The Great Web Metric

If we could really measure anything, the great web metric to measure would be quality of a visitor.  Knowing what exactly is going on inside the head of whoever is visiting your site tells you whether or not you should analyze their data.  Because we can never read minds we have to find another way to measure quality.

Quality of a visitor will never be 100% accurate because there are a million quantitative and qualitative factors pushing against it.  With qualitative factors like emotional state of a buyer for example, and quantitative factors like how many visits did you get vs. online sales can make web metrics “mystical.”  In the blog, Web Metrics Demystified by Avinash Kaushik, it is explained how complex web data is not useful if only one person can make sense of it.  What this means is if you cannot explain how the data all comes together and results in good business then your metrics are still too complex and you don’t really understand them.

While we know we need visits that is not where the measuring ends.  Business Grow is a marketing blog and in their article Four Online Marketing Metrics to Obsess About, visits are explained as a vanity metric because they are meaningless without other data to back them up and prove their quality.

Comparing visits to time on site, average pages per visit, bounce rate, and returning visits is one way of proving the quality of a visit. But you still are left unsure if the user actually meant to be on your site.  Tabbing is a very common occurrence on the internet today.  Tabbing is when you have multiple webpages open in different tabs.  This act causes websites to be open for long periods of time, essentially increasing the average time on the site from an analytics standpoint but essentially undermining the process of using time on site as the determining factor.

The tangible answer to finding a great web metric is to set up goals and measure conversions.  For example a goal could be someone came to the site and subscribed to the newsletter.  Goals measure user action.  If a user is taking an action like subscribing to your newsletter (or for ecommerce adding something to a cart) then you know they are interested in you and your brand and you can focus on marketing to them.  While goals don’t cover everything and they don’t tell you what the user is thinking, they are the closest thing to it.


Experts in Crisis Management Failure

Crisis happens.  We’re all humans and we all make mistakes.  As we go through life we learn the best thing to do after making a big mistake is to own up to it and sincerely apologize.  Walmart must not have learned this.  A man named Chuck Netzhammer from Louisiana tried to order a cake with a Confederate Flag image on it and was denied.  Netzhammer was shocked by this and decided to test the limits by attempting to order an Isis Flag cake.  What really through Netzhammer through a loop was the lack of resistance in supplying him with an Isis Flag cake.  Netzhammer supplied the internet with a video of his denial of the Confederate Flag cake and approval and purchase of the Isis Flag cake.

Walmart Isis Flag

While Netzhammer’s experience was enough to make millions mad Walmart made it even worse when they tried to deny and deflect the blame.

According to USA Today, Walmart blamed Netzhammer for “taking advantage of an associate who did not know the flag and its meaning.”  Walmart did apologize and stated the cake never should have been made.  Shortly after Walmart’s statement the video Netzhammer put up was marked as spam/malicious content and taken down from YouTube, although it is now back up.

Walmart does not know how to handle a crisis and this incident proved it.  Walmart wasn’t wrong for banning the sale of Confederate Flag paraphernalia as many retail outlets across the country have in leui of recent events.  Walmart was wrong for how they handled the situation.  It may be very true that the “talented bakery associate” was not familiar with the Isis Flag.  Louisiana is a Southern state and with the recent bans it would be almost impossible to not know what the Confederate Flag looks like.  But the Isis Flag is not as well recognized.  Had Netzhammer ordered the cake by its name, Isis Flag,  it is possible that cake would have been denied as well.  But that’s not the point.

Walmart made numerous errors in reacting to this crisis.  The first was blaming the bakery associate and portraying them as ignorant.  The associate wouldn’t have been “ignorant” if Walmart had done a better job of training their employees on what is and is not acceptable.

Walmart also went wrong in stating Netzhammer took advantage of the associate.  In all reality Walmart took advantage of Netzhammer by sending him on this wild chase for a cake and publicly showing offense to it.  This is a classic example of why big brands should collaborate with an outside agency.  Outside agencies provide a neutral voice because they are removed from the brand and have no hard feelings.  Walmart was too offended and embarrassed to be neutral so instead they blamed the customer.  Can you really blame a customer for purchasing your products?

While it is unknown who reported the video it doesn’t look good for Walmart.  Even if Walmart did not have the video removed much of society will still say they did.  Walmart will survive but their reputation will hold on to this incident for a while, although they likely will not care as they continue to profit every second of the day.  It is their continued profit despite crisis that proves they don’t have to be apologetic as a brand.  Can you blame them for that?


We live in a world of rules and regulations.  It almost has to be that way to keep everyone’s best interest at hand.  We also live in a world where social media has taken over.  With so many rules and regulations the most regulated industries have tried to shy away from social but that option is quickly disappearing.

Highly regulated industries have been slow to the draw when it comes to social because they don’t want to get slapped with a fine.  The problem isn’t always the rules and regulations but as Social Media Examiner puts it, the problem is the lack of time devoted to creating social media policies that embrace the rules.  It’s no longer a question of how to avoid social media.  Regulated industries should take the time to research and develop a social media policy and plan to protect themselves and their fans.

According to Forbes, consumers turn to social media when they have questions especially in the fields of insurance, finance, and healthcare.  So how can regulated industries best use Facebook?  The first thing they need to do is research their field and the regulations. Education is the best thing any industry can do regulated or not.  Any and all employees associated with the company should be educated on the basic social media policy so everyone can represent the company in the right manner. Once you’ve educated your company on what you can and cannot do you can begin to implement your goals.

Every regulated industry should have a section of their Facebook page dedicated to a social media policy with disclaimers like “We are not responsible nor do we condone any of the comments on or about this page.”  Doing so makes a public record of the industry’s intentions.  These industries should also take advantage of the page tools Facebook offers by utilizing profanity filters and approving posts before they are made public.

Much like with customer service on social media, strict policies should not be ignored or hidden.  A company should embrace their industry and the regulations and openly talk about them on social.  Implementing some of the policies and rules into visuals, status updates, and even blog posts is a great way to not only keep your company up to date on the regulations but to make your fans aware as well.  Doing this also creates a higher sense of trust with your fans because they know you are putting their best interests first by following the rules.

In utilizing social media, highly regulated industries should practices crisis management.  For every rule and regulation there is someone out there who has broken it or is waiting to.  The social team should practice how to react and respond to each situation in multiple ways.  In doing this they should get feedback from employees across the company to represent the diverse feedback they would get on social media.  While this is time consuming it is well worth the effort.

The last must do on social media for highly regulated industries is to regularly monitor and report.  Someone should constantly be on social media watching what is going on both internally and externally.  Mistakes happen and fans cross the line.  The more engagement is monitored the more it is understood.  Adhering to regulations on social media shouldn’t be an impediment.  The time spent researching and planning can pay off greatly for industries that make the move to social and supply their customers with the answers they’ve been waiting for.



Social Customer Care

Customer service on social media should be everyone’s top priority.  Social media is a personal space for consumers.  They don’t want to be bombarded with advertising messages but when they need an answer they want it fast.  Social media is the quickest and closest way to connect with your customers and attract new ones as your reviews and responses are transparent and available to anyone with an internet connection.

Social media has made it possible to stay connected with anyone, anywhere.  Users expect this same level of connectedness with the brands they use.  Compliments, complaints, and questions should not go unanswered.  It takes only seconds to share an example of poor customer service and ruin a brands reputation.

Because social media provides a channel to stay connected there has been a shift in the customer service world from phone calls and emails to social media posts and ratings.  According to Brand Watch, 63% of social media users prefer referencing ratings on social media.  In a world where 42% of adults 18-34 expect responses within 12 hours, social media has never been more important to brands.  Customers want answers and if they’re not getting them from you they can find a company who will answer them.

Brands should pay attention to everything to do with their name on social media but real complaints should be at the top of their priority list.  As Forbes explains, social media customer services makes it possible to communicate immediately and provide a personal and transparent experience.

Social media allows for brands to immediately reach out to their upset customers with a solution.  Reaching out to an upset customer in real time is when the brand is most likely to engage with their customers and if they successfully solve the problem the world of the internet has watched them satisfy a customer and can expect the same level of customer care.

Customer service on social media can be an effective tool when planned and prepared for.  Training your social media team on how to be a customer service representative and providing them the information necessary to answer questions about the brand on their own will return great results.  When a social media customer care team is a brand expert they turn customers into brand ambassadors and advocates.

As Social Media Examiner explains, to create a positive customer service experience on social media you need to have a plan in place and ask for feedback.  Because social media is such a personal experience brands need to reach out to their customers and get them to engage before an issue arises.  Asking for feedback from fans on social media creates a connection and develops trust between the user and the brand.  Once this has happened a customer with a negative experience is more likely to reach out in an approachable way.  This is when social customer service is most important.  Unresolved or unanswered questions and complaints ruin the trust not only between the brand and the customer but everyone else on the internet.

Social customer service can be the best thing that ever happened for brands.  Their complaints are made public but so are their responses.  When problems are handled quickly and adequately other consumers gain an appreciation and trust for that company.  If social customer service is ignored a brand will lose their fan base and ruin their physical world reputation as well.


Let’s Get Personal

Developing and maintaining a brand voice is vital.

Finding an authentic brand voice is one of the many things that goes into being successful on social media.  Similar to managing content, a brand can ruin their reputation if they do not get the brand voice correct.  As the popular brand, Buffer, says “We don’t want brands talking at us as if we’re dollar signs.” We don’t want our thoughts interrupted while we are scrolling through the news feed by a voice that doesn’t make sense or appears like an advertiser.  For brands to be successful on social media they have to create and maintain a brand voice relevant to their consumers.

A brand voice is how a brand or company appears on social media.  It is their personality.  Having a personality on social media is important because it creates a feeling of trust between the consumer and the brand.  The greater the sense of trust, the greater the profits for the brand.   While a brand wants to stand out and be noticed they don’t want to do so in a negative way on social media.  Social media is considered a private sphere of everyday life and consumers don’t want to be inundated with advertising messages in their private space.

As a brand creates a personality online they remove the advertiser persona and become more relevant to their consumers.  As brands become more relevant they become part of consumer conversations on social media.  These conversations result in extra and unpaid marketing for the brand.  Consumers are opinionated and take to the internet with their opinions.  If a brand is actively social with a reputable voice they will be engaged in much more positive conversations about them.

It is important a brand sticks to their personality.  Consumers will get confused and even annoyed by multiple voices.  Red Bull is a great example of sticking to a single personality but using it in multiple ways.  The Red Bull Stratos Project was a feat of science for the company.  Red Bull sent a man to the stratosphere to free fall back down to Earth and break the sound barrier.  The project was successful on its own but in terms of brand voice the project is a shining example.

Red Bull has long been known for their “It gives you wings” slogan.  They typically have mini cartoon skits showing the ability to do something simple with the beverage.  Red Bull wanted to keep their “limitless” personality and increase their credibility so they took to the Stratos Project.  By doing so Red Bull ignited fire in their fans and found a way to relate to a whole new group of consumers.  The Stratos project exemplified the limitless possibilities and exhilarating sensation one can feel from consuming a Red Bull.  Their twist on their fearless personality has brought Red Bull to the forefront again.

While it is important to have the correct brand voice it is even more important to be authentic.  Brands like Red Bull and Buffer don’t gain followers simply because they have a personality.  They gain followers because they have a unique and natural brand voice.  If it’s not natural, it won’t work, especially on social media.  Social media is such a natural part of so many lives it can be relatively easy to spot out what doesn’t belong.  Social media is also a place of over analyzation.  Users scroll through newsfeeds and come to know millions of people by their statuses.  If you have to force the voice the readers will have to force themselves to read it.

A brand voice can make or break you on social media.  It is the personality of the brand and the way to gain trust and a following form consumers if executed correctly.  A brand voice takes time and a lot of planning but its rewards are well worth the effort because they create a loyal following of consumers and marketers.

Content Marketing Matters

Content marketing is vital for community mangers. Whether the community manager is the content creator or not they must know how to market the content and what type of content to use.  The job of a community manger is to engage their audience and in order to do so the community manager must understand the content.

According to Eric Schmidt, “more content is being created in 48 hours than what was produced from the beginning of time until 2013.”  Users can find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds thanks to the internet.  If brands want to be successful they must embrace this.  Because there is so much content out there community managers must figure out how to market their content effectively.  The smallest mistake could cost a brand thousands of followers and customers.

Content marketing is the best way for brands to boost their organic traffic and bring in new customers, making it one of the most important things a community manager can do.  Content marketing has to be done right in order to be effective.  It is absolutely vital for community managers to lay out a plan before they tackle content marketing.  Goals, audience, platforms, mediums, proof, and answers must be thought out ahead of time.  If a community manager leaves one of those aspects out their content marketing will fail and with content marketing costing markets more than ever before they cannot afford to fail.

The most challenging obstacle of content marketing is there is no right answer.  Content marketing is very niche oriented and differs between each brand.  What works for McDonalds probably won’t work for Burger King.  Community managers have to do the research to understand their fans and customers and to find what makes them different from their competitors.  Once brands understand this they can dive into the types of content their fans want to see.  It is almost as if community managers have to play the role of a stalker to get inside the minds of their fans in order to effectively market their content.

Content marketing takes a lot of research and effort but it can have a huge reward.  BuzzFeed is a great example of this.  It has become a goal of many millennials to work for BuzzFeed because they know exactly what their readers are thinking and when they’re thinking it.  This attention to content and content marketing has made BuzzFeed a name known and trusted around the world.

Much of the content on BuzzFeed is article related but that doesn’t mean every brand has to write and market articles.  Pictures and visuals may work much better for some brands.  The goal is to have the content shared by fans.  Fans are only going to share what they care about and what they relate to.  If you continually give them what they want they will become mini brand ambassadors as they share and re-share your content and your name.  The more they do this the more their connections will share and look to you as a trusted source.

When done right content marketing can have a huge return on investment for a brand, and it’s trackable!  Content marketing is the best way to have fans and customers share what you have to say and your name.  Content marketing can also kill a brand if it is done wrong, that’s why it’s so important to pay attention to.  Today is the age of the consumer; they have the power.  For brands to be successful they have to feed into consumer power and give them the content they’re looking for before they even go looking for it.

Hear Me Out

Influencers tell a brand everything, from what they should be doing and how to what they’re doing wrong.  Influencers actually spell out social marketing for community managers, the managers just have to listen.

Influencers have a lot of clout with their followers and can be viewed in more relatable terms than big brands.  Paying attention to influencers is so important because if they create an excitement about your brand online which in turn brings you credibility and a bigger customer base.  The internet has opened the doors for millions of businesses.  Search engines have created the needle in the hay stack challenge for businesses.  While discouraging for many brands the pains of marketing in the digital age can be alleviated if influencers are recognized and respected.

Influencers are like this; you’re making a decision in your life – this could be what dress to buy, where to go to college, or what car to buy – who do you ask opinions of?  Most likely you ask your family and closest friends for advice like this because you trust them.  They are influencers to you.  You’re at the hardware store picking out a paint color and you have it narrowed down but you don’t know which brand to get.  You ask the closest person to an expert you know, the store employee.  The employee acts as an influencer.  How about when you’re at a restaurant and you ask the waitress “What do you suggest?” Who better to ask than someone who knows the menu besides for the owner?

The point is influencers are everywhere and we all are one at some point in our life.  Influencers work the same way online.  You form an opinion based off of what people are saying online and that opinion is stronger based on the credibility of who it came from.  For brands, influencers are a huge opportunity to create free marketing and to become a better brand all around.

Influencers can act as free marketers for brands if the brand is doing things right.  While it should be the goal of all companies to make their customers happy satisfying influencers goes a lot further than a follow up purchase from a loyal customer.  Influencers spread the word about your business for you.  They tell consumers everything you want to tell them.  The difference between your brand telling a message and an influencer telling the message is the influencer has no stake in your game.  A brand is not going to talk poorly about their products.  They will market every product even if it is a failure.  Influencers only support what is truly likeable.  The most important aspect of influencers is their buying power with consumers.  Consumers make their purchasing decisions based on the experiences and statements of influencers.  If a brand makes the influencers happy they will more than satisfy all their customers.

While influencers have no stake in the game it is important for brands to reach out to and even reward these people.  A simple tweet back to an influencer makes a huge difference.  Influencers, big or small, want to be heard.  Acknowledgement and a reward as small as a coupon not only make the specific customer happy, that customer tells the world their story and in turn makes your brand more personable and likeable.

An important aspect to utilizing influencers is to remember to pay attention to the influencers who are not in your favor.  Whether people are speaking negatively about your brand or they are speaking positively (or negatively) about a competitor brand a business can learn what is and is not working.  No matter how much they try business are not their customers.  It is difficult to stay on top of everything your customers are looking for.  Listening to the negative or competitor influencers will highlight the problem areas in your name.

No matter what a brand does with influencers they must listen to them.  Listening to your influencers will make or break your business because these are the people on the front line.  We all love something, Nike, Jeep, McDonalds, but we got to loving these brands by trusting the experiences of people like us.  The internet has made it possible for the “people like us” to share their stories to the masses.

Crisis Averted

Community management is a must in today’s world of online connectivity.  While there are numerous roles from listener to salesman, a manager must be a crisis expert.  Risk management is physically practiced in business across the world and it must be online too.

Accidents happen, mistakes happen, sometimes we just come off wrong.  With business and big brands, the power is in the hands of the consumer.  If your product can break or have a fault, a customer will find it and talk about it online.  Crisis and negative attention cannot be averted no matter how great the brand is.  The most important role of a community manager is to practice crisis management.  Everything from response time to response tone is vital.

The internet means there’s no privacy for big brands.  If a customer is upset and publicly making their troubles be known, it might be a good idea to reach out to them privately but the issue must be addressed in the public atmosphere where it was brought up because no matter how the brand responds, the customer will share that as well.

Public apologies aren’t always needed; sometimes they’re far from what is needed. But public acknowledgement is a must.  The two worst things a brand can do in a crisis are ignore the situation or delete it.  We’ve seen the repercussions of ignoring the situation with “United Breaks Guitars.”  We all learn in basic communication with our loved ones that ignoring a situation only makes things worse.  United proved that.  As a community manager of a crisis situation like United’s, it is devastating to ignore the situation.  It says to the world that your brand doesn’t care what it does to its customers or how they feel.

Ignoring a crisis is devastating enough but removing the crisis altogether can have the same negative impact.  Social media makes it relatively simply to report and remove something from the internet.  If a brand’s image is deteriorating due to something posted on social media and they chose to have it removed a cycle will begin and spiral out of control.  The original message will be reposted again and again along with the new negative action of the brand ignoring and removing public opinion.  People want to be heard.

Social media has changed the business dynamic, giving the consumers power.  As Likeable Social Media explains, the message from brands on social media needs to be about the customer, not the brand.  Brands have to understand what their fans like and want to hear on social media.  Social media is a personal space for most consumers and if a brand wants to be noticed they need to be personal too.  The best way to do this is to respond to crisis.  Groupon has created a credible but humorous personality for themselves by appropriately responding to their Banana Bunker crisis.  Oreo took it a step further and responded to the NFL’s crisis during the Super Bowl.  Both brand’s community managers brilliantly spoke to the personal side of millions of humans, and succeeded.  People will always think of them as the brand that not only responded quickly, but with real words in a light-hearted, every day conversation feel.

Crisis happens, whether our own or someone else’s, created by us or the result of a customer’s bad experience, or even something completely irrelevant to your brand but shared within your community.  The most productive and efficient thing a community manager can do is to prepare themselves for crisis and be ready to respond to their type of people.  Crisis management is so important because, if handled correctly, it can significantly boost a brand’s reputation.

Social Media as Customer Service

When it comes to social media, something is better than nothing.  Even if you are not fast and competent with your responses on social media you must be there.  We live in the age of the customer and they will be on social media whether you are or not.  If you’re not there, they will find someone who is.

While inconsistency is not a good thing you need to get started with paying attention to social media.  It is your brand and reputation.   Start small by picking one platform to master and add on from there.

Social media is a phenomenal customer service tool and you should use it as such.  The more you respond to and interact with your customers on social media, the better your business will do.

  1. Monitor your Social 24/7.
  2. Response times should not take more than an hour, even less depending on the business/product (subject to time of day).
  3. Be consistent- start somewhere you can realistically deliver.
  4. Don’t forget to engage with those customers who aren’t asking questions.
  5. Be accurate and grammatically correct in all responses.
  6. Tag the customer in your response.

Remember, customer service has transitioned to social media resulting in every customer service problem being public.  Keep your cool and adequately communicate with your customers on social media to maintain a great reputation.