Tag: twitter

7 Barriers to Social Media in Business

Dilbert cartoon strip making fun of the fact that business social media policies can prevent social media implementation from working
Dilbert cartoon from http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-09-13/

My friend sent me a link to this Dilbert strip this morning and it made me laugh. It got me thinking about how company policy or cultural norms can be barriers to successful social media marketing. Here are the top 7 barriers to using social media in business:

1. Trust

Dilbert captures it perfectly.

If you trust your staff to speak to customers on the phone, in emails, letters and in person, why not trust them to speak to customers on social media? I can understand some nervousness because social platforms are public and therefore the conversation is in front of the world, but nowadays there is nothing stopping a customer publishing your other communications to them on their own networks. At least if you’re involved in the conversation your opinion can be heard.

2. The wrong people

My personal view and the approach that is becoming more popular and is regularly being proven as best practice, is that customer service teams, NOT marketing teams should manage company social networks. Think about your call centre operatives- they are trained to the highest standards in customer care, they know how to speak to your customers and they know your products and services inside out. So if you give them a little bit more training, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to extend their skills to what is just another customer communications route.

3. Training

When social media is new to a business, it’s prudent to provide training on:

  • Processes for dealing with enquiries
  • Complaints and crisis management
  • Systems
  • The written word (spelling, punctuation and grammar) and
  • Tone of voice and communications style.

Appropriate training will deliver successful social media. It will also support you to manage staff performance.

4. Software/ systems

Even if you’re not ‘speaking’ on social media, every company should be ‘listening’ to what is being said about them. There are many excellent social media management systems on the market such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social. Here’s a really good infographic that compares the features of the top social media monitoring tools.

5. Time

One of the first questions I’ve always been asked when I’ve introduced social media to businesses, is “How long will it take each day?” There really is no right answer to this question. It takes as long as it takes. If you don’t set aside time, your social media will fail.

6. Management

Senior managers need to understand and embrace any change programme for it to become truly embedded within the company. Implementing a major communications change by introducing social media needs understanding and support from the top. Not every CEO has to tweet or become an ‘Influencer’ on LinkedIn, but it’s good if they at least comprehend the need for Social and its real measures of success.

7. Strategy

I think that say 3 years ago it was OK to just start tweeting and see what happened but that’s not the case anymore. Especially in organisations where social media management is shared across different teams who all need awareness of the overall goal and the activities involved in reaching it.

Successful conversations on social media rely on engaging content. Content doesn’t produce itself and it needs preparation and planning. Without a plan, how do you know if you’re achieving your objectives?

What other barriers to using social media in business have you come across?



Have you Googled yourself lately?

Me and My Web Shadow- a must-read for anyone wanting to manage their online reputation, by Antony Mayfield
Me and My Web Shadow- a must-read for anyone wanting to manage their online reputation, by Antony Mayfield

I was recently at a presentation about digital communications and when the speaker asked if anyone had Googled themselves lately there were sniggers in the room. Maybe my fellow delegates were thinking that Googling oneself is a sign of being ‘big-headed’ and egotistical? I didn’t snigger- putting my name into search engines has been something I’ve done for years. It’s a really important part of managing your personal online reputation.

The presentation reminded me of a book I read in 2010: Me and My Web Shadow by Antony Mayfield. You can buy it here on Amazon– I recommend that you do.

When you browse the contents page you’d be forgiven for thinking that any chapter called ‘Privacy and Facebook’ would be out of date before it was even published, and you’d be right. In fact, Mayfield acknowledges this in the introduction- it’s a fact of life that content about technology and the web will be outdated shortly after it’s written.

That said, there are some fundamental principles that Mayfield writes about that if followed, will help you manage what is written about you on the internet, and we all know that most employers check job candidates out online, before they even read their CV.

Mayfield cites his Top Ten Rules for Managing Your Web Shadow. I’ve summarised these into my Top 5:

1. Search yourself regularly

Put your name into Google and other search engines on a regular basis to see what comes up about you. If something comes up that has been written about you that is not particularly positive, you need to take steps to address this…

2. Be in control – be the best source of information about yourself

When a new social network enters the market, even if you don’t understand it or see the relevance to you yet, sign up and take your preferred username before anyone else can.

If you’re present on multiple networks, Google is likely to bring all your profiles or content up first (and let’s face it, no-one looks past the first page of Google- it’s the best place to be). Mayfield says: “If you are first in Google then you always have the first say about yourself”. If you are the source then you can be sure the information about you is accurate, current and always positive.

3. Know your networks and be useful in them

So if you’re a PR professional, it’s important for you to be present in all the networks, media, forums, groups, pages, circles etc that all your PR colleagues (and competitors) are in. How will you hear what’s going on if you’re not present? And the next step up from simply being there is to be useful. Provide content, whether you’ve created it or curated it, that your network will find engaging and relevant.

4. Behave differently on your professional and personal networks

Unless your professional and personal lives are one and the same, it’s important to distinguish your behaviour in the online spaces you inhabit. For example, I don’t say anything about work on Facebook and I don’t particularly want photos of me out in a bar popping up on LinkedIn. The key to getting this right is understanding privacy settings and making sure you regularly check that your privacy hasn’t slipped.

5. Remember that your web shadow is a permanent record

What goes online stays online! If you don’t want a permanent record of what you’re thinking about saying, don’t say it. Don’t tweet when you’ve been drinking or when you’re angry. Although content can be deleted after it’s published, the chances are that if it’s something you wanted to delete, it’s already been retweeted or shared many times over, so it’s too late to be un-done.

Managing your online reputation is as important as how you present yourself in the real world. They are in fact, one and the same. Google yourself now and if you’re surprised by what you find, take action to put it right.

Using social media for customer services

I’ve been having problems with Sky broadband for years but only recently decided to switch providers. Not being familiar with the moving process I gave Sky a call and was really surprised by the recorded intro message…

It was a Sunday, around noon. The recorded message said something like “We may not be able to help you on the phone today but our web and social media teams are here for you” (forgive me Sky if I’ve mis-quoted you).

My immediate thought went to the irony of the situation. I wouldn’t have been ringing Sky if my broadband worked and I could contact their web or social teams online.

This got me thinking about how Sky has changed it’s customer service model. It has prioritised online and social channels over traditional contact routes. And to be fair, this shift seems to be working. I had a timely, positive interaction with their Help team on Twitter just a few weeks ago.

But there are many businesses that are dipping a toe into social media, who aren’t willing to adapt their processes and who insist that if you wish to complain you should do so via their ‘accepted’ channels.

For example one business advises customers on their website, that they’ll get “the best level of service” if they report repairs or other queries by phone, letter, email, fax or face to face.

So in essence, Twitter in this case, is an okay customer communications channel, but only if the communication is about anything other than customer services. 

Historically an excuse for this could have been a lack of integration between social media platforms and business software systems meaning ‘unofficial’ contact couldn’t be recorded and therefore reported on, but I’m not sure this is a valid excuse today.

I guess another reason for this is the fear around letting customer service teams loose on social media. Often, social feeds are still largely administered by Communications or Marketing teams. Sky gets it right by putting their technical team in front of the customer, even in such a public place as Twitter. Customer expectations have shifted- we expect to be able to have conversations with brands in the social space and get the right answer at the right time, from the right member of staff.

So what I’m saying is, if you’re going to bother using Twitter or other social media to communicate with customers, make sure you’ve got the processes in place and systems support, to meet expectations, otherwise you should probably re-think whether it’s worth getting into.