Remembering September 11th: How Social Media has Changed the Way We Communicate

This week is the 14th anniversary of one of the most memorable events of this century. It’s amazing to think how differently things would have been with the technology we have now and how advanced our communication has become.

(c) Can Stock Photo
(c) Can Stock Photo

The debate continues on whether social media is a waste of time or an advertising powerhouse, but the truth is, it’s a powerful communication medium. In fact, according to Pew Research, more than 60% of Facebook and Twitter users use the social sites as a news source. It’s also where people go when major, newsworthy events happen so they can connect with friends and family and access breaking news.

September 11, 2001 – Pullman, WA

I remember exactly how I was woken up on September 11, 2001. I’m sure most Americans who were school-age or older at the time remember the details of that day quite vividly. I was a senior in college at Washington State University in eastern Washington and shared an apartment with my friend Megan.

I woke up to our phone ringing a little after 6am.  This was not completely unusual as Megan had early morning classes, so friends would sometimes call to meet up with her to go to class together. I had bulked up on classes my first three years to make my senior year as easy as possible, with only two difficult classes twice a week, PE classes twice a week and Fridays off. September 11th fell upon my dance class day.

I answered the phone. It was our friend Kenneth. I could hardly understand a word he was saying, but I knew it was bad from the panicked tone of this usually well-composed broadcasting major. This is the moment when I recall the trivial appointment of when we were scheduled to have our cable hooked up: September 12, 2001.

We had internet, but back then, it was mainly used for emailing, chatting or updating my Encyclopaedia Britannica software. Google existed, but many of us preferred Yahoo! or MSN, neither of which could handle the sudden rush of traffic from everyone trying to find out what was going on. YouTube was still a few years out and live streaming video wasn’t something the average person was equipped to do, as Periscope and Meerkat do now. I had a cell phone, but many of my friends didn’t, and it was long-distance for most of my friends to call me. The phone lines were busy anyway and no one I knew texted back then.

I remember turning the radio to a news station to find out what was going on. The broadcast is fuzzy in my memory, but I recall standing in the shower, crying because I had no idea what was going on and was 300 miles away from my parents. It made me think of stories I had heard from my parents and grandparents about war times, and how they had panicked every time they heard airplanes overhead.

Still unsure of the immensity of the attacks going on, I suited up and showed up at the gym for dance class. It had been cancelled, but there really was no easy way of getting the word out. I remained in a fog most of the day, listening to the radio and attempting to contact any of my friends in the affected areas. The phone lines were busy and we were instructed to leave phone lines open for those in emergency situations and their family members.

That afternoon, I visited my aunt and uncle, who lived just a couple minutes away. We watched the news together. That was the first time I was able to attempt to understand the magnitude of what had happened that day. I was not prepared for what I saw that day: people jumping out of the burning Twin Towers as they were crumbling down. This was not the America I knew. These kinds of things didn’t happen. It was terrifying.

Social Media Now

I think of how much technology has changed since 9/11/01 and how different things would have been. We’ve unfortunately seen how social media has played a part in communication during more recent attacks like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The Boston Marathon comes to mind first, because one of my friends was running it. I remember seeing a short post from her on Facebook letting everyone know she was safe, although she had passed the bomb site mere minutes before it went off. A bathroom break could have cost her a limb or her life. That post was followed by a few more explaining where she was and what was going on.

Imagine having that technology during 9/11. Chances are not everyone would be able to easily access their mobile devices and update their Facebook statuses, but those that could would be able to start building a framework of who had been affected. Maybe Joe had left his phone behind, but Dave had his and could let Joe’s friends and family know he was safe. Updates could let searchers prioritize where to look first. Maybe a few people were trapped in an area, but none were hurt so they could let rescuers know their whereabouts, but send them to those in immediate danger.

Here’s a few ways that we can find out what’s going on right now, especially during emergencies:

Facebook Safety Check: Did you know Facebook has a safety check feature? It notifies those who may be in disaster areas about what’s going on and offers a quick way to check in and let friends and family know you’re okay or that you’re not in the affected area. One tap of a button to notify your whole network.

Twitter Trending Topics: If you use Twitter, you’re very likely familiar with trending topics. On the left side of your Twitter feed is a list of local or global trends based upon your settings. A more light-hearted example is when there was a report of a loose tiger in a nearby city and #PuyallupTiger started trending. It was easy to follow any updates on the “tiger” and even the local news and police departments tweeted about it. Trending topics makes it very easy to find out what’s going on and quickly access all the updates on that topic.

Live Video Broadcasting: Periscope and Meerkat are two apps that allow users to live-stream video to an audience. Excitingly enough, my first Periscope was storm chasing in Kansas City with my coworker, Carolyn. While these apps can be used for fun or educational purposes, they can also be used during disasters so viewers can see things as they are happening.

Social Media: Ensuring We Never Forget

I’m sure there are many memories from that day that I no longer recall. When I think back to that day, I remember being trapped in a fog of confusion and uncertainty, not really knowing what was going on and not having the kind of access to current events that we have now.

For more recent events, we get annual reminders from Facebook of what we were doing that day. Is that something we want? Would we really want Facebook reminding us what we were doing “on this day” 14 years ago? Do we want to re-live that terror every anniversary of 9/11? And will our memories be as vivid now that we have devices and social media to remember it for us?

While it’s important to have documentation of events for historical purposes, perhaps we don’t always want to re-live every socially documented moment. It’s hard to say. Social media has become yet one more way to ensure we never forget.

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A Simple Facebook Marketing Trick to Target Inactive Customers

Anyone who’s worked for a successful business knows that it’s much easier and cost-effective to keep current customers versus trying to gain new customers. While there should always be a focus on getting leads and acquiring new customers to grow the business, many companies forget the simplest way to keep a successful business is repeat customers.

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The Stats

According to KBB.com, vehicle retention is at an all-time high with Americans keeping their new vehicles for nearly 6 years and pre-owned vehicles for more than 4 years. If your dealership is only focusing on vehicle sales and not service, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Depending on mileage, vehicle owners typically require service multiple times per year, whether it’s oil changes, new tires, parts replacement or other services. What they may not know is how affordable dealership service can be. Independent oil change and repair businesses make dealerships out to be expensive and unreliable when in fact, technicians at dealerships are factory-trained and are constantly working on the vehicle makes they sell. It’s actually quite logical for vehicle owners to have their vehicle serviced where it was purchased.

So, how can you get customers to come back to the dealership? Is this something your dealership is currently doing or is the focus on new customers?

How Are You Currently Advertising?

Your dealership is probably emailing any customers with email addresses. And so is the OEM and any other business that has gotten their email address. And they are very likely ignoring all of those emails or marking them as spam.

But you’re advertising on TV right? Do you pay attention to commercials on TV? Do you actually watch live television or do you DVR it or watch it on demand? Or do you watch TV at all? Technology has made it very easy for consumers to avoid commercials, so yours may very well not even be seen, and further – how do you know your customers are even seeing your TV commercials?

Billboards? Newspaper ads? Again, specific targeting is nearly impossible and with newspapers dying out among the younger generations (and in general) and so many distractions while driving, people aren’t noticing traditional advertising as much.

Where are people spending their time? On social media.

According to Pew Research, 71% of internet users use Facebook, a statistic that has held steady and one of the fastest growing demographics on Facebook is users age 65 and older. 70% of Facebook users engage on the site daily and 45% use it multiple times a day.

So why not target your customers on Facebook?

Advertising on Facebook is very inexpensive and Facebook allows for very specific ad targeting. Polk data allows advertisers to target Facebook users who are in the market for vehicles with targeting specific down to make, models and vehicle condition. Even with this specific targeting, you’re missing out on the number 1 best market: your previous customers.

But there’s a solution for that.

Facebook also allows advertisers to create custom audiences to target advertising to. Where this benefits dealerships is the ability to target service customers who haven’t serviced their vehicle at the dealership recently.

Here’s how to target your previous service customers who have not come in recently:

  • Export a list of your service customers who have not serviced their vehicle at your dealership in the last 6-18 months (be sure to include their email addresses & cell phone numbers in the export file)
  • Use this list to create a custom audience in your Facebook ads manager
  • Create relevant service ads and offers targeting your custom audience
  • Track the success of your campaign two ways each month:
    • Export a list of service customers over the last month and compare to your previous customer list to see if any of the previous customers you targeted on Facebook came in
    • Have your team keep track of all customers using a Facebook offer (although keep in mind, this is only as successful as your team’s diligence in recording this information)
  • Repeat each month, creating new audiences and ads to continually target previous customers

Bonus Tip: Have Your Employees Share Service Content with Their Facebook Friends

If you weren’t aware, Facebook has been taking measures to encourage paid page advertising by decreasing the percentage of posts that are seen by page fans. So if your Facebook page has 1,000 fans, chances are only 20-40 of your fans will see that post, unless you pay to boost the post. However, if an employee with 400 friends shares that same content, about 280 of their friends will see it. This doesn’t cost anything. Furthermore, since the employee’s friends got a reminder that the employee works at your dealership, they are much more likely to visit your business because they know someone working there.

The Power of Women in Business: Female Portrayals in Advertising

There’s been a growing focus on female body image on social media and advertising. Campaigns such as #BodyPositive, #LikeAGirl and #Strengthie are just a few of the current advertising campaigns encouraging women to be proud of themselves and focus on their strengths, rather than their imperfections. The good news is, these “fem-vertisements” appear to be highly effective in promoting positive imagery of women and generating sales, according to Ad Week.

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© Can Stock Photo Inc. / xavigm

 

Here’s some statistics on the negative impacts on women from advertising via SheKnows:

  • Just 60 seconds of viewing ads with underweight models can negatively impact perceptions of attractiveness for women
  • 41% of 18-24 year old women retouch photos of themselves before sharing to social media sites
  • 93% of women believe it is harmful to portray females as sex symbols in advertising
  • 33% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance (an increase from 26% in 2012)

It’s been noted for years that women control the majority of spending decisions in households. In fact, according to American Progress, women control 80% of consumer spending in the U.S. (up to 85% according to Ad Week).  So if we’ve seen that female-positive advertising has shown to be incredibly effective and that women dominate consumer spending, why isn’t more advertising female-positive?

A large part of the problem could be that while women control spending, men dominate the advertising. According to American Progress, 97% of creative directors in advertising are male. Of the 250 top-grossing domestic films of 2013, 16% of the cinematographers, directors, editors, executive producers, producers and writers were female. Additionally, during the 2012-2013 primetime season, just 28%  of off-screen talent on broadcast TV shows were female. The most obvious result of involving women is that representation of women on-screen is better and there’s a higher percentage of women with speaking roles.

So how can we continue on this effective “fem-vertising” journey?

  • Continue to empower women to fight stereotyping and be successful
  • Incorporate positive imagery of women in advertising and social media
  • Women need to build each other up and support each other
  • Empowering women doesn’t mean putting men down – incorporate men in campaigns to support the women in their lives

Here’s some statistics on the positive impacts on women from fem-vertising via SheKnows:

  • 52% of women have purchased a product because they liked how the ad for the product portrayed women
  • Nike saw a 15% increase in quarterly revenue through efforts to cater to women
  • Dove’s Real Beauty campaign helped increase sales from $2.5 billion to $4 billion
  • In just 4 months in 2014, sales for Getty Images’ Lean In collection grew by 54%

According to Ad Week, fem-vertising is positive toward women, but it doesn’t alienate men either. Female-positive advertising encourages men to empower and take care of the women in their lives as well. So in the end, everyone benefits.

If people can relate to the advertising of a product, they will have a more positive impression of the product. Consider who your market is and who’s creating the advertising for your product. Is it accurate and positive toward your market? If not, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

Spoiler Alert: Facebook Fans can be Brutal When it Comes to Spoilers

If you’re a Walking Dead fan like me and access Facebook regularly, you may have seen a post on the Walking Dead’s Facebook page show up in your feed with a major spoiler, possibly before the 11/30/14 show even aired in your time zone. Generally, the social media team for TWD have been great at posting teasers without spoiling episodes for those who haven’t seen it yet. Unfortunately, they jumped the gun with a spoiler post and got to deal with the backlash from angry fans.

I hadn’t seen the episode yet (still haven’t, actually) and I know I was disappointed, but other fans lashed out calling for the person who posted the spoiler to be fired. Posts like this can also cause fans to un-like pages or hide posts to prevent future spoilers, decreasing the page’s fan base. Many posted that the episode had not yet aired in their time zone and was “ruined” by this lapse of judgment or that they unfollowed the page.

Turns out fans can be quite unforgiving...

Turns out fans can be quite unforgiving…

 

Others argued with each other that fans should “know better” than to go on social media before watching the show and that they should know there are going to be spoilers. Unfortunately for many, the spoiler appeared before the episode had aired in most of the world, so even if they had just jumped on Facebook to post “So excited to see what happens in the mid-season finale of the Walking Dead!” there would have been a good chance they would accidentally stumble upon the spoiler post.

Additionally, because of the backlash of so many fans commenting on the post, it increased the engagement rating on the post, thus increasing its reach to a larger audience through Facebook’s algorithm that spreads the post to more viewers because it appears to be of major interest.

As of this posting less than 48 hours later, the spoiler post had 8,474 shares, 403,253 likes and thousands of comments. A new generation of Walking Dead spoiler memes was born and battles over when people should be on Facebook or not were exploding.

While the TWD social media team couldn’t take back the post (although there are rumors the spoiler was quickly removed then re-posted), they acknowledged the backlash immediately and within 24 hours had posted an apology to fans. As of this posting, the apology had more than 281,000 likes, so it seems fans can be forgiving and looking at the AMC and TWD memes in the comments, many decided to just have a sense of humor over the accidental spoiler.

Well done, TWD social media team, well done.

Well done, TWD social media team, well done.

Or did they?

Look at the flowers, AMC...

Look at the flowers, AMC…

This #RIPSpoiler example is an excellent lesson in bouncing back from a social media slip-up. The social media team quickly responded to thousands of upset fans with a sincere apology and almost poke fun at themselves with the #RIPSpoiler hashtag. Additionally, they welcome fans to continue commenting, encouraging more feedback. The way they handled it, it’s hard to stay upset with the team; they just came out, admitted they had inadvertently made a mistake, no harm was intended and that they would be sure to prevent future spoilers like this to occur in the future.

Takeaways:

  • Be very cautious about posting potential spoilers on your page. This can apply to businesses as well. For example, many radio stations will post about TV shows or sporting events and could fall into a similar situation, although on a much smaller scale. But it’s best to always try to keep your fans happy as a general rule of thumb.
  • If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and let your audience know what you will do to fix it. This goes beyond just social media posts, but can be applied to reviews as well. If a customer comments that your company did something unfavorable, acknowledge their comment, clarify the situation politely without pointing blame, and let all those who see it know what you will do in the future to prevent it from happening again. Here’s a great post of how to respond to reviews that goes into much more detail.
  • Engage with your fans. Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with thousands of upset fans, but if you do, let them know they are being heard and that you value their feedback, negative or positive. Ignoring them or focusing only on the positive will only make things worse.

How Just 1 Negative First Impression Can Leave a Lasting Impression

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What kind of first impression is your team making?

More than 10 years ago, I worked at the front desk of a storage and distribution warehouse. It was a very small satellite of a Canadian company with about 10 employees. One day, I received a call from a large postage meter company. Since part of my job was to thoroughly filter incoming calls and only put through a very limited number to my manager, I had to prevent him from having to take any unnecessary calls.

I allowed the salesperson to make his initial spiel, but being a small company and mailing very little, we didn’t have a need for such a service and I informed of that. He continued to try to sell me on the idea, and I continued to let him know we only mailed maybe a dozen items a month. I’m not a pushy person and probably much more polite than I should be, especially since that was one of my first desk jobs. The salesperson was not pleased with my answer, so he hung up on me.

Yes, the salesperson hung up on me.

To this day, every time I hear that company name – and it’s a big company – I think of that incident and the horrible first impression I have of that company. And even though he was just one person there (who hopefully didn’t work there much longer after that incident), he was a representative of the company providing a very negative lasting impression. So lasting that I saw a competitor’s product at work yesterday and told that story to my coworker, and this is more than 10 years later!

Maybe some don’t think this is a big deal, but what if down the road, I decided to give them a second chance? And what if I had an issue with my account or their product which is bound to happen? Would they be willing to help me or would they hang up on me?

Conversely, had the salesperson been understanding and helpful, perhaps providing his contact information for me to have on hand if perhaps some day our needs changed, I would have remembered that. And if I had needed their services, I would remember that and probably would be much more forgiving if any account or product issues arose. I would also be much more likely to pass that information on to those I knew as a recommendation.

That wasn’t the only time I have been hung up on, but another experience goes to show how a negative situation can be turned around. I took a sales job at my next company selling uniforms to law enforcement. I received a call one day from a police chief and although I was being as helpful as possible (and polite), he hung up on me. That’s fine, I get people have bad days, especially in the law enforcement field. But what turned the situation around was that he called me back moments later and apologized. Yes, he was having a bad day, and no, I hadn’t done or said anything wrong.

While it’s important to provide everyone with excellent customer service, it is imperative to provide a good first impression because as my example shows, bad first impressions can last for decades. And negative experiences spread like wildfire, especially with social media and review sites. Too many negative reviews about a business can quickly kill future business or even put a company out of business.

So make sure if you talk to customers, you are always as helpful and polite as possible and instill this in your team members who talk to customers, because just one negative impression can leave a lasting impression and lose a potential customer, possibly forever. If a negative situation does arise, be sure to quickly respond to try to mend the situation. People can be very understanding and forgiving if you’re sincere. In fact, reaching out to a customer and repairing a negative situation can change their impression and make them a customer for life.

Building positive relationships in and outside of your company will make it a much more pleasant place,  and will also grow your business.

Tell me about your good, bad or redeeming first impressions of a company in the comments – I’d love to hear your experiences!

Copy & Paste Not Working on Your iPhone? 4 Easy Steps That Worked for Me!

IMG_7565.PNGWhile the IOS 8.0.2 update seemed to fix the plethora of problems presented in IOS 8.0.1, one problem I’ve been having on my iPhone has been the ability to copy and paste. After Googling this problem, I saw that many others were having the same problem on their i-devices.

Device: iPhone 4S 16GB, IOS 8.0.2
Specific Issue: I’ve been trying to copy & paste a quote from Facebook, Safari and Google apps into LinkedIn. I’ve been able to highlight and copy, however, when I go to paste, nothing will come up.

I read through several forums to find suggestions of what worked for people and tried several of them. After performing the following 4 steps  I managed to get it to work:

  1. I freed up some storage space & memory by deleting some photos & apps, closing all my Safari browser windows and open apps
  2. I made sure everything loaded when I opened Settings > General > About (before, it wouldn’t load the number of songs, etc; I had in there and someone else mentioned this)
  3. I installed the free app iClear & ran it to clear my clipboard, even though it showed nothing on my clipboard
  4. I did a hard restart (holding the power & home buttons down at the same time until the phone shut down & restarted)

After those 4 steps, I went into Safari, copied the quote and successfully pasted it into my LinkedIn app. Then I went back into Safari, copied another quote and pasted it into Twitter. The Paste bubble was a little slow to show, so when trying to paste, be patient for a few seconds to see if it will eventually show. You shouldn’t have to wait more than 3 seconds.

Some forum posters tried to solve the problem by setting their device back to factory settings, however I did not find that to be necessary, but it’s possible that could be an additional step you could take to try to resolve the problem.

If you try these steps, please let me know in the comments if you have success. Also, if you’ve done something else to fix this problem, please let me know in the comments.