It’s No Longer About Facebook Likes

Happy Days are Here Again for Marketers who give a darn about quality before quantity, thanks to FACEBOOK’s recent innovations with its Timeline Page features. Once upon a time, advertisers and some business owners believed that large fan bases (“Likes”) meant success.  Thanks goodness, that is no longer true with Facebook’s new focus of switching from “Likes” to engaging content as a true measure of striking it rich in the social media world.

Huh?

For those of you who have changed your business pages over to the new Timeline design, you’ll notice that the “Likes” number is now one of the apps (formerly called tabs) on your page.  These apps can move locations from being seen as one of the first four positions to say the eighth app on the second row. When logging on to the Page, only four are shown. You have to hit the arrow button to see the second and third row of apps. As a result, the number of Likes (meaning new “fans”) is not as prominent as before. Sure it’s still on the front page under the Timeline cover, but it’s not as bold as the older version on the left hand side. See Red Bull Facebook example below.

Energy Drink Red Bull is a good example of downplaying the Like app.

Facebook is emphasizing that the number of “Fan Likes” is not as important in generating reach, but rather its the number of people who are engaging with your posts either through liking, commenting or sharing that builds awareness. Facebook feels success lies in the number of people who “share” posts with their community. To them and well me, success lies in viral reach.

Take a look at this Red Bull post which is pinned. (“Pinning” is a new term to business pages – a pinned post stays in the top position on your Facebook wall for seven days.) But, look at the engagement numbers at the bottom.

Facebook Success is Viral Reach

Those numbers are sick for a post. Who wouldn’t want that!

It’s Marketing 101 really. If you were my client, here’s how I would advise you. Let’s say you represent a new software program for tax prep for example. You feel that you need at least 10,000 people to “Like” your page to be successful. So you go out and hire someone on Fiverr.com to give you 600+ Facebook fan likes on your page for $5. Sounds great right? Here’s where it is wrong. Who are you getting as fans? I can guarantee you that the people who like your page, if they really are humans which is doubtful, will never come back to your Page again. They are empty calories. I’d rather you organically grow your numbers with “true” fans of tax preparation materials. Those fans will share your content with their fans for you all share the same passion.  Otherwise, by buying or using Facebook fan adder tools, there are loads out there, you are getting people who aren’t listening to your message and simply walking by your wall never to be seen or heard from again.

I always advise to go organic whenever possible – not only in what you eat, but in social media too.

Cindy's New Facebook Page

I’m in the midst building my own personal Fan page, you can watch my evolution from the start now. Be sure to check it out and I promise I’ll do the same for your’s as well. I’m using it to test out some of the other innovations I’ve seen reported and as soon as I’m ready I’ll be sure to blog about it and share those ideas with you too.

REMEMBER IT IS QUALITY OVER QUANTITY THAT WINS OUT!

 

Best Customer Service Practices Include the Human Touch

Clever Way for A Customer to Make A Point!

Are businesses ever allowed to provide mediocre customer service? Is it okay to leave customers hanging on a phone tree for more than five minutes? Are there industries that should provide excellent service more so than others?

The answer to all three questions above is a resounding NO-at least that’s my $0.02 worth. But, unfortunately, we all experience poor service on a daily basis as customers even from blue-chip enterprises to boot.

If you are a small business owner you are probably cringing at this thought because YOU know that your success lies in the quality of your customer service. So then why do we allow large conglomerates to do that to us all the time? Why do we still give these companies our precious dollars, especially when we expect more out of own business services?

Today I experienced such an experience. Unfortunately, I am dealing with medical issues associated with a loved one. As such, I had to wait for four hours in a hospital lobby while a family member had tests conducted. Since I was just sitting there I had hoped that I could log on to the Internet and quietly get some work completed. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had a daily wi-fi access code, however, I soon found out that the system does not allow access to Apple devices only PCs. Say WHAT???

PHONE TREES DRIVE YOU UP A TREE!

I think I'll Skip This Place.

This wasn’t a life-threatening situation and I could do other work offline, but this example just got me thinking about all the other times that I’ve been frustrated by poor customer service. I attend dozens of small business connector meetings and each always stresses the importance of guest relations. So why is excellent customer service applicable to small owners and not large conglomerates?

A HUMAN VOICE GOES A LONG WAY IN CUSTOMER SERVICE

I would rather do anything than call my satellite provider, healthcare company or phone service. I know that when I call them I’ll be sitting there for a while. Phone trees that put you in sequence are annoying as are the companies that don’t provide any voice connection like Facebook. Most tech companies now provide email customer service and hide their main phone numbers. I don’t care how great you are in answering email support questions, yes I’m including Google, in this rant as well. There are times when a human voice is the best possible service a company can provide.

What companies drive you crazy with poor support and what companies do you think deserve some applause. Do tell.

TAKE A DAY OFF! It Works for Chick-fil-A

When Is Your Business Closed

Sundays are my personal days to be more human-like and step off the grid. I frown on forwarding and receiving business on this day of rest because I need to recuperate from the past week and get restored for the next. When I receive business-type tweets from others on Sunday, I feel really sorry the people who sent them for those tweets tell me that they are not resting. I rarely tweet on Sundays and when I do it’s about something that I found shareable that occurred at church or another social event. I rarely tweet out anything that I would normally do during a business week. Why?

BECAUSE EVERYONE NEEDS A DAY OF REST

In order to stay  balanced as well as mentally and emotionally healthy you need a day to rest from your electronic devices. You need a day to re-charge your batteries and chat on the phone with friends or go to a social event. Or just some time to do laundry or take a walk.

If you think by not sending business messages out seven days a week you’ll lose business think again. Look at how well does Chick-fil-A restaurants do on a six day work week. It was reported that last year the company’s annual revenue was $3.4 billion. Not too shabby huh.

In an interview with ChristianityToday.com VP of Chick-fil-A Dee Ann Turner said this about being closed on Sundays.

“It is doubtful that a public board of directors would allow Chick-fil-A to stay closed on Sundays…When we started in the mall business, Chick-fil-A always led all the restaurants on sales even though we were only open six days to their seven. I think that is still true even though the majority of the restaurants are now free-standing restaurants.

People always say to S. Truett Cathy (Founder of Chick-fil-A), “You could make so much money if you opened on Sunday.” His response is that we’ve been so successful because we have not been open on Sunday.

Truett’s children, two sons and a daughter, actually wrote a covenant that they would not do two things: 1) Sell the company or go public, and 2) Open on Sunday.

A lot of people believe the no Sunday practice originated due to Truett Cathy’s faith. And it did evolve to relate to that over time, but originally they closed on Sunday because Truett was exhausted. He needed rest. He said that if a person couldn’t earn a living in six days, then he needs to do something else.

It was about rest, but also about spending the time to rejuvenate and get strong again to serve his customers. As he hired people, he also realized how important it was for his employees to also have a day off.”

So what’s your philosophy on taking a day off? Do you agree with Truett Cathy? I do. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hluPrHZYC98?modestbranding=1

 

 

 

 

PR TIP: TAKE A STANCE TO HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Gray is Never a Safe Area Nor A Marketing Choice

One thing you are never going to hear from a medical doctor is that you’re half-pregnant. A woman is either pregnant or not. There are no other alternatives. It’s black or white, not gray. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t be half-pregnant in regards to business and/or marketing. In fact, in my humble opinion, I feel this diagnosis of late is in epidemic proportions.

How I define half-pregnancy in marketing and business is as such: “Trying to offend anyone or anything by choosing a side, even when a side is presented.” Again, this my definition and is not official.

GO AHEAD AND TAKE A SIDE

Half-pregnancy is a common practice in politics. Politicians are always trying to walk a fine line to please all parties. They are very careful when they make “stands” on issues and subjects that they try to make sure that both political parties will agree to some or all of the parts.

It’s this ‘not wanting’ to offend that impregnates the situation. And, that tightrope places that “said” person or thing in the vast and valueless wasteland of the dreaded “gray area.” Whenever you set out to become like Switzerland (slang meaning – not making waves or taking any sides… being neutral), then you are setting yourself up to not gain attention. Its similar to this saying – ‘When a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make noise?’

Taking a stance, side and position is important in making noise. Politicians want to be remembered and not forgotten because their words lacked opinion or substance.  But in this day and age of transparency (being authentic), it’s very easy for people to find out information. If you want to hold the line that you don’t have a particular agenda, they can find out in a matter of seconds if that’s indeed true.

Hello, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up! Does anyone hear me?- Flickr Credit: Sage

To make this point a bit clearer, let’s look at this hypothetical situation.  Jane Doe is running for State Governor and she says as a female she believes that women should have the right to choose what happens to their own bodies and that birth begins at the moment of conception. She is referring to both the pro-life and pro-choice abortion movements with her professed beliefs.  But, she has regularly attended pro-life rallies and fundraisers as a part of her Catholic parish, as such it would be easy to figure out she leans more toward that cause. Which to me is fine. I am trying to make the point here that is fine to take sides, in fact its beneficial. Be who you are and make stances. Otherwise, the noise you make maybe only heard by you and that’s not a good PR move.

LEARNING THE HARD WAY

I found this out myself.  Here’s what happened to me. When I entered college I wanted to pursue a career as as sportscaster (don’t laugh too hard). With that, I was able to finagle being the guest on a local radio sports show.  It was my first foray into media and I was nervous, yet excited about the opportunity.  Five minutes into the interview he asked me my opinion about who would win the “freeway series,” between The Los Angeles Dodgers and then the California Angels.  I said something to the effect like “both teams seemed to performed strongly in pre-season” – I was in Switzerland, I gave a valueless “gray answer” and boy I got ripped when we went to the next commercial. The local sportscaster told me if I wanted a future in the business, I needed to have an ‘opinion’ on everything and I had to boldly state it. Otherwise, I would never make it. I needed to take a stance; he was right and that thought has stuck with me ever since.

I also often use this statement that I overheard somewhere…”when throwing a dinner party, it’s best to invite guests of differing opinions. Otherwise, it would make for one boring and long dinner discussion if we all agreed on the same subjects.” I so agree. We all can learn from each other.

So I’m taking a stance against the gray area and half-pregnancy and hope that you will call me out if you see me falling into this common practice. Is this something you have experienced too? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

How Hashtags Improve Tweets

Talking Hashtags with Darin, Lisa and Kate McClure. Photo Credit:@Amykimesdesign

For those of us who are involved in the television industry, the rule of thumb has always been to put titles of TV shows in quotes whenever they are written about in releases or press articles. Therefore, if I was writing a press release about Fox’s hit show “Glee,” I would have it written with the quotes as I did in this sentence.

Yesterday I was looking at my Twitter stream of some of my media colleagues and I noticed that they were not using hashtags properly and in fact, really not using them at all.  For you see, these reporters are tweeting about specific TV shows, but they are putting the titles in quotes when they should be putting a hashtag instead.

Do you know what a Twitter hashtag is and are you using them on a regular basis?

In case you are new to hashtags, here’s how Twitter defines them: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.

THE PROPER USE OF HASHTAGS

Corporate Media Strategist Darin R. McClure of Ready To Go Information Technologies is often overheard saying that search is not the problem with the Internet, its sorting the information which is the most difficult. He and his wife, Lisa, are advocates of Twitter and both have a in-depth knowledge about Twitter’s multiple uses for companies and users. If you follow their respective Twitter streams (@darinrmcclure, @lisamcclure) you will watch poetry in 140-character action. They are extremely gracious and informative and involved in organizing several high level Twitter chats (full blown regular conversations). I highly recommend you follow them.

I recently was able to catch up with both Darin and Lisa and interview them about the merits of using twitter hashtags.  That interview is below.

[youtube width="960" height="540"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eJkVPo-Cug[/youtube]

HOW HASHTAGS ARE HELPFUL

1. People on Twitter use hashtags before relevant keywords to categorize their tweets so that a particular topic shows up more easily in Twitter Search.

2. If you click on a hashtagged word in any message, you will see all other Tweets in that category.

3. The most popular hashtagged words often become trending topics and if your tweet is re-tweeted a lot, it can become the top tweet for that topic.

Can you Over Hashtag? As a general rule of thumb, Twitter.com recommends no more than three hashtags per tweet. Anything over that number is considered  over-tagging and yes, they even call it hashtag spam.

IN SUMMARY

  • When tweeting about topics, use a (#) and not (” “).
  • Don’t start your tweets with an @ symbol. Put some letter or words before it…Like “Hi” and then address the person in the tweet. That way your tweet is open to your entire twitter stream.
  • Check out Tweetchat.com when wanting to connect with others who are passionate about your same topics.
  • And follow me, Lisa and Darin too. We’d love to continue this hashtag conversation with you!

Special thanks to videographer @jasontucker and photographer @amykimesdesign. Follow them too.

Cindy often uses #PR to sort her tweets.

About the Author: Cindy Ronzoni loves conversations on any platform. As an experienced communicator, Cindy often writes about devices or methods to promote people, places and products. She also is an active member of Orange County, California’s social media endeavors and as such, gets the privilege of rubbing elbows with such astute practicioners as Darin and Lisa McClure. Cindy also frequently writes about small business matters on her company blog at: http://socialspreadmedia.com.

If you feel like giving her some +klout support, feel free to put it toward #pr.

 

 

Fishing is a lot like PR

A big catch always makes your Day in PR.

While watching Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” it dawned on me how fishing for king crab is a lot like pitching for media coverage. The similarities are astounding so much so–that I’m wondering now if I should start calling myself a fisher-person instead of a publicist. I’m not talking about sport fishing here. I’m talking about those individuals whose livelihood is bringing in big catches. Like us publicists, we receive our earnings too by the success of our takes.

THIS IS NOT ANOTHER FISH STORY

Think this is a laughing matter (wink, wink), just take a look at these occupational comparisons.

  • Fishermen use charts to find fish; publicists use media plans
  • Fishermen often go off of instinct to find fish; so do publicists as to who might like the story.
  • Fishermen need the right bait to catch particular fish; publicist must make sure that their pitch is news-worthy and right for that publication.
  • Fishermen can go through spurts without big hauls; the same is true for publicists.
  • Sometimes fisherman must play a waiting game for the fish to surface; ditto in the publicity realm.
  • Fisherman have to release smaller fish at times: publicists sometimes have to do they same in order to gain a keeper-a larger hit.

I could go on and on with the comparisons, and I did! Just take a look at this tongue in cheek PR fishing video below that I filmed last night.  (Note to self: Don’t ever use a magnet when fishing out of a metal pail. Boy that was dumb! lol)

Also, I must warn you – if you are ever trying to reach me and I’d don’t answer – now you’ll know why. I’ve gone PR fishing!

[youtube width="640" height="360"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUOEsviVeLM[/youtube]


I couldn't resist including this photo of me when I hiked Beverly Hills' Franklin Canyon Park. Behind me is the shooting location for the opening of "The Andy Griffith Show."

 

Networking in Foreign Lands

Attending Agent Reboot with my RE friends

THE SOCIAL REALTY

Today I’ve embarked on a new experiment. I’m attending a social media convention called Agent Reboot OC. This gathering is geared toward realtors and although, I know virtually nothing about this industry, I was wise enough to examine their agenda to see that they were presenting informative topics. For a mere $49 admission price and $9 for parking, I’m learning about mobile tools, Facebook tips, lead conversion and meeting an entire new group of people.

For over 20 years I’ve attended conventions and workshops involving the entertainment, blogging or casual gaming industries. Here I’m totally networking out of my normal wheelhouse. It’s quite interesting walking through the hall and looking at sponsors – Lowe’s, Zillow, Better Homes and Gardens, Yahoo and even UPS.  Good thing I love learning about new things!

Yes, you may be scratching you head as to why I would be attending as a PR pro, but I wanted to learn more about local promotion and advertising and realtors are among the best at promoting local. So it was well worth my time.

I must say that I’m not walking into this conference cold. In addition to the interesting topics, I do have a few new social media friends who are here in attendance. That made my decision a bit more easier to attend.

Realtors Investing in the Latest Tools To Optimize Business

MOBILE IS KING

The main point of this blog is that the reason why I am here is greatly due to Robert “Bob” Watson, the founder of the social media club I attend, Social Media Mastermind of Orange County (SMMOC). SMMOC is just one of Bob’s side passions, he actually is an accomplished and well-known consultant at First Team Real Estate. By attending the SMMOC meetings I’ve been rubbing elbows with over 20 real estate professionals. And I must say most of the discussions are triggered by them for they truly are embracing new media in their professions. They video tape open houses, list new properties on foursquare and have thriving blogs.

What am I learning so far at Agent Reboot?

  • That iPads are a going to be a must for business.
  • That we should rethink our Facebook business pages
  • Mobile will be king in 2013.
  • Text is important.
  • And that we all need to produce more video.

That’s just after two hours and I’ll write more later.  Below is a photo of fellow SMMOC member Stacey Harmon addressing the group on Facebook Business Optimization tips. She runs a company called PixelCoaching. Visit her site today to learn the differences between personal and business profiles/pages on Facebook.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

PR TIP – BUSINESS ALIGNMENTS

Are Your Ducks in a Row?

CHOOSING FRIENDS, EMPLOYEES AND PARTNERS CAN BE TRICKY IN BUSINESS

With Halloween almost upon us, I was thinking about one of the trickiest business maneuvers a person can make is navigating the waters of whom should be entrusted as Board members, employees, backers and advisers.  Basically, who are you in alignment. In the last week, I’ve seen several examples of potential partnerships that could pose serious crises for companies who were not diligent with their associations.

Why I am making this one of my PR Tips? I am due to the fact that as a corporate communications executive my job is to make sure that the brand of the respective company has integrity at all times. However, I am well aware that problems do occur naturally when you manage a business. For instance,  an employee who is terminated can decide to file a lawsuit or someone does write a scathing review that must be defended or a troll harasses your Facebook wall. Occurrences like these are business as usual.

As PR executives, our jobs are to stop potential problems from ever happening.

REAL-LIFE EXPERIENCES

Here are three real examples of potential bad alignments that I heard about recently to help you realize how these issues can seem to be benign on the surface.

CASTING-A promoter created an event where he needed to hire a cast of actors to man kiosks across a major metropolitan city. The cast was charged with demonstrating a product and interacting with the community.  One actress who was being considered had recently posed for a publication that featured women undressed.  She was proud of that article and posted that information on her Facebook page.  Needless to say, she did not get the job because as you know, the brand that she would have represented could never be aligned with that publication even though her involvement may appear to be removed by several layers.  The event promoter did a great job of keeping the brand solid and researching the actors.

Sometimes the Money Isn't Worth It

INVESTORS – I recently met a new young entrepreneur who was telling me he has a potential financial backer that he was excited about. He really needed money to ramp up his efforts, however, the financier had a sketchy background that included adult industry involvement. The entrepreneur was building a site that featured fashion. I had to remind him that although the money would be great…he had to weigh whether or not is was worth being aligned with the backer due his background. He had to decide if his consumer base might be offended if they knew this fact about the backer.

ONLINE REPUTATION – I recently heard that a friend’s daughter was not hired for a particular position at a department store due to photos that she posted on Facebook when she was in high school.  Again, other instance where something so slight, could pose problems if not today then in the future.

As I learned from Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing, everything we do is marketing. We are constantly marketing ourselves, no matter what we are saying online or in person. Therefore, filter who you are online and monitor your company’s affiliations.  Also, thoroughly suss out your vendors and employees.

And as Chris Brogan, author of Trust Agents, pointed out – Be the best you always.

In summary, any extra research that you invest in will not only keep you away from potential crises, it will help you stay respected in your industry and community as well as among your peers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts?

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