Tag Archives: twitter for business

Facebook and Twitter: Out With the Old, In With the New

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com.

Facebook and Twitter for SMBsAt the turn of the decade, Facebook and Twitter were the two giants in social media. For all intents and purposes, they still are.

Yet back in 2010 (a simpler time for both sites, pre-IPO’s), both sites were generally untapped when it came to ad revenue and mass appeal for small businesses. As both sites continued to grow and shift their scope, all of that quickly changed.

The challenges each site faced were essentially different; Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook were out to show that his “social network” was more than just an experiment; meanwhile, Twitter was looking to prove that it could be a platform more meaningful than trending topics and celebrity gossip.

As both social giants look to roll out new ad platforms in the coming months, now is as good a time as any to reflect on what they’ve done to meet the needs of today’s businesses. Both sites have faced criticism from SMBs in the past; however, both for completely different reasons.

The Trouble with Twitter

The viability of Twitter as a money-making resource for SMBs has been up for debate for the past couple of years. While there’s little doubt that small businesses should have some sort of Twitter presence due to the ease of access, simplicity, and potential quick engagement with customers (both potential and existing), there’s no denying that ROI has always been a question mark for small business owners. Nobody’s contesting the fact that Twitter can be wildly entertaining; however, in a business landscape where dollars are tight and we don’t have much to spare in terms of resources, how much time and money can we really expect from the Twittersphere?

Facebook’s Follies

Likewise, Facebook awkwardly handled SMBs during the initial introduction of business-specific pages. In fact, their introduction coming so late in the game (circa-2010) represents a rather persistent problem that small business owners have faced with Facebook; that is, how they handle businesses.

We have to take into consideration, however, that Mark Zuckerberg never intended Facebook to represent some sort of immaculate business model. Prior to Facebook’s IPO, Zuckerberg sent a letter to investors in 2012 in which he said the following:

“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected. We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us.”

Zuckerberg was infamously hesitant when it came to advertising, dating back to Facebook’s earliest days when the young founder was still coding in his college dorm. Regardless, Zuckerberg quickly came around when Facebook’s public performance wasn’t meeting expectations. He needed the support of business, and fast.

Now we have two social giants looking to better serve the business community and their needs. A win-win situation, right? Looking at what each of them are planning to roll out in the coming weeks and months, we can assume so.

What’s New?

Facebook recently announced the roll-out of a new right-hand column ad spot in addition to their recently revised business pages. While Facebook’s company pages have been a work-in-progress for quite some time, the right-hand ad represents Zuckerberg’s attempt to step it up and breathe new life into a design that’s been accused of becoming stale. Furthermore, the larger size of these new ads could cause marketers to dish out more dough for such a coveted spot. With the new design boasting three times the former click-through rate, we’ll see if Facebook can back up the numbers.

Meanwhile, Twitter has some other tricks up their sleeve. The company plans to roll out roughly fifteen new ad products over the course of the next six months. This signals that Twitter is still trying to figure out how to get it right when it comes to commerce, but it also shows that they mean business. As Twitter has struggled post-IPO and is still looking to turn a profit, they certainly aren’t afraid to experiment and hopefully hit the target.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to SMBs, both Facebook and Twitter have a bit of spotty history. Regardless, the two social giants stand tall and small businesses are constantly looking for ways to get on their shoulders. Only time will tell what these new ad-rollouts mean in terms of dollars and cents; however, they most definitely illustrate the untapped potential when it comes to social media and small businesses.

Image via Flickr

About the Author

Megan TotkaMegan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Customers Complain On Twitter. Why Do 71% of Brands Ignore Them?

Consumers have an expectation that brands will listen to them on Twitter.  Gone are the days of sending off complaints via snail mail and waiting 6-8 weeks for a reply.  Now, customers can shoot off a 140-character tweet and expect a reply within minutes. New research by Maritz shows that nearly half of those who tweet a complaint at a brand expected the company to read and respond to their tweet.

Brands Not Responding To Customer Complaints via Maritz ResearchBut are brands listening and responding?  According to this study, just under one-third of consumers received a response from brands they tweeted.  Which means that 71% of companies are not listening (or responding) on Twitter, and are losing out on the “overwhelmingly positive” reaction of consumers when they feel that brands are hearing them.

When brands take the time to actually respond to consumers, 75% are satisfied with the response received.  Only a few – 15% – were “very or somewhat dissatisfied” with the company’s response.
75% of Customers Satisfied When Brands Respond via Maritz Research

86% of those who complain to brands on Twitter would “like or love” to hear from the brand regarding their complaint.  However, when consumers reach out for a specific reason, brands should be careful to respond to the actual complaint: “a striking 63 percent said they would hate or not like it if the company contacted them about something other than their complaint.”

Older Consumers More Likely To Expect Brands To Respond on Twitter via Maritz ResearchConsumer expectations for brands on Twitter also varied by age.  Older consumers were more likely to expect brands to respond via Twitter, especially those 55 and older. Younger consumers, while often more active on Twitter, were less hopeful that brands would respond to their complaints.  Women consumers over 35 were the happiest about receiving a response from brands; they liked hearing from the company 10% more than the average.

In simple terms, this is customer service on a newer and faster platform, where complaints and responses are public.  Brands can turn this to their advantage, and help build loyalty through the quality of their responses.

The airline industry offers great examples for how social media, including Twitter, can be a highly effective tool for customer service.  Royal Dutch Airlines KLM recently announced 24-hr social media customer service, and a recent ranking of US airlines in social media noted that Virgin America, JetBlue and SouthWest Airlines all saw a vast majority of positive comments on social media sites.

Maritz Research surveyed an online panel of 1,298 US consumers between September 9 and 12, 2011.  These consumers had pre-identified themselves as Twitter users who frequently tweet, had complained via Twitter about a company with whom they do business, and who were at least 18 years of age.

KLM Launches 24Hr Social Media Customer Service With Live Replies Via YouTube, Twitter

KLM Launches Social Media Customer Service Campaign

Another airline making serious waves in the social media space is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.  Their latest endeavour, meant to promote the launch of a new “24-hour service to social media,” involves posting videos on YouTube of live human responses to tweets sent to @KLM.  This innovative campaign was announced via Twitter on September 19 and ran from 12 noon until late in the evening, according to the KLM press release. While the campaign was running, any tweets sent to @KLM might receive a ‘KLM Live Reply’ – KLM employees at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport lined up holding letters to become a ‘living alphabet’ 140-character response.

“To show the world KLM’s helpful social media service, we’ve replaced normal Facebook and Twitter typed responses with a living alphabet made up of 140 KLM employees. This dedicated crew responds to tweets and posts in a unique way, by running around and assembling the answer live before your eyes, within the hour,” reports Social Times. The campaign was explained in more detail on YouTube, and the dozens of live replies were both uploaded to YouTube and tweeted.

How much effort did KLM put into the ‘Live Reply’ campaign? It involved 450 KLM volunteers, working in three shifts, to answer questions via Tweets, Facebook posts, or Hyves, with all responses using just 140 characters.  “Today’s campaign should show, in a special — and, more important, personal way — that we’re willing to go the extra mile for our customers,” said Martijn van der Zee, SVP E-commerce AF KLM.

Going forward, KLM will use social media to answer every customer message personally within one hour, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, in Dutch or English.  Customers can reach KLM through social media to ask any questions about their travel, and KLM will inform its ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ about the latest KLM news.

Was this an effective way for KLM to promote their new social media customer service capabilities?  And is the prospect of a live human response enough to get customers engaged and tweeting, and worth the impressive amount of manpower the effort required?


Virgin America’s Social Media Strategy Takes Off

Virgin America Embraces Social MediaThere’s no question that Virgin America has embraced technology and social media.  Referred to as a “snazzy airline” by Mashable, it has a plane named by hashtag (#nerdbird), was the first airline to offer Wi-Fi fleetwide and outlets near every seat, and has run promotions using social media platforms as diverse as Twitter, Foursquare, Loopt, Groupon and Klout.

Lessons from Virgin America’s social media success on a variety of platforms:

Know your audience.

“A lot of our first support was from the tech community, and everything has stemmed from that,” says Abby Lundardini, Virgin America’s director of communications. Being based in Silicon Valley, partnering with up-and-coming social media platforms – like Twitter – just made sense. The brand launched back in 2007, when social media was just taking off.  Virgin’s first social accounts were set up in 2008, their social media team was created in 2009, and the company has been launching innovative social media campaigns ever since.

Virgin America Caters To Tech Savvy Audience Via Social MediaJill Fletcher, Virgin’s social media manager, told Mashable “70% of our bookings come from our web channels, so our fliers are really social media savvy and tech savvy.” As a result, Virgin is quick to use new technology or platforms in the daily deals, gelocation or social networking space to reach these consumers.  According to Fletcher, “we know that those types of campaigns resonate with our fliers.”

To keep their tech savvy audience happy, Virgin consistently embraces new technology on the airline, adding fleet-wide Wi-Fi before anyone else, and recently launching a re-vamp of their in-flight entertainment system.

Virgin also looks for ways to reward their audience; last year the airline partnered with Klout to provide free flights to Twitter ‘influencers.’ The plan? Find people who are already making waves in social media, convince them your brand is great, and sit back while they tell their large audiences why they should fly Virgin.

Know your voice.

Porter Gale, Virgin’s VP of Marketing, told Forbes that the brand voice is “irreverent and a little bit cheeky” to keep passengers engaged, and differentiate from the norm. “In everything we do, we try to maintain that enthusiasm and tone,” says Fletcher, and that means a consistency across all social media platforms.

Allocate more resources where you find success.

Virgin America is pretty much a superstar on Twitter.  The brand was one of the launch partners for Promoted Tweets, and saw their following grow as a result. Virgin finds a high level of engagement on Twitter because “it’s quick, and it’s easy to engage,” according to Lundardini. The @VirginAmerica account facilitates a two-way conversation between the brand and followers, in addition to offering deals and tips.

Virgin has used Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets to get the word out about #FlyMoreGiveBack, a hashtag sale that has donates $5 per booking to charity.  Last year the sale led to Virgin’s fourth highest sales day, and the proceeds went to an education charity.  This year, the donations will to go Stand Up To Cancer.

Virgin also hosted a Twitter scavenger hunt, using #FlyTheBeard, at a San Francisco Giants game to celebrate the company’s fourth anniversary.  The Twitter feed offered photo clues and challenged fans to locate the flight attendants at the game, who were all sporting beards in honor of star pitcher Brian Wilson.  The winner received Giants/Virgin swag and the chance to win a free flight.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

“We like to do new and interesting things to amplify word of mouth buzz,” says Lundardini.  Virgin is willing to take risks in social media, whether it’s related to customer care, communications or advertising.

Last August, Virgin ventured into geolocation for the first time and partnered with Loopt to offer a “2-for-1 Tacos and Tickets” promotion. The campaign coincided with the addition of two new destinations in Mexico, and once fans checked in via Loopt at either of two branded taco trucks – in San Francisco and Los Angeles – they received a digital promotional code which delivered 2-for-1 flight tickets and 2-for-$1 tacos. This results of this social media promotion? It was Virgin America’s fifth highest sales day in 2010, showing 1300 checkins in San Francisco within four hours, and proceeds from the tacos were donated to a chihuahua rescue center.

In April, the airline started offering points that were redeemable for prizes to customers who checked in to Terminal 2 in the San Francisco Airport on Facebook Places or Foursquare.  (See our blog post about that campaign.)

Daily deals came next, with Virgin stepping up to become the first airline to use Groupon last February. The promotion was meant to celebrate Virgin’s new service to Chicago, and offered $77 worth of airfare for $7.  When the tickets sold out in eight minutes, the results were clear; the company has participated in other daily deals offers since then, including a recent promotion with Gilt City.

Virgin America also partnered with a social meme site for the first time when it announced a new service to Orlando.  Sticking with the family vacation theme (home of Disney), the airline created a photo contest for ‘akward family vacation photos’ using the site AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com.  Voting revealed the ‘best’ pictures, and the winners got to fly the first Virgin America flight to Orlando with none other than Richard Branson, in full family vacation garb (Hawaiian shirt and fanny pack included.)

The results of putting these social media lessons into practice:

The brand is seeing impressive growth and engagement. “We’ve grown tremendously in not only the revenue which we bring in, but also the number of fans,” Fletcher told Mashable. “We have one of the highest growth rates on Twitter and Facebook out of any domestic airline.”

Social Media ROI: Ads Provide a Big Return for KFC

KFC Social Media Presence Sees Real ROI KFC, the fried chicken restaurant franchise founded by Colonel Sanders, has fully embraced social media activity. And it’s paying big dividends. A study by Ogilvy found that consumers who were exposed exclusively to social media ads for KFC were seven times more likely to spend more than the average consumer.

However, this impressive statistic doesn’t come from a strict corporate focus on social media ROI.  Instead, Rick Maynard, manager of public relations at KFC, says the social media team isn’t required to prove a return on investment. Maynard said the company doesn’t spend much time trying to calculate the value of its 3.4 million fans on Facebook or nearly 44,000 followers on Twitter, but he believes the use of social media to cultivate relationships with customers “has a real business output.”

Rather than focusing on social media ROI, the goals of the corporate social media team – which is managed internally – are:

  • to connect and engage with KFC followers
  • cultivate relationships
  • respond to any inquiries
  • have some fun – ex. asking questions on the KFC Facebook page, like “There’s one piece of chicken left in the bucket. What do you do?”

KFC fans are more than willing to respond, and sometimes even initiate brand interaction. Maynard said the Colonel – who passed away quite some time ago – receives marriage proposals and has been invited to weddings. While he could not make those celebrations, of course, the company sent buckets of chicken for the reception. Fans also tweet photos to the company showing off their Colonel Sanders tattoos.

Product introductions from KFC always incorporate an element of social media, according to a recent post from SmartBlog on Restaurants.  That ranges from a $20,000 college scholarship contest on Twitter to the launch of KFC’s Double Down sandwich. Thousands of people commented about the sandwich launch on Facebook, others used Twitter to arrange group visits to restaurants to sample it, and dozens created YouTube videos of people trying the new sandwich.

KFC is clearly engaging fans through social media; is there any need for a deeper focus on ROI, or a way to measure that engagement?  Maynard said “It’s a very important customer-service element, and that’s enough for us.”  Do you agree?

Customer Feedback on Display: Was Domino’s Billboard A Success?

Digital Marketing: Dominos Pizza Times Square Customer Service Tracker BillboardDomino’s Pizza recently experimented with soliciting and posting customer feedback in the most public of spaces: a giant billboard in Times Square, NYC.

The aim of this digital marketing campaign: To get feedback from customers so the company can improve its pizza and delivery service, and to support the company’s “Oh Yes We Did” campaign.

The plan: Dominos invested in a 125-foot-wide billboard in Times Square, and broadcast customer comments from the Domino’s Tracker online.  Customers could submit comments and photos, and were notified via email if their feedback was posted on the billboard. The first comments were posted on July 25, and the last day shown on the tracker website was August 25.

While the feedback wasn’t shown in realtime – comments were generally posted 10-12 hours after delivery – customers were able to see their submissions go up (thanks to the email notifications) if their comment was chosen for display.

The billboard was also featured in a Domino’s Pizza TV commercial, showing two real NY-area Domino’s managers reacting to the billboard on a busy night.
[iframe width=”560″ height=”345″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/W5Q2Y2ZQ-4Y?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ /]

The results of this display of transparency:

  • the customer messages were seen by 500,000 passers-by
  • 80% of feedback on the billboard was positive, according to Domino’s spokesman Chris Brandon
  • 20% of feedback was “constructive”
  • customers feel that they are being heard, and that the brand is responding to their needs

Gene Galindo, marketing director of 53 Dominos locations, told SmartBlog on Restaurants that “social media gives us a chance to make things right” and the campaign makes it clear that “Domino’s is extremely transparent.”

The company is no stranger to digital and social media efforts, with a national Domino’s Facebook page with over 3.6 million fans, along with Facebook and Twitter pages for many of the individual franchises.  There is also a special deals website, Domino’s Pizza Giveaways, which offers coupons, specials, and freebies to a target audience.

Ben & Jerry’s Twitter Promotion: ‘Short & Sweet’ Tweets Support Fair Trade

Ben & Jerry's Promotes Fair Trade via TwitterBen & Jerry’s is no newcomer to what Forbes calls the “new era of movement marketing.”  Their latest endeavour aims to encourage fans to raise awareness about Fair Trade Month (this October) by keeping their tweets “short and sweet.”

Fans can sign up to take part in Ben & Jerry’s initiative, and everytime they tweet, the unused characters will be donated to the ‘Fair Tweets’ cause.  If the tweet is short enough, it will be completed with a pre-set message about Fair Trade that prompts others to participate.

The campaign originates from Ben & Jerry’s mission to use Fair Trade ingredients in their products, and according to Forbes, this is the just latest of their “Social Mission” programs.  The idea is that every purchase of Ben & Jerry’s helps to support Fair Trade farming, and these Twitter messages will increase awareness of Fair Trade practices.  And to top if off, Ben & Jerry’s will reinforce its reputation as “the only dairy dessert with a conscience.”

The company’s social media presence is fairly strong already: Ben & Jerry’s official Twitter account, @cherrygarcia, has over 22,000 followers, and the company’s Facebook page has over 3 million fans.

Will ‘Fair Tweets’ catch on and increase awareness for the brand on Twitter?  Or will the pre-set messages be a turn-off or nuisance as they pop up on users’ Twitter feeds? Let us know what you think.

A Doughy Tale of Social Media ROI: Twitter + Humor Helps Naked Pizza Find Both Customers and Investors

Naked Pizza Uses Twitter To Gain Investors, CustomersFor its light-hearted Tweets over the years, Naked Pizza has always been one of our favorite foodies to follow (see our previous post). An article in The Wall Street Journal this week reinforces our view, demonstrating yet again how the New Orleans-based chain known for its all-natural  ingredients has achieved striking results from its social media strategy.

Besides bringing in customers, Naked Pizza’s tweets have prompted more than 8,000 people in the past year and a half to inquire about investing in the company or opening a franchise. About a quarter of those folks have invested in the company, according to co-owner Robbie Vitrano. That’s helped the franchiser open 20 stores across the country and the world, with another 450 soon to come.

“Gettin’ our global on this yr: stores to open sydney, mumbai, beirut & some other places we can barely spell. #nakedrevolution” was one of its tweets this summer. And shortly thereafter, “first person to name their newborn superbiotic – free pizza for life!” (that refers to the fact that its pies are made from a crust of 10 grains, prebiotic agave fiber, & probiotics).

The idea to use Twitter came from one of their early investors, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Frustrated at the difficulties involved in re-establishing the business after Hurricane Katrina and by not finding much interest from potential franchisees, the owners followed his advice.

As they say, the rest is history. Customers found the offbeat tweets tasty enough to get them to try the pizza and pack the take-out place. Investors found their way in soon afterward as Naked Pizza’s tweets such as “one more glass of wine and I will b buying pop tarts from that damn vending machine for dinner, again” were retweeted frequently.

Do humorous posts on Twitter work, or do the jokes risk falling flat or turning away potential customers? While this strategy might not work for everyone, Naked Pizza has used a bit of social media ‘attitude’ to gain plenty of attention.

Let us know your thoughts – could this work for your brand?

CNET Has Increased its Facebook and Twitter Audience 6x — by Focusing on the Basics

CNET has built its Facebook audience 6x in the last year with promotions like this one.One year ago, CNET hired Nathan Bransford  as social media manager to revitalize the brand’s social media efforts.  The result of his one-man endeavor?  A 6X increase in audience on Twitter and Facebook. CNET increased its Facebook likes from 69,000 to 428,000 (up 520%), while its Twitter followers grew from 24,000 to 105,000 (a 338% gain).

Bransford spoke recently at SES/Connected Marketing Week, and explained how he produced the dramatic jumps on the social sites, as reported by ClickZ.  He said there is no social media magic bullet that will lead to success.  Nor does it require money or a big advertising campaign. “What’s important is being consistently good, and consistently giving people things that they want,” he said.

Bransford attributes his success to focusing on these simple and basic rules of engagement:

  • Make sure to include Facebook Like and Twitter Follow buttons in the site toolbar. Make them available on every page.
  • Optimize the size and look of the buttons.
  • Measure results and fix what isn’t working.
  • Don’t over-message.  Bransford posts four to six times a day on Facebook and sends 10 to 20 tweets times. More than that will cause people to tune out and quit following you.
  • Use tools to schedule posts and maintain an even flow.
  • Track links and traffic — for your own activities and for your competitors’.

Bransford says organic growth can work by itself.  Let us know if you agree!

Financial Services Firms Prefer Twitter Over Facebook

Twitter More Popular Than Facebook With Financial Services CompaniesA new survey by market research firm Corporate Insight reveals that Twitter is ahead of Facebook in the financial services sector, and is “the most popular third-party network employed by financial services companies.” Ten months ago, Twitter was used by 57% of the 85 companies surveyed; as of two weeks ago, this number rose to 67%.  Over the same time period, the percentage of these companies with Facebook increased only from 56% to 59%.

Corporate Insight began measuring social media statistics back in 2008, and their first report – in Autum 2008 – showed that 32% of companies tracked had a Facebook presence, and only 15% were using Twitter. This shows Twitter’s impressive growth among firms in the financial services sector in comparison to Facebook, which has seen slower rates of adoption in this industry, despite remaining the most popular social network worldwide.

Why has Twitter emerged as the more valuable social network for the financial services industry?  Alan Maginn, a senior analyst at Corporate Insight, told the Financial Times that  “Facebook is more of a relationship-driven community, whereas Twitter is more content-driven,” and the latter allows firms to “concentrate more on the value of content they produce.”

The types of companies tracked by Corporate Insight include banks, credit card issuers, self-directed and full service brokerages, mutual fund companies and annuity providers.