• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Why is it that almost every time we hang up the phone with a customer service rep, we feel flat? Despite the profiling technologies, the predictive analytics technologies, the customer databases that companies have at their fingertips, it is still insanely hard for them to provide a breathtaking experience. Why? I think it is because a lot of times companies are missing a key ingredient to business success – human passion.

    Roger Staubach once said: “There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.”

    It continues to amaze me that the sentiment still rings true in the consumer-empowered age.

    Why is it that almost every time we hang up the phone with a customer service rep, we feel flat? Despite the profiling technologies, the predictive analytics technologies, the customer databases that companies have at their fingertips, it is still insanely hard for them to provide a breathtaking experience. Why?

    I think it is because a lot of times companies are missing a key ingredient to business success – human passion.

    Sadly, it not only isn’t built into companies’ culture and business mentality, it isn’t built into companies’ incentives and business objectives.

    The only way your company will build lasting relationships with your customers is if you provide amazing experiences at every touchpoint with that customer. And the only way to ensure that is to employ people who are passionate about what they do and about serving their customers. Only passion will prompt them to go extra mile when the customer needs it most.

    In this column I have already discussed the importance of employees as brand ambassadors and why a company is only as extraordinary as its people. I talked about the fact that for most customers it is about little things, about a human touch. It also only takes a small act of caring to turn a negative opinion around and create a brand advocate for life. And advocates are the ones that bring additional business revenue through word-of-mouth. The Retail Consumer Report, for example, states that 85% of consumers are willing to pay 5-25% over the standard price for the products from companies that deliver superior customer experience.

    How do companies provide superior experiences? They give people an opportunity to engage with them. Sometimes it’s just as simple as asking a single question. One simple question can do amazing things for brand affinity.

    That was the case for my family and I last week when we visited Villa del Palmar resort in Loreto, Mexico.

    A high-end resort, it boasted a beautiful remote property and exceptional service. It was our first time in Loreto and we were looking forward to our week-long experience. Unfortunately, there were several things that were not making a great first impression. Aside from several rather minor mishaps that could have been managed better by the resort staff, what couldn’t be controlled was the weather. In the beginning of the week Loreto caught the effects of a tropical storm that brought strong winds and impacted the ability to go out into the ocean. I can’t say we weren’t enjoying the stay (we absolutely were), but several of these things had an effect on our perception. By the middle of the week we started comparing this resort with multiple other experiences we had in Mexico and surmised that, though we didn’t have much to complain about, this probably wasn’t our #1 Mexico experience overall. That is, until we met Mario Alberto Dominguez Torres, the property’s restaurant general manager.

    We were sitting by the pool one day when Mario Dominguez and Alejandro Flores, head waiter of the Market Restaurant, came up to us with a simple question: “How is your stay?” It wasn’t just a generic question, they honestly wanted to know all the good, bad, and the ugly. They engaged us in the conversation, which ended up in an open sharing of feedback, our memorable experiences, and ideas.

    Nothing new. A lot of businesses ask for feedback. Right? But this is when it went in a whole new direction. After a short, but great conversation I added half-jokingly that one thing I couldn’t understand is why they didn’t have a tres leches cake on their menu. Mind you, I didn’t say having it on the menu would make the whole stay memorable. I just joked about the lack of one. Mario and Alejandro looked at each other. “Really?” Mario was surprised. Apparently in Mexico tres leches cake isn’t anything special. To me, though, that makes the whole stay in Mexico magic. You can’t get a good tres leches cake in the US. Our last visit to Cancun was dampened a bit for me when I couldn’t find one on the dessert menu of any of the 3 restaurants our resort had. Yes, I know, I am strange in that I am very particular about my desserts. But remember, sometimes it’s the little things that matter.

    loreto cakeImagine my absolute delight when that night the dinner buffet displayed the cake up front and center. Not only that, by the end of our dinner, Mario and Alejandro surprised me with a beautifully decorated piece of my own. I was ecstatic. The whole restaurant staff watched in amazement as I grinned like a fool and hugged people, all for a little cake. Like I said, I am passionate about my dessert. But what delighted me the most is the extra effort that the team took to go out and find a cake, just to make one guest happy.

    Then I started noticing other things. Like the next day when my 5-year old daughter marched right to Alfonso Peregrina, executive chef, and asked for a chicken noodle soup. I was a bit mortified, but chef didn’t even blink, he just smiled at her and said “Si, senorita, don’t worry, I’ll make sure I bring it to your table.” And he did. Which sparked our conversation with Alfonso about food preparation, his favorite recipes, and other things. We made fast friends. I am proud to say that I am now an owner of chef’s tres leches cake recipe (among several other very delicious dishes) which chef emailed to me the next day.

    This wasn’t all. On our next to last day at the resort we came back to the room to the note from general manager, Sixto Navarro, wishing my husband a happy birthday. The bed was decorated with coral beads with the same wish, and a beautifully designed piece of cheesecake awaited my smiling other half on the table.

    loreto dinnerOn the last day Mario asked us to meet him for a special dinner surprise by the restaurant. He proceeded to take us to the beach where the table for three was set up by the candlelight. Chef Alfonso prepared a special meal for us, which we will not soon forget. It was amazing. Mario told us how much he appreciated our friendship, our willingness to provide direct feedback regarding our stay, and our direct style. He and his staff wanted to do something special for us before we left. Throughout our stay we made friends with many resort employees. Every single one of them had an interesting story; several of them had families with kids the same age as ours, and similar hobbies (such as fishing) which we discussed at length.

    Our minds were blown. As far as the restaurant service goes, it was the best we experienced so far in any of our global travels (which are many). During our Cancun stay last year no one even bothered to address my request for dessert. And here I was, in the small town of Loreto, at a resort where several people turned my neutral disposition into one of a raving fan and probably a life-long advocate.

    And it only took one question.

    The resort’s staff opened themselves up to the opportunity to engage, to improve, go from good to great as a business, and win the hearts and minds of current customers long-term before they potentially lost them forever. They not only graciously accepted constructive feedback, but went the extra mile for the opportunity to improve our perception of their brand. That, for us, was a game changer. Several employees’ customer-focused behaviors made the difference between a vacation and a memorable experience we want to share with others.

    Many companies are afraid to ask. Why? Because when you open yourself up to engage with your customer, you won’t always get positive feedback, and that isn’t pleasant. What’s worse though is companies asking for feedback, but not acting on it. There is no better time than present to turn a customer on the defensive into a fan, no more golden business opportunity to make a present experience remarkable, to convert a neutral customer into an advocate.

    When I asked Mario Dominguez why he and his staff did what they did for us, he looked surprised by the question and said simply: “We love what we do. We love our customers and want to make them happy.”

    Companies need more Marios, Alejandros, and Alfonsos on their staff, people who are passionate enough to go extra mile for their customers and build relationship capital for the business which will ultimately drive additional revenue.

    As for us, we are already discussing our next trip to Villa del Palmar.

    Originally published on Forbes

    Your dinner guests need a variety of food to satisfy their cravings — and so do your content consumers. This Thanksgiving, show your audience appreciation with the help of our Content Cornucopia.

    Your dinner guests need a variety of food to satisfy their cravings — and so do your content consumers. This Thanksgiving show your audience appreciation with the help of our Content Cornucopia.

    This time of the year is all about giving thanks and being grateful for what we have, which is why cornucopias are an important centerpiece on any Thanksgiving table. A cornucopia symbolizes abundance, but that doesn't mean it should be filled with too much of one fruit or vegetable. A delicious cornucopia includes a little bit of everything, giving everyone at the table something tasty to snack on. In light of Thanksgiving, we put our own Content Cornucopia together to highlight how important it is to have a variety content — including everything from long-corn content to white paper pears.

    content cornucopia

    Hispanic consumer expectations are up again this year regarding outreach and convenience, but particularly as regards the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience. Brand trumps dollar-value perceptions among this cohort, and retailers who can integrate some sense of Hispanic culture and store experience with all forms of outreach will likely find it to be a winning combination for this shopper segment. Y una muy feliz navidad este año!
    This holiday season Hispanic shoppers will make the difference between a Feliz (happy) and Feria (fair) Navidad for retailers, according to 2,417 Hispanic consumers who participated in the Brand Keys 20th annual Holiday Shopping Survey.

    The projected individual spend among Hispanic households is estimated to be $985.00, about 7% higher than last year, and nearly 15% higher than the projected 2014 spend for the general population. But retailers will need to work culturally smarter if they want to get their share.

    In this year’s Brand Keys Holiday Shopping survey, 54% of the general population indicated they were going to start Holiday shopping in November, a trend we’ve commented upon for a number of years now. But this is not the case for Hispanic shoppers. Nearly half of Hispanic consumers surveyed (49%) indicated they were going to wait until Black Friday November 28. Many Hispanics (38%) indicated they were going to wait well into the traditional holiday shopping season to buy gifts, which has less to do with discounts and more the time taken to search for the perfect gift. The rest started shopping last month.

    Virtually all consumers interviewed indicated they’ll buy holiday gifts online this year (98%), and this is equally true for Hispanic shoppers. And, even in light of the mobile sales movement, brick-and-mortar retailers rank high on Hispanic consumers’ list of places to shop, with some meaningful differences from the general population:

    Store Type                                          2014               % change from General Population

    Traditional Department Stores               88%                                        +10
    Specialty & Apparel Stores                      63%                                        +23
    Discount Department Stores                  90%                                        – 6
    Catalogues                                                 15%                                        -10

    Gift cards have become as universal as greetings cards, and Hispanic shoppers indicated they’d buy at least one this year, at slightly higher levels (98%, +3) than the general population. Hispanic consumers indicated that the following categories are where money will be spent. The differences from the general population is worth noting by retailers:

    Gift Categories                               2014             % change from General Population

    Clothing and Accessories                    83%                                        +5
    Electronics/Phones/Computer           58%                                        +7
    Jewelry                                                    25%                                        +5
    Food and Wine                                      21%                                        +1
    Toys                                                         15%                                        +7
    Home Décor                                          10%                                        +3
    Personal Care Products/Spa               10%                                       -23

    Hispanic consumer expectations are up again this year regarding outreach and convenience, but particularly as regards the brick-and-mortar retail shopping experience. Brand trumps dollar-value perceptions among this cohort, and retailers who can integrate some sense of Hispanic culture and store experience with all forms of outreach will likely find it to be a winning combination for this shopper segment. Y una muy feliz navidad este año!

    Social media marketers have been talking about Facebook reach for years. This week, however, their conversation took on a bit more urgency, thanks to Friday night’s Facebook announcement and a blunt blanket statement from Forrester Research that brands are wasting money by dedicating resources to the network. But I don’t think organic Facebook reach is going to be yanked from pages like the one I manage.

    Social media marketers have been talking about Facebook reach for years. This week, however, their conversation took on a bit more urgency, thanks to Friday night’s Facebook announcement and a blunt blanket statement from Forrester Research that brands are wasting money by dedicating resources to the network.

    My first reaction was to ignore this conversation, as I’m on record with the opinion that relevant content matters more than post-specific reach statistics. But then I saw people I know and respect tweeting that they believe organic reach will not exist for pages in the not-so-distant future.

    So, I got to thinking:

    As a social media marketer, what would I do if Facebook disabled organic reach?

    Imagine a World with No Facebook Organic Reach

    I asked my Twitter followers (almost 3,000 of them) what they would do if this happened, but only one person responded, out of the 173 people that potentially saw it. That’s right—my Twitter reach was about 6%.

    Which also goes to demonstrate that if you’re stressed about Facebook reach you should also be stressing about Twitter, but that’s beside the point.

    If organic reach was truly gone, I think I would still advise my organization to use Facebook, but as a way of sending messages to people that have already given us their contact information (custom audiences are your friend). And my team wouldn’t have to come up with 20-25 pieces of content per week, because we wouldn’t pay to distribute that much. Basically, we’d severely augment our Facebook strategy.

    Why Organic Reach Won’t Disappear—for Many

    But, I don’t think organic Facebook reach is going to be yanked from pages like the one I manage. Our page exists to inform and engage our customers about a topic that is somewhat mysterious and confusing. We don’t ask anyone to buy anything, so the January change to the Newsfeed algorithim shouldn’t —theoretically—affect us.

    I imagine many non-profits, educational institutions, and publishers feel the same way. While discussing the topic with me today, Jacob Dolan, Director of Web and Digital Communications at Montana State University, offered a unique perspective.

    “We will actually come out ahead or at least stay the same, but with less junk to compete with.”

    A Realistic View of Facebook Reach

    I already have a realistic perspective of Facebook reach, which allows me to act calmly and rationally in response to the recent news. Here’s what I expect from our Facebook page, which has over 60,000 likes:

    • About 60% of the time, I’ll reach less than 2% of my audience with any particular post. There are a handful of highly engaged followers that see every single post we publish in their Newsfeed—I know this because they like and/or share them all. They’ve demonstrated to Facebook that every post matters.
    • Another 30-35% of the time, I’ll reach 3-5% of our followers with a single piece of content.
    • About 5% of the time, a post will reach 15-20% of our users organically, and we’ll consider that a “greatest hit.

    But over the course of a month, more than half of our fans will see at least one piece of content that’s relevant to them. They probably don’t want to hear from us any more than that.

    We augment this strategy with promoted posts (not boosted posts, but strategically promoted posts as suggested  by Jon Loomer), and I’m continually collecting data so when I promote a post I know exactly how many people I can reach, how fast, and at what cost. I can quantify what Facebook reach costs my organization, and make an educated decision on whether or not I want to pay for it.

    Who Should Be Concerned About Facebook Reach

    I think Jacob is absolutely right. If you are on Facebook for the sole purpose of selling products or services, and you’re unable to offer any content that is instructional, useful, or entertaining—you should be very concerned about this news. If you don’t fall into that category, it’s likely business as usual for you … until the next big announcement from Facebook.

    Isn’t it fun to work in a field that changes all the time and keeps us on our toes?

    The busiest shopping season of the year is about to begin! People who celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah will spend an average of $804.42, up nearly 5 percent over last year’s $767.27. So, are you ready to grab a few of those dollars?

    The busiest shopping season of the year is about to begin! People who celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah will spend an average of $804.42, up nearly 5 percent over last year’s $767.27.

    So, are you ready to grab a few of those dollars? Here's an infographic from Sociallystacked filled with stats and tips that will inspire you to step up your marketing efforts.

    Some of the highlights:

    • 47 percent of consumers say that the internet is their favorite shopping destination.
    • 2 in 5 consumers will spend time researching online in order to find a good deal.
    • 52 percent of consumers say that access to exclusive products would influence them to complete a purchase on a social networking site (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) this holiday season.
    • 25 percent of shoppers say easy-to-use mobile websites is an important factor in their decision to shop with a specific retailer.