Posts Tagged ‘ Twitter ’

Did news media use social media enough on election night?

Last week I posted a video of Iowa State students describing how they followed Election 2010.  I was surprised by the fairly even mix of people saying they used new media vs. traditional media to follow the results.

Graph showing the analysis of tweets by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism

This left me thinking. Did the news media use social media enough? Were fewer people following online because they just didn’t think there would be reliable results?

I turned to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism to find some analysis, which worked with Crimson Hexagon to analyze what was being said on Twitter.

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How did Iowa State students follow election 2010?

I have been involved in two elections as a journalist: the 2008 presidential election and the 2010 midterm election. Each provided a very different experience for me. In 2008, I was a new designer and worked during the day to layout the entertainment and opinion sections. In 2010 and I worked about 12 hours straight keeping the website updated with fresh content and the latest results.

Just two years created a lot of new ways to follow the elections. Twitter wasn’t popular in 2008 and Facebook fan pages hadn’t taken off.

So, did the increase in technology matter? How did college students follow the election and its results, if at all?

Video shot, edited and produced by: Brian Smith, Tyler Kingkade and Cicely Gordon.

A new approach to crowdsourcing the story

Yesterday I got an interesting tweet from @NBCElectionDay telling me that I was a piece of art and had been added to an Election Day mosaic.

Of course, a tweet like that got get my attention. But, it was the information behind the tweet that really intrigued me. What was this mosaic and what did I have to do with it?

NBCElectionDay Election Day MosaicWell, as it turns out, there is a company called Hashtag Art that allows users to submit an image, designate a Twitter hashtag and it will capture people’s Twitter avatars to create a mosaic, complete with tweets containing the hashtag.

NBC News’ use of this system is really cool. What better way to discuss the election than capturing what more than 4,000 everyday Americans are saying in a really cool format?

One major downfall is that they are still adding tweets to the mosaic. Based on the account’s Twitter stream, the majority of the avatars have been added in the days after the election. While this does create a cool, lasting depiction of the election, I think it could be even more useful in real time.

Kill the feed already

Congratulations (insert name of news organization here).

You joined Twitter, but if you enabled Twitterfeed or RSS integration your success stops there. If you turned on these services you’re failing to utilize all that Twitter has to offer.

Using Twitterfeed or RSS integration means you are using Twitter as a broadcast medium. It’s not. It’s so much more and you’re failing to use it to its fullest potential.

First off, the tweets these services send out often leave something to be desired. They rarely leave room for traditional retweets. They usually just spit out a headline and the start of a story. Cutoff headlines and leads are also a common problem, not to mention an annoyance for your followers. What about mentioning that awesome video your staff created to go with the story?

Second, consider the timing. Automatic services usually have a delay of about an hour.  So, you need to think about what time your content is going online. I have seen several newspapers posting  several stories around 1 a.m., which means their tweets are going out around 2 a.m. How many of your followers will be checking Twitter at 2 a.m.? Improving your workflow could counter this problem, but it doesn’t reverse all the negatives of an automated service.

Another problem with automated services is that often send multiple tweets in a short amount of time. I don’t know about you, but when I see 10 tweets in three minutes from one organization I get annoyed and tend to skip over all of them.

What about crowdsourcing? Are you following important leaders in your community? Twitter is a two-way communication channel. Start listening. Find out what’s going on in your community, find sources for your next big project or get more information on the latest breaking news event. Best yet, interact with your community. Talk to the people using your service, find ways to improve and connect with them.

I know it’s a lot of work to turn off the automation, but the benefits will make it worth your effort. Look at other news organizations, find ones that aren’t using automatic services and talk to the people in charge of their social media accounts, experiment and find a way to make Twitter work for you.

If you’re looking for some tips look at the various training materials Steve Buttry has prepared, read JouranlismNext by Mark Briggs or look for seminars hosted by groups like SPJ, Poynter or your local press association.

Customer service a tweet away

Tired of listening to cheesy hold music for hours? With more people using Twitter, customer service departments have started following suit.

In my previous blog post, I discussed how building an online community around your brand also has customer service benefits, but what if your only goal is to provide customer service via Twitter?

Providing customer service via Twitter is a complicated task, but it centers around your responsiveness to your customers.

Searching for and promoting your brand on twitter are essential. Your customers need to know you are on Twitter.

The second key is responsiveness. If people are tweeting frustration about your brand and these tweets go unanswered, the view of your brand will decrease.

Take a look at Seesmic’s Support, @askseesmic.

A Twitter user was frustrated at a change to the way the Seesmic application handles retweets and tweeted the following:

@BrookeLogan09: Seesmic i HATE u for messing w/ the RT system

Seesmic responded quickly with:

@askseesmic: @BrookeLogan09 which app is this for? Let me know here to listen and help! thanks! ^cw

About six tweets and 30 minutes later @BrookeLogan09 had her problem solved and gratefully tweeted:

@BrookeLogan09: Seesmic team is THE BEST!!!!! —-> @askseesmic

Seesmic not only found a tweet that wasn’t directed at them, but solved the problem in a public manner. Anyone can see this exchange and note that Seesmic is responsive to the needs of their customers.

The one downfall is if you fail to help a customer, you are likely to get called out on it.

Last week, Claire Celsi, a PR professional from Des Moines, Iowa, called Dell out on the numerous problems she had with various products.

Her first tweet on this issue expressed her total frustration at the situation she was in.

@clairecelsi: Computer repair guy just called. 6 month old, lightly used Dell laptop blew a hard drive, under warranty. Dell sucks. DELL SUCKS

Over the next few days Celsi continued to tweet about her situation, even mentioning @dell. Without success she directed tweets at @dell and @teamblackhawk, Dell’s sales team for home users.

Eventually, @schippers mentioned that @lionelatdell may be able to help and Lionel reached out to her.

Celsi’s experience transitioned to e-mail and you can follow how her story turned out in her blog post here.

While Celsi’s experience may not be typical, it highlights the need to actively monitor your brand on Twitter because if you don’t the results will linger in cyberspace forever.

Here are some of the other companies I found providing customer service via Twitter: AT&T, Comcast, Constant Contact, CoTweet (who also supplies an application to help companies manage their Twitter accounts) and HootSuite (another maker of a Twitter application for businesses).

Do you have stories about getting help via Twitter? Comment and let me know.

Building a community

As I discussed in my previous post, I believe companies have been using Twitter in one of three ways: as a PR/Marketing machine, as a customer service platform or to engage their customers and form an online community. While the focus is a little different, each does have a customer services impact. It is the latter of the three that I will be discussing today.

The community approach encourages more than just communication from the company to its customers. It encourages customers to communicate with each other.

It does more than draw attention to the company. It portrays the company as one that cares about its customers. The key to this model’s success is how it responds to the needs of the customers (here’s the customer service angle).

A example of this approach is Panchero’s Mexican Grill, a chain of  made to order burrito restaurants based out of Coralville, Iowa.

If you check out Panchero’s Twitter feed you will see what I mean. Reid Travis, the social media manager for Panchero’s, monitors the feed and actively engages with the community.

Panchero’s even takes the concept of tweetups one step further and hosts “burritoups” at its restaurants.

“Panchero’s basically started the Twitter account with the goal of having a way to intercept and participate in conversations taking place online and also to spark conversation about Panchero’s online,” Travis said.

I would say with more than 3,400 followers and 5,700 tweets, Panchero’s is achieving that goal.

With Panchero’s “burritoups” and community engagement many of the followers have had the opportunity to meet Travis in person and if they haven’t they still communicate with him frequently.

If you go into a restaurant and have a negative experience are you more likely to ignore it, call customer service and complain or simply send a quick tweet to someone you have established a rapport with?

Watching for negative tweets and responding is a key measure of a company’s success at this approach.

While, I had  to go back several days to find a negative tweet, Travis responds to them and requests more details.

“@GeraldHenry That doesn’t sound too good. Something I can help with?:

Reaching out like this shows the customer, who in this case didn’t even mention @pancheros in his original tweet, that Panchero’s wants to rectify the situation. The responses are public and other customers can see that Panchero’s reacts to issues and shines a more positive light on the company.

Panchero’s also hosts Twitter Trivia Fridays. Trivia Fridays incorporates Panchero’s other social media outlets as the winners are announced in a video posted on the company’s YouTube and blog.

“A platform like Twitter is a dream come true for companies who want to focus on customer service and have a drive to connect with their consumers. I think it’s important for companies to keep up with where their consumers are gathering,” Travis said.

I’m sure there are others taking Panchero’s approach, but I have struggled to find them. If you know of any please leave me a comment or contact me at smithbm12@gmail.com. I would love to follow up with additional examples.

In the interest of disclosure: I am a regular customer of Panchero’s and have participated in contests they hosted. I did win one contest. However, I am not receiving anything from Panchero’s for posting this blog. Everything I have written is my own opinion (with the exception of Reid Travis’s quotes of course).

Is Twitter the answer?

In my last post, I questioned the future of customer service and asked if Twitter was the answer. Here are my initial thoughts on Twitter’s role.

I’ve  looked around Twitter for various businesses and looked at how they utilized their Twitter accounts. I also put out a call for assistance and tweeted:

@smithbm12: Anyone have experience with customer service via twitter? I wanna blog about it, but need some more facts. #customerservice #cs

I heard back from Barry Dalton (@bsdalton) about a positive experience he had with @LinkedIn. Derek Homann (@dhomann) also chimed in with some assistance. This prompted me to start doing even more searching of my own.

What I soon saw was a distinct pattern in the way companies utilized Twitter. The accounts were either used as a PR/Marketing outlet with little to no interaction, a customer service outlet dedicated to helping customers or a place to foster interaction and establish a community among it’s customers. A few companies also had a combination of PR/Marketing and customer service, @LinkedIn being one of them.

Over the next few blog posts I will take a more in depth look at each of these methods and my observations of what companies are doing. If you have a story to share please contact me either through a comment on this post or a tweet (@smithbm12).