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What An NBA Championship Can Teach Us About Business & Social Media

The year was 1997 and Space Jam had officially cemented Michael Jordan’s legacy. It was the NBA Finals and the Chicago Bulls were up against the Utah Jazz. The championship game was coming down to two teams that had amazing seasons and were filled with NBA Hall of Famers.

It was 3-2 in the series and an ongoing battle between two of the most impressive teams in the league. It was amazing to watch as the team’s battle back and forth but one thing stood out. In Basketball, like many sports, there are two sides of the game: offense and defense.

The Utah Jazz were amazing on defense; grabbing rebounds, generating steals and forcing turnovers. Yet, the Bulls, matched them defensively and surpassed them offensively. This allowed the Chicago Bulls to beat the Utah Jazz two years in a row and be coined one of the most impressive dynasties in all of sports.

The idea of having a strong offense and defense is something that is just as important in business as it is in sports. If you could make a comparison, it’s fair to say that in business, customer service, crisis management and public relations goes along the lines of defense. It’s built on the importance of protecting your brands reputation and ensuring that issues are resolved.

But where’s the offense? Offense puts points on the board. It’s what differentiated the Bulls from the Jazz. It’s what differentiates the companies who survive and the companies who thrive. It’s the idea of developing a sales funnel that is fully integrated between both marketing and sales.

The beginning of a successful offense is found in their ability to identify key opportunities to score. It’s important for sports teams to create plans that will make it easier to score and get the ball in the hand of their most valuable player.

In business, the concept is the same. Sales teams need to develop plans and strategies that will help them score. They need to practice and build their talents so they can beat the competition and stand as leaders in their industry.

It all starts with opportunity. If a defender is slow to the line, it presents a better opportunity for a player to score. If a point guard has a clear path to the hoop, it presents a better opportunity for them to score. Opportunities are the livelihood of a solid offensive strategy and team.

In business, opportunities are found in leads. Leads are the livelihood of a healthy sales process and sales funnel. Yet, there are a handful of leads going untapped every day in a variety of different industries. Whether it’s leads in automotive or leads in the telecom industry; these are missed opportunities to put points on the board.

Today, we live in a world that is more connected than ever before. Brands are connected with customers and sellers are more connected with buyers due to the power of technology and social media. As such, there has been increase in the number of people communicating on social media about their needs and wants. And while brands have been reactive in responding to complaints (playing defense) they have missed an opportunity to fulfill demand (playing offense) when potential leads are sharing messages that indicate intent to buy.

It’s time for businesses to start playing better offense. It’s time for businesses to look in the mirror and determine whether or not they want to be the Bulls or if they want to be the Jazz.

How is your organization playing offense on social media? Have you seen any brands doing well? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

“Be A Customer Company” First

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Recently, listening to the legendary Marc Benioff ([email protected]) speak about social.com made the world realise how important it is to treat your customers like first class citizens. His keynote resonated greatly with me and our vision at LeadSift.com

When we started to build LeadSift, we noticed that there were thousands of people in Social Media who were looking for or in need of help. It maybe that they needed help in choosing a car, getting their HDTV to work or they were frustrated with their telecom provider. And what was surprising is that, the companies were not reaching out to help these people! We envision a world where a social media user would say “I need a new laptop” and BestBuy or Radio Shack would reach out to them with a genuine interest to help and they can mutually benefit from it. Although currently some businesses focus on customers that directly @mention their name or use a hashtag, there is a vast majority who are expressing their intents in organic conversation while all the businesses are doing is flashing them unrelated advertisements!

At LeadSift we allow businesses to quickly find these customers. You can set up a project in under 10 seconds, NO keywords or pattern guessing is necessary. Immediately you will start seeing real people’s requests for the services you provide flowing through your screen in real-time. You can, with the click of a button, reach out to these customers with a genuine and concerted effort to help them and in the process win their business and their heart too. You get a chance at grabbing their attention with a human touch, way before they go to Google to do a search and find your ad along with hundreds of others.

We built LeadSift with a vision that direct, personal and timely engagement, that social media now allows, will build relationships which will ultimately turn people in need into customers. It’s about the personal touch, genuine care and concern from big companies instead of faceless monolithic marketing campaigns that will win the hearts of customers.

UPDATE (May 7, 2014): LeadSift can also directly assist with direct response marketing through advertising. With the recently announced twitter tailored audience product, LeadSift allows you to target in market buyers on twitter with highly relevant advertisements.

If you care about your customers and hate to think of them as numbers, join us in building relationships with real users and engaging with them at the exact moment they need you the most!

7 Unfortunate Social Media Strategy Blunders

Your business may be breaking the cardinal rule of, well, business and you might not even realise it. Regardless of industry or market type, there is one thing that all successful businesses have in common and that’s the formulation and diligent application of Strategy. All too often do we see incredibly successful companies, who have fought their way to the top through the use of carefully thought-out strategy, making unfortunate mistakes when comes to their social media marketing approach. Bottom line here is that without taking the time to formulate a clear social strategy you might find your business making these 7 Unfortunate Social Media Strategy Blunders…

1. Frequency Inconsistency

“Our Social Media guy went on Vacation for 2 weeks so we put our Twitter account on hiatus.”

A lot of experts will tell you that consistency is a cornerstone of Social Media Strategy. And they are correct; if your social voice isn’t consistent then the people that look to your business as subject matter expert, or even a source of a daily chuckle or interesting article will begin to look else ware. Think of it like this, if you had a really good friend disappear for a two months and then call you up like nothing happened, wouldn’t you be a bit confused or even hurt? The same rules apply to social media, and if you break the rule of consistency even once, the setback to your social momentum could be devastating.

2. The Hard Push

“Check-out every article, interesting or not, I read this morning over an extra-large double frap”.

You have heard the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”, well when it comes to social media strategy the saying should go, “if you have nothing interesting to say, don’t say it at all”. Retweeting or sharing everything your fans say is not a wise strategy, nor is sharing every article you read or updating your status relentlessly. Remember, there is a fine line between Engaging and Spamming; ask yourself “If this wasn’t my business, would I find this piece of information interesting?” If the answer is no, then put down your Smartphone or close your laptop.

3. The Soft Push

“Check out the one article I read this month! Stay tuned for my next hyperlink, coming to you in 3 weeks!”

If you are unwilling to commit daily to monitoring and updating your Social Media accounts, hire someone who is. The value of being in the space is diminished to the point of being null when your contribution to the space is akin to being a fly on a wall.

4. Lazy Grammar

“LOL we got a salez on 2day every1 !!1!”

you must remember that even though you are updating a social status for a business you are speaking not as yourself, but as that brand. You would never publish a press release without carefully proofreading it first, so why should a status update or tweet be any different? Before your first status update or tweet you should clearly identify the type of voice from which your brand should speak and never stray away from your Brand Personality.

5. Brand Personality

“Here are my personal thoughts on this highly controversial subject…”

You must quickly realise that all of your customers are unique individuals, and just because they like your brand doesn’t mean they personally stand for everything YOU stand for. As mentioned in the previous Blunder, you need to treat your business’s social media accounts separately from your personal ones. Make sure to be politically conscious and to never share something that could alienate your fans, followers or customers.

6. Keep your Friends Close

“It’s a good idea to follow anyone and everyone to get your clout up”

Your follower count doesn’t have to be astronomically high for you to see a return on your social media marketing. It’s not a case of ‘less is more’ but rather a case of ‘quality over quantity’. If your follower list or fan page is full of accounts that haven’t contributed in months, then you might want to reconsider this particular aspect of your social strategy.

7. Undeveloped SOP’s

“That was a really nice compliment; I think I will send them an ipad!”

Businesses that do not clearly develop standard operating procedures for social media are doomed to look inconsistent and unprofessional. Everything from the types of information to share, the type of people your brand will follow, the procedures for dealing with complaints and compliments and the types of status updates you will share, has to be clearly identified and made official.

It is absolutely essential that your business accepts that Social Media Marketing needs just as much strategy as any other form of marketing, that is, if you want to see a return on your investment. The all encompassing rule here then, is that without devising and applying a social strategy EARLY on, you could possibly make some major mistakes or at the very least, realise a lower potential return on your investment than is actually attainable.

5 Tips to Improve your Social Media Customer Service

People are talking about your business on Twitter and Facebook. Whether you decide to listen or not, the conversations are happening. For most businesses these social conversations, if handled correctly, can be leveraged in their favour; even if a customer has taken to one of their favourite social outlets to vent or complain about your product or service. In most cases the amount of people exposed to a brand from a single tweet will exceed the customer service provided in a privat setting – one on one.

An example of a company who truly understood this and the importance of providing deep customer service on Twitter was Warby Parker’s and their response to customer service questions. As a brand who was looking for a way to interact with customers outside the constraints of Twitter, their social media team started developing and sharing videos of themselves answering questions to YouTube and replying to customer’s tweets with a link to the videos.

As a result, Warby Parker found that customer service tweets that included a video were retweeted 65 – yes sixty five – times more frequently than other tweets from the company. Warby Parker found that consumers value and are impressed when an organization goes the extra mile to connect with them in a transparent and authentic manner. Warby Parker understood the importance of social media customer service and how any brand can use it to their advantage.

Here are five tips for you and your organization to do just that:

1. Respond with a Sense of Urgency

Response time is crucial when it comes to social media. The businesses that treat their Twitter accounts like an inbox will quickly find that any compliment if left unchecked for too long will wither and die before it can be publicly acknowledged and thereby properly leveraged. Likewise any complaint that is left to fester for too long has the potential to grow exponentially if not properly dealt with.

2. Use the Appropriate Tools

You can’t friend or follow everyone on Facebook or Twitter so using the proper Social media monitoring software is essential to ensure you don’t miss any potential leads or issues as they instantaneously arise.  We happen to know a company that does a pretty bang-up job on this front…*toots own horn*

3. Keep it Simple

Ultra complicated issues that develop should be dealt with on an individual basis. In this case publicly acknowledge the complaint, comment or question and ask the person to call or contact your business directly while carefully explaining your additional contact information. If the interaction goes smoothly or if you notice others still commenting on the situation be sure to publicly explain how the issue was resolved.

4. Inform and Up-Sell

Building upon Tip #3, informing and up-selling will be your businesses go-to tool when it comes to your social strategy. This has to do with ensuring you consistently go above and beyond with each comment question or complaint. Suggesting other products or services that your customers might like can be an extremely effective method when treated as a soft sales pitch.

5. Follow Up

Any time you deal with a comment, question or complaint follow up with the individual or groups of individuals involved. Send a tweet about the experience and ask questions like, “how do you like the product that we suggested?”, “Any other questions about the product?”, “Based upon your suggestion last week, we thought you might like this.”. When your customers or followers have seen you go so far above and beyond, they WILL talk about it. And that’s exactly what you want.

Do you have any Social Media customer service triumphs you would care to share? We would love to read them so post ‘em up in the comments section below. Let’s see how well we practise what we preach!