Monthly Archives: September 2011

5 Businesses That Will Live (or Die) by Social Media

Courtesy of  Christopher Elliott, BNET

If you work in the retail business, you probably already know how important social media is to your company. But a new survey suggests several other industries are at a tipping point between interacting with their customers online and offline.

The study, conducted by the customer experience analytics company ClickFox, found five industry groups in which people have sought customer service in high numbers, which I define as more than 30 percent.

ClickFox concludes that social media such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – once unheard of as a customer service channel – has now proven to be both an effective and cost-effective alterative to traditional customer service channels.

But as I review these numbers, I see a more ominous sign. If you’re in one of these industries, it means social media isn’t just a nice option for customers; it may, in many cases, be the first place clients turn when they want to contact you. In other words, you have to be there.

Here are the industries and their percentages, according to the survey.

1. Retail (45 percent)
Sure, the next time you buy a pair of jeans at Target, you expect the company to be listening to your feedback on Twitter (@Target) or its Facebook account.  Interestingly, the survey suggests customers of smaller companies in the retail sector are treated in a similar way. That, by default, many clients will go online and look for a social media solution.

2.  Telephone (35 percent)
There’s an obvious reason why people turn to social media for phone problems. When your line isn’t working, but you have a ready Internet connection, getting satisfaction is a lot easier by tweeting AT&T (@att). There’s also a less obvious reason: Phone companies are notorious for making you spend a long time on “hold” and sending your through elaborate phone-tree mazes before you can talk to a real person.

3.  Travel and hospitality (34 percent)
People normally think “airlines” when you mention travel, but the truth is, most Americans get to where they’re going by car. Of course, airlines get some of the lowest customer-service scores America, so passengers will try to reach them any which way. But this is more about hotels and restaurants – two key components of the hospitality industry. They’ve quietly made some progress in opening social media channels to their customers.

4. Cable (33 percent)
Next to airlines, cable is one of the lowest-rated industries, when it comes to customer service. So, again, customers are reaching out to Twitter accounts like @comcastcares and Time Warner Cable’s Facebook page for help. This seems more an act of desperation than convenience, if the numbers are to be believed.

5. Banks (31 percent)
Here’s another underperforming sector, thanks to the recent wave of defaults and ill-conceived mergers. But also, banks provide notoriously bad phone service, sending their customers through endless prompts, forcing them to verify their identities multiple times, and leaving them on “hold” for half an eternity. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to use the phone. Now they are getting their wish.

With the possible exception of retail and hospitality, it may not even be a question of living by social media, but dying by it. The social media channel is so attractive because it bypasses the phone, which for an increasing number of customers just doesn’t work anymore. Their next step may be to take their business elsewhere.

A few weeks ago, I asked if your business really needs a Twitter account. Here’s your answer. If you’re in the retail, phone, travel, cable or bank industry, you probably do.

Related:

Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate, syndicated columnist and curator of the On Your Side wiki. He’s the author of the upcoming book Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals, which critics have called it “eye-opening” and “inspiring.” You can follow Elliott on Twitter, Facebook or his personal blog, Elliott.org or email him directly.

3 Ways to Supercharge Social Media with Google Analytics

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Courtesy of Chris Wiebesick and SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY.

If your business is participating in social media, dig into Google Analytics to uncover actionable insights that will immediately improve your social efforts. We’ve identified three ways Google Analytics can supercharge your social media initiatives.

#1. Optimize Social Traffic

Create an advanced custom segment to look at the percentage of traffic that came to your website from social media versus other places and what that social traffic did once they got to your site. Then compare them against a control group of people that had not interacted with social media. Go further than just looking at whether Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn is driving the most traffic. Look for how social media compares in areas like lead conversion rates, website bounce rates and time spent on your site.

#2. Find New Customers on Twitter

Google Analytics can help you identify which Twitter conversations you should be listening for. Analyze your search engine traffic to see what keywords people are using most often to arrive at your site. Then, create an automated search feed for these keywords on Twitter to identify conversations people are having using these keywords. These people may be prospects. Tweet with them.

#3. Drive More Blog Traffic

Use your most popular search phrases throughout your blog – in posts, titles, and tags – to generate more blog traffic. Also, if you haven’t already, set up Google Analytics to record people’s internal search queries from your website’s search box. Use these search phrases, too, in your blog.

Google Analytics is a powerful tool. Most businesses really only get limited use out of it, though, because they feel overwhelmed with all the data, struggle to make informed business decisions, or are measuring the wrong things. A Google Analytics Certified Professional may be the answer for you. A Certified Professional can install Google Analytics, determine goals for your website, and monitor the effectiveness of your site and social marketing campaigns. They will also use their expertise to give you actionable insights so you can confidently make informed business decisions.