Involving Customers in Decision Making (Or, what will Nordstrom do?)

Nordstrom did a good thing today – they used social networking (in this case, Facebook) to apologize to users that their site was down. Open communication is good, and letting your biggest fans know when there’s a glitch is usually appreciated. But then I noticed something in the comments. Out of about 55 comments to-date (as of 4:00 p.m. EST), most had nothing to do with frustration around the site being down, but rather, frustration around the new site design itself. Take a look:

The complaints center mostly on the navigation of the site, difficulty in using it and an overwhelming opinion (of those commenting) that the old site was preferred. So far, Nordstrom’s has yet to respond to any of these comments in the chain. It will be an interesting experiment to see how they handle such feedback. It begs some questions:

- Changing website design is no small undertaking from a time or resource POV. With social media allowing our customers to comment openly on everything that we do, should we give them the opportunity to help shape such changes before we make them? Would Nordstrom – and its customers – have benefited from a customer council that had a hand in shaping the new design before it was complete?

- Should a brand involve customers in product, marketing and branding decisions?

- How beneficial is it to a consumer-facing brand like Nordstrom vs a B2B brand to embrace a customer council? (Often, customers drive software development, for example, by requesting features. Should a company like Nordstrom consider such thinking?)

- Will Nordstrom make any changes as a result? Or hope that the customers will simply “get used to it?”

What do you think? What would you do if you were Nordstrom? Keeping in mind that you can never please everyone, has your company involved customers in shaping and testing the direction of your products or brand? Why or why not?

Persuasive Picks for the week of 08/23/10

Do You Want To Succeed At Social Media Or Social Media Marketing?
Do you know the difference between social media and social media marketing? This post from Forrester‘s Augie Ray separates one from the other by providing real-world examples of each.

How To Integrate Social Media, Marketing and Business Intelligence
This CIO.com post focuses on the various ways Social Media affects a businesses marketing efforts and can lead to “increasingly powerful, actionable and immediate access to consumer sentiment” when paired with business intelligence.

The Problem With Empowering The Customer
SocialMediaExplorer.com‘s Jason Falls provides this thought provoking (and entertaining) post on how encouraging customers to use social media platforms to provide feedback might not always be the ideal channel for collecting such feedback.

Are You Using Social Media as Social Proof?
Corbett Barr visits the long standing concept of “social proof” and explains how effective social media can be when used as social proof in this post on SocialMediaExplorer.com.

What’s Next: After Social Media
This MediaBullseye post from Wayne Kurtzman explains that the next evolution of “social” just might be all about gaming and influence.

Photo Credit: popculturegeek.com

Empowering Yourself in the WorkPlace and Beyond

The Lululemon community blog is one that I read regularly – it, along with others like Athleta Chi and The World According to OmGal, inspires me to use physical activity as a way to combat stress, set goals, and realize that a healthy balance between work and life can make me better at both.

PerkettPR employees seem to manifest this thinking and we have several marathon runners among our ranks, in addition to hot yoga addicts, belly dancers, skiers, Karate and Taekwondo enthusiasts and triathletes.    

This particular community post by Olive, who is spending 30 days living the Lululemon manifesto, made me pause – and then take action.  Olive writes, “Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself (for real this time).”

Maybe a certain client or reporter has you questioning your value and ability despite your best efforts. Maybe you’re still beating yourself up after eating another slice of pie. Maybe you’re too busy to work out, sleep enough, read a book, and grow a garden.

Add your (probably too long) list here of the things that sap your positive energy – that you’re not good enough at, or that you wish you could do better at.

That’s enough of that. To be successful at our lives, as well as our jobs, we have to start by accepting ourselves – a never-ending process – but one that’s worth the time and effort.

Here are a few things Olive has learned that are worth sharing:

  • Loving yourself means committing to participating in your own life.
  • Learn to forgive and grow from perceived failures (we often forget that these feelings pass).
  • Identify flaws and what you are doing with or about them.
  • Learn to interrupt my inner voice, especially when it starts going on those long-winded rants about you not being good enough, or in control, or perfect (you know the usual cycle of darts you throw at yourself).
  • I learned that I can talk myself in or out of anything. Someone once told me that you can rationalize and justify all day long, all life long and do nothing to live a better life. Or, you can begin to realize that you actually hold the secret within you to take your life or at least your attitude towards life in any direction you choose.

After realizing only you can empower yourself, the next step is about goal setting. In PR we’re all about this – we develop a thoughtful, forward-thinking, strategic PR plan that aligns with our clients goals. We benchmark against is regularly and make adjustments as those goals or strategies change. Why don’t we all do that for ourselves in our personal lives? Maybe you do. But if you don’t maybe now is the time to start.

Write down your short and long-term goals four times a year. Two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years. I am in the process of setting these goals for myself. I ran my first ½ marathon in June and completing it has inspired me to keep running and to formalize some other goals I have. I’ve heard people say that running is a mental sport and I agree. In my experience, my body will do what I ask of it if I train properly, and fuel it well. It’s my head that keeps holding me back saying: you can’t finish this run, you’ll never be fast enough, you’re crazy to try this, you’re not good enough, etc.

This video, Jessica’s Daily Affirmation, always gives me a boost. I especially like when she says, “my whole imagination is greeeeeat!”

I’m pretty sure most things in life are “mental sports,” so setting goals and checking in on them is a good way to keep those negative thoughts at bay. Do you already set goals? How do you track them? Do you keep them private or share them? We would love to hear your thoughts on how you empower yourself in the workplace and beyond.

Help for those “Vote for my SXSWi Panel” headaches

If you’re in technology, business or entertainment (music, film), you’ve certainly been exposed by now to a steady stream of “Vote for my SXSW panel” messages, blog posts and Tweets. With thousands of entries, not only is the noise deafening from your social buddies, but the time it takes to truly read the panels and give them the “thumbs up” is nearly impossible. (Bless the panel – they are certainly going to be doing a lot of reading.)

Why is everyone asking for your vote? Well, because votes – the community’s opinions – account for about 30% of the decision of who gets the much-coveted speaking slots. The Advisory Board (40%) and Staff (30%) make up the other percentages. SXSW is held every March in Austin, TX and is THE place to be to create new relationships, learn and share with the social media, business, tech, and entertainment crowd. It lasts a week, with a divide between interactive, music and film. You can read all about it, here.

With the deluge of panels and all the posts about them, you’re likely just to vote for your pals and they’ll vote for you and once again, popularity – not necessarily quality – will prevail. But one thing we’ve noticed that’s missing from a lot of the recommendations is the WHY. Why vote for these panels other than a friend asks you to do so? Seems a lot of the promotion is leaving out that crucial detail. So, we’ve chosen a few of our favorites so far, below, and a reason why we believe each is worthy of you clicking that “thumbs up” button. We kept our focus on the interactive side, FYI.

We’ll try to add more as we find them but feel free to leave your favorites - don’t forget the why – in the comments. There are so many, we’d love to learn about more great ones that we haven’t yet heard of, and from people we might not yet know (isn’t that what’s great about social networks?!).

  • Because we’re “inspired women who want to inspire other women,” we vote for Breaking Glass Ceiling(s) – Fearless Women Entrepreneur by Amita Paul, ObjectiveMarketer. We’re not crazy about the title but get past that and read the content – are there really only 13 women at the top?!
  • Turns out Carla Thompson of Sharp Skirts sees women everywhere – in startups, that is. We’re always interested in the gender gaps in business and again, empowering women. So we give a “thumbs up” to Where are the Women in Startups? Um, everywhere! and hope you will, too.
  • Noticing a theme here? Yes, we are all about supporting the ladies. But, this one is truly unique – focused on African American women and their use of the Internet for activism. Cybercrusading for Women by Gina McCauley, Blogging While Brown.
  • Speaking of powerful young women on the Internet, we’ve got to give a shout out to our industry colleagues at Sevans Strategy. They’ve got a PR panel – and as big proponents of ensuring a brighter, smarter PR industry – we highly recommend it for any PR executive. Spin Doctors: PR Best Practices for Social Media includes founder Sarah Evans, Jason Kintzler of Pitch Engine and Ryan Osborn of NBC News.
  • Sarah is also a part of this panel – which intrigued us as we continue to research the impact of social media globally ourselves. The Global Online Community – Improving Cross-Cultural Relations also includes Andrew Kneale, of the British Council.
  • Another woman we’re proud to know is Alicia Staley of The Staley Foundation. Alicia’s got an amazing story to share and we love her panel because it combines her personal experiences with cancer and the timely topic of crowd sourcing. Crowd Sourcing Cancer deserves a thumbs up because it’s got a higher purpose and can truly help many people above and beyond this event.
  • As PR executives, our daily work revolves around story telling – and story shaping. So we were interested when we read Storytelling in an Age of Industrialized Content by Upendra Shardanand of Daylife. We’re all story tellers now – do you know how to keep ‘em human?
  • And finally, we wouldn’t be very good PR professionals if we didn’t also ask you to give our panels a thumbs up. In The Networking Conundrum, I’ll analyze how people and businesses are building communities online and off – and whether or not both are important. Are they inclusive of one another? Why or why not? What if you live in a rural area – can you still build influence online as successfully as your city-dwelling competitors? And what behaviors are most effective in each? We think this is an important topic as social networks continue to grow and thus the world seems to simultaneously get smaller.
  • Our EVP Heather Mosley will take a look at who’s already done well in this vein – and what you can learn from them – in Dissecting What Really Works in Social Marketing Campaigns. What companies are doing it right and what have the results been? Is it possible to take elements of their successes to build your own – why or why not? She’ll help you understand what’s worked, why, if it can work for you – and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t.

We’ll continue reading through the panels and let you know what else catches our eye. What have been your faves so far?

See you in Austin!

 

Persuasive Picks for the week of 08/09/10

10 signs you’re the social media nerd of your company
Andrew Worob contributes these 10 entertaining signs of “Social Media Nerdism” via his guest post on Ragan.com

The Social Media Imperative
This Adweek.com post from MediaCom North America CEO, Doug Checkeris focuses on the pre- and post-recession buying habits of consumers and how marketers will need to engage in the online social space as a result of the shift.

38 Essential Social Media Resources You May Have Missed
Whats that..? You spend less time in front of the laptop during the summer..? Absurd! Well, if that’s the case, then Zachary Sniderman will catch you up with these 38 resources (some useful, most entertaining) – broken down into Social Media, Tech & Mobile and Business categories.

Top social media campaigns & what you can learn from them
This Smart Company post from Patrick Stafford gives a brief look at 10 recent, innovative, and successful social media marketing campaigns executed by well-known brands.

Twitter Takes Over The Tweet Button From TweetMeme
TweetMeme‘s popular Tweet Button appears on tens of thousands of sites (including ours) and has recently been trumped by a new one created by Twitter itself. The take-over was hostile and, in fact, Twitter actually licensed some of TweetMeme’s technology. TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld explains the details in this post.

Photo Credit: jparise