Humanizing your Digital Strategy

Screen-Shot-2013-07-24-at-3.25.44-PMWe tend to trust our friends more than a business or a brand. So when your friend tells you something about a brand, you’re more likely to believe what they’re telling you rather than when a brand makes a claim. So how do you make your brand more trustworthy? How do we humanize our digital strategies?

Talk like a Person!
Shift your thinking and adjust your messaging to be more relationship focused rather than “salesy”.  Talking to your followers in a way that is not a sales pitch or corporate jargon is much more interesting to them, and they’re more likely to engage with you.

Usabilla reports that 79 percent of digital marketers will increase their content marketing budget in 2016, and 60 percent of marketers see the biggest challenge as producing engaging content. If you’re simply a mobile sales pitch, you’re going to annoy your followers and end up losing customers in the long run. Advertising a sale or a special offer gets some engagement at first, but too much sales talk will annoy your audience.

Interact with People
Respond to questions and comments from your followers. Better yet, ask them to engage with you by posing a question or asking for their input! According to Usabilla, 56 percent of customers are more likely to buy when given a personalized experience. And when someone responds to you, be sure you let them know that you’re reading their input by commenting on it, liking it or favoriting their response. This is a great way to start a real conversation that feels human-to-human rather than human-to-brand.

Show off your Team and Workspace
Your audience wants to be able to put a face to the words they read on your social platforms or your website. Take pictures or produce videos and webinars where your employees can show off their personalities. Visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content according to Kissmetrics. Give your followers a glimpse into your working world and let them feel like they’re getting a behind-the-scenes tour. Doing this makes your followers feel closer to you, and will make them want to get to know your brand more.

Be Authentic and Transparent
Be mindful that all of your messaging should reflect your brand values to create authenticity. And if you make a mistake, whether it’s something little or something big, just come clean about it. We’re all human and we all make mistakes. Humanize your brand by not covering these things up, but by owning your mistakes.

Your followers want to have a conversation with a person, not necessarily a business or a brand.  You can improve your digital strategy by making engagement with your followers feel like they’re talking with a friend, rather than a business. For more information on how to humanize your digital strategy, give the experts at TAG a call or visit us online!

Here’s how social media affects the customer service experience

What holiday shopping feels like
What holiday shopping feels like. Via weloveit20.tumblr.com.

As the holidays approach, customers demand more and more of businesses, often becoming aggressive when products and services are not to their liking. If approached correctly, social media can be a blessing when it comes to soothing stressed consumers, providing an outlet for customer frustration as well as offering solutions to problems on both the customer and company end. This is a great chance to shine when it comes to customer service!

There are pros and cons to almost any tool these days, and social media is no different. Companies, businesses and organizations can leverage social media to their advantage when it comes to customer service but only if they are willing to take the risks and approach situations quickly, appropriately and accountably. Keep the season merry and bright with these considerations about social media.

 

It’s fast

The up side: Problems can be addressed more quickly, making customers feel valued and heard.

Organizations can immediately respond to notifications on social media channels, and it is in an organization’s best interest to do so. Especially when customer service phone lines are tied up or when offices are closed, social media is something that more and more customers are turning to in the event of an issue or emergency. Those quick responses garner customer respect and can smooth a few ruffled feathers before the conversation about their problem even begins.

The down side: The problems might not be able to be fixed as quickly as they are addressed.

Even when an organization representative can get back to a customer in record time, the customer’s issue itself may not be so easily resolved. Because their social media message received immediate attention, customers may then expect their problem will be fixed just as quickly, leaving them frustrated if that is not the case.

The take away: Extra lines of communication are always a good thing, enabling better feedback, understanding and a quick method of responding. Authentic replies build better good-will toward the organization which has the potential to offset frustrations that may arise. And, there’s a good chance the organization’s response can clear up the problem without further action, anyway!

 

It’s removed

The up side: It’s easier to be polite and organize your thoughts through text.

Written notes allow both the customer and the organization representative to plan out what they want to say, and frustrated tones are easier to leave out of text than speech. This means that the customer and the organization can have more productive conversations with less defensiveness.

The down side: Anonymity provides protection for bad manners, and some mediums (like Twitter) may be too limiting for thorough explanations.

Often, commenters will hide behind their keyboards as they sling insults and slanders at organizations or its members. There are some people that are more interested in tarnishing a reputation for past hurts than actually seeking a change in their service or product. In those cases, communication through social media offers few solutions beyond giving the customer the most positive impression possible.

Channels like Twitter that limit characters can also lead to misunderstandings as both parties try to appropriately abbreviate what they’re trying to say. It isn’t long before communicating through those social media channels feels more burdensome for both the customer and the organization than other methods of communicating, like a phone call or an email.

The take away: Always, always, always put your best foot forward in social media conversations. Manners, empathy and authenticity should shine through digital interaction—not irritation, condescension and apathy. If the organization reaches out with positivity, the customer will be more likely to respond in kind.

Use social media as a tool for starting a conversation—if the problem is too complex for the medium, offer other methods of communication such as a phone call, email or— depending on the organization—a face-to-face meeting. Organizations should use language that is accurate and precise but not confusing to the customer to ensure that the situation is handled appropriately and to both parties’ satisfaction.

 

It’s a public forum

The up side: Customers have the security of accountability on your part, and well-handled situations make the organization look good.

The promise of publicity helps to keep both customer and company honest in social media interactions, which means the customer may already be more relaxed than if he or she were to approach you over the phone or through contact forms. Organizations can take that natural security and turn it to their advantage by responding professionally, setting a precedent for the general audience about how they handle ALL forms of communication.

The down side: Bad reviews or organization mistakes can be broadcast to a wide audience and gain momentum.

If you build it, they will come. Once it’s clear that social media is an effective way to reach the organization, customers will jump on board, for better or for worse. Especially in the case of actual wrong-doing or fault on the part of a company or company representative, being called out on social media can snowball into a barrage of bad reviews and disparaging comments.

The take away: Organizations should respond publically to any queries on social media but promote a private method of communicating, like messaging, in order to have a more authentic conversation with the customer that is also less harmful to the organization brand. NEVER reveal a customer’s private information on a public medium or act rudely toward the customer. Your audience doesn’t know what may have happened in the past—make a good impression in the present.

 

Customers should not be punished for reaching out to an organization, no matter what attitude that customer adopts. Make social media work for your customer service strategy by responding quickly and politely to questions, issues or complaints, and don’t forget to reward positive feedback with a “like” or a retweet! The audience will be taking note of how the organization reacts to these situations, so always stay professional in public and private interactions!

For more on TAG’s social strategy and best practices, visit our website!

Are you leading, but losing? Four reasons every CEO should go social

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Social media is the new normal. We utilize social platforms to connect with family and friends, but they have also fundamentally changed the way businesses communicate with consumers. However, while brands are embracing social media, many CEOs aren’t. So while you are effectively leading your organization, you might be losing when it comes to social.

A study by Weber Shandwick surveyed C-level executives about their CEO’s use of social platforms. Of those surveyed, 76 percent think it’s a good idea and want their CEO to be actively engaged in social media to help build business and establish trust in their industry. Take our advice (and your C-level executive’s!) and start engaging on social now!

Here are four reasons every CEO should embrace social media: to showcase innovation, communicate and build relationships, build your business’ reputation and see tangible results. 

Showcase innovation

Be the first to do it, and do it right – that’s innovation. Use social media as a platform to be seen as an innovative leader in your industry. Connect with other executives and groups on LinkedIn to share industry insights, company blogs and awards. Lead your marketing team to create a strategy for a LinkedIn business page and build up a base of followers who want to know more about YOUR company.

John Legare

Create a Twitter account that not only retweets company information but also shares interesting articles, engages people in conversation and even adds humor and personality to your work. Feel free to tag other businesses and create friendly competition in the Twittersphere.

Communicate and build relationships

Being socially active allows you to communicate while building relationships with key influencers, potential clients, your colleagues and your staff. When used effectively to connect, CEOs who use social media make their employees feel inspired, technologically advanced and proud to work for an employer who embraces the future of communication while giving their company a face and personality.

Social CEO - Benefits

Build your business’ reputation

In 2014, consumers make judgments about your business’ reputation based on what they find online, and 82 percent of consumers put more trust into a company whose CEO has a Twitter account. Does your company stand out as a leader? Adding social to your personal strategy allows you to spread more positive information about your business, become an innovative leader in your industry and cultivate a strategy to always be top of mind with your target demographic. After all, social media is where your prospects, employees, current customers and peers are looking for you.

Richard Branson

Connect and see results

Social media is a two-way conversation. Make sure you listen to what people are saying about you and your brand on social media. Ask questions, engage with and respond to your followers to create a meaningful connection that will lead to brand loyalty, new business and sales. Be your company’s secret social media sauce when it comes to sales by inspiring those following you.

Bill Gates

Over the next five years, trends predict that 50 percent more CEOs will be actively using social media. You can no longer sit on the sidelines – stand out as a leader with smart social today!
Follow our CEO Mike Vondran on Twitter @TAGMikeV and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn more about TAG’s social media marketing strategies and services.

*Studies and infographic from Weber Shandwick.

Account managers: How to maintain a relationship with clients

Dorie_Headshot

At TAG, none of our clients are the same. Industries range from steel manufacturing to an assisted living community, and products range from sports equipment to wine.

As an Account Manager, one of the first and most important things I learned early on in my career was the importance of having a strong, yet flexible communication style to understand their business and cater to each of our client’s desires and needs.

Where some clients prefer to take active partnerships with TAG – brainstorming alongside us to develop a strong advertising campaign, others rely on our expertise to develop a strategy and bring them our recommendations. Some, on the other hand, prefer to take a quick, get down to business approach where I deliver a quick, 1-2-3 review of the game plan and everybody breaks.

No matter their preference I put forth the same, unmatched TAG effort to listen to their concerns, educate them on the latest in advertising for their industry and communicate how our marketing efforts are affecting their sales.  Getting to know clients on a personal level and earning their trust is always the primary goal.

TAG is special because we go the extra mile. And it’s not just the Account Managers, it’s the whole TAG team fighting for their success. I maybe the forefront face, but it’s all of us coming up with ideas, solutions and concepts.

Dorie Arp-Benore, Account Manager

Exploring social media options for your business beyond Facebook

So you’ve mastered the art of social media marketing on Facebook. Congratulations, you have taken a giant step forward towards achieving your social media marketing black belt.

But alas, young grasshopper, you’ve still got a ways to go.

Several new up and comers are joining the ranks in influential social media sites, and we as your TAG Sensei are here to share. Read on for our top five social sites for businesses we’d like to give shout outs to:

 

tweet

1. Twitter.com: Similar to Facebook, but popular with younger audiences and in major metros. If your product or service is geared towards consumers aged 24 or younger or attracting customers in larger markets, Twitter is the route to go.

 

pinteres

 

2. Pinterest.com: Use this bulletin board style website to “pin” content that fits into your target demographics’ interests. Create boards ranging from fashion, to hobbies and interests – oh, and don’t forget, a board displaying your products or services.

 

jasoninsta

3. Instagram.com: Use this photo sharing website to upload your favorite photos to bring your business to life for your followers. Connect it to your other social media networks and watch your Klout score – a number 1 through 1000 representing your total social media influence – rise.

 

youtube

4. YouTube.com: Use this video sharing website to visually showcase the services or products your company has to offer. Tutorials and how-to’s work better than commercials.

 

WPRES

5. WordPress.org: Use this blogging website to verbalize your expertise in your line of work. Teasing just enough information to get them excited about your topic, but not enough for them to execute anything without your assistance.

 

Click here to find out how TAG can help your social media campaign!

TAG positions client as expert in TV interview

Anyone who turned on the television over the Thanksgiving holiday likely saw the Lowe’s Black Friday commercial featuring the Nest Learning Thermostat.

Our client, Crawford Company, in Rock Island, is a certified professional for the Nest, so we capitolized on the product awareness and contacted local media, offering to connect them with an expert at Crawford to explain how the revolutionary product saves up to 20 percent in energy costs by learning your schedule.

We succeeded in placing Pam Lang from Crawford Company on Paula Sands Live. In the four-and-a-half minute segment, Lang explains the differences between traditional thermostats and the Nest, how the new technology learns the schedule of the homeowner and how much money the product can save a typical homeowner in a year.

The segment had an advertising value equivalency of $2,970, and Crawford has already sold one Nest since the interview aired yesterday. It was great exposure for the company.

But there’s more to this story than media placement and a high AVE. Lang had never been interviewed before, so I offered to do a mock interview with her to prepare her for any questions Paula might ask. We covered everything from the differences between the Nest and traditional thermostats, to other energy-saving products Crawford provides and easy solutions homeowners can do themselves. After the mock interview Lang was much more relaxed and confident and it showed in her live interview.

“I cannot tell you how many times I have said in the last 24 hours I am so thankful for Stephanie coming in last week to give me a mock trial,” Lang said. “She gave me direction, suggestions and helped my confidence to prepare for the show.”

Stephanie De Pasquale-Soebbing spent nearly 10 years working in print, TV and radio newsrooms before joining TAG Communications, Inc. The experience allows her to create public relations campaigns that catch the eye of assignment editors to secure media coverage for TAG clients.

Maximizing event coverage on a tight ad budget


 

The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival just celebrated its 41st anniversary. While longevity speaks to the quality of music and entertainment the festival provides, it also creates a unique challenge for reporters, editors and photographers covering the event year after year.

The needs of an assignment editor at a TV news station are very different than those of an entertainment reporter at a newspaper. So I put together personalized pitches for each media outlet in our market to highlight bands, events and special features that would meet each organization’s coverage needs.

The result was 15 stories, videos, editorials and letters to the editor produced on just about every aspect of the Festival, including profiles on three different bands, a feature on the Youth Band, photos and video from the live concerts at LeClaire Park and Bix’s gravesite.

The constant media coverage throughout the week of the event kept the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival top of mind for anyone who picked up a paper, watched local TV news or visited an online news site the week of the event.

Editorial coverage is valued at three times the cost of a paid advertisement, because the information is vetted by a third party source. So the impact of the news coverage on the Festival is equal to $91,488 in traditional advertising.

“I was pleasantly surprised about how many places we showed up in the local media,” said Joe Hesse, director of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society. “If I think about last year, everything we got we paid for, and we didn’t even get that much.”

Stephanie De Pasquale-Soebbing handles media relations for TAG Communications, Inc. She has nearly a decade of experience as a reporter and editor in newspaper, TV and radio newsrooms, giving her insights that help TAG Communications, Inc., clients receive quality coverage of their news and events.