The Social Contact Centre

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

Posts Tagged ‘Wordpress

First forays in SM


My first steps into the Social world were on a private basis. Having realised that I was already social networking I decided to use the media more frequently just to “acclimatise”.

The easy first steps were to wade into TripAdvisor more and to actually contribute reviews back. This just seemed like good manners to me – if you take information you should contribute equally. To date my reviews have had over 7500 readers – and quite frankly if I can spare some people the horrors and support the gems it makes me feel good.

I decided to raise my LinkedIn profile and get in touch with old colleagues, friends and university peers. This is one of the areas I find the hardest. To me a “friend” is a very specific term. I don’t have thousands of them. What I do have is lots of contacts and acquaintances. Once I got over the name I felt less embarrassed requesting a LinkedIn connection with clients, people I’d met at conferences etc. I have a clear view that my LinkedIn profile is my online CV. People judge me and I judge other people by who I know and I do the same with other people. I still find it difficult to ask for recommendations and don’t particularly like or respect the automatic exchange.

I expanded my Facebook friends and linked my Twitter account in so that I provide content. I still have some reservations about security and posting family pictures but I am getting over what is clearly my “generational” problem. My kids still won’t let me be their friend though!

Twitter and WordPress are my “natural” homes and I think this was a lesson for me. Everyone has their voice and after trying them all, will settle on a primary channel. I find Twitter natural, suits my mobile work and home life, and probably matches my attention span. With Twitter I very quickly saw the lie of the land – the different types of people who use Twitter – there are distinct clusters.

I’ve tried lots of others with different degrees of success – FourSquare (checking in at locations), Waze (collaborative satnav with a bit of Pacman built in), SoundTracking (a life through music), Showyou (watching TV together), Quora and Wikipedia (building and sharing knowledge).

The point is.. its difficult to contemplate a strategy without understanding the problem and the resources available to you.

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Written by greencontact

September 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Don’t get Blogged down

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Courtesy Eloqua

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve all read blogs and any search in Google will probably come up with a few blog references on the front page. A huge part of the growth of Web 2.0 is about user-generated content. The barriers are down and anyone can join in. The excellent Eloqua infographic above just shows the breadth and influence of bloggers in the UK – some of these names will be familiar to you.

Blogging is growing in influence and brands and pressure groups centered around blogs are becoming more prevalent. To me as a newbie to social media the barriers to entry on blogging were far higher than other media. What would I write about? Who would read it? It is far easier to be passive with Twitter or Facebook and just observe other people. You can and do just read other people’s blogs but making your own blog an effective tool can make a significant contribution to business success.

I started blogging with a personal blog using Tumblr and really using it as a journal. I thought the look and feel of it was OK but I did realise that most of the business blogs I was looking at either had personalised urls or used other platforms. My daughter was the one who advised me that Tumblr is geared more towards images and short comments and that I should really be on a different platform. Thankfully migration tools are available and I settled on WordPress as it seemed to have good tools on the iPad as well as online. All blogging platforms these days give you a really easy interface but if you have any html skills you can certainly be more creative. What I liked about the WordPress platform was the range of free “looks” and the choice of widgets to bring it to life.

As with all social media you need to get the mission clear from the start. What role does the blog play and how does it link with all your other activity. In my mind I see the blog as the centre of my activity and so my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn activity will occasionally signpost to it. Each posting on the personal blog creates a tweet and for this blog it creates a LinkedIn update. If I had a website I may use the blog to direct customers and prospects to it. My objective is to generate blog subscribers and reblogs first, comments and likes second and page views third.

So you have a blog created, how do you fill it? There’s no doubt that you need to be able to write. This isn’t an exercise in creative writing but readers expect punchy, interesting and original content I think. There can be a balance of original content, reblogs and links but there must be a healthy amount of original content. This can be generated by guest contributors or the workload can be spread across a range of people in your business if you are lucky enough to have the support. If you have one good writer they can edit the rough submissions of others as a ghost writer if this is easier. In my view as well the blogs posts need to be honest and heartfelt rather than over-polished advertising pieces.

Frequency is a significant challenge as we all lead busy lives and blogging is definitely a slow burner with a big payoff. You won’t get huge readership quickly unless you happen to be a celebrity or have something enormously radical to say. For the rest of us mere mortals stick with it. The pleasure of getting interaction and knowing you are being seen makes it worthwhile. Try to find a routine which results in regularly adding additional original content – weekly if you can – and then use reblogging to draw in other good material from other bloggers. When you have built up a good library of material you can also repost some of the old material – maybe with a bit of spring-cleaning first. Some other tips for getting the writing done :

1. Write when you have a good and fresh idea but don’t always post straight away. Use the options to post the blog later which are in most platforms. That way you get ahead of the game and not feel deadline pressure. Timing is also key to ensure readership. You may get your ideas late at night but your readers don’t necessarily want to read at that time. All your automatic promotion may be triggered at the time you post

2. Try testing ideas in Word first. There should be a good few ideas you discard as not strong enough and if you create in the blogging platform you’ll be tempted to publish when you shouldn’t

3. Blogging is about personality so don’t write about too restricted a topic. This gives you more subjects to go at while also making your blog a more attractive read

4. Ideas don’t always need to be long essays. Think about just posting lists, short ideas or reviews.

5. Use content you generate in other areas – for example use the Twitter feed widgets, press releases etc.

It’s then about growing the readership. Use your other Social Media platforms to signpost to the site but respect your followers by not bombarding them. You also need to think about each blog post and how you can attract people to it. The topic itself is part of it but also use the tags to make it easily searchable. If you’ve had a great idea, and you really think people will enjoy reading it, don’t be shy…advertise. Think about what other bloggers you would want to reblog your content. Read their pages and comment on their content honestly and constructively. When people comment, apart from spam (of which there is a lot), always approve the comments regardless of their support or otherwise and engage in a conversation with them. Make them know you value their contribution. You can also stimulate interaction by running polls or expressly asking for opinion in your content.

Blogging is not for everyone. If you don’t enjoy it and get it, don’t do it. It’s not compulsory but can be enormously rewarding.

Written by greencontact

July 11, 2012 at 9:45 am

A lesson in Blogging…. from an unexpected source

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The social lines between business and personal are blurred – when you share you share. In my view you shouldn’t control followers, readers and friends other than to control the activities of abusers and spammers. As such, I use my personal social activity as a learning point for my business activity and vice versa. I can test things in one environment and compare with what happens in the other.

Blogging was a new thing for me and I waded in wholeheartedly as ever. The research indicates that Blogging is the social activity that can have the most direct influence and is therefore potentially the most powerful in a business environment. In my mind, it is also the hardest to execute. With this view my efforts were almost exclusively focussed on content as I started my first personal blog. It began almost like a journal – extended ideas and opinions and trying to follow the same format as I use for Twitter (1:1:1).

blogging

[Picture source: Barry D via The Book Of Worlds]

What I found was that it doesn’t work in the same way – there isn’t immediately a community to write for or respond to in quite the same way. It takes much more to attract people. The writing is much more demanding because to me, there is a greater need to be interesting. It’s harder to maintain an overall theme and structure – and harder to visualise the goal. For my personal blog, this is fine – I don’t mind if no-one follows me and its both cathartic and fun for me to write. In the business world a blog has a greater significance and can be either brand-building or brand-eroding.

It took my avidly social daughter (who follows my social activity with an amused eye) to read my personal blog and to give me the killer consumer feedback. “Dad, you need to lighten up” she said – “change the format a little and do some shorter, less opinionated pieces. You are also using the hashtags wrongly. If you want to attract an audience you need to use the right ones”. This from a girl whose blogging on fan fiction topics is very popular. “And you’re using the wrong platform – Tumblr is for images and microblogs”. I looked into it and found a useful summary of the platforms: http://www.lifed.com/7-best-blogging-platforms. It figures that not only do you want a platform where the functionality enables what you are trying to achieve but also you want a platform where your potential followers and customers are likely to be (there’s no point banging away at MySpace if everyone is on Facebook).

I’m lucky to have the insight and I’m humble enough to listen, I’ve changed the format of my blog and I’m finding it easier to write and more fun as a result. I’ve transferred everything across to WordPress (some good conversion tools by the way) and I’ve tidied up my tags (the tag clouds are quite a good visual sense check).

Written by greencontact

April 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

A benevolent crowd

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Social Networking is driven by the fundamental benevolence in the participants and this can be immensely powerful. The desire for people to help each other encourages people to do a day’s work and then spend further hours helping out complete strangers. Consider this: The DIYDoctor.org.uk website offers advice for DIYers having problems with any project. Member plumbbob has helped out with advice over 1600 times and Sparx 2100 times. The IT community are used to sharing knowledge. When was the last time you actually called Microsoft or Apple with a problem rather than Google it or look through forums. Stackoverflow.com is ranked as the 64th most visited website in the UK (according to Alexa.com) and has a community of developers helping each other and gaining reputation points from their peers. Not far behind is TripAdvisor in 71st, a site that hosts 45m reviews of hotels, resorts, attractions and restaurants by benevolent travellers.

From a cult which began as forums the desire to share has now spawned sites dedicated to answering your questions regardless of topic: Yahoo Answers, Answers.Com, Quora.

So what is this benevolence based on? Clearly there is the fundamental desire to help. It is human nature to be charitable; to help someone in need. But much of this activity is on a low degree of urgency and displays a degree of self-interest too. Some other factors which appear prevalent are:

1. Gaming and competition. There are specialist providers who offer to “gamify” websites to drive up engagement. Web 2.0 is all about participation and engaging with the community. Think  about the number of engagements which are rewarded with badges or are stimulated by targets. WordPress itself reminds you of the next goal in terms of numbers of posts. TripAdvisor has badges for contributors set at a fairly low threshold. This is not really about rewarding loyalty but about stimulating usage. For many the objective of Twitter is to maximise followers. Across a range of Social Media platforms tools such as Klout and Peer Index attempt to rank and profile engagement.

2. Boasting. Particularly for the more technical skills there appears to be an element of wanting to be “seen” as a guru or expert in your field. In some of the forums there appears to be a little jousting between technical rivals even. The Stackoverflow website nakedly scores contributors with a reputation score based on volume and likes.

3. Companionship. For some the social media world has undoubtedly given them a voice which they would be shy to use as frequently or at the same volume in the “real” world. Engagement is not always about answering the question or solving the problem – there is a high level of empathy demonstrated.

4. Cost and time saving. Possibly the most important factor of all is the desire to reduce our costs and save time. Web 2.0 is a 24×7 world with vastly more expertise available than any one call centre. People understand that the contributions they are making are an investment for when they need help themselves. There are still huge numbers of “lurkers” who take without giving or are waiting for the problem to come along that they themselves can answer.

There is an undercurrent of manipulation emerging which sceptics have latched on to. TripAdvisor, in particular, has attracted negative publicity over “false reviews” which are either placed by owners or proprietors to boost rankings or by malevolent individuals looking to extort from them. Forums are regularly monitored or moderated by undercover suppliers. This is undoubtedly a threat to benevolence but Web 2.0 users are very savvy and can read between the lines more than ever before.

The true sign that benevolence is alive and well comes in the form of  Crowdfunding. Charity has long been successful asking for donations with no payback in support of worthwhile projects. Crowdfunding allows people to connect with projects and to contribute money to them in return for recognition or token gifts. Examples at the moment on http://www.crowdfunding.co.uk are unsigned artists looking for funding for their first album, charity projects, and political parties looking for funds for TV adverts. Similar platforms exist for businesses looking for equity. The difference is that inherent in the investment is a close relationship between funder and recipient from the start. The funder is providing the money directly to the individuals for a very specific project which they have an interest in – more Dragon’s Den than traditional sources of capital.

Photo: bridalwave.tv

Written by greencontact

February 6, 2012 at 10:46 am