Great Customer Service – Alive and Well and Local

Aug 20th, 20112 Comments

It happened within the last 3 days – 3 examples of great customer service. My youngest daughter was the witness and beneficiary of it, and I hope she’ll remember the lesson when she enters the professional world (assuming there will be such jobs by the time she graduates)!

You’ve already heard great stories about Nordstrom‘s customer service.  Here’s another one to add to the heap, as well as a couple of feel-good anecdotes featuring Treaty Oak Bank and Black Forest Werkshop, two Austin companies that treat their customers like good friends.

Nordstrom Twitter shield logoNordstrom and Back-to-School Shopping

Trying to be a good, let-them-figure-it-out kind of parent, I gave the girls a back-to-school clothing budget and set them free. One thing Michelle bought was a couple of pairs of tights from Nordstrom at Barton Creek Mall.  Then she promptly lost the tights. And couldn’t find them for a couple of days.

Yes, our house is currently cluttered with back-to-college living/studying/clothing paraphernalia, but those tights were nowhere to be found.  Michelle finally called Nordstrom on the off-chance that she somehow left them at the register.  The salesperson replied no, but that if Michelle couldn’t find them, she could come in and get a free replacement.

Michelle was wide-eyed with disbelief and happiness when she told me this.  I later told my whole exercise class and Michelle told her friends.  She’s also surprisingly more determined than ever to find the tights.  Nordstrom may end up eventually losing $15 worth of inventory, but they’ve already gained positive word-of-mouth and more loyal advocates.  Talk about a good business decision.

Treaty Oak Bank - Small Courtesies, Great Responsiveness

Happy Birthday card from Treaty Oak BankA “Happy Birthday” card arrived in the mail for Michelle from our community bank this week.  To be sure, Treaty Oak is not the only company who extends such courtesies, but they somehow have done so consistently for years and for each member of our family.  As a result, my business partner and I decided to open our business account there, and have enjoyed responsive service at every turn.

Black Forest Werkshop – Taking Time to Care and Advise

I saved the most terrifying and dramatic for last:  Michelle was in a car accident Wednesday evening.  Thankfully, neither driver was hurt.  Our car, however, might end up being totaled.

Totalled carBecause of our past relationship with Black Forest Werkshop, we had the car towed directly there that night and called them the next day.  The owner, Lee Rector, first asked if everyone was ok, and then expressed genuine dismay about the car.  He called it a “well cared-for” car and recommended that when the insurance adjusters come knocking with their offer, we need to tell them how much money we’ve spent over the last two years maintaining our now-dead car.

He also brought to our attention the car’s “diminished value” if we do repair it (a fully repaired car that has had extensive work done due to a collision has a lower resale value), a real and valid concept that insurance adjusters normally don’t bring up.

Word of Mouth Marketing

These good customer service experiences remind me of Andy Sernovitz’s Social Media Summit session on Word of Mouth Marketing.  I’ll be telling friends about them, I’ll probably write a Yelp or Google Places review, and, well, I wrote this post.

Suzanne Doughty
@suzanne_doughty

Other blog posts you might like:

Highlights of the Social Media Success Summit
Austin Chamber Panel Discusses Building Your Online Presence

Team-Building by Improv

Dear United, I Don’t Care About the Color of the Plane
Seizing the Moment with Real-Time Marketing

Why We’ll Always Ask Social Media Strategists About Tools – Because of Game Changers Like Vera Wang

Jun 6th, 20116 Comments

Quick, what comes first – strategy, tactics or tools? Businesspeople worth their salt will say that strategy comes first, followed by tactics, and then finally, tools.

Jay Baer's Social Media Metrics Sequence

Jay Baer's Social Media Metrics Sequence – see www.convinceandconvert.com

In Jay Baer’s June 2 blog post about social media metrics, he illustrates this handily with an inverted pyramid, cautioning that if you’re tempted to first choose social media measurement tools, you should instead bring yourself up, Inception style, to think about your business goals and objectives first.

Further, Jay said that you shouldn’t get so myopically enamored with any one tool or metric that you lose sight of achieving business success in general.

One such example of how measurement drove the wrong behavior was apparent when I worked for Hewlett-Packard a million years ago and rotated once a week into its Sales Response Center. Our job there was to answer sales reps’ questions so they could more quickly issue quotes and close deals. But we were measured on our response time, not on the quality of our answers.  The result?  Reps got quick answers, but not necessarily correct ones.*

So back to Jay.  He emphasized that you have to know WHAT you are trying to measure first, and then investigate the available tools for HOW best to perform that measurement.

But here’s the thing. Sometimes you need to look at the tools first to even know what’s possible to measure. Sometimes new tools and new technologies open a realm of possibilities that you had no idea were even in play.  And when you do uncover those game-changing – at least for you – tools or metrics, you’d be wise to revamp one or two of your social media goals, objectives or tactics.  I’ll call this – bear with me now – the Vera Wang shift. (Pun intended.)

The Vera Wang Shift

Know anyone who got married before the mid 1990s?  If you do, chances are the bride wore a frilly “cake topper” gown like these below.  And when looking for a dress, she asked questions about the fullness of the skirt, the puffiness of the sleeves, the amount of lace, the neckline, and other (limited) basics of traditional bridal gowns.

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride, 1950

Elizabeth Taylor in Father of the Bride, 1950

Elizabeth McGovern in She's Having a Baby, 1988

Eliz McGovern in She's Having a Baby, 1988

Prince Charles & Princess Diana, 1981

Prince Charles & Princess Diana, 1981

Then came Vera Wang.  Engaged at age 39, she was frustrated with the lack of sophisticated, elegant bridalwear.  So she created her own dress, and then soon after, her own line of wedding dresses.  Her more streamlined, sleek look has been widely adopted in the bridal industry, but more importantly, her approach has been combined in countless ways with more traditional looks, so a much wider variety of options is now available.

Anne Hathaway & Kate Hudson in Bride Wars, 2009

Hathaway and Hudson in Bride Wars, 2009

Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, 1999

Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride, 1999

Kate Middleton & Prince William, 2011

Kate Middleton and Prince William, 2011

Women who got married pre-Vera Wang now wistfully think “you mean I could have worn something like that?”  The point is – before Vera Wang, women didn’t even know other possibilities existed or that their choices were limited.  But post-Vera Wang brides have a different vision, more options, higher expectations and different questions. Vera Wang was a game changer.

So the question is, can a tool be a Vera Wang-class game changer? Specifically, can a social media measurement tool change your social media strategy?

People tasked with setting and/or implementing social media strategy for their company are afraid they’re missing some game-changing tool that could:

  • Save their company time and money, or just save them from having to work on weekends
  • Allow their company to innovate along some thread
  • Act as a disruptive technology (perish the thought!)

This is why people will always be tugging at the sleeves of social media strategists like Jay Baer and asking questions about tactics and tools.

Question:  Has any tool been a game changer for you or your company – so much so that it changed your strategy?

Suzanne Doughty
@suzanne_doughty

* As the resident Do the Right Thing aka Miss Goody Two Shoes, I felt compelled to give correct answers to sales reps, even if it blew my stats, which it did.

Other blog posts that might be of interest:

Beyond LinkedIn Basics – Highlights of Mario Sundar’s Social Media Summit 2011 Talk

May 29th, 20115 Comments

Mario Sundar of LinkedIn Mario Sundar, worldwide Social Media Manager and chief blogger at LinkedIn, spoke on day 5 of the Social Media Success Summit 2011.  Practicing what he preaches, he first gathered questions from attendees a few weeks ago within the summit’s (private) LinkedIn group.  He then based his talk around the most asked-about topics:  1) Company Pages, 2) Groups, 3) Answers, 4) B2B use and 5) Small/Medium Businesses (SMBs) use. Key takeaways from his talk were:

  • Continuously sync your real world connections into LinkedIn.
  • If you have time to update only one part of your profile, update your Specialties because it helps you to be found.
  • Take advantage of Advanced Search – it’s extremely powerful.
  • As a company (on a Company Page), you should actively seek recommendations for your products/services.

LinkedIn iconBut first, some LinkedIn basics from Sundar:

LinkedIn is important because its members are the world’s largest audience of affluent, influential professionals. Over 100 million professionals are currently on LinkedIn – 44 million in the US, 56 million internationally – and over 1 million professionals sign up every week (1 per second).

Advice for individuals on LinkedIn:

  1. Use a recognizable photo.
  2. Keep your connections public so others can figure out their connection to you.
  3. Update your Specialties with relevant keywords as you gain expertise in your job. This enables LinkedIn and Google searches to find you.
  4. Sync with your Twitter, blog and Slideshare accounts, especially if prospective customers and potential hires are following you.
  5. Constantly sync your real world connections with LinkedIn.  First, start with your webmail (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail) import tool. Sundar said that what works best for him and many of his colleagues is to scan through emails at the end of the day for any new individuals to connect with.
    Side note from Sundar:  To see LinkedIn and otherwise “enriched” profiles in your email, try Rapportive with Gmail or Xobni with Yahoo.  Further, if you’re on a PC, MS Outlook has a LinkedIn plugin that pulls in your LinkedIn profile and shows your connections and their conversations, so as to provide some context and background to go along with their emails.
  6. Use the Advanced Search tool – it’s LinkedIn’s “secret sauce”.  It lets you slice and dice data from professionals based on their names, keywords, locations, titles, companies, industries, groups and more.

If you need more info on getting started with LinkedIn, consider attending one of the free training webinars or exploring their Learning Center.

Social Media Success Summit - May 2011The Five Most Requested Topics from Summit Attendees

1. Company Pages

If your target customers are businesses or business professionals, you should have a LinkedIn Company Page, because it can help you reach your three key audiences:  customers, prospects and potential employees. In fact, the three tabs on the Company Page are targeted to these three audiences.

Overview tabtargeted to existing customers:  On this tab, you can keep people up to date on what’s happening with your company.  You can also bring in recent blog posts and tweets, as Social Media Examiner’s LinkedIn Page does.  Sundar says that soon we’ll see some dramatic changes to this tab.

Career tabtargeted to potential employees:  It allows your company to post job openings in hopes of attracting top talent.  As an example, see the Career tab of LinkedIn’s own Company Page.

Products & Services tabtargeted to potential customers:  Sundar called this the “nerve center” because companies can not only showcase their products and services, but also list LinkedIn users’ recommendations; and the fact that these recommendations are from people in your network make those recs all the more powerful.  For this reason, Sundar called it another “secret sauce” and encouraged companies to beef up their products and services recommendations by sharing the page.  (To prevent spam, LinkedIn puts a limit on how many people companies can reach out to this way). Larger companies that want to scale their recommendations quickly might want to use one of LinkedIn premium features.  Sundar pointed to Hewlett-Packard’s Recommendations tab as a good example of a Company Page that has many recommendations that would reach a lot of professionals.

Three important points about administering Company Pages:

  • To edit a Company Page, you must have an email address with your company’s domain name (i.e., no generic Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail webmail email addresses).
  • You can allow anyone within your company to edit the page, but Sundar cautions against it, to prevent havoc-wreaking by disgruntled employees.  Consider having social media-savvy HR or marketing people administer the page, with HR managing the careers portion and marketing managing the rest.
  • Companies also have an Analytics tab, so be sure to track your results over time.

See LinkedIn’s own Guide to Setting Up Your Company Page.  Sundar also recommended Linda Coles‘ Social Media Examiner post “8 New LinkedIn Features Worth Exploration” as a must-read.  Note: Coles has made a number of informative SME posts which cover LinkedIn.

2. Groups

Sundar said that, after completing your individual profile, the first place to explore is LinkedIn Groups.  Groups are a great tool, especially for SMBs, because professionals (i.e., prospective customers, suppliers and partners) are discussing the same general topic, which might be right up your alley.  Sundar recommends first finding the right group, either by searching keywords or by following LinkedIn’s suggestions which are based on your interests.  Then start by listening to make sure the group is a good fit.   If it is, you should provide value both by asking relevant questions and by answering others’ questions.  Do this for existing groups before you embark on creating, managing and moderating your own group, which is a big time commitment.

Sundar also talked about Custom Groups, which can be particularly helpful for large businesses.  He pointed to Philips Healthcare as a good example.

3.  Answers

Sundar called LinkedIn Answers a “sister product” to Groups, so after you’re familiar with Groups, explore Answers as the logical next step.  Again, the Answers tool is especially well suited for SMBs, who often have time-sensitive questions about all facets of their business, including choosing the right vendor, planning professional events, answering basic tax questions, etc.  As with Groups, you can also answer people’s queries within the Answers tool, which will position you as an expert when prospects later search on the topic.

One of the best parts about Answers, according to Sundar, is that you can create an RSS feed of answers related to specific topics that you can pull into Google Reader, for example.

4. B2B Marketing

LinkedIn is probably the best social site for B2B marketing, said Sundar.  The numbers support this, as most B2B marketers who do use social media to grow their business say that LinkedIn is the most important social media channel for them.  All the advice above holds true for B2B marketers, so do keep your Company Page up to date and do encourage product recommendations and do engage in Groups and Answers.  The icing on the cake is to get your employees to authentically evangelize your products and offer recommendations on company profiles.

5. Small and Medium Size Business Marketing

Sundar pointed to Guy Kawasaki’s excellent blog post on 10 Ways for Small Businesses to Use LinkedIn.  Four key tips from that article:

  • Network with peers for repeat referral business
  • Be your own publicity machine
  • Find and build your team
  • For startups: raise funding

LinkedIn Today

During the Q&A session, Sundar also talked about newer features LinkedIn Today and Share.  [And if there were a Search field within the LinkedIn Learning Center, I would more easily find the link that explains the LinkedIn Share tool. Feel free to post it in the comments section. Here's what I get when Mike Stelzner highly recommended LinkedIn Today as a way to find breaking news that you and your professional contacts find relevant.  Sundar said it was one of his favorite features and Mike said it is one of the top sources of traffic for Social Media Examiner.

-Suzanne Doughty
Cedar Sage Marketing
@suzanne_doughty

Wow, time to sync my LinkedIn connections. I know I’ve let lots of opportunities to connect with people over LinkedIn slip by, and it’s time to take steps to rectify the situation.  Can you relate?

 

Seizing the Moment: Highlights of David Meerman Scott’s “Real-Time Marketing” Talk

May 18th, 20117 Comments

alarm clockDavid Meerman Scott, author of “Real-Time Marketing and PR” and “The New Rules of Marketing and PR“, spoke on Day 4 of Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit 2011.  He focused on the importance of real-time, instant engagement, and one of his overarching messages was “Social media are tools.  Real time is a mindset.”

Social Media Success Summit - May 2011Scott emphasized the importance of seizing marketing opportunities in real time, and presented compelling examples of companies that did just that:

Oakley and the Chilean miners - Who can forget the miners trapped underground for so many weeks last year? When they finally emerged, they were wearing Oakley sunglasses. Oakley had jumped at the chance to donate 33 pairs of $180 sunglasses to protect the miners’ eyes, and garnered $41 million in equivalent advertising time, as over a billion people watched the dramatic rescue.

Wynn Hotels and Paris Hilton – Paris Hilton was arrested in Las Vegas for drug possession in late August 2010.  Wynn Hotels quickly saw the “buzz snatching” opportunity and announced they were banning her from their Vegas hotel.   Subsequent articles – last count, over 5,000 of them – about her arrest include a mention of Wynn Hotels’ ban.

Scott said that reporters and editors are always “looking for the second paragraph” (context, or an additional angle) of a story, so marketers should react quickly if they can somehow insert their product or service into a newsworthy event, as Wynn Hotels did.

Eloqua and Oracle or “How a Company Made $1 million with a Blog Post” – Joe Payne, CEO of Eloqua, a B2B marketing software automation company, reacted quickly when news broke that Oracle acquired his company’s competitor, Market2Lead.  That evening, he wrote a blog post “Oracle Joins the Party” which analyzed what the acquisition meant to the industry. Reporters then had that second paragraph, and Eloqua and Joe Payne were continually mentioned in the same breath as Oracle and Market2Lead in subsequent stories.

Eloqua then took it one step further and emailed Market2Lead customers a friendly invitation to take advantage of a special transition-to-Eloqua program.  Surprisingly, many of these customers were hearing of the acquisition for the first time from Eloqua, not Market2Lead or Oracle!  To date, Eloqua has closed over $1m of new business as a result of this effort.

David Meerman Scott's books
David Meerman Scott’s books – image from www.davidmeermanscott.com

Digging Deeper For Marketing Lessons

Scott dissected the United Breaks Guitars story because it’s full of lessons for marketers.  Quick summary of the incident:  In mid 2008, singer-songwriter Dave Carroll watched helplessly from a United plane as his beloved Taylor guitar was battered and manhandled on the tarmac.  After a year-long unsuccessful effort to get compensation from United, the polite Canadian recorded a song and video about his frustrating experience.

The video went viral, first with bloggers and then with the mainstream media.  In fact, his YouTube video now has over 10 million views.  (Scott presented various timeline charts which showed the daily pace of the viralness.)  Meanwhile, United remained tightlipped throughout the public opinion firestorm that followed, and remained so even as Scott contacted them recently for his research.

Defensive lesson for United: Scott has a general recommendation for those in a position of defense, such as United was: Speak like a human.  You don’t have to admit wrongdoing, but do say something true and relevant.  Scott would have recommended that United duct-tape a camera onto a suitcase and chronicle its bumpy ride from origin to destination.  Perhaps then the second paragraph of the “Singer seeks revenge with YouTube” story would have been the intricate process of baggage handling, rather than “No comment from United.”

Offensive/buzz-snatching lesson from Taylor Guitars and Calton Cases:  Very soon after the United Breaks Guitars video went viral, Taylor Guitars’ Bob Taylor put up his own YouTube video about how to best travel with your guitar.  The video took less than an hour to produce, has gotten over 500,000 views, and Scott said 2010 was a banner year for Taylor Guitars.  Similary, Calton Cases, which makes high-end guitar cases, created a “Dave Carroll Traveler’s Edition” case, which has also been successful.

[Just fyi, Scott never used the words "defensive", "offensive" or "buzz-snatching" - those terms are based on my own interpretation.  Also, an aside - there's a IBM’s and Cisco’s.

  • Implement real-time monitoring systems to continuously scan the horizon for opportunities. Individuals can use Google Alerts and TweetDeck or Hootsuite. A more formalized approach might include Social Media Measurement Systems at the enterprise or agency level.
  • Develop and propogate a real-time mindset throughout your business.
  • When Higher-ups Push Back

    When advocating and implementing this real-time-marketing-using-social-media idea, you might face pushback from higher-ups in your company. Scott says this resistance is based on fear and often plays out with questions and objections such as:

    • “What’s the ROI?” Scott’s answer is twofold: 1) He first asks, “What’s the ROI of your company-issued Blackberries; i.e., your other real-time device?” 2) He then presents an analysis showing that Fortune 100 companies engaged in real-time communications enjoyed higher stock valuations.
    • “We can’t engage over social media because our company is _______ (insert: B2B, B2C, B2G, NPO, a government agency, in health care, in finance, etc).”  To this, Scott point to the US Air Force as his poster child for an organization that could make a good case for not using social media. Scott quoted Captain Nathan Broshear who said, “If the generals trust a 23-year-old to work on a $50m airplane, why wouldn’t they trust him on Facebook?”

    How to Deal with Higher-ups’ Fear of Social Media and Real-Time Engagement

    This question came up during the Q & A.  Scott responded with 3 choices:

    1. Try to be an agent of change.  If, for example, you can make a YouTube video that generates a sale or a WSJ article, then you have a success story to bring to management.  Don’t go against company policy, but don’t necessarily ask for permission either.  And if at all possible, get salespeople on your side to help make your case.
    2. Resign yourself to the status quo.
    3. Just resign.

    This was an informative, inspiring session from David Meerman Scott.  I’ve ordered his book and look forward to even more insights.  My main question now is – How do you get the song “United Breaks Guitars” out of  your head?

    Suzanne Doughty
    Cedar Sage Marketing
    @suzanne_doughty
    www.cedarsage.com

    Highlights of Social Media Success Summit 2011 – Days 1 & 2 with Owyang, Solis, Smith & Garfield

    May 8th, 201118 Comments

    SMSS11 Days 1 & 2 with Owyang, Solis, Smith & Garfield

    Days 1 & 2 of SMSS11 with Owyang, Solis, Smith & Garfield

    Jeremiah Owyang – Keynote: The Future of Social Media: A Forecast Based on Research
    Brian Solis – Finding and Engaging Your Target Audience With Social Media
    Mari Smith – Facebook News Feed Optimization: How to Dramatically Increase Your Visibility and Engagement
    Steve Garfield – How to Create On-the-Fly Videos to Enhance Your Social Media Content

    These four social media leaders kicked off the first four of 21 hour-long webinars throughout May that make up Social Media Examiner‘s Social Media Success Summit 2011. Jeremiah and Brian’s talks were big-picture, strategic overviews that set the stage for the summit as a whole, while Mari Smith and Steve Garfield’s presentations were chock-full of actionable tips you can begin using today.

    Jeremiah Owyang and Brian Solis

    Both Jeremiah and Brian laid important groundwork by outlining high-level industry challenges such as measuring ROI, achieving scalability, providing consistent value and continually re-earning relevance.  Both emphasized that customer feedback is only going to get louder in the near future. In response, individuals who are today’s social media champions will soon face a choice between being part of a reactive social media helpdesk OR a proactive, scalable group whose mission is to change their business for the better.

    Hub and spoke configuration

    Owyang's hub and spoke model for scalable social media

    Jeremiah said organizations must achieve scalability and can do so by several means, such as:

    • Creating “Centers of Excellence” rather than a cadre of community managers. These centers act as a nucleus or hub in an effective hub-and-spoke model if they 1) put governing policies in place, 2) create a triage process to handle problems and 3) launch an education program for the rest of the business. Intel, Ebay and Adobe are examples of companies with such centers.
    • Scaling with peer-to-peer communities or customer advocacy programs, where you let the crowd do the work for you. BestBuy, Sephora, Walmart’s “mommy bloggers” and Ford’s “Fiesta agents” are examples.
    • Using social media management systems to help you manage the workflow. Examples are CoTweet, Hootsuite, Sprinklr, Objective Marketer, Expion, Seesmic, Awareness, Spredfast and others that Owyang lists in his blog post.
    • Creating a measurement strategy. Measuring engagement data (number of fans, followers, clicks and RTs) is fine for community managers, but high-level execs want measures of revenue, reputation and customer satisfaction.

    Jeremiah’s impressive published research can be found here.

    Engage or Die by Brian SolisWhile Jeremiah focused on how organizations can be more effective with their social media efforts, Brian looked more closely at the audience.  His highlights:

    • #1 reason people use social networks is to connect with friends and family, not to engage with your brand.   People don’t want you to interrupt them, but they do want discounts and special offers, resolutions of any issues they have, and the convenience of buying within the network (such as facebook e-commerce).
    • There will soon be a great “unfollow” movement. To minimize this, don’t post too often, for starters.  In fact, posting too often is the #1 reason people unlike your brand on Facebook, according to an ExactTarget and CoTweet study.  Instead, consistently deliver tangible value.
    • To deliver value, start by listening and doing research.  Gather intelligence – the who, what, why, when, where, how and extent. Then take these insights and think like a customer.
    • Find out who your influencers are using tools such as Klout, PeerIndex, Technorati, Google blog search, InfluencerTracker, mBLAST mPACT. Note that there’s a difference between influencers and advocates.
    • When you give value, make it shareable!

    Final thought:  Both Jeremiah and Brian made another recommendation that resulted in several followup questions.  They said, in effect, to avoid linking away from your website to social websites.  (“Don’t throw your website to Mark Zuckerberg.”)  Jeremiah mentioned a few tools to bring the social conversation back to your website, such as Disqus and Tweetmeme for small companies, and Echo for larger (media) companies.  Mari agreed with them in her subsequent talk and mentioned Wibiya and the Facebook Like box as other helpful tools.  [I think people were confused by this advice because now,  just about every website does link to its corresponding Facebook, Twitter, YouTube account, etc.  It'd be helpful to know of some example websites that would pass muster with Brian, Jeremiah, or Mari and/or to hear more about the tools they or others recommend to effect this change.  Please do feel free to comment on this, or better yet, post links to website examples and the corresponding tools used to bring the conversation back there.]

    Mari Smith – Facebook News Feed Optimization: How to Dramatically Increase Your Visibility and Engagement

    Mari Smith's Top Facebook Marketing Resources via StorifyThe Ninja-trick-wielding, ever-turquoise-clad Mari Smith presented key recommendations to help you get your posts seen in your fans’ news feeds.  This is known as News Feed Optimization (NFO).

    NFO is crucial because 88% of your fans never return to your fan page once they’ve clicked “Like” – instead, they see and interact with you in their own news feed.  And because Facebook has 677 million users who share 30 billion pieces of content every month, many marketers are saying “NFO is the new SEO“.

    Facebook uses a proprietary, secret EdgeRank algorithm to determine which posts show up as “Top News” in each person’s news feed.  The EdgeRank of a post is different for each user and is based on three variables:

    1. Affinity or the relationship between the user and poster,
    2. Weight or importance of the post, which considers the type of content (photo, video, status update, etc) and the user’s and others’ interaction with the content (tags, likes, comments), and finally
    3. Timeliness, not only of the original post but of subsequent interactions.

    Mari explained several key tips to increase your posts’ EdgeRank, thus increasing the likelihood that your fans will actually see and be able to interact with you in their news feed.  Her recommendations are based on data sources such as SocialBakers, BuddyMedia, BrandGlue as well as her years of experience as a leader in Facebook marketing:

    1. Shorten your posts. According to BuddyMedia, posts of 80 characters or less in length have 27% higher engagement rates.
    2. Use long URLs rather than link shorteners.  Again, according to BuddyMedia, engagement rates are 3 times higher for posts that used a full-length URL, most likely because people trust it more.
    3. Post photos and videos, but vary these with status updates, links, apps and questions.  Photos tend to get more impressions, likes and comments.
    4. Post in high traffic windows, such as between 9 a.m – 3 p.m. CST, but do experiment and find your own sweet spot.
    5. Consider posting on Fridays, because Facebook’s Happiness Index is 10% higher.
    6. Find your posting frequency “sweet spot”.  Mari posts 2-3 times per day and spaces these out by several hours.  Dan Zarella recommends that big brands post once every other day.  (Recall from Jeremiah above that posting too often was the #1 reason people unlike your page, so be sure to monitor your insights for unsubscribes.)
    7. Post manually within Facebook if at all possible, versus using auto-post features available in many third party apps such as NetworkedBlogs, Hootsuite, SocialOomph and Twitter. Not only does Facebook give these auto-posts slightly lower EdgeRank scores, but Facebook also collapses/aggregates 3P posts  under a single link such as “See 5 more posts from NetworkedBlogs” in the news feed.  NickyKriel just wrote a nice blog post on 3 Great Reasons to Post Manually on Facebook that gives more detail on this.
    8. Build your page’s culture.  Provide valuable content so you’ll be known as the source to get answers and solutions for your area of expertise.
    9. Make sure community managers employ a consistent, friendly engagement policy, such as replying within 2 hours, replying to every post, using first names, stripping out spam, and encouraging “neighborhood watch”.

    Mari noted that once your Facebook business page has 500-1000 fans, it reaches a tipping point where it begins to get real traction.  Until then, use the tips outlined in her 21 Creative Ways to Increase Your Facebook Fanbase.  Once your page does gain critical mass, get creative to raise its visibility even more.  For example,

    • Mari sometimes has “Fan Page Friday“, where she allows people to post links to their blog, fan page, website, @tags, photos, etc.
    • Social Media Examiner has “Expert Friday” where they have a subject matter expert available for 1 hour to answer live Q&A on their fan page.
    • Set up “Office Hours” where you are live on your page.  (Consider promoting this on your profile image or photo strip.)  You can do live video or live chat using tools such as Vpype, Livestream, JustinTV, Ustream and Linqto.  (See more on Livestream and Ustream in Steve’s talk below.)

    Finally, track and test everything you do daily and over time so you’ll uncover what works best for you and your fans.

    Steve Garfield – How to Create On-the-Fly Videos to Enhance Your Social Media Content

    Steve GarfieldSteve Garfield, videoblogging pioneer and author of Get Seen, promised numerous tips for putting videos online, and he did not disappoint.

    He emphasized that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get started.  In fact, begin with the camera you have, like your webcam or your smartphone.  The iPhone4, Droid X and Nokia N8 all record great quality HD video.  Even the new iMac has an HD webcam.  Here are many of the tips that Steve mentioned during his talk:

    1. Good alternatives to the Flip are the Sony Bloggie, Kodak Playsport, Kodak Playfull and Nokia N8.  Although Cisco has discontinued the Flip, there is still demand for standalone pocket HD videocameras.  One reason is that only 25% of people have smartphones with HD video. Plus, you might prefer using a pocket HD videocam if you want to conserve your smartphone battery, or if you’d like to give cameras to your team to use. 
    2. Both YouTube and Facebook have options to either record from a webcam or to upload your already recorded video.  When recording from a webcam, do check the quality because it varies depending on your computer and your connection.
    3. Use Livestream or Ustream to stream live.  Both are free as web interface versions, and they also have paid fuller-featured versions available as a desktop app.  Steve now uses the desktop apps exclusively because of the improved connection and video quality, as well as the enhanced features.  The Ustream ProducerPro desktop version even has the ability to have multiple cameras without an additional hardware solution such as TriCaster.
    4. You can also do live streaming from a smartphone.  (Only 7% of the audience had ever tried this.) Steve sees this “happenstance broadcasting” as a big opportunity and encouraged people to try it. You’re not encumbered by a laptop or huge camera – you just walk around with your smartphone. Use Qik (just acquired by Skype) or Ustream Broadcaster on your smartphone to do this. For better quality, try to get on wifi instead of using your phone’s cell service.
    5. The latest iMovie version makes video editing and direct sharing very simple. You can save directly to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and CNN iReport.  Apple just announced it’s working on a new version of Final Cut Pro, which combines current Final Cut Pro features and iMovie features. PC people seem to like Adobe Premiere.
    6. CNN iReport, a user-generated section of CNN.com, presents another big opportunity.  You share your video on CNN’s iReport page and it appears live.  If CNN producers like it, they pass it on to CNN.com.  If those producers like it, they then pass it on to CNN television.
    7. Use Wetoku to record side-by-side remote interviews. You sign in and get an invite code, which you email to your interviewee.  She clicks on it and then pops up on the other side of the screen. When the interview is over, you save it and put the embed code anywhere you want.
    8. To make videos with a completely different look and feel, consider using Stupeflix for remixed video themes, or Xtranormal or Goanimate for editable animated videos.

    Lots of tips from Steve – pick one and give it a try!

    Final note:  Once again, Mike Stelzner has put together a fantastic lineup of speakers and the summit is running like clockwork. (This is the third Social Media Examiner summit I’ve attended.) I appreciate the pdfs, recordings, LinkedIn group and other supporting resources.  Jessamin (sp?) keeps things on track and is a pleasure to listen to.  Lots of twitter folks are sending out helpful tweets and some are using storify to compile them in a meaningful way. (What would we do without hashtags??) If history repeats itself, Mari Smith’s tweets in particular will be enormously helpful with links to additional resources to complement various presentations. Looking forward to the next 17 sessions.

    Lots of info presented in these first 4 sessions.  What new idea or tool will you run with?

    -Suzanne Doughty
    Cedar Sage Marketing
    @suzanne_doughty
    Suzanne@CedarSage.com