Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Live Blogging Trianagle AMA Digital Marketing Training Camp 2012: Deliver Amazing Customer Service With Social Media


Speaker: Peter Shankman

Peter starts by talking about his story. He studied fashion and photography in Santa Barbra, California. What he learned early on was that humor is important. Therefore, feel free to share on Twitter or Facebook anything he says. He's ok with that. His Twitter handle is @petershankman.

One of his first jobs was working for AOL.com. He was an editor back in 2005 for News Today, but he had no clue as to what he was doing. After a couple of years at AOL, he went back to New York.

In the summer of 1998, he lived in New York City with no money. He talks about how he started his business. Using his rent money, bought  and sold 500 t-shirts to people that hated the movie The Titanic. The t-shirt read, "It Sunk. Get Over It!" He ended up making a profitable return on that investment.

In response to the popularity of the t-shirt, he sold over 10,000 items at $15. He ended up making over $100,000, which he used to build his marketing firm. The sheer number of sales put a strain on his web servers. In addition, he was later called to talk with a national radio host.

Lesson: You have to own what you do and make sure you brand the heck out of it. If you don't someone else will take the idea.

Everyone tells you to have a backup plan when you fail. Instead, Peter says that you should have a backup plan for when you succeed. He shares a story about how he created a video (shown below) that got really popular online. Unfortunately, he never branded the video. As a result, he could have furthered his companies brand.

If you cannot see the video, click here.

Another lesson is that nobody cares how awesome you are if YOU are the one telling them. However, if you let someone else say that your awesome, then it carries much more weight.
"I'm So Adjective, I Verb Nouns!!!"
In 2005, Peter created a website that allows people to choose their airline partners. The service is called Airtroductions. Not long after he built it, he talks about a producer of a reality television show that wanted to use his services to hook up people on the show. He agreed.

After the show aired, he earned 50,000 new members. So, what started as a business networking site quickly changed into a dating site. As a result, he changed the logos and branding to better align with customers.

"You are not in control of your company. Not your board of directors. The ones that control your company is the customer." Peter Shankman. Amazon learned this lesson and so should you.

Helpreporter.com is another website that held a mailing list for PR people. Similar to previous stories, the web site took off and it made considerable amount of money. It was later acquired in 2010. It's still a free web site.

Transparency
Peter changes topics and talks about Senator Obama during his race for the White House. The point is being transparent. During a number of talk show interviews, he owned the conversation because of his transparency. It's not a question of if you'll screw up, but when. However, if you own it and get in front of it, you will be loved.

An example of this is Weiner. Instead of waiting three weeks denying, he should have admitted to it and moved on.

Sometimes, when you're trying to be transparent, you have to go outside of your comfort zone. Peter talks about a guy that took a nude picture of himself to sell a product. He created a large ad that amassed huge amounts of attention.

Relevance 
How many of you get your news from newspapers, tv, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or podcasts? We are in a world that is media fractured. The average age Nightly News today is "Dead." In the 50's, the average age was in the 30's.

The problem is this, how do we reach our audience when they're fractured? Ask them. The more you know about them, the better you can serve them. Know how to market to your audience.

In the mid-west, Peter worked for a nonprofit. One of the organizers sent him a coffee table book? He says that he doesn't even own a coffee table. So he calls the organization and says why did you send me a book instead of an online version? According to research...blah, blah, blah.

They took a year to ask every customer about what they wanted. They found that by offering an online solution, they increased their donations even in a down economy.

Brevity
MTV brought entertainment in the 1980's via music videos down to 3 minute increments. Peter would give his right arm to talk with an audience with a 3 minute attention span. Today, our attention span is only 2.6 seconds. The length of attention in a written form is 140 characters, this is the length of a text message.

If Twitter is not careful, they can become the next Pets.com. They have to make money.
"Embrace the concept, not the brand"
Text messaging became popular because September 1911 and American Idol. Even Peter's parents have adopted the text message, but they haven't grasped the concept of Twitter. Just because we think it is a good idea, doesn't mean it is. We live in a bubble.

How do you reach an audience when they're attention span is so short? The answer is "Learn to Write." Bad writing is destroying our country. It's not our attention span, but our writing skills.
"Good writing is brevity. Brevity is social media." 
Be Top Of Mind
He talks about an executive that goes through his Roladex and says, "Hi!" In 3 months, he had gone through his entire list of friends. Four times a year, he talks with everyone in his list.

How many of you say "Happy Birthday?" We are doing a horrible job of managing our social network. Reach out to people on your network that you haven't spoken too in 6 months. If you cannot reach out to them at least every 4 months, then you need to disconnect with them because it will destroy your network. Reach out to your people when you don't want anything.

Peter believes that Facebook will win out over Google+. Last year, he earned a great deal of new customers because of his friend's friend.

When he first meets someone, he gets their phone number and puts it in their phone. Touch point 2 and 3 is when Peter text's the new contact and asks them to go out to get a drink. Touch point 4 and 5 is when Facebook realizes you have met in person. Touch point 6 and 7 is when you say thank you for hanging out. Touch point 8 and 9 is when they begin to hang out more. Touch point 10 and 11 is when Peter and this new contact start dating.

He says all this to say that Facebook recognizes the number of touch points people have with one another.  While we may still be friends online, the Network notices the changes in relationships. It all comes back to customer service. Your relationship with someone affects your relationship with their connections. It's all connected.

The concept of customer service is doing the things that nobody notices. It's called social media but Peter wants us to call it social udia. That means it is not about YOU but them. Take out the letter "I" from your updates.

If you are not shaking things up (having haters) than you are not doing enough to change the status quo.

Final Thoughts
Have fun and live in the moment. Use basic common sense. Most of us expected to be mistreated. If you treat your customers one level better than crap and people will remember you. Treat your customers well and they will do your PR for you. That is the new PR. It is getting others to tell everyone how great YOU are. That is social media.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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