I bought a blender a few months ago. An Oster bar blender. I paid $39.99 at Target. My old Cuisinart blender gave up the ghost and a couple days later I was hustling through Target when I saw a big display of these blenders, so I picked up my new blender. And barely two months later, the plastic base had worn out. So I got on their Facebook page, sent Oster a close-up photo and a description of the damage, then assumed that would be the end of it. After all, this was a $40.00 blender and I’ve had plenty of disappointments when dealing with the social media accounts of large corporations. Trek bicycles, for instance, is great at telling the world that there’s a handful of men that get paid to travel the world and race on Trek bicycles, yet they’re lousy at the rest of their social media.
About three hours later I received a reply from Oster. Then a phone call from a very courteous gentleman. After discussing the issue, Oster decided to send me a new blender.
“Um, all I really need is a new plastic collar.”
“Well, we’d like the whole thing back so we can see if there’s any manufacturing adjustment we need to make.”
“Well sure, of course.”
About ten days later I received a brand new blender from Oster. I packed up the damaged blender in the same box, and the next day off it went.
And that is a great example of customer service and the efficacy of social media. I recently gave a presentation on my services and issued this statement: “Your customers would much rather interact with your company through social media than through email or your website. And the potential client wasn’t sure that was accurate. And I’m here to say that it is. If your business is on social media, you better make sure that it’s social and that you’re using it to take care of your customers.
And now I need to crush some ice.
“Help! I’m in Luxembourg attending a conference and I’ve been robbed, even my passport has been taken. Please help!”
“Yeah, right” I laughed as I scooted the cursor to the delete button. Well hold on. Macon is a professional photographer and he’s travelled extensively. I reread the email. Luxembourg, conference, robbed, passport, help. Well maybe this isn’t a joke. It’s not like he’s asking for a credit card or a bank routing number. So if he’s really in trouble why hasn’t he just gone to the embassy? Perhaps he has a copy of the passport at the house and he needs a photocopy? Hhhmmm. Even though it was 7:20 on a Saturday morning I figured a phone call wouldn’t hurt, just to make sure. After all, if his email was hacked, everyone in his database got this email and he’s probably awake from all the phone calls he’s getting. But he’s probably been hacked.
“Macon? Uh, are you in Luxembourg?”
Of course it was a hack. And a few days later we got a similar email from someone supposedly in the Philippines and they were asking for 1,500 British pounds. How does this happen? Unfortunately there’s no easy answer but there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. The first is to exercise vigilance, especially when you’re on a public Wi-Fi such as Starbuck’s. When on a public Wi-Fi, pretend that everyone in the area is reading over your shoulder. What would you want them to see? Certainly not your mail, your bank account number or your personal photographs so keep off of anything personal while on a hot spot because it’s all vulnerable. In Macon’s case he’s lucky that it was merely a prank email that was distributed because it could have been much worse. Change your passwords every three months, protect your personal information and for Pete’s sake, if someone emails you a link and says “Ya gotta see this!” Chances are, you probably don’t.
Ravelry. Ever heard of it? Me neither, until I was searching out relevant social media site news and came across that name. Ravelry has been around since 2007 and boasts three million dedicated fans. Ravelry is incredibly popular with its users and it’s transactional, and informational. Ravelry’s users really USE Ravelry. So what is it? Ravelry is a social media platform for knitters, crocheters, designers, spinners, and dyers to keep track of their yarn, tools and pattern information, and look to others for ideas and inspiration. My wife loves to do this kind of stuff so maybe I’ll get her to join up.
And that’s how defined Social Media has become. I think Facebook will be around for a long time. It’s got an enormous amount of users and it’s great for a quick connection with friends or associates and it’s a great avenue for bringing readers to online content. Yet I see more of us supplementing our Facebook time with sites such as Ravelry where we can interact with our connections over a very defined interest. There’s even a social media site specifically for Human Resource administrators, HR.com. Yeah I can’t see that one becoming the next Instagram. As a student of history, our present social media landscape reminds me of our country’s political party history before, during and after the Civil War. During those years (1825-1875) so many political parties were founded that we actually had an Opposition Party, the Know-Nothing Party, a Free Soil Party, the Toleration Party and the Anti-Masonic Party. The country was going through so much turmoil and growth that citizens felt the need to align themselves with like-minded others, even over such narrow terms as being opposed to anything that the Masons were in favor of.
I don’t see Social Media replacing traditional advertising, I see it as more of a supplement, another piece of the puzzle. We all know that print newspapers are quickly becoming a thing of the past. For evidence, the New York Times company just sold the Boston Globe for $70 million, thereby suffering a 93% loss from its purchase price of $1.1 billion back in 1993. The future of news and information is online, we all know that but I think more of us are going to get that news and info through our favorite social media platforms. We’ll read and share stories that will inspire us, make us cry or laugh in between commenting on cat videos and pictures of our favorite chef’s family meal. Our world becomes more interactive every day and smart companies need to become part of that interaction. Advertisements are becoming a bigger part of the social media landscape every day. Like this one from the Dollar Shave Club. This is their ad and it’s hysterical, irreverent and received over 10 million hits on You Tube and of course, their business exploded. And supposedly they only spent $4500 making it. Yet the Dollar Shave Club had to draw viewers to that video first and they did so using social media. You’ve got to draw the eyeballs to your content if it’s going to get shared.
So if you’ve got something to sell, there’s a social media platform for you. Ask me and I’ll find it for you.
But so what? I’ve owned several businesses and learned what it takes to be successful and today, a savvy business has to be in social media. There’s no getting around it. Twitter alone has over 500 million users, Linked In about 225 million, and Facebook over a billion. That’s a whole lot of eyeballs. For those of you that don’t see the value in Twitter, did you know that the Pope and our President both have Twitter feeds? So if you’ve got interesting online content-and you better-then these social media platforms can bring the viewers to your pages, where they’ll become readers and then your customers. Jack Russell can fetch the readers. So don’t let another day go by wondering whether your business should be in social media. It should!
Shrek, Tudor, Bonnie (our dog) and Holly
I think Jack Russells are the greatest dogs ever. They’re compact, clever, muscular, loyal, energetic, lean, fast and they’re full of attitude. Our own Jack Russell gave us 15 years of companionship and we shared some great memories. She didn’t care that she only weighed 35 pounds. In those 15 years that she was part of our family she protected us from much larger enemies, both real and imagined. She once got away from us and rounded up a half dozen horses, much to our embarrassment. She could have given lessons to a few English Sheep Dogs, her level of determination was that strong. So I think those attributes will serve me well in this new company.