Ranked in the Top 100 Social Media Influencers for Houston

A few weeks old but wanted to share and say thanks so much! I’ve made it on the list at spot #75! I’m honored to be among so many great names!

Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in Houston 2013

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How to Complain on Social Media

As a community manager for several national (& international) restaurant brands that total over 300 locations, I read guest complaints on a daily basis. Most come through a Facebook wall post, sometimes they send us a private message through Facebook. A little less often it comes though Twitter. I make a point to respond to all relatively reasonable complaints, no matter how negative it may be and I do not hide most of them because we believe in transparency (the ones that are hidden typically have curse words or are extremely aggressive or threatening). Please note I do NOT delete these complaints and even when they are hidden, I still respond to the guest and try to recover them. As I’ll explain in a separate post, keeping current guests can be more valuable at times than trying to create new ones.

399411075_7105267dc5In my daily review of complaints though, I get flustered at how inept some guests are in their complaining. To clarify – I think social media offers a wonderful opportunity to interact with a brand and as customers, we all have the right to lodge complaints in regards to bad products, bad service, etc. In fact, I see complaints as opportunities for us as a brand to shine in regards to how we respond to the complaint, even an opportunity to make that upset guest and advocate for us if we do the right thing. But with that right (or power if you want to take it that far),  comes some responsibility. In fact, I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to file a complaint via social media channels.

So I’ve compiled  list of do’s and don’ts based on my personal experience. If you follow these basic guidelines when complaining about a brand via social media, your issue will most likely be resolved faster and the brand will be more willing to follow through with a resolution:

DON’T

– Do not be rude and abusive.

– Do not use curse words. I hide comments that get abusive in the language and tone.

– Do not expect immediate responses after hours, on the weekends and on holidays, especially from smaller brands or local businesses.

– Do not get overly emotional.

– Do not forget that there is a human being on the other end reading your comment. I was not the one who gave you bad service but I am here to help.

DO

– Do include details. “You suck” is not something I can do anything with.

– Do include the location (including state) if it involves a physical business. Be specific. I can’t read your mind nor am I tracking you via GPS and we may have more than one location in larger cities.

– Do check back & respond if the company asks for more info. I really want to help but can’t if you don’t get back to me with contact information.

– Do give me details if you have tried to contact us via other formats (i.e. by calling our guest hotline or filling out a form). For example, indicate exactly what number you called, what website you visited. It helps me track down your original complaint.

– Do write in complete sentences and check your spelling & grammar.

– Do consider the severity of your complaint in the grand scheme of things and temper your anger to suit it. i.e. Did we simply put the wrong cheese on your burger or were you sick all weekend after eating with us? The latter issue is obviously a much bigger and more urgent problem than the former.

– Do be patient and give the brand a reasonable time to respond. Smaller brands are not monitoring their social media every day, 24-7. It may take us up to a day to respond and we aren’t necessarily going to respond on a weekend if it is not an urgent issue.

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Example of a bad complaint:

“Your napkins stink.”

Example of a good complaint:

“The napkins at your Chicago location on S. Michigan have a weird smell.”

Example of a bad complaint:

“I got sick after eating at your restaurant.”

Example of a good complaint:

“I ate at your Lubbock location on Sunday and had a hamburger. It didn’t sit well with me and I think it made me sick.”

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I could go on and on but let’s not make this a novel… 🙂

Any tips you may want to add? What experiences have you had in regards to customer service via social media? Have you posted a complaint and if so, has the company responded and maybe even resolved your issue?

AllFacebook.com Article: Customer Service Via Facebook, Twitter Becoming More Mainstream

Today I came across this great article on AllFacebook.com on how social media is becoming more and more entwined with guest relations and customer service.

Customer Service Via Facebook, Twitter Becoming More Mainstream by David Cohen

I see this on a daily basis with the brands I manage. One quote stood out to me because I have actually said the same thing when I give presentations on social media:

“Your brand is no longer controlled by you: it’s controlled by the conversations your customers are having around you.”

The reason for this is because people just want to be heard and before, they had to write a letter or talk privately to the manager or call the company. Then came email but that was still private. Not satisfied partly due to probable lack of response to their complaint, customers are now taking their complaints public to Twitter and Facebook and lo and behold, we are listening. Or at least we should be as B2B and B2C brands. Is your company listening?

More importantly, are you responding? Various recent studies show that companies are NOT responding at rates of 90% or higher to Facebook posts customers are leaving on brand pages. How many of these are complaints that are being ignored?

I will write a longer post on  how social media and customer service go hand in hand in the near future. In the meantime, I will leave you with this thought: the response can be more important than the actual issue so seize the opportunity!

Book Review: Oh Myyy! by George Takei

Oh Myyy!Oh Myyy! by George Takei
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this not realizing Takei had already written an autobiography and that this was more of a follow-up based on his unprecedented rise in popularity through social media, especially through Facebook.

The book is still very personal but it takes you through his social media experience. As a social media manager, this was a happy surprise! I found myself highlighting a few good talking points and even though what he was talking about wasn’t new to me, I felt it was a great read and gave me some insights into social media engagement.

As a matter of fact, I come here recommending this book as a nice intro to social media engagement, even for business users. The thought process & strategy behind how Takei interacts with his fans on social media ring true across the board and his anecdotes can be used as the backbone for how businesses can get the most out of social media and increase their fan engagement numbers. He even delves into the Facebook mystery that is called EdgeRank. In short, Oh Myyy!  is a good read for my fellow social media fans or for those of you starting to look into how to get your business started with social media.

Restaurant Business Article: Winning Strategies

Last month I was interviewed by MonkeyDish for an upcoming issue of Restaurant Business that focused on how restaurants use social media. The issue came out today and I am proud to say that two of my tips made it to their list of “Winning  Strategies” for social media. I have copied the text below from the article written by Amanda C. Kooser and Amanda M. Westbrooks:

20. Allow negativity
While social media is a great venue for fans to express their love for a brand, it can also be a venue for frustrated customers to speak out in a very public way. The temptation might be to delete the feedback or respond in kind, but Elaine Mesker-Garcia, social media manager with Luby’s Fuddruckers Restaurants, cautions against that sort of reaction. “Don’t take things personally. Allow some negativity. You need to respond as kindly as possible to everyone,” she says, “Let them voice their opinion and respond to them. We’ve done a lot of service recovery that way. If they have a reasonable complaint, I want to show people we’re taking care of it.”

42. Get visual
Visual social media sites Pinterest and Instagram are full of buzz, but many restaurants have yet to explore their potential. Fuddruckers, however, has jumped right in with both services. “I always like to be an early adopter,” says social media manager Mesker-Garcia. “The Fuddruckers brand is very visual. Our fans love to post pictures of our burgers and themselves eating. I thought it would be a great way to engage with them.” Fuddruckers’ biggest Pinterest board is full of fan photos culled from pictures posted on Twitter and Instagram. Mesker-Garcia is aiming to post more of Fuddruckers’ own photos to Pinterest. Her top tip is to make sure your restaurant’s photos have your logo or some other branding. That way, when photos are repinned around Pinterest, the origin is still obvious. Over on Instagram, Mesker-Garcia likes to bring a personal touch to the service. “I search for the Fuddruckers hashtag on Instagram and I ‘like’ their pictures and leave them a comment and engage them that way,” she says.

I recommend reading the article in its entirety. There are some very good strategy tips listed, even if your business is not a restaurant!

AllFacebook Interview

Last summer I had the privilege of speaking on a panel at the AllFacebook Marketing Conference in San Francisco in regards to using Facebook to promote local businesses. In conjunction with that I did an interview for AllFacebook.com on the topic of how franchised companies use Facebook. Here is a link to the article:

Managing Franchise And Corporate Facebook Pages

Here is a link to a summary of the main points we discussed on the panel discussion as well.

“Facebook Places: Deals and Store-Level Marketing” Panel Discussion Notes

This will be a recurring theme here on this blog but I think the following statement summarizes it very nicely: “Photos and personal engagement with fans usually leads to success.”

Welcome to The Social Toad

I started up this blog to occasionally post my thoughts and insights on best practices for how business should use social media. As a Social Media Manager, I feel I have a unique perspective in that I am a business user myself, not a vendor trying to sell you the metrics software or the latest reputation management software. In fact, I approach social media very organically seeing that I entered the business-side of social media not from a marketing background but from the the perspective of an avid personal user.

Read a little about me here…

I hope you find some of my ramblings useful and please – leave me feedback and reach out. That is what social media is all about!