Party City Learns a Scary Social Media Lesson

I will admit it. I hate Halloween! I hate the mobs of zombies, scary haunted houses and definitely spider webs everywhere. But in social media, there are few things as scary as a mob of moms who want to teach you a lesson, and today Party City learned a scary lesson in social media management. I’m not sure what it is, but when another mom is in trouble our capes come out and we will fight for a fellow warrior!

So when Lin Kramer went to find her little three-year-old daughter a Halloween costume, she was disappointed to find the selections so limited for little girls in the career choices area. Boys could choose to dress up like police officers, mail carriers, fire fighters, ninjas (I think this is now a career), doctors, and many more, but in the girls section, there was a cheerleader (Is that a career?), a cowgirl, a princess (not sure how you apply for this one), and a “sexy” police officer with a V-neck top and ruffle skirt. When Lin posted her concerns on Party City’s Facebook page, the company replied with the standard, “We appreciate you bringing this to our attention…” and then…they DELETED HER POST! AHHHHHHHHH (insert psycho music here)

never delete a post from an angry social media fan

When you open your social media doors on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other social site, you are welcoming the little angels that come trick-or-treating, as well as those creepy, bloody-faced, devils. Today, consumers don’t have to call and ask to talk to your manager, they simply go to social media and let the manager find them. (TWEETABLE)  Deleting their comment is like hanging up on them. They will go home, gather their friends and dozens of eggs before returning!

Never underestimate the power of a group of people on social media! Social media moms came out in support of Lin and canvased Twitter, Facebook and everywhere else, committing to boycott Party City until they apologized to Lin. I’m sure their social media team is dressed in Scooby Doo costumes today, saying, “Ruh Roh!”

The lesson here is, never delete a post from a customer who is bringing you valuable feedback. Like the toothbrush you get in your trick-or-treat bucket, you may not want it, but you can’t toss it in front of the person giving it to you. On Facebook, you can HIDE a post, which essentially hides it from the public, but the person who posted it, still sees it. This might be an option if you suspect the person posting is a troll or it is a fake post created by a hater. We manage the social media customer service for a few hotels and this will happen when someone throws out a post about bedbugs and we look at the profile, only to see the account was created that day, there are no posts or photos, and we suspect it is a competitor or disgruntled employee. We first ask for the person to contact one of our managers to gather more information. When they don’t reply at all, we simply hide the post. If the post looks legit and it is from a real person, leaving it out in the open allows the public to see how you handle difficult situations. Do people not realize we all LOVE taking screen shots, adding scary music, and making a bigger scarier scene than it really is?

Once again, another company allows us all to heed the warnings without enduring the pain. Thank you Party City for the reminder. When was the last time you had the conversation about how to handle a negative post with your team? If you don’t have one, create a crisis plan and a solid process before you need it. Make sure every person who touches your social media channels, knows it and can perform the necessary actions if needed.

You can run and you can hide in the basement, but just like in the creepy vampire movies, the fans of social media will find you! May I suggest the sexy garlic costume?

hiding from social media fans is never a good plan

 

president of socialknx gina schreck

 

@GinaSchreck is not only a social media mom, but she is the president of SocialKNX, a digital and social marketing company. Helping you build your business and MANAGE THAT PRECIOUS BRAND!

3 Tips From Top Leaders to Beat Content and Social Marketing Fatigue

A content and social marketer’s work is never done. Because the online world is always changing, evolving, and AWAKE, it’s easy to get caught up in a laundry list of to-do items: create a new content marketing campaign, clean out your inbox, post to your social media channels, write another blog post, check your analytics, create cool graphics for another Slideshare presentation. The list goes on and on. Whether you call it decision fatigue or burnout, the results are the same. Becoming overwhelmed by content marketing tasks can actually decrease your productivity rather than increase your efficiency. With a mile-long list of action items, you may feel pressured to do a little bit of each of them, and end up finishing none. Studies also show that multitasking can increase the likelihood that you’ll make a careless mistake by more than 30%. If you’re in a high-profile role where your clients or business are counting on your ability to execute, that’s a statistic you can’t afford to gamble on.

Knowing that there are only so many hours in a day and that even the most savvy marketing mavens and digital marketing masterminds have limitations, we recommend a few tips and tricks from our favorite industry leaders to stay sane under pressure.

productivity tips for content marketing social media management

Richard Branson – Three Post-It Note Prioritization

Richard Branson is arguably one of the most successful marketers and brand builders of our time. His ability to create a meaningful connection between his services and products and his customer base is as legendary as a first-class flight on Virgin Atlantic. This unwavering success starts with clear prioritization. To help him quickly organize his day, he writes the top three – and only three – high-level priorities he needs or wants to accomplish on sticky notes. He then recommends ranking those goals. From there, simply back into each of those goals with the tasks that will lead to their completion. Any other action items should be deferred until the primary goals are complete. This method ensures you stay laser focused on what really matters and cuts back on unnecessary noise.  Now to decide which three you will select!

content marketing tips for productivity

Malcolm Gladwell – Know Thy Strengths

Famous author and social scientist Malcolm Gladwell has completed extensive research on what leads to greatness. He’s written on the power of trusting your instinctual decision-making process in his celebrated novel Blink and studied the traits that lead to success over failure even in the face of unspeakable obstacles in his newest book, David and Goliath. We’d like to think he knows something about how to beat the odds. To protect yourself from burnout and ensure you don’t become a jack of all trades (and master of none), Gladwell repeatedly champions the advice to know, and embrace, your strengths. In one of his most famous articles, he cites the “10,000-hour rule.” To become an expert on any given task or subject, you need to do it for at least 10,000 hours. If you want to be a leading social marketing manager or content marketing specialist, you need to laser focus in on tasks in service to those goals. If you know you’re a whiz at SEO, but your to-do list has six tasks better suited to a graphic artist, it’s time to reprioritize. Lean on your coworkers and network to leverage your strengths — and theirs. The aspiring graphic creative beside you might be thrilled to step in to support your needs or swap tasks so you can both do what you’re best at. This might also be where you look at outsourcing tasks that do not fall into your strengths arena.

productivity tips for content marketing managers and social marketing

Adm. William McRaven – Make Your Bed

Navy Seal commander and special operative responsible for capturing Osama bin Laden offered the University of Texas simple advice to beat task fatigue in his recent commencement address. And his first piece of advice was to make your bed. Whether you want to interpret his advice literally, or extend a metaphor to the proverbial bed of your life and work, the straightforward, earnest advice rings true. Making your bed, cleaning out your inbox of clutter each morning, starting your day with clear priorities (and maybe a few Post-It notes), or getting into gear with an early jog all give you an early sense of achievement to jump-start your morning and carry you throughout the day. Even a recent Huffington Post article pointed out that making your bed each morning can actually trigger feelings of happiness! And who doesn’t need more happiness as we face the social media world each day?

 

If these leaders can do it, so can you. Resisting the urge to jump on Facebook or Twitter every hour and not giving into the latest shiny object are tips we know to be true, but perhaps with a little prioritization and some basic success tips, we can all get a whole lot more done in our over-packed content marketing day. We want to know your top tips for staying productive in your marketing role. Share them with us here.

 

Is It Time To Get Help With Your Social Media Marketing?

The first words out of Karen’s mouth, when I answered the phone were, “I just can’t do it all anymore.” I felt as if I were manning the phones at a crisis hotline. Karen owns and helps run a natural foods company. they make and sell packaged granola, nuts, and other snack foods that are sold in airports and Whole Foods stores. She actually gets into work at 4am to start baking and is there until 10pm doing other business-related activities, including her social media marketing. She was going NUTS! (Pun totally intended)

Are you getting tired of juggling too many activities to keep your business growing? Are sales declining because you don’t have time to follow up with hot leads and your marketing has been shelved because your creative brain cells have all been baked and fried? It might be time to bring in some help, and it might be easier than you think. Perhaps you can find a friend or intern to help with a few of the activities, or perhaps you want to outsource the entire kit and kaboodle (Here’s what that phrase even means: Kit and Kaboodle).

Let’s take a look at some of the specific skills that are involved in content marketing and social media management. This should help you identify the helper you need.

WEBSITE COPYWRITING

Great website copy is critical to help your site come up in search results. Your site is more than a boring brochure these days. It should be a resource of information and answers to your potential cusotmers most searched for questions. You need to find someone who can, obviously write well–good grammar and spelling–but finding someone who can sound like you is also very important. While your voice or tone for your website can be taught or assigned, you will want to think of things like words you tend to use and phrases that define who you are as a brand. Are you fun and witty? The copy on your website should show that. Are you conservative and professional, then the writing will need to follow that tone.

Ask for some writing samples. Check other pieces of content from your writer that matches or is close to your style. Keep in mind, you can have someone do the heavy lifting on your website copy and then you can “tweak” as needed.

Keep in mind a copywriter is typically not an SEO expert. If you are wanting this person to also go in and load the content and add meta descriptions, links, and tags, you will want to make sure this person understands how to do that. Don’t assume a writer knows anything about the backend of a website.

BLOGGING

Blogging is becoming more important as content becomes a greater driver of traffic to your site.  Gone are the days of just having your site stuffed with keywords that people might search for.  Blogs are different from website copy, in that they usually involve research and more specific industry topics rather than information about you and your brand. A blog post is not a promotional piece, it is more informational and educational. Finding someone who can blog for you, or even to augment your occasional blogging, is a great area to outsource.  Just like hiring a website copywriter, you will need to have some input, but with guidance they should be able to write interesting and helpful content for a blog post.

You can even schedule a short interview with the blogger once a month and that can be transcribed and turned into blog content, or you can simply allow the person to get to know about your business, your competitors and your industry.  With a little research and a little “letting go,” you can have a blog that is filled with wonderful and helpful content, rich keyword phrases and it will be great content to be shared on social media sites and recycled in your email marketing campaigns.   Like website copywriting, if you want your blog posts loaded to your site with tags, photos and meta descriptions, be sure to ask about these skills when looking to hire.

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BRAND MANAGEMENT

When you are busy managing your business, you might not have the time to watch what is going on in the big world wide web. While there are tools like Google Alerts and Mentions that send you notifications when your brand or specific keywords are mentioned on the web, your brand may be larger and require a more diligent and watchful eye. You may need someone who can help with monitoring your brand and keeping on top of responding to comments and questions that come in on all of the social networks like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and more.  If you are posting content, you want to make sure you are also listening and replying to those you are working hard to connect with.  Hiring someone that has great customer service skills is critical. With platforms like Twitter, many disgruntled customers take their complaints to the tweets!  Social media’s real-time attributes have resulted in demanding response time expectations — a 2012 study found that 32 percent of customers expect a response within 30 minutes.

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT

Most people think having someone manage their Facebook page or Twitter account is as easy as throwing a few pictures or status updates up. They bring in their nephew or a friend’s daughter who has a Facebook and Instagram account, thinking that is more than qualified. I use a lot of electric gadgets and flip light switches all day, but that does not make me an electrician! Knowing how to load a photo on Facebook is NOT social media management.

The skills you will want to make sure your person possess include, great writing skills, since grammar and spelling are still important in today’s business environment. If someone is posting, “How R U doing?” even on Twitter, that should make your skin crawl. You also need someone who understands how to target your messaging and images to attract your ideal customers and stay true to your brand. Images are key to every social media channel today, so knowing how to edit photos to fit the different platforms is a needed skill. Understanding copyright laws as they apply to images and taking someone’s intellectual property, are also important in this oversharing world we live in.

There are tools available to make social media management more …manageable, like Sprout Social, Buffer, and Hootsuite. These allow you to plan your content ahead of time and schedule posts to drop throughout the week. This will free up some time and allow you to focus on the community involvement on social.

INTERNET or EMAIL MARKETING

Businesses need to combine social, blogging and email marketing to create a well-rounded digital marketing strategy, but this takes a lot of time for sure.  Driving traffic from social media to your website, to landing pages, to email signups to eNewsletters, a person could go crazy trying to do it all.  You can outsource it all or just pieces.  If you are looking for someone to help you with email marketing, you will want them to know how to work in your email tool–Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, Hubspot, Infusionsoft, just to name a few. If you haven’t even set up an email management service, tools like Mailchimp make it very easy with their templates and very low pricing packages.

If you can find someone who has done sales copy in the past, this is a plus. You want to create email campaigns that have strong call-to-actions and copy that converts. This is not your average blogger!

COMMUNITY MANAGER

If your goal on social media is to build a community where you can engage with current and potential customers, you will need to spend time being SOCIAL. This means doing more than posting content about you and your brand. It requires you to go onto other people’s profiles and other company’s pages to read, LIKE and comment there to be engaged in the community. It requires someone spending time looking for others to connect with to ensure your community is growing every day.

Community managers also need customer service skills, since they are representing your brand answering questions both on and off your own pages and profiles. Community management can take the most time since the person has to use search tools to find the right places to visit online, and be sure that those who come to your pages feel as if you are listening to them and valuing their comments and questions.

social media marketing puzzle

So you can see, there are many pieces to your content marketing and social media management puzzle. The key is knowing which pieces you can take on yourself, and which pieces you can hire out for. Where is your time best spent?  The possibilities are endless.  Ask lots of questions when hiring someone.  Look for those skills that you either do not have, or do not have time for.

If this post has left you with millions of questions or just in need of a nap, lay down and contact me right away…Let’s chat!

social business, social media marketing, social management, Synapse, Gina SchreckWritten by Gina Schreck

Gina is the president at SocialKNX (and she has her team manage some of the pieces that involve numbers and anything requiring an attention to detail). Gina speaks around the globe on today’s marketing strategies to keep business relevant and thriving.

Connect with Gina on Twitter –>  @GinaSchreck

Customer Service on Social Media Takes Brains…Human Brains

This morning I caught the tail end of a Twitter conversation that stopped me in my tracks and fired up my keyboard.  It was the creative use of the F-bomb by the ever-fabulous Erika Napoletano aka @RedHeadWriting that initially caught my attention, but the conversation is what got my fingers flying to write this post.  Take a look at this stream and then we’ll chat about it. (I’ve *bleeped* the bombs out for those more sensitive in our audience.)

Poor customer service examples on Twitter, social media for customer service, how to use social for customer service. brand management

Because we manage the social marketing and customer service on social media duties for many brands, I was beyond disbelief with the response by United Airline’s community managers here (and there are two that are identified in this conversation for some reason, as noted by the two sets of initials after each mindless tweet). I found myself wondering if it was some eager summer intern that just wanted to impress his manager by quickly responding and now is asking people if they’d like fries or apple slices with that Happy Meal!  Surely it wasn’t a professional on duty.

These responses show that someone replied to a single mention without seeming to look at the context in which the mention of @United was made, and then there was a spammy undertone to the initial response as they randomly tell Erika to check out their enhancements when she does go to one of their airports. Bad response on so many levels!

So let’s identify a few take-aways you can benefit from, outside of the pure entertainment we tend to get knowing big brands screw up too.

  1. Set up a listening command center.

    To be effective managing customer service on social media sites, you need to make sure you are paying attention when someone mentions your brand (The only thing these community managers did right in this situation). If you aren’t paying attention, and you simply log into social media accounts to blast your own content out to the world, you are missing the SOCIAL part of these tools. (check out this post on How To Set Up A Social Media Command Center)

  2. Do a bit of investigative work BEFORE you stick your nose in the beehive.

    Twitter allows you to click on “View Conversation” to see a bit of the context before you reply.  Scanning a person’s profile, just a bit, will also give you a little insight that could help you know what you are getting into.  Some third-party tools like, SproutSocial, maintain the history a person has had with your brand to see if they have had conversations with you in the past (especially helpful when you have more than one person managing your account), which can prove extremely valuable.

  3. Apologize fast.

    In this case, Thing 2 (JH) came on the scene and made matters worse with the “Hard to get tone of your tweet. You’re saying… what?”  Basically, Thing 1 (JD) butted in a conversation at a very awkward place and should have kept quiet. You don’t have to join every conversation where your brand is mentioned.  Thing 2 should have simply apologized for their team misinterpreting the message and left quietly.

  4. Never, Never, NEVER, try and sell someone something or offer a discount when they hate you more than black olives!

    It’s like having a waiter offer you free dessert after you tell him you have waited 3 hours for your meal and then hated every cold item that ended up coming to the table.  The last thing you want is to stay longer for more of their crappy food.  Clueless customer service people will try and sell or give something away when they don’t know how to fix a problem. Offering anything promotional at a time when someone is already talking bad about you is like getting a pedicure with salt scrub right after shaving your legs (guys, trust me on this one…it makes people scream).

Do you have other lessons that you have gleaned from this horrible customer service example? We’d love to be schooled by you! Share your thoughts in the comments.

Connect with me on Twitter @GinaSchreck

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Social Media Marketing is like Childrearing…It’s Not For the Weak and Change is Certain

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Juggling my job as a social marketing manager and being a busy mom of two has both rewards and challenges.  We can all agree that social marketing is hard work. Completing all that needs to be done in a day is one of those challenges, but I have always found ways to get my errands done with kids in tote by “selling them” on the idea that the stop at the store will be “FUN!”  Sure, some chores require that I get more creative, but it has always worked and fortunately bribing a 6-year-old is still legal.

It was on a recent, not-so-efficient, day that I discovered my usual, oft-employed strategy to get my daughter excited about running errands with me had suddenly stopped working.  Just like that – the answer was “No thanks, Mommy. I don’t want to go.”  This was supposed to be our one-on-one time, so I was already feeling guilty about cutting into that precious time with my to-do list, so I tried again. “Let’s go get a cookie and you can color (so mommy can finish this post).” Her response was the same. “No. I don’t want to.”

social media management is like raising children

Wait, what?  But I’m the mom and this always works.  I realized I had to change my approach.  The rules changed and so I had to adapt and change my strategy.

The unpredictability of life with a child is strikingly similar to social media, at times. As a social marketing manager at SocialKNX I see a DIRECT correlation between these two jobs.  Change is happening all the time in social media platforms and social media marketing, and there’s little – or sometimes NO – warning.  Indeed, it can be frustrating, but with a little know-how and a lot of stamina, your social marketing strategy will be able to handle anything that Mark Zuckerberg throws at you.

Of course with the constant changes and sometimes unclear targets we are trying to hit, it can be quite overwhelming.  Therapy, anyone?

 

Here are 4 Tips for Creating Happy and Healthy Social Marketing

flexibility is key with social media management

Stay flexible 

Just like parents who say, “That music is too loud or why do you have to dress like that” we find ourselves saying similar things about social media.  The moment you catch yourself saying things like, “This is stupid. No one is going to join a social platform that has nothing but knitting patterns.” You sound old, and you will be wrong. (check out RAVELRY)  MySpace was king of the social mountain until Facebook knocked it off and took over the kingdom.  There will be others, but you will be ready. Stay nimble. Realize it is not the tool or the platform, but the way we are learning to use them to connect and communicate that is important.

learning social media, tips for social marketing, coaching

Never Stop Learning 

None of us are experts or gurus in parenting OR social marketing.  The only expert parents are GRAND parents.  We are all students of this social revolution and there is much to learn… daily.  Make a point to subscribe to top blogs and Twitter streams to stay abreast of what is new.  Join groups on LinkedIn or Communities on Google+ to share new tools with others who manage social marketing.  It’s not until you sell your business or retire that you can look back and see your true expertise.

 

Consistency with social media, don't give up, how long do you try

Don’t Give Up When The Going Gets Tough

Like anything worth while in life, there will be challenges and tough days.  Ask any parent.  There are good days and there are bad days. If you stay at it long enough, the good days will definitely outweigh the bad.  Don’t be that guy who gives up and refuses to play in the sandbox anymore, because you don’t like the rules. And certainly don’t be a person who tries parenting for a couple months and says it doesn’t work. “This baby is still too needy and not showing a return on my investment so far.” Social marketing takes time and lots of tweaking and changing.  Just as you invest time growing and nurturing your little ones, nurturing a fledgling social media strategy NOW might just be what your business needs to stay relevant and survive into the next phase of its life.

help with social media, managed services for social marketing, outsourced social

Ask for Help 

Many parents are afraid to ask for help for fear of revealing they can’t handle it alone.  The reality is, we were never qualified to handle parenting alone.  Hillary Clinton taught us all that in her book, “It Takes A Village”, and I am here to tell you that it takes a village, or at least a team to do everything that needs to be done with your social media management. Perhaps you can have a couple people writing content for your blog, have someone else handle finding great photos for all of your posts, and someone else in charge of coming up with ideas for contests or campaigns. Perhaps you have someone who loves data.  That person can handle analyzing what is working and what is not each month.  You might need to hire some help or bring in an intern to help you.  You can join coaching circles or sign up for a class for that support and assistance.  If you are needing parenting classes, we probably can’t help you, but if you need some help with that social strategy, we are here and eager to help.

social marketing managed services

 

Now go…take that brand new social marketing bundle of yours and grow it into a successful marketing strategy.  You’d better hurry though…the rules are about to change again.

Give us a call and talk to us about your business…or your kids – we’re ready, we’re willing, and we’re parents too.

Need a few more pointers? Here’s a social marketing time management tool we use:

social media manager, social marketing, managed services for social media 

   Sharlene Keithley is a community manager at SocialKNX and loves discovering ways to drive more traffic to client websites using social media and seeing those conversion numbers rise! When she’s not juggling her roles as mom, wife, community manager, and taxi driver, she is learning to play guitar, piano and spending time in the great outdoors!