Don’t Just Dream about Better Social Service, Dreamforce it!

Ashley Furness – The biggest cloud computing industry event of the year has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still learn something from it.

Dreamforce 2012 ended late last month with a record 90,000 attendees, media and learning session participants. The gathering featured more than 750 sessions, but that’s not where I picked up some of the most practical business tips. Those came from the live “Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center” – a real-life demonstration of social customer service savvy.

Dreamforce tabletSituated in the middle of the expo floor, the social service station was manned by eight support agents who fielded calls, tweets, posts and updates from Dreamforce attendees. The site was ringed by flashing streams of social conversations. These stock exchange-like tickers provided onlookers a peak into their activities.

From watching and learning, I gleaned a few key takeaways. For those of you that weren’t able to attend, or missed this demonstration, here’s several socialized customer service best practices I observed.

Post Publicly First

John Rote, Vice President of Customer Experience at Bonobos, compared support through social media like troubleshooting in a coffee shop or bar.

“It’s likely more people will hear about it and pull friends from across the room to listen. This can mean a bad experience is shared further, faster,” says Rote, who will sit on a social customer service panel at Dreamforce called “How Small Businesses Keep Up with the Velocity of Customer Service.”

To mitigate this risk, Rote suggests companies always acknowledge the comment in social before taking the interaction to another channel. Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center observers watched this happen in real time. If an attendee asked a highly-technical question on Twitter, the agent would reply, “I’m emailing you now!” or “Here’s a link to a Chatter discussion on this topic.”

This approach publicly demonstrates that the company is listening and responds to everyone.

Prioritize Thoughtfully

One of the biggest challenges with providing customer service through social is dealing with the sheer volume of requests. Griffin said companies should have a well-defined strategy for prioritizing responses.

This should include ranking factors from social–a Klout score, for example–and customer history. A company might choose to respond first to longtime customers or those with a history of high-value purchases.

“Companies should strike a balance between who [the customer] is in the community, but also who they are to you,” Griffin says.

At the Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center, social mention identification and prioritization was automated through Salesforce.com’s Radian6 Social Hub. This system trolled the Web for #Dreamforce, @Dreamforce and Dreamforce mentions on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. These were instantly turned into a service ticket, prioritized and routed to the appropriate social response agent.

Hashtag Common Questions

Griffin told me that last year during Dreamforce most interactions across all service channels involved questions about where things were located, recommendations for events, and tips for getting around the conference. Hashtags allow customer service managers to instantly create a knowledge base for topics such as these.

During this year’s event, Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center agents used hashtags like #Dreamforc2012, #DF2012 and #DF12 to index conversations about the event. That way they could quickly reference those tweets for relevant questions.

Then, when a Dreamforce visitor tweeted, “What sessions are best for social customer service?” the agent could respond “@UserName check out everyone’s food recommendations by searching #Dreamforce2012! and #socialcustserv” When they search those hashtags, the visitor could scan through everyone’s suggestions. This saves the agent time, while still providing a helpful personal response.

It Takes Dedication

John Rote, Vice President of Customer Experience at Bonobos, compared support through social media like troubleshooting in a coffee shop or bar.

“It’s likely more people will hear about it and pull friends from across the room to listen. This can mean a bad experience is shared further, faster,” says Rote, who will sat on a social customer service panel at Dreamforce called “How Small Businesses Keep Up with the Velocity of Customer Service.”

Customer service through social media is not just about providing another interaction channel in addition to phone, email or live chat. Bonobos found out through customer surveys that social media support engaged customers who might never have sent their question otherwise. But for this to really work, you need to make sure you have both the processes and manpower for providing a good social experience.

Ashley Furness is a CRM Software Analyst for research firm Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising.

Blog Tips-How To Supercharge Your Blog-Part 3: Blogs and Social Media

In the second part of this series, we got into the basics of Google’s Keyword tool and how to use it to laser target your audience. You learned how to pick your keywords and how to add them strategically into your blog. It is so important to your blogging efforts to make sure that your tags are ON TOPIC. So if you have not yet read Part 2, please do so now!

Blogs and Social Media

The biggest mistake or most frequent misunderstanding is to see your social media marketing platforms as separate entities. Though they are different, they should be viewed as vital organs that make up the body of your business. Between your blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and any other platform you choose, none should act alone in helping you promote your business.

What do I mean by that? First, you need to see all of them as a tool to establish YOU as a leader or an authority on your topic. Do not get distracted in meaningless conversations on Twitter about someone’s personal life and so one – in reference to your business accounts. Stay focused! Offering information on how one can improve in an area that is closely related to your niche is how you’ll attract people interested in you and your business.

The Blog

It all starts with the blog. Think of your blog as the center of a circle with all of your social media properties pointing back to it. If you never take away anything else from this post, remember this – YOU DO NOT WANT PEOPLE TO STAY ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE, TWITTER PAGE, PINTEREST PAGE, AND SO ON! Most gurus will teach you to “Get Thousands of Fans” and “Engage them on Social Media Everyday!” While there is truth to this, and while I teach you to spend time everyday interacting on the news feeds, you have to adopt the frame of mind that you want people to LEAVE SOCIAL MEDIA TO COME TO YOUR WEBSITE!

Your social media tasks should be tightly focused around your website with the intention of driving people to your blog post. With the average attention span of a human being, especially one that is engaged on social media, you cannot expect people to bounce around and find you interesting. One click and the information is sitting before them on your website.  It is a simple and efficient plan that is proven to work!

There are a couple of things that you will have to commit to in order to work the system. First are the ideas that I mentioned in part 1 and Part 2. That is to choose your topics properly and use the keyword tool to laser target your audience.

Video

The next step in supercharging your blog is to commit to producing videos that promote your website and your posts. If you are nervous about being on camera, practice! Video is such a huge part of the internet now that you almost have to utilize it in order to really gain traction for your blog.

It will almost work against you if your videos are over produced so don’t worry about not having an expensive production. Be a real person in front of a decent HD camera and talk about your post. Keep length of the video between 1-4 minutes. The key is to not give everything away in the video. Introduce some ideas or outline what the post offers the potential reader. Then ask them to click the link that is strategically placed FIRST in the description.

Add Blog Post URL in Description FIRST

Again, after your blog post is up, copy the URL and place it FIRST in the description of your YouTube video. Make sure you add at least 2 paragraphs promoting the post adding the main keyword at least 2 times.

Social Media – Time to Share!

Pinterest

Pinterest is great for a couple of reasons so if you do not have a Pinterest account, open one. First, it provides great SEO benefits for your site. Second, it creates a link out of your photos pointing to your posts. Start by following interests that make sense for your niche. People will begin to follow your pins and you will notice increased traffic to your blog.

The key in promoting through Pinterest is to choose GREAT IMAGES. Pinterest is a visual site. Most members will ignore images that are boring. A great resource for cheap stock images is Deposit Photos. For 50 cents, you can choose from tens of thousands of professional stock photos that are eye-popping. As far as I know, it is the best resource for royalty free images on the internet. NOTE: DO NOT STEAL IMAGES! It is not worth saving 50 cents to risk getting sued!

Twitter and Facebook

Remember to Share or Tweet directly from your page. If you do not have share features on your blog, then copy your URL and share. Generally, you DO NOT TWEET YOUR FACEBOOK POST! Stay focused on directing people to your blog. NOTE: I’m OK with having your YouTube auto Tweet. At least the video is viewable on Twitter and it will redirect them toward your post. If you do have your Facebook and YouTube channels auto posting to Twitter, just make sure you follow up with a Tweet pointing back toward your site and your blog post.

Don’t just share a link and write “Check this out”. I got bored just writing that! You want people to immediately know that what you’ve written is useful. Or, that what you’ve written is what they need. Also, numbers work miracles for attracting people to your posts. In other words, write a post titled “7 Ways to (blank).”

I know this is a lot of stuff, but as you implement these tasks, you’ll get good at them. It doesn’t take that long. Below is a Work Flow Chart that will help you visualize what needs to be done. Book mark this page so you can have an easy reference from which to work. Tweet or Message us on Facebook if you’d like a PDF of this document:

Social Media Work Flow Chart

We hope you learned something useful today. Feel free to share your thoughts below. Cheers!

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5 FREE Marketing Tips For Local Businesses

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5 Facebook Marketing Tips For Your Fanpage

So your Facebook fan page is up! You’ve got a great timeline image and thumbnail image. You have a modest paid advertising campaign that is bringing some LIKES to your page. Now what? How should your page perform? How can you keep your fans engaged? And, most importantly, how can you attract the RIGHT people to your page?

These are tough questions. Most businesses make the mistake of thinking that managing a Facebook fan page is easy. Just slap it together and you’re on your way, right? I would guess that more than 50% of Facebook fan pages are virtually abandoned. I am speaking from experience! I’ve made the mistakes so these tips are not regurgitated tips from someone trying to sell programs. These Facebook Marketing Tips come from the marketing school of hard knocks! And, by the way, they’re FREE! These are a few simple tricks you can use to grow your page full of fans that are genuinely interested in your business.

  1. Invite Your Friends – I hate to state the obvious here but have you invited your friends to LIKE your page? If not, why? These are the people that trust you the most. They are also the most likely to comment on and LIKE your posts. And, when they do, their friends will see your posts. You are hundreds of times more likely to get viral activity going via your friends than from strangers. So invite them to your page!
  2. Choose Your Facebook Fan Page As Your Place Of Employment– What do I mean by this? On your personal page, click your ABOUT tab and edit your place of
    Use Your Fan Page as Place of Employment

    employment. Start by erasing what you’ve got and choose your Facebook fan page as your place of employment. This does two things. First, it posts the change to your timeline. Your friends will see it naturally. Second, it will take your friends to your page, not to some generically generated page like, Self Employed and Loving It. People are nosy! They DO visit and click on your links. So make sure you do this!

  3. Choose The Name Of The Page Properly– Without being too “selly”, try to place your main keyword into the title of your Facebook Page. So if own a patio furniture company in Palm Springs and your company is called Patio Pros, your Facebook page title can read something like this, Patio Pros – Palm Springs’ Patio Furniture. This does not hurt for Google Ranking either. Facebook pages DO rank!
    Place Your Keyword In Your Page Title
  4. LIKE Other Pages As Your Page – Let’s say you own a local music store. Your company sells music, instruments, lessons and accessories. You should, as your page, search for local band’s Facebook pages, local venues and so on. Anything that is on the fringe of your niche, you should LIKE AS YOUR PAGE! Why? First, many of these companies will reciprocate on participate in your conversations. This puts the “Social” in social networking! You should do this with as many related Facebook pages as possible.
  5. Comment As Your Page– Now that you have your title optimized and you are following several related Facebook pages, your news feed will be full of posts from

    Comment As Your Facebook Fan Page

    those your follow. Comment on each and every post, or as often as time will allow, AS YOUR PAGE! Who will see you? Not just the band you’re following but the fans of the band! They love music and they ARE your target market!

I know this sound like a lot of work, but when you get good at it, it should take no longer that a half hour. By the way, don’t spam. If you’re commenting on a post, don’t self promote. Talk about the post. If you write your title properly, that’s all the promotion you’ll need.

Thanks for reading. We hope you learned something today!

Amendment:

Just hours after making the comment on Arnold Palmers’ status update, they visited our Fan Page and LIKE’d Apps111! This stuff works people! Exercise them with consistency and you will reap the financial benefits! See Blow:

Hours after commenting on the above status update, Arnold Palmers LIKE’s our Fanpage!

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