Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why GM's Latest Product, OnStar For My Vehicle is a Marketing Disaster

Needless to say, GM has been in financial turmoil for a long time. In addition, pressures from investors- who forever consider only their own short-term gains- have forced them to become a very different company than they were a decade ago. What drove their early success was a corporate focus on improving the quality of their vehicles and services; now, they've shifted that focus to the quality of their quarterly earnings reports.

Recently, they invested a good sum of money to manufacture and market their renowned OnStar systems, à la carte for installation on all vehicle brands. Of course, this was in an effort to maximize profit sources by increasing the width of their product offerings.

At the same time though, they take away from the depth of their product experience. While producing OnStar à la carte may raise profits for a little while, allowing all car brands to have the sense of security that is unique to GM, takes away a huge differentiating factor for the struggling company. This was one of the few aspects that were definitively different (in a positive way) in GM vehicles; it was an excellent piece of technology that improved the brand’s experience exponentially.

Now, they are selling this beautiful innovation. Too often, companies favor short-term profits over long-term brand equity and this is what has happened to General Motors. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Easiest Way to Boost Your Customer Engagement and Social Media Buzz

This is no magical fix to all your social media woes. You probably won't even notice any empirical results. However, this is a simple way to give your Facebook page a little extra push.

The default setting for a Facebook page is to show your posts only. However, this robs you of so much potential buzz and word-of-mouth. Consumers will never trust your biased promotional jingles over the raves of impartial fellow consumers.

If you want to truly take advantage of the fanbase you've worked so hard to build, showcase all the positive things they have to say. In addition, this is great if you interact well with your customers.

To switch the setting to show both your posts and your fans' posts, simply go to your page while signed in and at the top right, you should see a button that says "edit page". Click this. Now there will be an option called "Wall tab shows". Select all posts and you're all set.

You just made your Facebook page 1.5% more engaging.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

How to Easily "Wow" Your Customers with Social Media

Many brands (and most social media consulting firms)  fail to understand that social media marketing is about building relationships with customers. They splurge on hiring the best graphic designers to create a fancy Facebook page for them.

But let's recall what a relationship is. Or better yet, what it is not. A relationship is not one person always talking, and the other person always listening. Instead, each person will talk a little and listen a little. Why is this simple concept in interpersonal dealings not applied to social media marketing?

An engaging Facebook page is 5% about you showcasing your brand; the other 95% is just letting customers talk amongst themselves and to you. We've handled how to promote the sharing and word-of-mouth so let's talk about having customers talk to you. Here are posts on talking with your customers:

Improving Customer Relationships by Responding to Negative Feedback

How to Respond to Positive Feedback through Social Media

Great Example of a Conversation with a Customer Through Social Media

Here's a little example of a conversation with a customer. It's meant to be read with this post about responding to positive feedback on social media websites. This is a dialogue between a fine Italian restaurant and a customer who just praised it:

Reviewer: Hi there, I loved your restaurant! The veal parmigiana tasted very authentic.

Italian Restaurant: Thank you so much! That really means a lot. We really do strive to remind everyone of the tastes of Little Italy through our food. You seem like someone who really appreciates food; what’s been your favorite experience with an Italian restaurant? It’d be great to have your input so we can make our atmosphere and food even better :)

Reviewer: Haha, I vacationed in Italy for a month last year so I guess I know a little bit about Italian food. :) I guess my best experience would be at this restaurant in Italy where the chef himself took the dishes to our table and finished off the garnishes at the table. Needless to say, the food was great!

Italian Restaurant: That's awesome! Maybe we'll include some of those ideas in our experience for next time! What part of Italy did you go to?

...and so on and so forth...

How to Respond to Positive Feedback through Social Media

For an entrepreneur, there is nothing sweeter than the feeling of positive feedback, especially through social media. But don’t get caught in the moment. Positive feedback is an opportunity to advance your brand even further, in the eyes of both the reviewer and the general public. This is your chance to turn fans into fanatics and transform brand loyalty into the coveted “loyalty beyond reason”.

Thank the Reviewer

After all, they probably just augmented your profits by one or two percent.

Engage Him or Her Even More

Start an entire conversation with them by prompting them to talk more about themselves and their idiosyncrasies. Ask questions that they would be proud to answer. Here is a link to a great example of an exchange between a positive reviewer and a fine Italian restaurant. I highly recommend that you take a look at it.

This sort of conversation can go on for several days back and forth. Also, in addition to engaging this particular customer, through this conversation you gain valuable insights into how to improve your own restaurant experience. And as you begin to see commonalities in the people who praise your brand, you can better target your marketing toward a particular niche.

One day, maybe you’ll come across a million-dollar conversation where somebody gives you the suggestion that can immediately drive your brand to the top. That’s the ultimate reward for the fifteen minutes per day that you spent responding to feedback.

Give Out Tokens of Appreciation to Reviewers

First of all, this should only be done occasionally so your costs are not too high and your fans do not come to expect rewards. To add, these can just be coupons or small gift certificates; there is little correlation between the extravagance of these gifts and how loyal they will be. However, do not expect them to tell their friends about your brand, in exchange. Do not ask for anything in return. Period.

Do Not “Feature” the Feedback on your Facebook Page

This is not only pointless (the post is already public), but comes off as desperate. If you are using Twitter, occasional re-tweets of positive feedback is OK. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with motivating and praising employees by sharing the feedback with them during meetings or presentations.

As soon as you apply these principles, your brand loyalty will skyrocket.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Legitimate Complaints vs. "Hater" Comments: Responding to Negative Feedback on Social Media

This post is meant to be read with the post about improving customer relations by responding to negative feedback.

No matter what your organization produces or works toward, there will always be a few envious attention-seekers who want to get famous, by bringing you down. These people are what my generation calls “haters”; they do not have a valid reason to complain about your company, but they do it anyway. Basically, their comments will go along the lines of:

“[Your company name] SUCKS!!! I HATE THEM!! LET’S GO BREAK [your name]’S LEGS!!!”

Or the slightly more conniving:

“[Your company name] has terrible practices. They beat their workers. They’re worse than [insert a dictator’s name].”

At the end of the day, some of the most financially successful and ethically sound companies in the world, fall victim to millions of “hater” remarks. However, rarely is there any benefit in responding to these sorts of comments, with more than a canned apology. Even if their facts are wrong, telling them this can only spark more anger; the last thing you want is to start a social media war that polarizes your customers. And unfortunately, despite your best intentions, the public almost always sides with the “underdog” consumer.

Most people will not go any further after you respond with an apology. If they decide to continue to barrage your page with hate, simply remove their comments- why keep such negativity on your page?
Occasionally though, it is difficult to discern between hater comments and legitimate complaints; there can often be something genuine masked in the curse words of spur-of-the-moment rage. Here are a few guidelines on the differences between hater comments and legitimate complaints:
  • Hater comments question the operations of your company in an angry and irrational way.
  • Legitimate complaints are about the product or experience that your company provides. This may include questioning the operations of your company, but only if it is directly related to their experience (e.g. “you need to train your customer service representatives more effectively”)

  • Both can sound angry at first.
  • Haters will continue to be angry, even after you sympathize and apologize.

  • Legitimate complaints can either be public or private (e.g. email or phone)
  • Haters like attention and will always try to humiliate you publically

  • Legitimate complaints talk about your flaws in a candid, no-nonsense sort of way. Even if their complaints are long, every sentence is related to their own experience. 
  • Haters go out of their way to insult you or your company, often on a personal level. They like to insert underhanded jabs at your company, for no good reason

  • Legitimate complaints talk about themselves and how their own experience was bad.
  • Haters talk about you and how you are bad.
All in all, just remember: haters gonna hate. 
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