If I Could Turn Back Time…The Importance of Reputation Management on Social Media

Have you ever had a really BAD experience with a company and took to a social network to post your rant? Have you gone as far as Dave Carroll and create a viral YouTube video?

It’s easy to forget the power of social media until instances like this occur. Dave’s video got him more than 200 interviews on talk shows and inspired other customers to create sequels (United Breaks Guitars 2 & 3) that garnered more than a million likes as well. Taylor Guitars also created a YouTube video explaining their repair services in response to Dave’s video. They even gave Dave a new guitar. It seems everyone but United acknowledged Dave…

From a social media perspective if I were an Online Reputation Manager and saw this video I would have gone into immediate damage control. I would have responded to Dave and asked him to write me a message explaining his situation, what damages he is seeking, and thank him for his time and for choosing United. I would have then addressed this with my human resources department and done everything I could to find out where the disconnect was and how the issue escalated to this.

Once I had all of the facts I would release a statement apologizing and explaining what we are doing to make it right for Dave. I would go on a press tour and explain to the media that we understand Dave’s frustration and are doing our best to make sure this instance never happens again. I would also take to social media and express our gratitude for their loyalty and explain how we are ensuring we are making the effort to handle every item in on our airplanes with care. Of course there will be negative comments surrounding our efforts. It is important to not make the same mistake twice and listen and respond to these comments appropriately.

While United Airlines may not have done it right in this situation I am happy that they used Dave’s video as a learning tool. If I were an Online Reputation Manager I would add the following practices to our social media practices:

  • Post our “hours of operation” in our “About Me” sections.
  • Make responding to customer comments within 24 hours a standard.
  • Make our responses personal by saying “thank you” at the beginning of every post and signing each post with out name at the end of each post.
  •  Most importantly if a situation seems very tense to make a supervisor aware. If a situation like Dave’s arises we would discuss on a more micro level and ensure all parties involved are happy with the resolution.
  • Keep “follow up” files for followers we should check in on.

While all of this seems so easy social media is fast and immediate. Most posts don’t show up on other’s social media feeds for very long, but people don’t forget. Taking the time to go the extra mile on social media can save you time, money, and most importantly the trust of your customers.

Publix: Is “Where Shopping is a Pleasure” Prevalent on Facebook?

publixIf you’ve ever been in the southeastern part of the U.S. you’ve probably seen a few Publix grocery stores. Publix was started by George Jenkins in 1930 in Winter Haven, Florida. Jenkins wanted his stores to be revolutionary. He designed stucco floored stores with air conditioning, electronic sliding doors and superior customer service. Jenkins wanted his stores to be “where shopping is a pleasure” and have a family feel. When I walk into the stores I get this feeling, but does this culture translate on Publix’s social media pages?

I follow Publix on Facebook and in my opinion they do an excellent job of expressing their tone on the network, they even say so on the “About” section. The grocery store’s page is filled with recipes, saving opportunities, family-based content (i.e. images), and employee praise. Publix does a great job of responding to comments, both negative and positive as well. While looking at some recent comments I was very impressed to see that most posts were addressed within an hour and employees running the social media page even signed their name in the response. This correlates with the Publix culture. Anytime I’ve ever had a problem, it’s quickly been addressed and always in a friendly and welcoming manner.

Capture2That being said let’s take a look at two examples of how Publix effectively employed their welcoming tone to their Facebook audience. Timothy is pretty upset. He’s been having issues with his local Publix and feels as though his voice isn’t getting heard, so he did what any disgruntled customer does nowadays and took to social media. Even though Timothy’s message got a little heated Publix responded in a calm tone. They apologized, reinforced their mantra (premiere customer service), asked for more details via a private message, and apologized again. They could have ignored this post but instead addressed it within the hour it was posted. They want Publix to be a place “where shopping is a pleasure” and are making it right for Timothy.

CaptureIn this post Publix is reinforcing their belief that they are a family oriented store. Everyone who shops there is special to them. This post received a lot of attention and positive feedback and a Publix employee responded to every single comment, including comments from other Publix employees. Recognizing the people on the frontlines making Publix stores a success reiterates the respect Publix has for ANYONE who walks through their special sliding doors.

Ultimately I believe it is the content Publix posts and the way they respond that make their Facebook page very effective at illustrating their brand. I wish more companies (cough*CitiBike*cough) would take the initiative to connect with their audience, and loyal followers like Publix has on social media.

It’s Social Media Dummy, So Be Social!

This week’s lecture provided some pretty interesting examples of how companies are utilizing social media to connect with the consumers. I really enjoyed learning about how KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) employs social media. This organization has such a great focus…their customer! They’ve joined social media not to promote their business but to help the customer and promise a response within 24 hours. I think this is amazing! (I actually challenged them and tweeted them…it’s been 45 minutes with no response! They’re cutting it close!)

The Pressure is on KLM!

The Pressure is on KLM!

 

If you read my blog post last week you saw that I have been having some issues with Citibikes…these issues are still ongoing. I still haven’t received my refund and every time I’ve called customer service they provide me with very little information. I’ve tweeted them a handful of times with no response. However when I go on Citibikes Twitter page I see they are active. They are ultimately doing themselves a disservice because I am not going to let this or my money go!

Social media is giving the customer a voice and we deserve to be heard. Brands need to recognize this and implement the practice of listen, respond, listen into their repertoire. After all, “it’s social media dummy, so be social!” I believe if more companies listened to their followers and responded to their posts they would see a dramatic change in the type of activity they see on social media. This is something I try to incorporate into my own practices on social media.

While I currently do not run a company Facebook page I plan to help my dad and his dental practice with his social networks. Putting myself in the patient’s shoes will help me narrow our focus on what kind of content and tone we need to establish on his social sites. Ultimately it needs to be positive, but as we saw with the Virgin Railway example it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Being able to confront negativity and change a bad experience into a more positive one can change someone’s opinion completely. Social media is enabling us to do this on a more personal level!

From a personal perspective I try and illustrate the same behavior on my social networks. I am trying to promote myself as a brand, a social media expert. I try to engage with my followers by asking them questions, responding to all of their comments, and be human with my content. I think these aspects contribute to the success of brands on social media.

I think this tweet is pretty human. What do you think?

I think this tweet is pretty human. What do you think?

 

What do you do to connect with your followers?

Trusting Chalene Johnson

It takes a lot for me to trust people on social media. One woman who has earned my trust over the years is Chalene Johnson. Chalene is a fitness expert that truly practices what she preaches and has transformed people lives. So just how did Chalene Johnson earn my hard-to-get trust?

531672_167268066760123_1409816113_nChalene is not only an individual but also a corporation. She has created the workout systems TurboJam, TurboKick, TurboFire, and Hip Hop Hustle (all created under Beachbody). She has sold over four million workout videos. Her reputation and authority as a fitness expert speaks for itself but her social media activity reinforces it.

I follow Chalene on Twitter and Instagram. Whether it’s exercising, eating habits, social media usage, how-to videos, or family advice her posts are all about helping people. Helpfulness is one of the essential elements in trust on social media and her posts exude this. While training for a marathon last year I developed “runner’s knee.” This injury has prevented me from doing some of my favorite exercises (i.e. running, lunges, squats, etc.). It’s very frustrating for me to go to the gym and be tied to the elliptical machine. The other day Chalene posted a short Instagram video about how to do certain exercises like lunges and squats that have a low impact on hurt knees. After watching this video I felt so excited! She showed me how to do a revised version of an exercise I love and miss. I can’t wait to try it!

 

Chalene's Bad Knees how-to video. Can't wait to try it!

Chalene’s Bad Knees how-to video. Can’t wait to try it!

Chalene also takes the time to respond to people’s comments and motivate them. At age 45 she has a rock hard body and she loves showing it off. I admire her for this. She works very hard for her body and follows a system she has developed to a T. These images serve as a reminder for people that if they follow the system they can have similar results. She practices what she preaches and she has the body to back it up. I am half her age and  wish I had half of her self-confidence.

As you can see Chalene practices the trust formula Steve Rayson has developed. She is very present on social media and she is passionate about her message. She has earned my trust by having a distinguished reputation in the fitness community and by continually posting helpful content, motivating me, and making each post personal. I love following her and love what she stands for!

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Trust…A Very Powerful Tool

Trust is indeed a very interesting aspect of social media. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…without trust you have nothing on social media. With this aspect so being so important how can we ensure we are creating an environment of trust through our posts?

I really like the trust formula developed by Steve Rayson and outlined in this week’s lecture. Authority x’s Helpfulness x’s Intimacy divided by self-promotion is a pretty spot on interpretation of how trust is developed online. That being said I do believe our teacher, Justin Kings is correct in saying having an element of reliability in this equation is important. This is perhaps my biggest frustration when it comes to social media, both with individuals and brands.

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In my reading reaction this week I talked about an experience I had with Citibikes in NYC over the Memorial Day weekend. If you are not familiar with Citibikes they are bikes (sponsored by Citi Bank) you can rent out for certain periods of time with stations all over the city. It’s supposed to make renting bikes easy, however mine and so many others experiences were just that. To make a long story short my friends and I spent almost two hours circling a two-mile radius trying to find a station that a) had enough bikes, b) had bikes that were able to be rented, c) accepted my credit card, d) accepted the code given to me once my transaction was completed to rent the bikes. At almost every station we went to we saw the same people from previous stops experiencing the same problem. I called customer service three times with no luck and finally took to Twitter to see if I could get a response there. Still no luck…I felt frustrated and defeated! How are they supposed to make my experience better if they don’t see what’s wrong!?

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This is an example of what brands don’t want to experience on social media. The goal should be to add value to follower’s experience. Answering tweets (reliability), helping people (i.e. listening), having authority over content and network, giving followers a unique experience, and a little self-promotion is the formula for success. It sounds so simple, yet so many companies do it wrong. The train company mentioned in this week’s lecture has done it right. I was so impressed by their practices! If only other companies would implement these easy processes into their routine…it would mean a world of difference to frustrated followers!

T’s & C’s of LinkedIn

In my last blog post I talked about Twitter and Facebook’s terms and conditions. After seeing some pretty interesting “rules” I decided to investigate other networks I frequent. With that said, let’s take a look at LinkedIn.

I love LinkedIn! Its great network that allows people to connect with each other based on professional interests. The possibilities the network presents its users are priceless! I’ve heard of people landing their dream jobs because of LinkedIn. But is this all too good to be true? Do the terms and conditions (T’s & C’s) negate this seemingly wonderful social media site?

I actually liked reading LinkedIn’s terms of service. It is outlined in sections, each featuring a summary on the side. These summaries make it easy for the user to clearly define what each section discusses. As I was reading the T’s & C’s I noticed a lot of similar qualities between LinkedIn and other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, especially in terms of content. Users own their content on LinkedIn but by posting on the network users give LinkedIn license to use their content. On other networks (i.e. Instagram) this has angered people. When we use these social networks we have to remember they are a business. They were created to make money!

The more I’ve investigated the “rules” of these social networks the more I’ve asked myself why people aren’t taking greater in action against the social networks. The truth: LinkedIn does not really care. According to the T’s & C’s: “You waive your rights to try to stop LinkedIn, but we don’t waive our rights to ask a court to stop your actions.” In their opinion you are a guest on the network. They can ask you to leave and won’t miss you!

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What I really found interesting in LinkedIn’s T’s & C’s were the do’s and don’ts. Maybe it’s because LinkedIn is used for more professional purposes but the “rules” didn’t seem too restrictive. There was the usual “don’t post fraudulent content,” “don’t use a fake name,” etc. If users suspect they are a “victim” of any fraudulent activity a way to contact LinkedIn in the T’s & C’s is available. This was reassuring to see.

CaptureOverall, I believe LinkedIn does a great job of preventing harmful or “risky” type of material to be posted to the site. If you request to connect with someone in the request you have to say how you know the person. LinkedIn also promotes the use of professional images and behavior. From my experience on the network that’s just what occurs. LinkedIn has done a great job of promoting themselves as a professional place and the behavior that occurs on the network illustrates this.

Terms of Service? What Does that even Mean?

Unfortunately ethical behavior doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Companies are forced to create terms and conditions filled with outlandish “rules” to protect themselves and their users. We’ve all had to scroll to the bottom of a page and check the “yes I agree to the terms and conditions” box before, but have you honestly ever taken the time to read these “rules?”

Look familiar?

Look familiar?

If you take a few moments to read the terms of service for some of the sites you frequent you would be surprised to see many of the rules deal with hate speech and how social media networks cannot be responsible for user content. This concept upset many people, especially on Twitter. How can such an influential network not interfere with posts of this nature? In my opinion this is a hard spot to be in for all parties.

We live in the 21st century where people utilize social networks to practice their freedom of speech. Social media outlets like Twitter cannot limit their users’ “certain unalienable rights” just because it offends someone. However, I do see users justification for such outrage, especially if your creed, color, gender or sexual preference are hot topics of hate speech on these networks. I believe Twitter is doing the right thing.

Did you know about this outrage surrounding Twitter’s terms of service? I know I didn’t until this week’s lecture for my Social Media Ethics course. So how can we make these rules more evident and applicable to all who use these networks?

I believe it is important to look at what type of content resonates with people on these networks. Seeming as Facebook and Twitter were discussed at great length in this week’s lecture these two network’s terms and conditions will be my primary focus.

Infographics are great ways to share messages on social networks.

Infographics are great ways to share messages on social networks.

Let’s start with Facebook. Images are very popular and are the most type of shared content on the network. I would love to see an infographic explaining these rules. Infographics are able to provide people with information in more entertaining ways. For instance, last semester I shared an infographic about how social media and bacon were related. This piece of content has been one of my most shared pieces of content.

With a limit of 140 characters spreading Twitter’s terms of service message is a little more challenging. I believe creating a hashtag like #TwitterRules would be a great way to create and track engagement regarding the conditions of the network. We’ve all seen promoted tweets on our newsfeeds…I would like to see Twitter feature their terms and conditions via promoted tweets every now and then.

With millions (or in Facebook’s case billions) of users worldwide it is impossible to monitor all of the content every user publishes. I believe promoting the terms and conditions associated with these social network could help create more ethical behavior on the outlets.

Are You “Ethical” on Social Media?

imagesSocial media and ethics have always been something I have struggled with. I earned my undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism where I was taught that integrity and fact checking were essentials in the field. In today’s world these notions have been dismissed. With so many people using social media as news sources news outlets are racing to post stories first, often times at the expense of accuracy. I am excited to see how this course addresses these issues.

The “steps to ethical decisions” really struck me as I watched this week’s lecture. I believe this is a fair theory. I think everyone should ask themselves these questions before they post anything online, whether professional or personal.

The fact of the matter is what we post on social media is forever. Someone will always see it and have record of it. For instance, James Franco’s attempt to “hook up” with an underage girl on Instagram. I don’t even follow James Franco on Instagram yet mainstream media has dissected this story from every angel, even after he removed the post from his account. Franco could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he would have asked himself what his motivations were, what the effects would be, and where his duty lies the strongest. Franco says he’s learned his lesson “But what I’ve learned…you don’t know who’s on the other end… So I used bad judgment. I learned my lesson.”  franco

That’s the key with social media. You don’t know who is on the other end. Keep that in mind with every post. My mantra: if my grandmother wouldn’t approve of it shouldn’t be on the Internet!

Onto the question posed regarding connecting with a friend of a murder victim’s on social media…

Last semester in my Research Methods in Digital Communication course Dr. Andrew Selepak discussed an instance where he researched the KKK. He reiterated the importance of disclosing who you are and what your purpose is when working with people. If a reporter wants to connect with the friend of a murder victim I believe they should use similar practices and disclose who they are and why they want to connect with them. This way the ball is in the other person’s court, they can choose if they want to be subjected to the press.

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Round 3

Hello,

This is the start of my third semester in UF’s Social Media program. It’s so great to “see” some of my classmates again! For those of you who do not know me my name is Alexis Willey. I am an Associate Producer of Beauty and Skincare at HSN in St Petersburg, FL. I am in charge of all content that goes to air and help develop presentation order and sales strategies for all items associated with the skincare and beauty category. I love my job and love learning new ways to help my partners succeed and develop their business/audience.

I decided to pursue this degree program to learn how to utilize social media to help build brands and sales. So far I can honestly say I’ve used everything I’ve learned in this program thus far in my current role. I can’t wait to see how much more I can learn over the summer!

A little bit more about me…I am the oldest of three children. My two younger brothers also attend UF, we are truly a Gator family! I graduated from the University of Florida in 2011 with a degree in Telecommunications with a minor in Sports Management. I thought I wanted to be a sports reporter but after freelancing for a little while I realized I like to talk and play sports more than work in the field. In my spare time that’s pretty much what I do! Whether I’m at the gym, playing with my dog at the park, or toting shopping bags I love to be active!

I also love to travel and plan to do so this summer! Be on the look out for talk of social media and new places!

I look forward to continuing to learn more about social media and my peers! Here’s to another great semester!

-Alexis Willey

How Social Media is Transforming the Beauty Industry

If you’ve ever questioned the power of social media on retail then look no further. Julep is a nail polish brand that has utilized social media to transform their business. Forbes magazine predicts this company is the next billion dollar brand in the beauty industry. Julep is a prime example of why it is essential for the beauty industry to re-evalute their social media strategy.

Julep CEO and Founder Jane Park started the company because she wanted to give women something different. Most nail polishes contain toxins and chemicals. Creating a safe nail polish became her passion and thus Julep was born. Parks credits her success by “not telling the customer what they want, we’re giving them what they want” (Tice, 2014). She has done this through social media and distribution feedback.

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On Facebook Julep actively solicits images from their followers. They hold contests with these photos and the photo with the most likes will receive a prize package. Julep is giving the consumer an incentive to follow and interact with them on social media.

Julep also provides their consumers with a unique shopping experience by offering them the chance to subscribe to their business. For $19.99 per month subscribers receive a custom gift box with fresh products. Most Julep products sell for $14 apiece so receiving a variety of products for this small fee is a huge incentive for Julep devotees. Park says once consumers receive their gift boxes the photos roll in on social media and the interactions begin (Tice, 2014). These interactions allow Julep to see how their products are used and reviewed.julep

Julep partner Jason Stoffer notes “beauty is a business where women talk to each other about what products they’re trying. It’s one of the most social businesses there is” (Tice, 2014). Having a booming business online has not only helped Park learn about her customers, it’s also helped her network with beauty retailers. Julep is not only sold on their personal website but in major retailers Nordstrom and QVC. By offering incentives, having a creative approach, and networking on social media Forbes projects Julep is well on it’s way to being the next billion dollar beauty brand (Tice, 2014).

Julep is utilizing their social following and taking it one step further. After listening to their consumers Julep has recently begun crowdsourcing on their website to create a one-of-a-kind nail polish pen (Tice, 2014). This was requested by and curated specifically for their consumers. Talk about advocacy.

The Julep story is important, an inspiration, and one every retailer should hear. Consumers don’t want to feel connected to brands on social media. They want benefits…a tangible experience. Those involved in the beauty industry should take a look at the Julep story and begin to implement similar practices.