Tag Archives: social media

Social Media: Full of Falsehoods and Dangers?

Anything can be used for good as well as evil. History gives us examples of inventions that were designed with one thing in mind but ultimately used for something that hurt people (for example nuclear fission created cheap energy but then used to make bombs).

The Internet, developed to speed communication and share information, was quickly dominated by pornography. Then social media arrived and has now overtaken porn, and continues to grow in use and possibilities. Sharing things with family, friends and the world is a popular pastime which, on the surface, is harmless but now harbors growing threats and challenges.

Want lots of Twitter followers? You don’t need to be a celebrity or have something worth tweeting about to achieve that. Simply pay someone to circumvent Twitter’s rules and you’re there. Want a million followers? It costs only $2450, according to the referenced article. So having lots of followers, and I assume there will be similarities in Facebook, can be achieved the honest way or the dishonest way.

Then there’s TripAdvisor. What started off as a cool portal to share your experiences about a hotel, restaurant or destination is now dogged with claims of falsehood. In this case, it’s claimed, a hotel achieved great ratings because investors were busy posting positive reviews while real guests referenced unfinished building works and similar unwelcome aspects. At the other end, small hotel owners claim that unfair ratings are ruining their business and that TripAdvisor is reluctant to investigate and correct these.

Inaccuracies and falsehoods dog social media sites. Even though they probably account for a small percentage of total transactions, the notoriety a social network or portal can achieve when they fail to do enough to deal with the problem can linger for a long time. Worse, dangers exist out there with people going beyond just using social media for bad purposes to those that are deliberately evil. Young, vulnerable, people targeted by others with evil in mind are a concern to parents and society.

So, what can be done? At an individual level, don’t waste your time and resources following links that may be unsafe. When using Facebook, Twitter and other social channels follow only valuable assets and avoid anything questionable in terms of authenticity or morality. This applies to both adults and youngsters.

At a corporate level, companies must take seriously the threat imposed by falsehoods and dangers. Not just to their corporation’s reputation and finances, but to their fans and followers. How do they do this? There are companies that will, for a fee, review content and filter out the bad stuff – images, posts, video etc. They will investigate false claims and ensure only the legal, decent, honest, truthful stuff remains available for public consumption. Technology can help too, automating much of the volume to speed up review and contain associated costs. Some companies choose to do nothing because in the eyes of the law, they didn’t know and, therefore, can’t be responsible. But the law isn’t moral and companies need to decide if they’re in or out when it comes to social media. It’s a tiger grabbed by the tail. Watch it doesn’t turn around and bite!

 

 

Customer Service in Social Media – taking baby steps

I joined around 60-70 delegates last week in London for the Useful Social Media event Social Media for Customer Service Europe. The keynote speaker was Frank Eliason of Citi who, frankly, nailed the topic. Social media has been great for marketeers but presents challenges.

For example, “friends” do the most unfriendly things such as say bad things about your brand in public and on your Facebook site. They also ask unrelated questions where marketeers intended discussions around new products and services should happen. And finally, they have stopped calling for assistance and now tweet, asking the world instead. Or they express their frustration through Twitter when they did ask you and you didn’t reply.

It’s little wonder that senior company executives are wary of social media. Nevertheless, social media is here to be embraced, not least because customers like it and use it. As time passes late adopters will adopt, and laggards will lag (losing touch?), and generation Y and Z folks will dwell in cyberspace looking for near-instant gratification and help from peers.

The message I took away from the conference is two-fold:

  1. Don’t ignore or constrain social media – embrace it. You can’t contain, prevent, or avoid it but you can work within it to get the best and right results. It’s encouraging to see that social media roles are appearing at very senior levels in large organisations. A sign that engagement is happening.
  2. Customer service departments need to get involved. I was struck by how many marketeers were at the conference. Clearly this is where the early budget has come from but, as I expect there’s a lot for CS professionals to learn from what people say unhindered in social channels, they must get involved and wrest control of CS interactions from marketing. Otherwise, who know what advice and guidance customers will be given?

ROI was also under discussion and various points were made about the return companies gain on their investment. Universally, everyone said it was tough to conform with traditional company ROI calculations. I’ll probably post on this again in the next few weeks as the topic continues to appear. Part of the justification is finding the right format to satisfy the needs of executives, and ensuring that the arguments stand up to scrutiny.

What else did I take away from the conference? There weren’t many dyed-in-the-wool CS people there, so I expect that interest is from people with a CS role and an interest in social media. More people needed that see social media as a customer service channel, methinks!

If you have an opinion, please comment

Social Customer Service | Need to Scale the Team or Not?

Most company social media (SM) activity is promotional – brand, profile, product, offer. So the majority of available help is focussed in this area. Emerging, though, is the need to engagement with customers in a service and support, not promotional, environment.

In many cases, marketing departments are handling customer enquiries like a discussion, which isn’t good. Or are ignoring them, which is really bad. So, companies need to be customer service consistent at least, and this will soon be joined by the need to scale engagement team because social customer service will grow over time and as channels mature and companies succeed.

Therefore social customer service and support is not the domain of the creative team. If your service/support need is small now, ask yourself the question “will it remain small?”

Answer “yes”, and your design/creative/marketing department, with input from customer service will be fine. Answer “maybe not” or “no” and you could soon find yourself with a collection of small, disparate teams, dedicated by country, language or product line.

Is this a bad thing? For many companies it is because poorly regulated, inconsistent interactions is the least effective way to support customers and, in social channels, carries real risk of embarrassment or adverse (public) reaction.

How can consistency and scale be achieved? By design and deployment of the social service engagement to complement the creative and promotional aspects. This is not a creative agency/department core strength and is, perhaps, the unglamorous face of social media activity.

What’s needed for social programs that are established and need to be brought into alignment, or will scale as milestones are passed, is an approach and structure to provide a platform for the aims and culture of an enterprise social program. I’ve created an image of it here:

Social Team Infographic
Key Features for Establishing and Scaling the Social Support Team

The corporate steps every company should follow are on left side of the image. I may have over-simplified as it’s not my area of expertise, however, companies such as AntsEyeView, Radian6, Lithium and others are well positioned to advise or provide.

On the right I’ve summarized the key team elements. Excluded from this are corporate community management and creative resources because these sit on the left, but day-to-day community management and customer engagement is covered.

Many organisations manage with part-time and small teams working within or side by side with creative and customer service teams but, once your team grows beyond a single location or skillset, or gets to 10 or more people, a lot more structure and focus is needed maintain control and focus on what you doing. This doesn’t diminish the ability to adapt and flex to meet changing needs but does, however, require attention and process to prevent things becoming unwieldy and deliver consistently.

With scale comes the need to specialise. “Super-moderators”, natuarally skilled across the whole environment, are already becoming difficult or expensive to hire. Finding individuals with potential, and developing them through coaching is the way to increase capacity and deliver consistent outcomes.

More to come on related topics in the near future.