Our top five posts in September

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At FreshNetworks we aim to bring you the best posts in social media, online communities and customer engagement online. In case you missed them, find below our top five posts in September.

1. Russian social network Vkontakte.ru plans global roll-out

Our most popular post is September revealed the global expansion plans of Russian social network VKontakte (В контакте). The social network serves 1.4 billion page views each day to its 42 million users, and attracts 14 million unique visitors each month. In one of the most engaged and fastest-growing social networking markets in the world, it is a force to be reckoned with. At the start of September, Vedomosti (Ведомости), the Russian business newspaper, reported that VKontakte had registered the domain www.vk.com and plans to begin marketing the social network in twelve new markets globally before the end of 2010. One to watch.

2. How to write your firm’s social media policy

In August we looked first at why a firm needs a social media policy, and then at how to write one.  At FreshNetworks, our approach is to keep things simple and to make them inclusive. Have a simple and clear policy on how employees should be using social media and make sure you include your employees in the process of drawing them up. And, perhaps most critically, it should encourage your employees to use social media more and not less. This post looked at five considerations we discuss with clients when developing their social media policies and guidelines that might help you if you are developing yours.

3. Thomson Holidays – how a blogger can impact your brand reputation

Andy Sharman went on holiday to Tunisia with Thompson Holidays in June this year and had, by his own account, a fairly disappointing time. Andy wrote about his experiences on his blog and within a couple of months his post had been read by over 10,000 different people and, perhaps more worryingly, was appearing above Thomson’s own sites for searches on Google for terms relating to Thomson and Tunisia. This is an example of how customers are using social media and how brands need to adapt to react. When they have complaints, a customer would traditionally enter into a private exchange with the brand. With social media, this pattern has been disrupted quite severely. Rather than a private exchange between Customer and Brand, the first few steps are public from the very beginning. From the minute the customer wants to complain their thoughts, experiences and attitudes (whether justified or not) are public knowledge. With social media, complaints have moved from being a customer service issue to being a branding and corporate reputation one. This post looks at how brands should react online to manage their reputation, when things go right and when things go wrong.

4. What to do once your firm’s social media policy is written

Building on our posts about why a firm needs a social media policy, and how to write one, this post looks at what to do once you have written your firm’s social media policy. It should be a living document, and critically one that your employees buy into an believe in. You want use of social media to become part of your employees lives. And you want your brand to benefit from this involvement, from having employees active in social media and from having conversations about them, you and your brand. So writing a policy is just the first step. This post discussed four steps to help ensure that, once you have it written, your firm’s social media strategy stays relevant and beneficial to your organisation.

5. Social media and customer service – some examples

In September, I ran a ‘masterclass’ in social media and customer service at the Call Centre Focus & Customer Strategy Conference 2009. The session looked first at the different types of social media that businesses use and the reasons for and benefits of this. The ROI that businesses can get from online customer service communities. And we then moved into some examples from customer service: some good, some bad and one just ugly. This post includes the presentation from that session and highlights examples from Zappos, Virgin Trains, Dell and United Airlines. We can all learn something from each of these.

Social media and customer service - some examples

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Image by JMC Photos via Flickr

Earlier this week we wrote about Thomson Holidays and how a blogger can impact your brand reputation and how with social media, complaints have moved from being a customer service issue to being a branding and corporate reputation one.

Earlier this week I was running a ‘masterclass’ in social media and customer service at the Call Centre Focus & Customer Strategy Conference 2009. The session looked first at the different types of social media that businesses use and the reasons for and benefits of this. The ROI that businesses can get from online customer service communities. And we then moved into some examples from customer service: some good, some bad and one just ugly. The slides below probably lose something without being presented but the case studies are interesting, each for different reasons.

  • Zappos. A ‘Good’ example, Zappos is great at microinteractions. They show how you can grow a customer-service centred organisation and the real value you get from interacting with people in social media. Traditional customer service has been private and one-to-one (typically by phone or letter). With social media you can interact with people in a public place (one-to-one-to-many). These ‘microinteractions’ can have huge impact on word-of-mouth.
  • Virgin Trains. Another ‘Good’ example that shows how you can make effective use of Twitter. Richard Baker is General Manager for Virgin Trains in Wales and North-West England, and he has been showing how individuals in a business can make effective use of Twitter to engage customers. We analysed his activity to show the mix across the seven ways businesses can use Twitter: sending out information on offers, informing people about what’s going on, responding to people and taking action, listening to what people  are saying about Virgin Trains, correcting inaccuracies in things other people are staying, educating people an, finally showing that you are human.
  • Dell is an example of ‘bad turned good’ and has moved from its period of ‘Dell Hell’ to being perhaps one of the best example of businesses having an integrated approach to social media. We discussed in the workshop the case of how Dell make $3 million on Twitter, and how their forums are so well used that peers are solving others’ problems and saving Dell significant amounts of money on support costs.
  • United Airlines. Finally we looked at the ‘ugly’ example of United Airlines and what happened when Dave Carroll had his $3,500 guitar broken on his way to a gig with his band Sons of Maxwell. He started to produce music videos about United Airlines which have each now been viewed by up to six million people.

These are just a small number of examples that businesses can learn from. The main advice from the session was to identify core business objectives at the moment and then experiment with social media in a controlled fashion to see what impact it can have against these.

Social media and customer service - some examples
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