COMM0015: Blog Post 3: Professional Networking now and in the future

As a result of several commitments in my personal life, my strategies for actively developing my professional networks have all gone dormant in the past six months.  I am still accepting requests for LinkedIn but I have not been updating my social media profiles or seeking out new contacts.  Offline, I officially stepped down from my position with my professional association board of directors in July of this year and, with the exception of writing a short article for the association in October, I have not attended any meetings or events.

As things are settling down in my personal life, I plan to revitalize my professional activities and networking efforts.  Starting in February, 2014 until December 2014, I intend to increase my professional networking in the following ways.

OnlineLinkedIn-Logo

LinkedIn:

  • Update my profile to accurately reflect my current employment and interests
  •  Actively seek key contacts in my field and add them to my LinkIn profile.
  • Become engaged with the online conversations taking place among some of my colleagues regarding new issues and challenges in our field

Twitter

  • Engage in more conversations on Twitter
  • Increase the number of people I follow who work in my professional field

In Person

  • Re-engage with my professional association as a volunteer to support them in the following ways:
  • Developing their first social media strategy
  • Organize volunteers to build and maintain their social media presence
  • Supporting them in planning the spring AGM, including an updated registration process
  • Supporting the membership sub-committee in planning several networking meet and greet events during 2014
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COMM0015: Blog Post 2: Strong and Weak Organizations

When discussing organizations that are strong or weak in social media I always find it interesting to compare case studies for companies in the same business.  As a result, I have chosen a company that is one of my favourite ways to travel, Porter Airlines, and one of their primary competitors, Air Canada.

Both Porter Airlines and Air Canada have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.  On the surface it would appear that their social media strategies are equal in all ways.  When their customers resort to social media with a complaint both airlines follow up by asking the customer to move the discussion to a private message.  This helps reduce the number of negative comments found on either airlines Facebook pages or Twitter sites.

So why is Porter Airlines’ social media primarily filled with positive comments, discussions and feedback while Air Canada’s has fewer positive comments, fewer discussions and more negative feedback? I believe it is because a good social media presence is not just about your social media strategy – it’s about consistent, positive customer service no matter how your customer is interacting with your company.

Porter Airlines

When Porter Airlines launched in 2006 with their slogan ‘flying refined’ they set the tone and consumers’ expectations for years to come.  A customer of Porter Airlines expects fast, pleasant customer service, amenities no longer found on other airlines and, in general, more than they had expected from a Canadian airline in a long time.  So when Porter Airlines launched their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter they had a lot to live up to.  As a Porter customer, I expected the same interaction on Facebook and Twitter as I was accustomed to receiving in person.  And I got it.

Key elements that make Porter’s social media strategy work:

Porter Airlines Twitter Feed

  • Most importantly: they work hard to ensure that their customers have a positive customer experience from beginning to end, no matter how they are interacting with the airline
  • They actively seek out customers online and begin providing a positive customer experience before they have even purchased a ticket
  • They engage their customers in conversation and build online relationships with them by posting questions, asking them what they want to see, as well as responding to questions quickly and effectively.  In addition, as they expand their service across Canada and the US, they seek feedback from their customers and engage them in their plans.  For example: Porter has built a strong online campaign to encourage their customers to discuss, sign petitions, and support their application to expand Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport.
  • Their bio section provides customers with their 1-800 customer service line if they have any complaints or challenges when interacting with the airline.
  • They offer rewards to their followers through discount codes and first access to Porter news and promotions.

Air Canada

Although Spafax was recently nominated for the Facebook Games/Contests category in the new PR News Social Media Icon Awards I would argue that a four week contest and high number of followers does not always equal a well-developed social media strategy.  In particular, I believe Air Canada needs a social media strategy that focuses on developing conversations and relationship with their customers rather than simply pushing out content.  Based on the successful model developed by Porter Airlines, Air Canada could improve in several areas:

Air Canada Twitter Feed

  • In all interactions with customers, demonstrate a commitment to a consistent positive customer experience and then use social media to share those experiences with other customers.  As a result of many customers previous negative experiences Air Canada has a long road to improve public perception.  Sharing these positive experiences may begin to improve their overall company image.
  • Rather than just pushing out content, engage current and future customers in conversations through social media.
  • Include their customer service line and contact information in the ‘about’ section of their social media sites.  This seems like a small thing but it makes the company appear open and available for customer feedback.

References

Cowan-Dewar, Jules.  Social Media Execution: Porter Airlines & Twitter, http://catalyst.ca/social-media-execution-porter-airlines-twitter/

Faber, Les. Canadian Companies Using Social Media: Porter Airlines http://www.webfuel.ca/canada-social-media-porter-airlines/

Girard, Raymond. Spafax nominated for prestigious social media award for Air Canada Facebook game that attracted over 350,000 entries in four weeks. http://www.spafax.com/spafax-nominated-for-prestigious-social-media-award-for-air-canada-facebook-game-that-attracted-over-350000-entries-in-four-weeks/

Adams, Jessy. Sprinklr Signs Agreement with Air Canada for Social@Scale ™ Platform. http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1204473/sprinklr-signs-agreement-with-air-canada-for-social-scale-tm-platform

MacArthur, Amber. Five Social Media Lessons for Air Canada. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/digital-culture/amber-mac/5-social-media-lessons-for-air-canada/article1376119/

Social Media sites:

https://www.facebook.com/porterairlines

https://twitter.com/porterairlines

https://www.facebook.com/aircanada

https://twitter.com/AirCanada

COMM0015: Assignment 5: Event Participation

This past Thursday, December 5 I had the opportunity to attend the webinar “Customer Service for the New Customer: Transitioning to Real-Time Service Delivery” hosted by SocialMediaToday.com.   With three extremely knowledgeable, experienced and engaging members of the panel I took away several key points and ideas to consider when thinking about social media and customer service.

Similar to many public companies my department within the municipal government has been slowly attempting to move to a new service delivery model that effectively incorporates multiple access points for our customers (web, phone and in person).  Previously our customers were often restricted to in-person access for the majority of our services with a limited number of services offered by phone.  Approximately 18 months ago we added an online application process and began to expand the services available by phone.  I chose this webinar hoping to hear more about how other organizations are approaching service delivery in the age of social media and how they are measuring success in those new areas.Panel photos and bios

The Panel

The panel consisted of Nathan Roth, lead for digital and social at Koodo Mobile, Wendy Lea, CEO, Get Satisfaction, and Frank Eliason, Director of Global Social Media at CITI.  In addition, Robin Carey, founder of Social Media Today was the panel moderator.

Key Message from the Event:

“Customer service is the new marketing.” Although I came away from this webinar with a lot of new ideas and perspectives I can’t possibly list them all in this short article.  So I am going to focus on the comment “Customer service is the new marketing” which strongly resonated with my own work experience and my experiences as a consumer.  In my position as an Evaluation Officer, I am often asked to support projects or programs on developing new performance measures or determining their level of customer service.  One constant challenge in my role is explaining to people why it is important to monitor and measure our level of customer service.  This quote will become the new opening statement to that explanation.  As discussed in the webinar, in the current age of social media that allows your customers to reach thousands of people before or immediately after leaving your office their opinions have become your company’s brand.  Research has shown that the majority of consumers are more likely to trust the opinions of strangers over company advertising.  This means every customer who accesses services from your company has more influence over your customer base than you.  The bottom line?  It doesn’t matter what your organization says or promotes if your customers online conversations are negative.

Webinar Twitter Feed

Networking Social Media Style

In addition to a significant amount of information and ideas from the webinar the concurrent conversation on twitter also provided a unique networking opportunity.  The event promoted their prearranged hash tag for participants to ask questions, post comments and interact with each other.  As a result of participating in the twitter conversation I have 12 new followers and have added 14 new individuals to my twitter feed who all work on or specialize in social media.  The webinar proved to be both a learning opportunity and a chance to build my network of social media experts.

Upcoming Opportunities

As a result of how happy I was with the information and discussion that took place during this webinar I am actually attending another session this coming Tuesday, October 10.  The upcoming webinar specifically focuses on performance measures and data collection in social media.  This topic is particularly relevant to the role I usually play in the development of new service access points or social media.  I hope to come away from that event with some new ideas and approaches to performance measurement with the context of online content and social media.

If you are interesting in hearing the discussion from this webinar or participating in future panels SocialMediaToday.com offers an average of two free webinars per week.  For a list of upcoming events please go to: http://socialmediatoday.com

COMM0015: Tools and Sources

Listen

In the world of social media technology provides a large number of opportunities for monitoring news and information that is important to your business and listening to your own customers.  Unfortunately, the availability of these tools and the time required to monitor them can become challenges or even barriers for individuals and companies without a significant amount of time to dedicate to those sites.  As one of those individuals I have tried to find tools and resources that can provide the information I need in a quick and simple interface.  Ideally, with the additional option to ‘dig deeper’ when needed.

As someone whose social media business is entirely based in the online world monitoring website traffic, online influence and listening to our readers are the primary ways we measure success.  My favourite ‘quick glance’ tool to monitor that success is Klout.  Although it does not provide as detailed information as some other monitoring tools Klout does offer a simple and easy to access overview of your online interactions.  Using information from your social media accounts, including sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WordPress, Klout is able to determine our influence score and who it believes we are influencing.  This allows us to develop a better understanding of our readers, of what content they value the most and whether or not that influence is growing or decreasing.

When I have more time or I want to prepare several posts/tweets/etc… I turn to Hootsuite.  Hootsuite provides me with a more detailed analysis of the website and social media traffic as well as the opportunity to schedule posts and tweets.  This scheduling option is key since I may not be available during the ideal times to promote a new article or comment on a product release.  In addition, Hootsuite provides more detailed analytics options than Klout, can track conversations and offers a mobile app which allows you to coordinate the management of your social media accounts from any location.

In the world of science fiction and fantasy fandom there is always something new and if you are not on top of the latest shows, books, technology or convention controversies your content can quickly become archaic and obsolete.  As a result I rely heavily on two key sources of information.  The first is my source of information for all things ‘nerdy’ in the United States and overseas – nerdist.com.  Through his blog, YouTube channel and now his television show on BBC America Chris Hardwick (aka – the Nerdist) keeps ‘nerds’ everywhere informed of the breaking news about the things they love.  As a result, his website provides an excellent gateway into most of the information I need.

Of course, one website does not provide all the information I need to listen to what is happening in the science fiction and fantasy fan world.  When I want more information, including specific feeds from Canadian websites, I rely on Netvibes to pull it all into one place. The Netvibes dashboard allows me to see the most recent information on my key topics in one place and saves significant time.

As a result of Klout, Hootsuite, Nerdist.com and Netvibes  I am able to stay on top of our own site traffic and comments while also keeping up on the latest information in our industry.  This allows us to steadily grow our site traffic and meet the performance measure targets we have set.

Photo Credit: Steven Shorrock