social media

Social Media Marketers: Memorial Day is Not a Happy Day

Social Media Marketers- Memorial Day is Not a Happy Day (1)

While we see messages promoting a fun, extended weekend, barbecues and sales, Memorial Day is not a happy day for millions of Americans. It’s not a celebratory day to have fun. It’s a somber day to remember those who died while serving in the nation’s armed forces. And while it’s become traditional to have fun and sales during this time, it’s also important to be respectful and honor those who serve and the families of those who serve.

There are many who will defend using the word “happy” in a Memorial Day social post, but keep in mind the backlash companies have gotten from doing so. Is defending your business and reputation something you want to spend Memorial day weekend doing?

Here’s some “Happy Memorial Day” examples from Facebook and the reactions they received (click on the links below the images to view the posts & comments on Facebook):

The responses were pretty consistent on these posts:

I never understood why we put “Happy” in front of Memorial Day. It is a time of mourning and remembrance.

Anyone that puts the word “happy” before Memorial Day is suspect of having never observed the holiday for the purpose of which it was created. (And the exclamation mark adds insult to ignorance.)

Just as a reminder. It’s not “Happy” Memorial day. Memorial day is a day set aside to remember those that have died serving our country.

Happy Memorial Day? What is so happy about today? Families are missing and remembering their loved ones that fought for our freedom. The ones that fought for you to be able to be free and where you are today .

Not to hate but a reminder .. Memorial Day is to celebrate the lives of the brave men that lost there lives to give u this wonderful life u r enjoying ..so it’s not a happy day .. Sad day to the mothers and children that list there fathers .. So please respect this day ..

Happy? There is nothing happy about this day. It’s a day for reflection. Poor choice of wording for such a day.

May I suggest purchasing a copy of 100 Questions & Answers About Veterans so that you will read why the statement “Happy Memorial Day” is really offensive to many veterans as well as thanking them for their service.

Final verdict? Be respectful and honor those who died in the line of duty as well as their families and save “happy” wishes for more appropriate occasions.

Want some more examples? Check out these Memorial Day social media fails from the Observer.

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Is Your Dealership’s Online Reputation Ruining Your Business?

Is Your Dealership's Online Reputation Ruining Your Business

When was the last time you Googled your dealership? Has it been a while? How did your reviews look? Think about the last time a potential customer Googled your dealership. Probably today. And their decision on whether to contact you or not is based on your reviews.

Check out these statistics from a 2014 survey:

  • Nearly 90% of consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business and 39% do so on a regular basis
  • 85% of consumers will read up to 10 reviews before deciding whether a business is trustworthy
  • 72% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more
  • 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

The majority of consumers are deciding whether or not they trust you to do business with before they’ve even talked to anyone at your dealership. And if your online reputation is poor, you may never get the chance to do business with them.

Protecting Your Reputation

If your company’s online reputation could use improvement, don’t just sit back and hope it improves. Here are a few steps you can take today to protect your online reputation:

Claim your online listings. If you haven’t done so already, Google your dealership to view and claim online listings for your business. There are also services that will assist you for a fee. Why is this important? So you have control over your online representation. You wouldn’t want a rogue employee or competitor managing your review site. By claiming your online listings, you can ensure each has accurate business information and branding. I recommend adding all of these to a spreadsheet for easy management.

Respond to all reviews. This shows consumers that your business is paying attention to what customers are saying and is taking responsibility for righting any wrongs, when possible. Not sure how to respond? Here’s some ideas. Also, if unhappy customers know that you read and respond to reviews, they may decide to be a bit more honest and open to working with you on a resolution rather than just bashing your business.

Have false/defamatory/wrong reviews removed. Consumers understand that not all customers are going to be happy with a business, so negative reviews serve the purpose of legitimizing your reviews so it’s not just all positive. Experiences aren’t always perfect and consumers can usually pick out when a reviewer is exaggerating or being unreasonable. However, if the review is completely false, violates the review sites policies or is for a completely different business, have that review removed. Each review site is a little different, but should have a help section detailing how to get these types of reviews removed.

Encourage positive reviews. People tend to tell twice the number of people about bad experiences versus good experiences, so if you know a customer had a great experience, ask them to please leave a review. This can also be a good time to promote a referral program. If the customer does leave a positive review, be sure to thank them for it.

Field negative reviews. It’s great to get positive reviews, but negative reviews provide the opportunity for improvement. When a customer shares a negative experience with your business, that allows the company to make changes to improve the experiences of other customers. Have a process in place to handle negative feedback, either by sending a feedback form out after every visit to encourage customers to send that feedback directly to your staff (and not on a review site) and be sure to follow-through with trying to improve the customer’s opinion of your business.

Ask customers to update their review once resolved. If a customer leaves a negative review about your business online and you resolve the situation to their satisfaction, it’s completely acceptable to ask them to update their review with this information. Updating reviews can be more helpful than deleting because it shows that you took the time to ensure this customer was happy.

Set up a Google Alert for your business. A simple way to stay on top of your company’s online reputation is to set up a Google Alert to notify you of online mentions. Be sure to include any variations of your business name and set it up to receive daily or instant notifications.

Track results. Don’t just take my word for it, create a baseline of your review site scores and track your score monthly to see progress. Need to improve a score on a particular site? Send happy customers there to leave reviews!

These steps may seem like a lot, but once you’ve claimed your listings, spending just a few minutes each week to read and respond to reviews is going to pay off in a major way as your online reputation improves and more online shoppers become your customers.

Want some help managing your dealership’s online reputation? Click here to learn more.

Why You Should Pay Attention to Facebook’s “On This Day” Feature

Why You Should Pay Attention to Facebook's -On This Day- Feature

In March of 2015, Facebook launched their “On This Day” feature, enabling users to view content they’ve shared or been tagged in on Facebook on that day in previous years. Some users enjoy reminiscing on memories shared over the years and others don’t understand why anyone would care about that content.

But there’s an important reason why you should take a moment to review these previous posts: your privacy.

For those who signed up for Facebook several years ago or prior to starting in your current profession, this is a daily opportunity to review the content you previous published or were tagged in. You may have found it amusing to post a drunken selfie at a party when you were 22, but now that you’re building a professional reputation, you may no longer want to be associated with that behavior, especially as you’re building a professional network on Facebook.

Keep in mind you should assume anything posted on the internet is there to live forever (don’t believe me? Look up your old LiveJournal or Angelfire website on the Wayback Machine…), but there are steps you can take to limit how much of your past is displayed on your Facebook page.

Access your “On This Day” posts here: facebook.com/onthisday

3 Ways to Control Privacy on Previous Facebook Posts

1. Delete the post. If there’s something you want to completely remove from Facebook, you have the option to delete the post. Click on the arrow on the top right of the post and select delete.

Deleting Facebook Posts

2. Change the post audience. Another option is to change the audience who can view the post. Click on the people icon next to the post date and time to select an audience that will be able to view this post.

Change Audience

3. Limit the audience for old posts on your timeline. Use this option to change any previous posts with audiences set to friends of friends or public to friends only. Click on the padlock Privacy Shortcuts link at the top of Facebook, select See More Settings, then click on Limit Old Posts.

Limit Posts

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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.

3 Examples of What Not to Do on Your Facebook Business Page (& Solutions!)

I follow several Facebook pages just to see what they’re doing. Some are competition, others are pages I think are run really well, and all of them provide examples of things to do or not do on your business Facebook page.

Today, I have three examples from my Facebook feed of what not to do on your page.

1. The Over-Complicated Request

I’m all for engaging your fans to help you win contests. In fact, that’s a really smart thing to do. They already like your page so chances are, you can rely on their support.

Where this crumbles is when getting their participation asks them to take several steps to help you out, especially when they get nothing in return. The below screenshot is an example of an overly complicated request. The poster asks fans to take 6 steps to vote for the company so they can have a barbeque. The fans get nothing, why would they want to go to that much trouble?

7-10-2014 8-52-40 AM

Solution: Instead of spelling out each step, provide your fans with a clickable link that takes them directly to the voting page. Don’t ask them to search for anything or do anything complicated, just make it as easy as possible for them and you will be much more likely to get their support.

 

2. The All-Caps Post

I remember when my parents first really started emailing. My mom was perfect, a benefit of her college typing classes. My dad, however wasn’t ever really a typer and didn’t use a computer for work, so he wasn’t quite as elegant. I could always tell when my dad was emailing me from their account because it looked like the Facebook post below. All caps.

In the online world, all caps is considered yelling. While I don’t bother getting offended by all caps, it gives readers the impression that the status post was written by someone who isn’t very savvy and people could take it wrong. While I absolutely love the sincerity of this post, it could be off-putting to many audiences.

7-10-2014 8-54-10 AM

Solution: Don’t post in all caps. An all-cap word here and there for emphasis is fine, but entire sentences is overkill. Instead, write your posts in sentence case. An even better solution is to post a photo image that conveys what you want your message to say and just add one or two heartfelt sentences to support it. Images get the most interaction so if you want the furthest reach, opt for images supplemented by text.

 

3. The “We Hired a Service to Post to Facebook for Us” Post

There’s nothing wrong with enlisting a service to help manage your Facebook page, especially if you don’t have an employee to manage your page. However, a problem that can arise in doing this is cookie-cutter posts that aren’t unique to your page.

I kid you not, 8 different pages I follow posted the same exact post as shown below. Since social media has become the new customer service platform, having robo-posts show that there isn’t a live person behind your posts. Plus, robo-posts often aren’t tailored to your business.

7-10-2014 8-56-53 AM

Solution: Have a trusted employee who knows your business manage your Facebook page. They can read a few articles to learn some best practices to follow and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. If you are set on having a company manage your page, discuss options to keep the voice of your posts unique and avoid the cookie-cutter posts shown on all of your competitor’s pages.

Hashtag Fail and How it can be Avoided

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.
— ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Recently, I wrote about what hashtags are and how they can be used. I also warned against potential backlash and how hashtags can be used against a company or organization. While hashtags can be a really fun way to engage fans, it can also turn into a disaster very quickly. Just this week, we got another example of a hashtag fail.

A well-intentioned tweet trying to unite the community with the NYPD turned into a huge hashtag fail, April 22, 2014

A well-intentioned tweet trying to unite the community with the NYPD turned into a huge hashtag fail, April 22, 2014

On April 22, a tweet from the NYPD official Twitter account encouraged tweeters to  tweet a photo with a member of the NYPD with the hashtag #myNYPD for a chance to be featured on the NYPD Facebook page. It’s probably safe to assume the public’s reaction was not at all what the NYPD expected. Instead of fun, friendly photos with officers, users shared hundreds of images of police brutality. (Click here to see what showed up)

While the original intent was probably to get more positive photos, NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton welcomed all photos, good or bad in a statement April 23, 2014. “The reality of policing is often times are lawful, but they look awful,” he said. “And that’s the reality. As I looked at a lot of those photos, those officers engaged lawfully in their activities.”

Photos like this are probably more of what the NYPD social media team was expecting, source: NYPD Facebook page

Photos like this are probably more of what the NYPD social media team was expecting. Source: NYPD Facebook page

How to Avoid a Hashtag Fail

Think about the worst possible scenario. It’s sad, but it’s a reality. Oftentimes, people are much less filtered online and will quickly jump on a fail bandwagon.

  • Review previous interactions to get a feel for how users could respond to your hashtag
  • Check to see if the hashtag has been used before and in what context it was used
  • Search for the phrase online to see what comes up
  • Think about the absolute worst thing people could possibly post
  • Ask others who are familiar with hashtags what possible fails could come from the hashtag
  • When in doubt, just don’t do it

If there’s a good chance your hashtag could be taken in the wrong context or make you look bad, it may be best to just skip that hashtag campaign.