@AnnNyberg Follows OSC

March 22, 2011

I’m feeling a bit like a celebrity today, all because I opened my email to find a message from the friendly folks at Twitter that Ann Nyberg – Connecticut’s well-known and much beloved WTNH-TV news anchor – is now following Out-Source Communication’s Twitter account! This is not a mere follow back on the part of Ann (we aren’t following her), but a bona-fide original follow from her (or her “people”) who have deemed our posts as worthy of their attention! For social media geeks like us at OSC, this is really cool!!! It’s kinda like hitting the Twitter “big time” (at least locally) and it feels damn good! So thanks for the follow @annnyberg! We’ll try to keep our posts interesting and worthwhile for you! Oh….and we’ll make sure to return the favor and “follow you back!”


Why Facebook Pages — and Other Social Media Tools — Help Strengthen Your Website and Business

September 28, 2010

I came across a vlog tonight basically saying that businesses should ignore social media and just focus on their own domainhttp://www.yourbusiness.com. Of course, you all know me — I love social media, and I use it as a marketing tool to help small businesses and nonprofits achieve their goals. Since I know that many of you have heard some of the things he says in the video, and probably have questions, I decided to write about my thoughts.

One of the first things that made me say, “Hey!” was the statement that Facebook did not give customers notice about the change in the width of business pages. Facebook did, in fact, give notice to customers about the change. I got my notice about two or three weeks before the change, giving OSC plenty of time to redesign our clients’ default tabs. Each person using a page had a yellow box at the top of their screen saying that on such-and-such a date, Facebook would be decreasing the width by about 200 pixels.

Although I definitely agree that all businesses should have a permanent web address, I do not recommend that people set up personal profiles instead of business pages. There are many things a business page can do that a personal page can’t, such as: having a default tab and adding extra tabs that you can customize with HTML and CSS (think a welcome tab with information about your business, and a tab for coupons only those who are a fan of your page can receive!), having a discussions forum and reviews section, adding a Constant Contact tab so that your customers can sign up for your mailing list right from Facebook, and a whole laundry list of other great features.

Yes, it’s a drag that Facebook changes things frequently (and yes, sometimes without notice), but for the most part, the things they offer for business pages have remained the same, and I still urge people to have a business page. It is not a “fad” when people expect to find your business on Facebook so that they can become of a fan of it or like it. If you’re not in the game and your core market is on Facebook, you’re missing out on potential customers.

Furthermore, fans, followers, friends — they are not the property of the different social networks; they are still your customers. Businesses should not ignore social media and just stick to their websites, considering sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are being used as search engines more and more, and are a great way to

  1. build up organic SEO, and
  2. give your customers and prospective customers a way to find you and interact with you aside from your website.

Aside from having at least one social networking account for your business, you should also have an on-site blog in addition to your site’s other content so that people will continue to come back to your site. Your social media will, in turn, link back to your blog, building up yet more organic SEO, and giving customers a reason to keep coming back to your site.

Of course, Facebook is not for everyone, but there are plenty of other social networking sites that will work for your specific business. Social media is here to stay, and we small businesses and nonprofits benefit greatly from the (free!) tools that help us spread our products and messages even further.

Have a question about social media? Leave a comment and ask me, or email me at ebarone@out-sourcecom.com.

Elizabeth K. Barone is a social media marketing consultant — what a mouthful! — web designer, and writer. She likes writing To Do lists on white boards, playing Sims, reading, and helping small businesses and nonprofits achieve their goals.

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.

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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