The Social Contact Centre

to a social networking way of working through the eyes of a Contact Centre manager

Posts Tagged ‘Engagement

Return on Influence: Preparing the Ground

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You are a small business. You don’t have the advantage of an internationally recognised brand but you want to get your message out there to the people that really matter. What do you do? And can Social Media help?

There’s no doubt that momentum in the Social world can be enormously powerful but the effort needs to be very reactive and sensitive. I recently received a request from a local business to retweet a link to their latest video. Ordinarily I would show support and do so but when I checked the tweet stream of the business I found that they had less than 50 tweets in total and almost all of them were blatant advertising. Worse still, the rest of their morning was spent sending out duplicate emails to individuals asking them to retweet the same video. I didn’t retweet and they will shortly be blocked if the same approach carries on.

Social Media doesn’t behave in the same way as advertising. Advertising has a return on investment which is associated with hard measures – how often will the advertisement be seen and what percentage of viewers will respond to it? Increasingly the measure of Social Media success is Return On Influence. This is frustrating because the concept is challenging to grasp and there is a leap of faith that the return in sales is there. An Excellent Blog on this is by Amy Jo Martin in the Harvard Business Review. It’s controversial and there are some great comments below. One I particularly like is ” If we redefine influence as the ability to convert people from a spectator stance to favorable actions – you have the major component to the value of a social media resource.  Then you have to measure the cost of the resource against the value of the actions.”

Whenever I find a concept I am struggling with I always try to look backwards. Very little is truly new and human nature changes little. Networking has gone on for years and if a friend , acquaintance or business colleague asked for some advice or a favour I’d be inclined to help. We’ve built up trust over a common cause and they’ve earned the right to ask. I’d even go so far as to help them because I would trust their judgement that I would want to be involved. If I got a call out of the blue from a stranger asking me for the same I’d be inclined to be suspicious – Why are you asking me? What are you trying to sell me? Do I know you? I’d be concerned that my endorsement would reflect on me and so I would be cautious. And this is the reason that the request for help from the local business backfired…they were a stranger to me.

The right approach is to enter the Social Media room and introduce yourself gently and then listen to the conversation. Make friends with the kind of people you could find common cause with. There is no point chasing after the celebrities and industry gurus – they get this treatment all the time and can spot it easily. Relax and just participate. Remember the rule of thirds: a third original content, a third engagement and a third promotion. If anything, initially concentrate on engagement and content until you know your audience. The current term for the role is Community Management – participating in and growing an audience of people talking about the topics you want to talk about. This is achieved through:

1. Targeted following and friending (people that in your industry, your area, your customers, important prospects and your competitors)

2. Converting – when you meet someone new at a conference for example – add them to your community not just your address book

3. Attracting – try blogging as a good way to draw in followers and commenters. Tell people what you are passionate about, what you feel and inform them about important issues. Use appropriate hashtags, topics and categories to get noticed

4. Hunting – regularly search the hashtags, topics and categories to find new people

5. Engaging – listen regularly to the conversations and add your thoughts. Retweet, like and comment in a constructive way (not everything indiscriminately). Contribute regularly and at different times of day. Check the timeline thoroughly.

Now all of this takes time but there really are no short cuts. Of course anything which takes time or is uncomfortable eliminates the lazy and uncommitted and strengthens your position. I come from a town which plays street football (more like rugby, sumo and occasional boxing than anything else). At the start of the game there are hundreds of players but the seasoned  participants try and get the ball in the river quickly because they know that only the diehards will stay involved. Its worth doing because, when you do have something to say, influence and engagement are the most powerful forces of all.

Written by greencontact

March 22, 2012 at 9:57 am

Turning Social into Physical

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The cynics see Social Media as virtual reality or a computer game. “You’re not really meeting or talking to people” is the typical comment. And they are right to an extent. Much of social media usage can appear like collecting butterflies – aesthetically pleasing but ultimately a listbuilding exercise.

One of the things I have been looking at is how to break out of the virtual and into the real world. After all, in the real world sometimes an email, or even a phone call, can’t replace the benefits of a face-to-face meeting. In some ways this is the real opportunity. Social Media is fantastically easy to wield as a way of getting introductions to like-minded people (Facebook Groups), huge crowds of people happy to communicate (Twitter) and large numbers of business contacts (LinkedIn).

I’ve gone up to people in shops and in the street and introduced myself as a Twitter follower (I really have), and I’ve arranged meetings from LinkedIn contacts to discuss general topics and the response has been favourable. In some ways it would be impolite to not say hello if you have the opportunity – you’ve already learned quite a bit about each other.

So here are some tips to help ease the process along:

1. Create the links in the first place off something concrete and make the invitations meaningful. If your first introduction refers to a conference you both attended some years ago the link is more tenuous than making it your policy to see if people you met yesterday are on LinkedIn.

2. If you are an Engager in Social Media it will clearly be far easier than if you are a Lurker. If you lurk a physical approach is only saying “Hey, we’re both on Facebook” whereas if you are already engaging in dialogue its more like “Nice to meet you finally, lets carry on the conversation”.

3. As with all communication you need to have a context. Why are you wanting to say hello? If the answer is just that you want to sell them something you can join a long and fruitless queue; if you want to learn and share most people will be happy to join in.

The most powerful networks, virtual or real, are the ones which are actionable. Try testing yours….

Written by greencontact

March 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm