posted by on Discoveries, Opinions, People, perserverance

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A recurring theme for all of us is the desire to change some aspect of our lives. Change where we live. Vary our surroundings.  Alter our routines.  Change our relationships. Change jobs. Out with the old, in with the new. Or something like that.

I’ve often wondered: Why do we grow restless with some things remaining the same, and perfectly content with other things never changing? We crave change, but at the same time we fear it. I’m reminded of  a saying from Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.”

My motto is that change is good, even though I don’t always like it. It’s the only constant in our lives. Even changes that hurt bring positives when we let them. When. We. Let. Them.  Ponder that for a moment. This mindset is key to successful adaptation. I guarantee the more resistant you are to change, the more frustrating your life will be on every level. Still, it is human nature to resist change because it often requires that we retrain our brains in how we think and what we do. It takes work. Who wants more of that?

Now I’d like to hear from you: What is one change you’ve endured that you absolutely hated at first, but it wound up being one of the best changes of your life?

posted by on marketing, Online Reputation Management, Service Philosophies

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Business owners tell me daily that one of their biggest objections to having a social presence is that it gives unhappy customers a place to complain online for all to see. Do you worry about this as well?

It’s a valid concern – you are indeed giving customers a way to do that when you “go social.” The important point to remember, however, is they can do it already. Google Reviews, Yelp and CitySearch are but three places that customers can go to either praise or condemn you. There are many more that cater to certain industries, such as Urban Spoon for restaurants and Dealer Rater for car dealerships. Chances are, your customers are already talking about you online. The real question is: Do you know what they’re saying?

It’s beneficial to listen to customers online so that you can both protect and enhance your reputation there. One easy way to do this is with Google Alerts. Once it’s activated, you’ll be notified by email any time your brand is mentioned. A second way is to determine which review sites are widely used, and which are most often used for your industry. Check them regularly in the event that something falls below Google’s radar. Respond to every comment, good and bad. You can also encourage customers to go to these sites and give good reviews, building a bank of positive online press for all to see.

While a negative comment out in cyberspace may not be as daunting as one on your own branded Facebook Page or Blog, you should consider complaints on any of your sites a gift, as they provide an opportunity to address whatever problem has arisen. Just as people will see the negative, your rapid, thoughtful response also shows them you’re willing to address it. The important thing is to leave such comments intact so people don’t feel censored, while at the same time employing a strategy to get any issues off the page to avoid a lengthy back and forth. Offer to contact them personally or give your contact information for them to contact you. I suggest a phone call or in person visit to personalize the exchange even more.

Remember, your social presences are a resource for your customers. In part this means allowing them to voice both the positive and the negative, and handling each in a manner that strengthens your relationship with them.

Have you gotten complaints online? How do you handle them?

 

posted by on FaceBook, Opinions, Social Media

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There’s been a lot of buzz lately here in South Carolina over our Governor, Nikki Haley, and the deletion of posts and banning of posters under the guise of eliminating “Hate  Speech” on her Facebook Page.  Some have defended her with the argument that since it is her page, she has a right to do as she pleases. Others have scorned her, contending that due to the transparent nature of social media, she shouldn’t have deleted less-than-favorable posts. Since many of you have asked for my take, I’d like to offer my thoughts on the presence as a whole, as well as this issue in particular.

First, everyone in public life who creates a fan page should first develop a social media policy to govern both the content they post, as well as what is acceptable for others to post.  This holds true for businesses as well. These terms can be stated on the page’s info section. A Haley Spokesperson is reported as saying that the Haley Administration has no social media policy to guide them. That’s mistake number one – not having guidelines in place. She reportedly does her own updates, and mixes personal vignettes with tidbits on state news – primarily what she considers accomplishments under her leadership. There’s the occasional somber post – completely appropriate when there is sad news, or to commemorate a sober holiday such as Memorial Day. Fair enough – can’t find fault with this approach in and of itself. The tone of posts is friendly and conversational. In many ways, the page has the hallmarks of a good and engaging presence. Her fan base is quite large – we can attribute that to her position, obviously.

Where, then, has Haley gone wrong? Part of the fault lies in the broad brush with which she seems to be defining “hate speech.” As I’ve said here before, there are instances when deleting comments is warranted; those which are profane and serve no other purpose than to  threaten, demean, defame or debase can certainly be deleted. Trouble is, some of the comments in question were merely critical of how Haley is doing her job, or questioning her priorities. Some of these comments have been deleted, some completely ignored. Criticism is part of the landscape in politics whether it occurs on a Facebook Page or in other mediums.  What’s missing here is a thoughtful, objective, and nuanced approach in responding to criticism. If Haley is unable or unwilling to respond herself, she should have someone do it for her. This person could provide clarification, resources, and even a sounding board where needed. While you can’t please everyone and there will always be trolls to contend with, I think Haley is missing a golden opportunity to build a bridge with at least some of her critics. Sanitizing her page to the degree that she has makes her appear childish and thin-skinned. There’s a better way, and she needs to embrace it. Now.

Well, that’s my take. Have I missed anything? I’d love your feedback and thoughts. What would you do in this situation?

 

posted by on Best Practices, FaceBook, Opinions, Social Media

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Last week, I blogged about being banned from a Facebook Business Page. Thanks so much to everyone for the outpouring of support! From the many who  commented and shared my story on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, your newsletters and blogs, to the even greater number who private messaged me with words of both bewilderment and support, I am deeply grateful.

I want to be very clear: I am not upset. Now that the initial surprise has worn off, I find it sadly funny. I remain steadfast that there was no good business reason for the ban; it says a great deal more about the “ban-ner” than me. I also won’t be making any more referrals to this business. They’ve revealed an appalling lack of both social media savvy and basic good judgment that I won’t foist upon others. Perhaps I should offer them my services instead!  🙂

Many of you expressed the same three issues of concern: First, some of you didn’t know you could be blocked from a page. Second, you wondered when and if you should  block page fans from commenting. Third, you wondered about blocking competitors. So, Dear Reader, as a follow-up, I offer guidance on each.

As for when you should block someone: Obvious offenses include rude, threatening or abusive language, profanity, and comments that serve no useful purpose except to defame or demean. I’d also consider blocking someone who repeatedly spammed or advertised their business on my page. I don’t mean another business page making periodic comments; I mean blatantly using my page as their own marketing platform, whether commenting as individual or page.  That’s just bad form. As for whether to block your competitors, my answer is no. Social media is supposed to be open and transparent. Period. You’re not going to publicize anything proprietary on your business page, and blocked parties can still see it. So what’s the point in blocking other than not wanting them to comment at all? That’s censorship. If they do comment and don’t break any reasonable guidelines, you should treat them as you would any other fan. Finally, and please exercise great care before pulling this trigger: Here’s how to block a fan.

Now I’d like your weigh-in. What would cause you to block a page fan? Have you had to do it already? Why?

posted by on Best Practices, FaceBook, social media marketing

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I’m about as disappointed and puzzled as I’ve been in quite some time.

Why, you ask? Well, Dear Reader, I have been banned from a Facebook Business Page. Yep, that’s right. As in: I can still “Like” the page if I choose, but I cannot comment anymore.

How did I find out? I realized I had not seen their posts in a while, so I went to their page to discover that I could not comment and that my comments had been deleted. Funny thing is, I’ve done absolutely nothing to warrant this type of censorship. I enjoyed their posts, and on the infrequent occasions I comment – er, commented, that is – my contributions were friendly, relevant, and in no way inappropriate. Allowing fans to talk to you and others who contribute on your Facebook page is part of the landscape, isn’t it?

So why the ban? I believe I have been censored for personal reasons, such as the individual making this call does not like me, or perhaps disliked my comments, or both. But are those good reasons to block me from their page? Was it fair? I don’t think so. Rule Number One of business is knowing when to separate your personal feelings from your business decisions. In this case, I  suspect that rule was broken.

To the person who decided to block me, I want you to know: I would not censor you on my page as long as your behavior there is appropriate. Weigh in any time. We’re members of the community who can and should treat each other with professional courtesy and respect online and off – period. It may interest you to know that  I recommended your business to someone just last week. Based on my understanding of your experience and expertise, I considered you the best choice.  Chew on that for a moment.

I’ll close with this: I have no intention of “outing” the business in question here. I’m just not that mean spirited.

My Dad always said:  “Don’t be a sissy.” Mom always said: “Take the high road.”

Check.