickjacking Attack Is on the Loose [WARNING]

December 23, 2009

New Facebook Clickjacking Attack Is on the Loose [WARNING]

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Why MySpace is Still Important

August 22, 2009

“Use Facebook! Get LinkedIn! Are you tweeting yet?”

Does this sound familiar? All of the experts stress the importance of having profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Surf the web a little bit and you will likely see most websites sporting these logos — all except for MySpace. Actually, more websites are poking fun at MySpace rather than taking it seriously anymore.

However, even though MySpace has seen a decline in users, the site still has a firm and dedicated user base.

I still have several friends who refuse to leave MySpace for Facebook, saying that they can’t navigate Facebook as easily as they can navigate MySpace. If your business or nonprofit is not on MySpace, you could be missing out on valuable new customers.

The Facebook Vs MySpace battle has been argued all over the web for the last couple of years. What it comes down to, however, is getting your product or service available to as many people as possible.

You might be thinking something like: “But I already have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a blog! How can I possibly manage one more thing?”

The answer is simple. You should be setting aside about sixty minutes a day to update all of your social media. When you update your other profiles, update your MySpace as well.

  • Update MySpace and Facebook using the same status, then tweet it on Twitter.
  • Repost your company blogs on Facebook notes and MySpace blogs.
  • Use Twitter to draw attention to your regular blog when you update it.
  • When you log in to each service, answer comments, @replies, messages, and DMs as quickly as possible. You may want to appoint someone else to do this for you.

MySpace Tip: MySpace profiles are fully customizable; you can modify the colors on your profile to match the colors on your company’s website — something you can’t do on LinkedIn or Facebook. Visitors coming to your MySpace will be just as comfortable with your brand’s familiar colors and logo as they are on your website.


Elizabeth K. Barone is a web designer, multimedia expert, and loves playing Sims 2 on her PC.

We want to be your friend on MySpace. Visit OSC on MySpace and add us to your friends!

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TIME Tweets

June 15, 2009

…it’s just as easy to use Twitter to spread the word about a brilliant 10,000-word New Yorker article as it is to spread the word about your Lucky Charms habit. How Twitter Will Change the Way We LiveTIME

Twitter has become so natural to me, I can’t even remember how or why I started using it. If I’m wondering what the going rate for custom WordPress themes is, I tweet it. If I’m watching a new episode of Burn Notice and Bruce Campbell just said something really funny, I can tweet it. Heck, if I want to tweet about how much I love @DunkinDonuts and @Starbucks — or coffee in general — I can tweet that, too!

More and more companies such as Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks are jumping on the proverbial Twitter bandwagon. They’re all discovering what thousands have people already know — Twitter can fulfill the varying communication needs of students, professionals, musicians, nonprofits and businesses. According to TIME magazine (who is on Twitter, by the way), Twitter is already changing and is going to further change the way we, as a society, live.

In less than 30 seconds, I can ask thousands of people what they would be willing to pay for a custom WordPress theme

In less than 30 seconds, I can ask thousands of people what they would be willing to pay for a custom WordPress theme

The small site has quickly grown into an informational ecosystem. Businesses can find out what their customers think of their products — which is why Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks are avid users. Newspapers and magazines, such as the Waterbury Republican-American (whose Twitter account I personally update and maintain), use Twitter to get information out to their readers, and potential readers, in a short and concise manner. (More and more people, I’m noticing, claim Twitter as their sole source of information, following newspapers and magazines in order to get their daily digest.)

What experts initially thought would turn out to be a passing fad is quickly growing. Companies are now often handing out their Twitter URLs instead of their websites, because those Twitter URLs are an open portal to their websites and their products and services. So what does this mean for you?

Even in its toddlerhood, Twitter is a more efficient supplier of the super-fresh Web than Google. How Twitter Will Change the Way We LiveTIME

If someone on Twitter uses your product or service, they can easily point to you in their tweets. All of their followers will see that tweet — and they’ll see your name. In turn, those interested may start following you, and could easily be converted into customers, volunteers, or donors. These new followers just might tweet about you, passing on your Twitter username and potentially drawing in more people who need your services — which is the essence of viral marketing. By logging into Twitter a few times each day and posting valuable tweets, you will be advertising your products and services for free.

If TIME tweets, so should you.


Elizabeth K. Barone is a web designer, multimedia expert, and cookie dough ice cream junkie.

Already tweeting? Follow @outsourcecom!