Persuasive Picks for week of 8/13/12

Every business knows about social media, and today most businesses have some sort of social media presence — but Steve Nichols at The Huffington Post writes that very few have implemented a comprehensive and successful social media strategy that maximizes benefits and mitigates risks in Why Most Companies Fail at Social Media — Understanding the Three C’s

Danny White offers some social media best practices and what businesses should avoid when promoting their products and services through social media in 5 Critical Mistakes Business Make with Social Media on SocialMediaToday.

The ever-changing and informal nature of social media promotes witty tweets and in-depth discussions on Facebook, but as Matthew Hibbard reports Social media has legal implications for businesses as well. – on Business Journals

While stock pickers fret about the social media “bubble” – witness the concern over the frailty of Groupon’s daily deal business model and Facebook’s share price – Matthew Yeomans thinks something more profound is taking place within business in the shape of a structural, cultural and philosophical realignment of the relationship between customer and companies. Read more in Social media can provide eureka moments for sustainable business on The Guardian.

It’s All About the Details

Details have been on my mind lately – you know, the nuances in life that make life, well – interesting. I thought this topic would be a personal blog post, because the details that have stood out to me recently have been pretty personal. One of our three dogs passed away recently – a sad first for our family – and while the event itself was huge, it’s the little things that stand out the most in regards to his absence. The way my youngest son still pushes his plate back from the edge of the table because the dog used to steal his food, the empty chair in our bedroom where we’d find him every morning, the fact that I can put bird seed in my bird feeders again and not have to worry that the dog will eat it. These and many other little details are what remind me every day of the bigger loss.

So how does this post end up here, on our agency’s blog? Because it has occurred to me that it’s the details that matter in business, too. The big events are certainly the most memorable – winning new clients, watching the first sale come through, unveiling your new brand or opening a new store. But it’s the little details in between all these larger situations that really matter – and the little details that help you not only to keep your business up and running, but to beat the competition.

Are you thinking about the little details? Once you win a customer or a client, are you welcoming them and thanking them for their business? Does your website make an interaction with your company pleasant and easy, or are you making prospects work too hard to become a customer? Can they easily find what they are looking for? Do you have a waiting room that’s comfortable or stark? Do you think about simple yet “nice touches” that would make a prospect want to do business with you over a similar competitor?

Once you win a customer or a client, are you communicating with them regularly – but not more than they want? Do you know how your customers prefer to be contacted and how often? Have you asked? When you’re following up with a prospect, do you make them feel personally wanted as a customer? Just this week, a company followed up with me based on an interaction at a trade show (good) but I was turned off by the method (bad) of follow up and it made me not want to do business with them. I understand that companies need to maximize time – that sales leads have to be captured and plopped into databases (we’ve worked with enough sales and marketing software clients – Landslide, Salesnet, RightNow, Genius, etc. – to understand how it works and why). And maybe I’m naive, or expecting too much – but as technology gets better, it seems to me it could also help companies to at least appear to be more personable in sales. When I receive a sales email that’s claiming to understand my business, and want my business, but is clearly a generated “next step” email from a sales automation software solution, I feel insulted – not really wanted as a customer. When they use my login name as the lead – which appears as “christine” because I rarely capitalize when I’m signing up for something online – it’s obvious. It’s a little, tiny detail, right? But to me – it’s a detail that turned me off from doing business with this company. A little detail that turned into a lost sale.

On the flip side, we’ve got a client who – even as they’ve grown from startup to public company – calls each prospect when they trial a product. I remember the first time I tried Constant Contact – the call startled me – it literally happened within minutes of me entering my information online. I didn’t need help but you know what? Knowing that if I did – especially in this day and age of electronic communication – I could get a human on the phone, was a nice touch. It stood out – the call was brief, to the point and not intrusive. I was impressed – and that was before they were a client.

An experience that falls somewhere in between these two is a recent interaction with our bank. They recently upgraded some services for us and assigned a personal Account Manager (great!). He emailed and called me to introduce himself, which was good, but the little details that were missing, some that I felt could have made me a happier customer (and not feeling like a call was wasting my time), were some suggestions or thoughtful interaction. The introduction, in my opinion, could have included something more along the lines of, “We noticed you often do this, and we think this change will make your life easier – do you want to learn more?” It didn’t need to be anything complicated, but just something that showed a personal touch about my business and my banking habits that demonstrate you care about me specifically as a customer.

In PR, one of the biggest complaints reporters have always had is that they receive off-topic, automated emails from PR executives. PR teams do this – using software to automate email blasts – because time is money in our business, literally. Not only can you move faster and thus work on more clients and charge more hours, but the more pitches you get out, the longer a “We Pitched” list you can give to a client, right? Well, I guess that may be true – but the little details, taking the time to pitch a reporter with a custom email or call, mentioning personal details that remind them you know them or you at least know their work and read what they write – are more likely to yield big results. Would a client rather have a long list of “We pitched 100 reporters” – but no coverage results – or a shorter list of “We pitched 10 key publications and here’s the result – 10 quality feature articles”? I’m guessing the latter.

So take time to think about the details today. Whether it’s how you sell, how you service or how you build your business – branding, HR, promotion, etc. – caring about the little details can make a big difference.

How do you incorporate the little details in your daily business?

Christine Perkett and Heather Mosley Talk “PR and Social Media” on Lotame’s Social Media Remix

Lotame’s (client) “Social Media Remix” on BlogTalkRadio is described as “a show for all the publishers, advertisers, fans, skeptics, employees, and friends of everything and anything that is Social Media.” As mentioned in last Friday’s Persuasive Picks, PerkettPR’s own Christine Perkett and Heather Mosley appeared on the show last week to talk about PR’s role in Social Media and some best practices that are applied when using it for clients.

What do you think? How do you use social media in your promotions? We’d love to hear your stories and anecdotes as well via comment, links, etc. We’ve embedded the BlogTalkRadio player for easy access to the show – Enjoy!

PR, Social Media, Transparency & Good News

I’ve been having a very lively discussion on Twitter today about PR, social media and where the lines of transparency fall. We asked if a PR firm should run social media entities in social communities. If they do, should they identify themselves in these communities – like Twitter, Facebook, etc. – as the PR firm or as part of the company’s marketing team, or is simply having a company entity sufficient enough to imply that you’re probably talking to the marketing folks (which could include an agency). How transparent is transparent enough? I received a lot of lively – and differing – answers:

PR Company Transparency

My favorite answer, however, was from @tgruber. She said:

@tgruber Transparency Reply

It’s my favorite answer because for me, if I’m interacting with a company’s brand online, it seems obvious that the marketing team would be behind it unless otherwise noted (as in the case of @zappos which is clearly identified as the CEO, Tony Hsieh; or in our case @PerkettPR – where we identify who is behind the Twittering of the brand right in our bio).

But I’m in marketing and PR – so I wanted other viewpoints. If you are interacting with @Lotame (client), for example, do you assume you are talking to the CEO or a marketing executive, or someone else? If a PR firm maintains the account should they say in their bio, for example, “We’re PerkettPR Twittering on behalf of Client.”? If you follow @TJMaxx, @Starbucks, @JetBlue, @LuckyShops or others, does it matter to you who’s behind the social media curtain – as long as they aren’t claiming to be the CEO when they are not?

We’re excited to announce several new clients today and as we continue planning and launching many social media campaigns for them in the coming months, we continue to value and learn from the collective communities and their opinions. That includes you – so what do you think?

5 Tips for Maximizing your Podcamp Experience

Podcamp Boston 2With Podcamp Boston 3 coming up this weekend, I’ve started think back to last year’s event and how I want to approach the experience this year. Podcamp co-creator Christopher S. Penn recently created a video podcast listing 5 tips to get the most from your Podcamp experience. His video prompted me to come up with an additional five of my own that first time “Podcampers” might find useful.

Create a “People I want to meet list”
After Podcamp Boston 2 ended last year, I realized there were a bunch of people in attendance that I never got a chance to meet. In fact, so many people attended that I never even knew the people I missed were even there. Plan ahead by scanning the attendee list (Podcamp Boston’s list is on the Eventbrite page) and don’t miss out on the opportunity to connect with specific people while you can. Many folks come from out of state, which can make meet-ups like this a rare opportunity.

Don’t forget your business cards
Podcamp is a prime time for networking, so don’t forget your business cards and be sure to bring plenty of them. Depending on the city, Podcamp weekends can draw hundreds of participants, and all the new people you meet won’t be able to connect with you later on if you aren’t handing out cards. Its not uncommon to see people handing out more than one card as well. It’s also wise to have special cards made up for that blog, podcast or online video show you’d like to promote!

Maximize your hallway time
Podcamp weekends are always packed full of great sessions, but as many experienced Podcampers will agree, much of the magic happens in the hallways. Spontaneous sessions and unplanned gatherings can yield great information and can be incredibly valuable. If you’re not getting what you want out of a session, envoke the Pocamp “Law of Two Feet” and venture out into the hallway to see what’s going on. You might just be surprised at what you find!

Bring snacks
Be sure to throw a few snacks in your backpack to keep your energy up throughout the day. Podcamp offers a lot of information to absorb in 48 hours, and you’ll need to rely on those little bursts of energy that a healthy snack can give you after the coffee crash begins to settle in. Quick and portable items like a banana, trail mix, and a bottle of water will stay fresh during the weekend and the money you save bringing your own snack will pay for that extra pint at the pub on Saturday night.

Check your shyness at the door
Podcamp weekend is a time to meet new people as well as shake hands with some of the people with whom, until now, you might only have had a virtual relationship. If you tend to lean towards the shy side in social situations, then you’ll take comfort in the fact that everyone who attends Podcamp is there to meet other people. Don’t hesitate to approach groups of people who you may not know yet. Looking for groups of people that have one or two people you already know can also make breaking the ice easier. Just remember, everyone is there to meet you!

Bonus Tip! – Additional “gear” to bring
Here are some additional items to bring along that tend to come in handy: a powerstrip, extension cord, battery chargers, cellphone charger (especially for the iPhone 3G folks!), laptop charger, extra memory cards, USB thumb drive and a sharpie.

See you at Podcamp Boston 3 and be sure to DM me on Twitter if you’d like to connect!

Photo courtesy of Nico