Archive for category Twitter

Turning a customer service disaster into a win

It’s not often you see companies apologising when things go wrong. So when the CEO of a firm uses a promoted Tweets to link to a blog offering a mea culpa it’s worth taking a look at.

Airbnb is an online company that lets people rent extra space in their homes to overseas visitors, or lets people find unique places to stay anywhere in the world.  The San Francisco home of a “host” was allegedly trashed by someone staying there through the site, leading to the airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to issue a belated apology and outline new security procedures.

Make what will from the apology, but I find this a very clever way to build trust and alert more people to your company. The first I’d ever heard of airbnb was the Tweet which said: “We screwed up and we’re sorry. Here’s how we’re making it right: Naturally I had a look, and now I’m pretty interested in their method of house swapping. Social media win!

There is the cynic in me who says this could be a clever way for a company to promote security procedures, even so does shows how being straight with the public when after a company has acted poorly can be a lot more useful than putting up shutters and trying to cover things up.

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Celtics score online

Worshipping your sporting team is not something you grow out of. Even as an adult there’s a period each season when you get into that zone where you want to lap up every piece of information related to your team during that incessant period between matches.

Social media is fast helping to fill that void, but it’s incredible how many sporting organisations are denying themselves constant coverage by sticking with the stock standard website with fixtures, player profiles, news and member info.

One team that’s doing it right is NBA giant Boston Celtics. With sell-out crowds a given, the Celtics realised it could use social media to reach out to those fans who couldn’t make it to it’s constantly sold out games. It also recognised a lot of these fans were tweeting about the games or commenting on the website as they watched on television.

The club turned its website into a virtual TD Banknorth Garden where fans can congregate on game days and spend the intermediate time lapping behind the scenes stuff, the team’s history, stats and of course merchandise and ticketing information. It goes to show what a team can do if it has more flexibility and ownership of their websites and aren’t restricted to a cookie cutter approach by their leagues.

The Celtic’s Facebook page has more than 3.2 million fans and features weekly articles, interviews, ticket opportunities and its popular 3-Point Play, an interactive stats prediction game that fans can play against each other. Over on YouTube the team has a rather more modest following of around 4400 but that’s probably because the videos, including post-game wraps, interviews and 3-Point Play updates can be seen on the Facebook page. The Celtics have almost 130,000 Twitter followers who receive live game updates, team news, heads up on ticket sales.

All in all there’s plenty for even the biggest Celtic fans to sink their teeth into and feel like they’re part of the team.

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Twitter flies high at Gatwick

Twitter’s use as a customer service tool is nothing new. I’ve occasionally tweeted my dissatisfaction with my telco or broadband plan, only for someone from the relevant companies to tweet back and offer to help.

Social media is a great way to gauge what people are saying about your business and to engage with them in return. However, building a social media presence takes time. So what’s a quick way to encourage people to use Twitter to provide real-time feedback?

Gatwick Airport came up with an award-winning answer. London’s second-biggest airport has signs and monitors in its terminals asking patrons “Are you on Twitter? Get in touch with us @gatwick_airport and let us know about your experience at Gatwick today”.

The airport already responds to comments on Twitter, however it claims this takes it one step further by actually integrating social media into the physical space of the airport, allowing feedback to customers when they need it. It’s a brave move considering airports are conducive to anger or stress.

The scheme, which is intended to run 24/7, recently earned a gong at the Econsultancy’s Innovation Awards 2010 in the Innovation in Online Customer Service category. As the judges remarked it’s “a great way of transforming something boring into something interesting”.

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Another social media boo boo…

Time and time again we see it, people and brands making foolish mistakes with significant repercussions within the world of social media. Nestle famously botched things up for themselves by demanding a fake Kit Kat commercial (produced by Greenpeace) slamming them for their use of Palm Oil, be removed from the web. The video which up until that point was far from a viral success, suddenly went around the globe faster than Greenpeace could have dreamt it to. All thanks to Nestle ruffling feather. The public barrage aimed at Nestles poor handling of the case and sudden attention on their use of Palm Oil did not do them any favours and is now a case study that I personally feel every client should take note of.

One would think that with such a large brand going through such a public PR battle via social channels, some lessons would be learnt.

Apparently not.

Fashion designer Kenneth Cole is the latest to thoughtlessly act via a social media platform and surprise surprise, is now watching his brand fall from grace. Kenneth made the very foolish choice to hijiack a hashtag in Twitter to promote his latest collection. Now hashtag hijacking is not rare, but it’s use can not be taken lightly. To do it requires very strategic thinking or it can backfire. Like in this case. See image below:

The Cairo hashtag was being used as a news source to share events from troubled Eygpt. The most insensitive thing about this, is that a significant amount of people are losing their lives due to the unrest. This is no time at all for a brand, representing something as irrelevant as fashion, to hijack a hashtag where concerned users are sharing serious content.

Bad move.

But I will give credit to Kenneth Cole for addressing his stupidity via an apology post. Despite it seeming to be heartfelt, he has opened himself up to an onslaught of criticism. See the comments here.

Surely it’s time that we, as brands (and even individuals – no need to remind us all of Stephanie Rice’s Twitter mishap where she lost her Jaguar sponsorship), learn that as we join online conversations we are involving ourselves in a very transparent and dynamic environment. We must think logically and strategically and above anything else, we must use some common sense.


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Floods see social media come of age as a news source

For all the blanket television news coverage of the Queensland floods, I hardly recall any practical information being relayed to assist those who become impacted as the flood waters spread.

The television networks were inevitably obsessed the human drama of it all, reacting to what had already happened in an almost voyeuristic fashion. Of course that’s what news services do, but shouldn’t they also have informative value?

Radio stations, particularly the ABC, did an excellent job in relaying police and State Emergency Service information regarding road closures, evacuations and other safety information. But as the tragedy unfolded it became evident how social media can play an invaluable role in keeping people informed.

YouTube videos of the horrendous flash flooding in Toowoomba were being memed across Twitter and Facebook before the TV networks were able to grasp what was going on. Then, throughout the rolling news coverage, the networks showed videos taken from YouTube and other online sources, often without attribution – old media was using new media, but seemed too afraid to acknowledge it.

To be fair, a lot of people were tweeting what they were seeing on their television screens, and quite a few mainstream media organisations such as the ABC and commercial radio and television stations were relaying news via Facebook and Twitter – some it more informative than was being broadcast.

As the above ABC News story shows, social media was used very effectively by the emergency services to keep people informed and is credited with saving lives. It also helped people track down missing friends and relatives and provided an indispensable tool to drum up volunteers and let people know where they could get help.

But there was some misinformation spread online; such as claims of water contamination and bursting dams and false reports about bodies being found. That said this sort of thing always finds a way into mainstream media reports in the haste to be first with the news. On the plus side the police were able to quash these rumours almost as quickly as they appeared via social media.

The key to using social media in an emergency is to apply your own common sense to decipher what you’re reading and where possible to confirm it via the radio or credible social media sources as the emergency services and radio station Twitter accounts.

And when in doubt, don’t pass on any rumours that you can’t confirm.

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What goes online in Vegas…

If ever there’s a travel destination that was going to embrace social media in a unique way it’s Las Vegas. Last year it did just that with a social media scavenger hunt. Run by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor’s Authority during US National Travel and Tourism Week, the Las Vegas Social Media Scavenger Hunt involved 30 venues including stores, hotels and casinos that provided special deals to participants such as accommodation offers, two-for-one specials, merchandise and discounted show tickets.

Each venue had three-hour window to communicate a clue to participants via Visit Vegas’ Facebook and Twitter accounts. Participants had to be friends or followers of at least one of the accounts. Once they received a clue they had to show up at the venue and become a Facebook/Twitter friend/follower of that business in order to receive their reward – some of the venues offered bigger prizes to the first few people so show up.

This is an excellent way for businesses to use social media to not only build brand awareness, but to get people in store and build a customer database. While it proved successful for a mega tourist destination like Las Vegas (with tourists and residents taking part), I can imagine it working a treat for smaller destinations in Australia such as food and wine precincts. It could also be an effective tool for business associations or councils to attract residents to local shopping strips.

The key for such a scheme to be replicated is planning and promotion well before the event. All the businesses involved would have to be keen partakers and be aware of their obligations.

And it should be tailored to suit the kind of businesses involved. Large hotels have the staff to deal with a couple of hundred people coming through their doors in a three-hour period. If the hunt involves small businesses perhaps provide a longer window of opportunity or choose prizes that require little effort or paperwork to arrange, like show bags.

Finally, be sure the terms and conditions are straight forward so all participants know what is required in order to claim a prize.

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Instant sharing with Cortex

If you love sharing web content via social media (and let’s face it who doesn’t?) a nifty new app from Google is for you.

Cortex is an app that works with Google Chrome that lets you link to a webpage you’re viewing to your Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr accounts or even your iPad.

You simply hold your mouse button down (or finger for touchscreens) to bring up a pie menu with your selected social media and/or iPad logo.

Click on the one you want to link to, press enter and the link and page headline shows up as a status at your social media account. You also have an option to write a comment to go with the URL, which is automatically shortened if sending to Twitter.

Until recently Cortex was available by invite but is now available for download here.

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Earning a crust on Twitter

My eyes lit up the other day when I saw a Crust Pizza outlet was among the stores at a new shopping centre in my neighbourhood. I’d never had a pizza from Crust before, but I am familiar with the brand courtesy of Twitter.

An end of the week certainty, apart from Follow Friday, is #crustfreepizzafriday where scores of tweeps mention the company in the hope of scoring a free meal. It’s one of those initiatives that takes a while to get going. However there’s no denying it’s been an effective, yet incredibly cost-effective, way to get the chain’s brand out there. There are several pizza shops in my immediate area and Crust Pizza is not the closest. But the consumer animal and pizza fiend in me will most certainly see me walk through their doors to satisfy my curiosity, whether or not I score a free pizza. This is what Crust Pizza CEO Costa Anastasiadis had in mind when he turned to Twitter and Facebook to promote his stores.

In an interview with Smart Company, Anastasiadis said he knew the pizza giveaway campaign was working by the sheer amount of conversation being generated.

“We saw the recruitment rate rise, in terms of people on our pages, and we found people were not only commenting on the competition but on the business in general and we have continued to converse with them. It’s gone beyond the competition,” he said.

Using social media for brand awareness is becoming an increasingly effective marketing tool for big and small businesses and has proven to lead to an increase in sales. Multinationals like Sony and Dell have attributed social media campaigns to increased sales topping the million dollar mark. Smaller companies like Canadian shoemaker John Fluevog Boots & Shoes Ltd, reported a 40 per cent increase in sales after starting its own social marketing campaign in 2009.

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