Skip navigation

Good day Jivers,

As Community Managers, we wear many hats and are always looking for that next interaction.

How many of you are responsible for utilizing social media for listening, promotion, customer service (or all three)?

I use Twitter to introduce customers to the community and show them what a powerful knowledge base it is to help them get the job done.   In addition, this very technical product content complements our thought leadership offerings and really boosts our SEO.  To manage Twitter, I utilize a Hootsuite dashboard to manage different accounts, schedule tweets, build a library of tweets, and create UTM codes for tracking.

No matter your social need or task, do you understand the different networks available, who uses them, and what content types/formats work best on them?

Please give this article from SproutSocial a read 5 Types of Social Media Every Marketer Should Know

What networks are you using and how?

Looking forward to your comments.

Cheers,

Toby

Good afternoon all,

I have seen lots of discussion lately about growing a community and wanted to share a post I wrote after a #Hootchat tweetchat - I hope you find it helpful.  #Hootchat happens every Thursday 3pm EST by the way - hope to see you there. 

 

Q1: What are the first steps to building a new online community

  • Know why you are building the community: customer service, engagement, marketing
  • Determine the best platform: Paid: @JiveSoftware or @LithiumTech Free: LinkedIn or G+

 

Q2: What are some strong brands with online communities

 

Q3: What are common mistakes when trying to grow your online community?

  • Trying to grow too big too fast & prioritizing member numbers over engagement
  • Not having a clear definition of success
  • Putting up a community without a Community Manager

 

Q4: What are ways you can engage your online community offline?

  • Engage via: private chat, email, or my old school method… the phone & have an actual conversation
  • WebEx conferences with community members – Google Hangouts or Skype work too
  • Some platforms allow private groups – create one and invite your MVP / power users

 

Q5: How does growing your online community help build brand credibility?

  • The more conversations you have, the more loyal your customer, the more loyal – the more they talk about you
  • Along with credibility, you have a great customer service and solutions place as peers trust each other
  • Support communities are AWESOME customer service centers: trusted, fast, and low-cost

 

Q6: How do you identify potential advocates and ambassadors from your online community?

  • Analytics: How often they come, how many answers they provide, answers marked correct by others
  • What is the “tone” of their conversations? How do they engage other members?
  • Get into your community and participate

 

Q7: What are some non-traditional ways to grow your online community?

  • Start with a tweetchat, build a list, slowly invite people from the list into the community
  • No matter how you find and invite – DO IT SLOWLY – set up the space, be ready for volume, have content
  • NEVER invite ppl to an empty room – have a team to greet & respond as well as content for them to consume

 

Q8: What is one thing you can do right now to start growing your online community?

  • Know WHY you are building it
  • Have customer-centric content
  • Participate & respond to questions

 

I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Best,

Toby

 

Good day everyone,

Not sure if you have encountered this, but I see confusion about the relation between these two and the misunderstanding that communities are not social media.  Not so.  Social Media is a form of electronic communication that consists of different platforms; communities are one of those platforms.  How do you want to engage?

Social Media defined by  Merriam Webster:

Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.

Online Communities defined by  CommonCraft.com:

An online community is a group of people with common interests who use the Internet (web sites, email, instant messaging, etc) to communicate, work together and pursue their interests over time.

Social networks like Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook are fun and sexy: they are used for social listening, brand promotion, and limited customer engagement.  Communities are electronic Town Halls that enable conversations and deeper engagement: customers provide feedback, comments, and questions; brands have obligation to respond.

No matter brand promotion, customer service, or customer engagement, you must understand your audience: what networks are they using, and where you are comfortable engaging.  As with anything: you need the right tool for the right job.  For social media, you need the right network to reach customers and have the right conversations. Communities are social media.

Where do your conversations happen?

Cheers,

Toby

It is important to find the relevance sweet-spot: a message that highlights you or your brand AND peaks the interest of your target audience.  Too often time is wasted on catchy visuals, perfect language and grammar, and over-sharing on social networks rather than what is most important: understanding your audience’s needs and what they value.

Ensure you understand:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What is important to them?
  3. How do they want to be reached?
  4. Is this for brand promotion or something my audience will value?

No matter a marketing piece, blog post, or knowledge base article, your goals should be:

  1. Quality over quantity
  2. Helping my audience

If you are writing with an internal focus or intent, you have not only wasted your time and resources, but your customers’ too.  Think before you content.

Thank you for your comments.

Best,

Toby

Social media is a funny thing: brands covet its reach, but often forget about engaging with those who provide valuable feedback.  Finding the right channel(s), social listening, and crafting the right outgoing messages are important, but without engagement, you will not be trusted; without trust, you will not succeed.  Let’s discuss keys to engagement and resolution.

Problem:

The customer reaches out via Tweet, Facebook, or a post within your community with a constructive, objective issue they have with your product or service.

Process:

  • The customer should receive a response within the hour
  • Apologize and show empathy
  • Research the customer’s history:
    • Products utilized
    • Their past issues
    • Is there already an open case for this issue?
  • If possible, answer the question at the initial contact; if an off-line chat is needed, offer the customer communication options:
    • Instant message
    • A link to a related discussion within your community
    • A private chat room within your community
    • A one on one phone call that may include a WebEx session
  • Engage, listen, understand:
    • Problem scope
    • Business impact
    • Pain points
    • Customer expectations
  • Offer solutions that are a win-win
  • Get customer buy-in to your solution and its timeline
  • Deliver results
  • Confirm customer satisfaction

Reminders:

  • Never take things personally or argue publicly with the customer
  • This may be an opportunity to improve your product or service
  • If this is a recurring issue, eliminating issue eliminates future cases
  • The customer may not be as familiar with the product line as you; he is frustrated and deserves your attention and help.
  • All companies and services encounter problems, the very best acknowledge them and respond creating brand advocates and loyal customers.

Good day everyone,

I recently participated in a CM discussion about managing a community team as well as social efforts.  After responding, I thought some within this community would find them helpful; so here they are.

 

I have 10 engineers who assist within our community. Their prime responsibility is to help increase communication and interaction levels within the community as well as promote and confirm knowledge so answers can be provided to customers in a timely manner.  It is important they concentrate on engagement and asking questions rather than providing answers for two reasons.

1.  Communities work becuase people want to help others and share their knowledge; if we simply rushed to provide answers, members and power users who wish to contribute would stop coming.

2.  Athought they are not providing answers, being part of conversations shows we have a company presence within and care about what our members have to say.

 

I hold weekly meetings with the team to discuss:

1.  Traffic

2.  Their activity: log-in, comments made, comments they made marked helpful by community members

3.  Training and best practices with examples from within the community

 

Best practices for online behavior are:

  • Read twice, post once.
  • Write in the first person.
  • Stay on point; keep discussions relevant and germane.
  • Some conversations need to be moved outside of our Community.
  • Remember that you represent the company / brand as well as yourself when you engage.
  • Allow Community members to answer first, then confirm the solution.
  • Offer value, avoid redundancy, and be sure to read the other comments first.
  • Keep discussions professional; never resort to insults, slurs, or obscene language.
  • Protect your credibility. Correct your mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so. Transparency is key, and expected.

 

Regarding Social: I use twitter and LinkedIn to drive traffic to specific discussion within my community and track progress with Hootsuite, utm codes, and Google Analytics.

 

I look forward to your comments, additions, and suggestions.

Best,

Toby

This piece was inspired by an article from "The Boston Globe:"

 

What businesses can learn from the Grateful Dead


The Grateful Dead provided us with more than memorable summer nights; they showed the way to business success.  I will focus on two ideas and how they relate to Community Management and Customer Service.

 

1.  Be Transparent

"The Grateful Dead's authenticity endeared them to fans and allowed the band to experiment. They found that mistakes are quickly forgiven if a company is transparent about what it's doing."

 

Trust is everything in business and your business will disappear if your customers do not trust you.  Come forward and admit to your mistake, apologize and fix the problem or policy.  Problems happen, the very companies do not sit back and hope the problem goes away, they take action to fix the issue AND admit they made a mistake.  Do you think GM wishes they acted quicker?

Transparency is not just about customer service, it relates to your financial accounting too.  Enron (and others), lost customer trust and fortunes because of greed and terrible ethics.  Don't keep two sets of books.

Great service and sound ethics are foundations on which you should build your company.

 

2. Give, and you shall Receive

"The Grateful Dead removed barriers to their music by allowing fans to tape concerts for free. That brought in new fans and grew sales for concerts, records, and merchandise. They showed that when content is free, more people hear about a company and eventually do business with it."

 

Customers are demanding access to knowledge in order to self-solve their problems.  Providing an open knowledge base lowers your customer service costs, increases customer satisfaction, and shows your company is a thought leader.  The Consortium for Service Innovation has published a paper about how Mathworks has turned knowledge-share upside down by publishing their entire knowledge base within their Community.

I can hear the question now: "But support contracts are a large part of our revenue, we can't just give away our knowledge."

Give away the knowledge, not the support.  Customers who pay for a service contract are NOT paying for information, they are paying for immediate support and people to solve their problems for them.

Stop funneling your customers into horrible phone queues: listen to them on social media and build them a community where they can interact with you (and other customers) to learn, share knowledge, and solve their problems.

 

Rock on!

 

Cheers,

Toby

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: