Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coming Full Circle with Customer Service

There is nothing I love more than good customer service. Yes friends, even more than I love my 'big girl' drinks.

Back in the day, organizations could not survive without stellar customer service. It is what sets an organization apart from its competition, and us coming back for more. As technology evolved and budgets were cut, that lovely voice on the other end of the phone when we called an organization was replaced by voice mail hell. (Yes, DMV, I AM talking about you.)

I like to believe that the evolution of social media is a collective response from organizations who realize that we patrons want and deserve more. Social network giants like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the nich networks like Cork'd, LibraryThing, Culinate, and SparkPeople, allow organizations the opportunity to interact with their followers on a medium they use and love. We post a question or comment on Facebook and someone actually responds! How exciting is that? No voice mail hell with "push 279 to repeat your options."

What organizations are realizing is that not only are we more satisfied patrons, we are more engaged with organizations that interact with us. Even if a negative comment or question is posed, this is an opportunity to win us over or let other patrons step in in defense of a product or service.

I, for one, am thrilled with the new customer service era!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Shall I Blog About?

In response to my How Do I Even Get Started? post, Adam posed the question, "Do you have any suggestions on topics that can be blogged about?"

Anyone can have a blog. Blogs give us a voice. They allow us to write or journal about topics that we possess strong knowledge, which is why many people blog about topics related to their profession. But, for me, what sets great blogs apart from the mundane is passion.

Adam, you could blog about your profession, but if you are not passionate about it, your readers will know and they won't feel compelled to follow you. Find a topic you are passionate about and let the ideas flow. Inspiration for my posts comes from conversations, information I read, experiences I have, 'aha' moments, situations I observe, anything that gives me something interesting to share.

I love to follow blogs authored by people who are passionate, motivated, and inspiring. Blogs that show character and personality. Their tones make me feel like I know them and therefore I 'tune in' for each of their posts. Give your readers a glimpse into your world. Let them read what makes you tick. Being real and personable is the first step in engaging our followers.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teens and Social Media

I love what I do! Seriously, every time I have the privelege of doing a workshop or speaking to a group, it is such a rush. Living my passion is the greatest gift. That is why I am so excited about a new opportunity.

For the next few weeks, I am attending a phenomenal Technology Awareness Series hosted by the Eau Claire Area School District. Sarah Paul, the school district's software integration specialist, along with a guidance counselor, tech expert, and law enforcement will be presenting workshops. 

My workshops, up until this point, have focused on an adult audience. But, that adult audience has shown great concern about what is going on in the minds of teens. Completely understandable, especially when we see and read stories about teens committing suicide over Facebook pages and cyberbullying. Because these issues are so serious, I want to do as much research and preparation as possible to create a responsible and powerful workshop.

In the end, the workshop I create out of this research experience will cover social networking sites, internet predators, cyberbullying, securing home computers, keeping kids safe on the internet, and staying one step ahead of what they know.

To help me make this workshop the best it can be, I would love to read your feedback about what you would like to know when it comes to tweens/teens and the internet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Do I Even Get Started?

Today's post goes out to all my peeps in library-land, although the rest of you may find some great tips in here, too.

Getting our social media accounts up and running is one thing, but knowing what to say and how to interact is something completely different. What do we tweet? How do we start a conversation on our Facebook walls? What do we even start a conversation about? How the heck do we get started? Here are a few quick and simple ideas to get us started thinking in the social media zone:

Television
Biggest Loser, American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars are all ratings dominators right now. The day after one of the episodes airs, we could tweet or post messages like:
  • Inspired by Biggest Loser last night? We've got a collection of Biggest Loser cookbooks, soundtracks, and workout DVDs ready to check out.
  • Amazing performances on American Idol last night! CDs from former American Idol winners - and losers - are here at your local library.
  • Did Nicole's performance on DWTS last night leave your toes tapping? We've got Pussycat Dolls CDs and books on all types of dance.
Summer
  • Getting ready to plant your garden? Our gardening section has books on how to plant, what to plant, where to plant, and even why to plant. Check 'em out today.
  • Going boating this weekend? Stop in and pick up the latest book by Jen Lancaster to enjoy while floating on the water.
  • Swimsuit season. Ugh! If you're nauseous at the idea of putting yours on, stop in to pick up a workout DVD, lowfat cookbook, or book about healthy living.
  • Only two weeks into summer vacation and your kids are bored already? Bring them down to the library for . . .
Tweeting and posting is all about listening to what is going on in our communities and environments, and then responding. To properly engage our followers, initiate the conversation, but allow them to carry the conversation. The publicity they give us is often far better than we could have ever given ourselves.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What's Next?

It is inevitable. At every workshop I present someone will inevitably ask, "Is social media just a fad?" or "What is coming next?" These are great questions. It means we are paying attention and preparing ourselves. From both a business stand point and a personal stand point, what is next is exciting.

In my opinion, web 2.0 and the evolution of social media has been about starting the conversation, opening the dialogue, developing the tools, and allowing industry experts and social networking lovers to separate the good from the bad. With web 3.0, small businesses and organizations are getting in on the conversation, learning how to use it to build our followings, and compete on a scale never before realistically attainable. Studies and surveys galore have been done to show us what social networks our audiences use and how they use them, giving us unbelievable precision in our target marketing.

Not to mention, social networks are branching off everywhere. Instead of being overwhelmed and intimidated by this, we should see the opportunity in it. There are social networks for just about any hobby or interest. I, for instance, love 'sampling' wine and am therefore on the social network http://www.corkd.com/. If you have a vineyard or sell wine and wine accessories, how awesome for you to have a perfect niche to advertise and engage followers.

This is where we are reminded of the importance of observation in social media. Listening and watching gives us even more opportunities. Have we listened to what people are saying about our competitors? Are we monitoring that activity?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm Trying My Hardest

I'm trying my hardest to like FourSquare and Gowalla. These two location-based social networking sites have been rising through the ranks and were named the up-and-comers at this year's Social Media Conference. BUT, I'm still trying to like them - or at least one of them.

My issue comes with privacy. I love social media and I love teaching social media workshops even more. That does not, however, mean that I do not enjoy and deeply value my personal privacy. The site www.pleaserobme.com debuted as a stream of updates from various location-based sites showing when users check-in somewhere that is not their home. The idea, of course, is that if we are not home, criminals are invited to rob us. Granted, the site has become socially responsible and has replaced the stream with their theme "raising awareness about over-sharing," but the fact remains that we need to be responsible and accountable for our actions online.

Foursquare and Gowalla can be highly valuable marketing tools for businesses, which we will talk about in future posts, but for now, remember to be careful what you share and with whom you share it.

This graphic is complements of Mashable. Check out Shane Snow's excellent post on Foursquare vs. Gowalla at http://mashable.com/2009/12/25/foursquare-gowalla/.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hash Tags Are It!

I recently had the pleasure of presenting two workshops at the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce Social Media Conference. In the To Tweet or Not To Tweet workshop, 'hash tags' was the topic getting a lot of buzz.

If you use Twitter, you have probably seen one (or many) and not even known. So, what are hash tags? It is a term/word/acronym in a tweet preceded by a # symbol. The # is a hash symbol, thus the term hash tag.

Let's say I want to tweet about this blog post on hash tags. I may tweet something like "Hash tags are all the rave on my blog. #lbshashtags" I just made up 'lbshashtags' (Laurie Boettcher Speaks hash tags) and put the hash symbol before it, thus a new hash tag is born. When the hash symbol is added, the hash tag automatically turns into a link. Every time someone tweets using my 'lbshashtags', it is grouped together.

Any tweeter can make a hash tag by including the hash symbol. First, do a basic Twitter search to see if someone already created a related hash tag. We can do this by entering our hash tag in the search box of the right navigation bar. Hash tags allow us to create groups or communities of people with similar interests or following a specific topic.

More and more organizations are using hash tags at conferences or events to encourage attendees to tweet about their experiences or let others know of exciting happenings. The possibilities of using hash tags are endless and we will further this conversation in future posts.