Archive for August, 2010

Initial Thoughts on Facebook Places

August 20, 2010

We all know that I’m a Foursquare fan girl.  I’m not going to even pretend that I’m not.  So I was particularly interested in what Facebook Places was going to bring to the table.  And well, I’m kind of underwhelmed.

The biggest issue that is making the rounds is the fact that your friends can check you in.  The social media types all know how this is going to go.  People are going to think that they’re funny and check us into random places.  In fact, I’m already thinking of all the places I can check Mike the Boyfriend into. (I won’t but it doesn’t mean I won’t encourage others to do it.)  And then there are the privacy phobes that simply don’t want people to know where they are.  We have already seen how much noise they can make with previous privacy issues.  I don’t think there is any possibility that this feature will last.  And that is simply because we are all turning it off.

The other feature that I think will go away is the one that allows people to see who is at a location.  Yes, that is a GREAT feature on Foursquare.  I constantly use it to see who I should be meeting up with at a happy hours and other events.  I can’t scream how much I love this feature on Foursquare enough.  It can’t be translated onto Facebook.  Once again, I’m looking at you privacy phobes.  You don’t want people to know where you are unless you have a prior relationship, and even then, you don’t like it.  Therefore, you all will turn this feature off as well.

Then there is what this will do to the stream.  I know a lot of people that unfollow anyone that tweets every single check-in.  It’s annoying.  And there are a lot of tweets in most streams.  There aren’t nearly as many Facebook posts out there.  I think even broadcasting a few check-ins will get old fast.

Finally, there is no incentive.  To be honest, the only reason why I check-in to Foursquare is because I think I might get something out of it (badge, mayorship, coupon, etc.).  Without that, I don’t tend to check-in.  That means I have absolutely no reason to check-in via places.  And I like location-based applications.  Chew on that for a second.

Yes, Facebook seems to have a head start in that it has 500 million users, but these users are overall very different from those that use location-based applications.  The average Facebook user doesn’t like to share too much.  They like to keep things close to the chest.  And those that aren’t like that tend to be more friendly with Twitter than Facebook.  So Facebook has A LOT to overcome with their average user and they have to woo back these other users as well.  Especially since I’m seeing a lot of tweets on how to turn off just about every feature of Places.

Do I think you should not play with Facebook Places?  Hell, no.  Play, jump and giggle with it.  It’s a tool, and it could be helpful.  Just be aware, this is its first incarnation and it’s going to change.  Be okay with that and let’s see what this baby can do.

New System for Links on Facebook

August 12, 2010

This is going to right along with my post about realizing what your followers screens look like.  Have you realized that Facebook is now handling posted links differently?  And that this has an effect on how effective your campaigns are?  For example, it used to be that a fan page would post a link to their event.  One of the fans would go, “Oooo, that’s a good event that my friends would be interested in.  I should post it too.”  So they would post it on their wall and the two posts would be separate.  That is no more.

What happens now is that every time the link gets posted by someone that you are friends with or a fan of, that link shows up in your timeline with the added comments from every one of your friends or pages that has posted that specific link.   Um, holy problems Batman.

I know it sounds great that we all have just one item that we want to draw attention to on a particular link, but that is not always the case.  Sometimes we change what is on a page and sometimes we have more than one item on a page.  What if I have to use that link again to promote something else?  I don’t really want my comments or the comments of others about another item to muck up my latest promotion.

Also, what if we decide that the current way that we are talking about an item or event is just not working.  We want to take a left turn.  We want to make it new and exciting.  Well, there really is no way of abandoning our previous tactic if our previous comments are going to be sitting right there along with our new comments.

Yes, to solve some of these issues we can delete our previous posts, but forcing me to go through every post to make sure I have not used that link before is not cool.  And there really is nothing I can do about what other people have posted.  It’s not like I can figure out every single person that has ever posted that link and ask them to delete their comments.  That is beyond uncool, there isn’t even a word.

So what do we do?  I honestly have no answers.  Do you?

Hashtag Abuse

August 11, 2010

This may be a bit of a rant, but only because it’s been bothering me for awhile.  There are several Twitter chats that are great and of course I would rank #tourismchat right up there as one of the greats.  Twitter chats are just a great, informal way to exchange information and I usually come out of them with something that I want to try with my business accounts.  So basically, holy learning experience.

What is event better about these chats is that you can monitor the hashtag during the week and still get tons of great information.  I’ve seen people ask for help or even volunteer an article that they found helpful.  It’s fantastic for all of us, because it’s helping us all raise our games.  Unfortunately, this learning experience is being hijacked from us and therefore, taking away our abilities to really embrace a medium that could be awesomely helpful.

The first group of people that are doing this I would like to think are not doing this purposely.  They’re the off-topic people.  I have become known as the mean #tourismchat person because I’ve started calling these people out.  With an hour every week during the chat, we have a lot to fit in and are usually crunched for time.  So basically, I am trying to make sure the topic is discussed in as much detail as possible for the people that came for that topic.  Yes, that is why I’m mean.  But I really wonder about some of the people that are doing this.  You have a whole two weeks where you can use the hashtag to publicize a plea for help and you choose the one hour where it’s not appropriate.  In fact, I won’t even say anything to you if you publicize it at 2:55 pm on the day of the chat.  So what are you doing?  Oh and can you please stop?

The second group are hijacking hashtags on purpose.  They’re the self-promotional people and are the reason why I have stopped following certain hashtags during the week.  For some reason, it has become a trend that people are using the hashtag to get more hits on their blog, regardless of whether the post is actually related to what the hashtag is about.  While that might be great to get immediate hits, you are essentially tricking the audience of that tag.  So you’ve broken trust and they will most likely not return.  Is that really audience building?

So yes, this is a rant, but I wrote it mostly because I am very protective of #tourismchat as well as disappointed in what I see on other hashtags.  I am just asking you to take a second, think of the community that you want to broadcast to and then decide if what you want to broadcast right now is appropriate time-wise and topic-wise.  Is that too much to ask?

My Car Repair Shop is Better Than Yours

August 10, 2010
Back in January of 2008, Mike the Boyfriend accidentally found out that my car was undriveable.  In my defense, I had just dumped my last consulting client, and after dumping entirely too much money into that client and seeing no return, I didn’t exactly have the money to fix it.  Exactly how bad was it?  Well, it stalled just about every time I stopped.  Yeah, that’s bad, but did I mention that the car was also making a terrible grinding noise when I pressed on the brake?  Stupid may be the best term to apply to me here, but let’s just move on.

After asking around, Mike found a reputable car repair shop near us called Beany’s.  We weren’t expecting much.  We were just hoping to not get ripped off.  And when they called us with the estimate, we were kind of blown away.  Yes, the brakes were going to cost a fortune to fix, but we were expecting that and the number they came back with wasn’t even close to the number we were thinking.  What was surprising was their solution to stalling problem.  After they ran diagnostics, they realized it was just a plug that had come unplugged.  They plugged it in at no charge.  Since we were already dumping a lot of money into this place, it probably was a no brainer to them that this was the right thing to do.  Unfortunately, it’s getting beyond rare for companies to recognize what the right thing to do is, so it ended up being a gesture that increased our trust in what they do.

After getting the car back home and being extremely happy with how it was running, we got a thank you note, plus coupons for our next visit and one to pass on to friend.  Once again, simple and surprising.  This would have been enough for us to come back but then we started getting their snail mail newsletter.  It’s filled with LOTS of information that has nothing to do with cars, which includes timely, family tips and partnerships with other local businesses.  Plus they include monthly drawings, thank yous to customers and coupons.  The fact that you know you might win something or you might get a thank you constantly gets us to open this stupid little newsletter up, despite my rule that only evil comes in the form of snail mail.

And then there’s the workshops.  At least once a quarter, they offer a workshop to help people understand more about their cars.  There is one that is offered only to women and one that is offered only to teen drivers.  How much do these workshops cost?  Nada.  Oh yeah and lunch is included.  I think it takes a lot of hootzpah to teach people in this matter.  It only encourages a better consumer base and you better be able to back that up.  And they do.

You might also want to hear about the last time I took my car in.  They were honest and said that it was time to let her go.  The cost to fix her was at least double what she was worth and it was no longer smart to dump any money into her.  The cost for this assessment?  Free, provided that I promised to get all of my future car’s work done at their shop.  Um, hells yeah.

So what can your business take away from my experience with this shop?  Well, this to me is one of the most effective word of mouth campaigns I have come across and they barely have a social media presence.  Here are a few takeaways:

1. It’s sometimes okay to give things away for free, especially when it’s the right thing to do.  It only increases trust.
2. Thank you notes rock.  Let’s bring them back.
3. Arm the people who might talk about you with information to pass on.  The easier you make it to talk about you, the more likely they will.
4. It’s okay to go off topic if you make it relevant to your audience.
5. Recognize your customers.  They like to see their names up in lights sometimes.
6. Educate your customers.  If you have trust in what you are selling and believe it to be the best product, then throwing a bit of education at your customers should only increase loyalty and keep them coming back.
7. Be honest.  If you lie, you will be found out and it will hurt your base.  So just don’t do it.

Any other good word of mouth campaigns out there?