Social Media Inspired by Kmart Big Gas Savings

I recently Tweeted about how much I liked the new Kmart Big Gas Savings advertising and subsequent social media presence, and what do you know Kmart tweeted back. Not only did they know I tweeted about them, but they also engaged with me. My post had no customer service request or action needed, I just wanted to share the advertisement and my thoughts with my followers and Social Media MBA students.


In the past, I have posted customer service requests with mixed results. If I do get a response from one of my tweets, it is usually immediate and faster than a phone call initiated at the same time. Other times, the response via Twitter comes within 24 hours, or not at all. My non-scientific study on customer service response rates via Twitter versus phone call always begins with dialing the brand while simultaneously posting a tweet. Not only is utilizing Twitter easier for me as the consumer, it is actually faster (with a handful of exceptions). Imagine sitting on hold with AT&T for 2 hours. Now imagine a tweet from me, a call from AT&T directly, and a resolution in less than an hour. Other timely resolutions I have had via Twitter recently have been with @westelm, @LifeProof, @summerinfant, @Hootcampus, @coursesmart, and @AskADT to name a few. Then there are the small percentage that did not reply at all, possibly because of not monitoring their brand via social or not knowing the importance of social media monitoring and engagement.

Social media gives us the opportunity to hear from consumers, both the good and the bad. I would prefer my customers complain to me so that I have the opportunity to “fix” the situation. Those consumers reaching out to brands via social are offering the brand another opportunity to repair troubled relationships. To ignore this is to fail.

Social media allows brands to actively monitor conversations and arrive at resolutions more quickly than ever before. Brands must be religious about social media monitoring for customer service opportunities and initiate conversations on behalf of the customer. Social media monitoring is used to identify, predict, and respond to consumer behavior. Listening to the conversations surrounding our brand is key to getting great results from a social media campaign.

Choosing a monitoring tool will be very case specific and relates back to your business and campaign objectives. I my Social Media MBA courses, I choose to suggest (or highlight) free tools for the students to experiment with. Some of those selections are (in no particular order, however I depend on the top 5):

1. Buffer Can manage multiple Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, with the ability to spread out your posts to not bombard followers with tweets. It also allows for fast sharing of content right from the page you are viewing (add on to Mozilla Firefox). As a bonus, it includes detailed analytics for all your posts. Upgrades are available for a small fee.
2. HootSuite Allows teams to collaborate across multiple social networks from one dashboard. It is a web-based dashboard that includes the ability to create custom reports. Upgrades are available for a small fee.
3. Klout Assists in finding influencers in your audience.
4. Google Alerts Sends email updates based on your preferences
5. Pinterest Web Analytics Allows you to see how people are interacting with pins that come from your websites.
6. Pinpuff Very much like Klout, but targeted at Pinterest.
7. TweetDeck Desktop and and mobile application similar to Hootsuite in that it helps manage your social media accounts. However, it does not offer the analytics that Hootsuite does.
8. BackTweets Allows the user to track people talking about your brand. Users can search tweet archives for URLs sent via Twitter (and those posted via a link shortener).
9. Icerocket Monitors the web, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, and puts it together in a one-page report.
10. Social Mention Offers real-time social media search and analysis that curates user-generated content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg, Google, etc. into a single stream.

You must embrace connecting with current and prospective consumers directly. These deeper connections can lead to higher-level interactions, including advocacy and loyalty. Brands should use keyword search, start conversations, mention, and listen (both for your own brand and competitors’). Also consider the concept of ‘social proof’ in the buying process. Customers are online researching before they purchase, if they search your brand via social what will they see? Use some of the tools mentioned above, search Twitter, or simply Google your brand. As a consumer, I hope to see relevant content from brands as well as dialogue with consumers. I hope to not to see consumer requests going unanswered or one way dialogue only from the brand.

Some ways to connect with consumers beyond a simple reply to posts could be (in no particular order):

1. Post photos and videos. Photos are shown to increase engagement tremendously. Consider posting behind the scenes photos of your business, recent functions, or even share photos of your customers using your product (with their permission of course). However, not all photos (or content for that matter) should be of your products, services, or offers. You may also want to ask your audience to share photos.
2. Offer contests or sweepstakes. I like the idea of contests, but be careful not to over use this tactic. Nothing says spam (in my opinion) like posting and re-posting about a contest on my Facebook or Twitter Feed. This will be a quick way for folks to un-follow you, remove you from their feeds, or opt out of email.
3. Post some clever questions. These types of posts will inevitably spark a discussion that could provide valuable insight on your target audience. You could also incorporate a poll on Facebook or your blog.
4. Show that you are listening by responding to comments on your Social Profile (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
5. Post infographics that your target audience will appreciate. Again, this goes back to providing content that is relevant and resonates with your target. If it meets these criteria, it will likely be shared or commented on.
6. Include a little humor. Incorporate some fun into your Facebook posts, Tweets, Google+ etc. Pinterest can be a great source for fun quotes and photos to share.

The replies I received from Kmart made me smile and restored my faith that brands are listening via social and embracing social media as a way to reach consumers. The advertisements were just a way to start up a conversation that had gone stale.


The entire unedited post can be found on Maximize Social Business.

Dear Abby, Crowdsourcing and Social Media Marketing

Pauline Friedman Phillips (aka Abigail Van Buren) was loved across the US as the author of the very popular Dear Abby syndicated column. January 16 marks the one year anniversary of her death. She was 94.

In honor of her widely ready column, I want to extend the invitation to my readers on this blog, as well as the two I contribute to Maximize Social Business and {grow} to submit their Social Media Marketing questions. These questions will drive my posts on several platforms (these blogs included) for the next year.

Over the past 2 years I have addressed topics I wanted to write about, topics I enjoy. Now, it is your turn to ask some questions! I encourage my MBA students chime in on topics they enjoyed or want further clarification. I urge small business owners to voice their concerns as well. I hope higher ed folks jump on board and also add topics of interest and/or concern.

You may comment below or email me direct at
Questions sent via email will remain anonymous

photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc

Social Media Strategy: Look for successes AND Failures

When planing a social strategy, we want to consider:
Who? Who is your target audience, where are they online, how can you reach them?
What? What are your primary objectives? These could be building brand awareness, building online credibility, providing education about your brand; increase sales. Again, these tie back in to the overall organizational objectives.
When? When will you evaluate the social media strategy, and how will you evaluate it? Often organizations have no real set time-frame in which to assess objectives to ascertain if they are on target or if plans need to be re-evaluated or possibly revamped.
Where? Where does the social strategy fit into the overall business? When utilizing such tools as Twitter and Facebook, brands are realizing that social media sites can provide support for not only the marketing and sales departments, but can also assist with educational endeavors, public relations, and even customer care. A social strategy often spans over different departments and objectives should be formulated accordingly.
Which? Which employees/departments will oversee social media, be responsible for posting, and reporting?
How? How will you differentiate yourself from the competition? Identify your competitors strengths and weaknesses as well as your own, this will help in planning your social strategy.

Beantin webbkommunikation / / CC BY-SA

As we prepare for a social campaign strategically, one of the first, and arguable most important steps we take is identifying what we will measure, and how. These directly correlate with our set objectives. I make sure to stress to my graduate social media marketing students that we will not (and should not) simply measure our social presence, or the number of fans and followers of our profiles on various platforms and blog. Social media revolves around the notion of engagement, not just activity. Engagement with your social network or tribes will ultimately be affected by the perception of “value” in what you post or share. Via social, I have surrounded myself with like-minded people that I can have a symbiotic relationship with. Many of the folks I follow on Twitter I follow because I can learn from them and I value the content they produce. This holds true for B2B and B2C social relationships as well.
Measure and Review

Measuring value makes significantly more sense than passive “likes” and quantity of followers. Measuring value can be done by considering “action”. What actions occurred because of value offered: Did visitors to the blog subscribe? Did a subscriber convert to a customer? Was a donation made (non-profits)? Did Facebook fans or Twitter followers share content from the blog? These build sustainable relationships that for businesses can increase revenue.

Clear, specific objectives, and measurable KPI’s need to be identified early on. Over time, effective social reporting can illuminate the impact (or lack thereof) of social media actions on customer activity. There are several very useful dashboards that give the user the ability to track and measure multiple platforms. Such as Hootsuite and Google Analytics (two of my top 3) Others worthy of mention (various levels of analysis and reporting) for you all to consider are:
Buffer (one of my top 3)
Facebook Pages Manager App
LinkedIn’s Skills and Expertise page (formerly known as Pinerly)

Measurement is an ongoing process, compare numbers weekly, or for some monthly. Plans must be flexible and be easily modified based on results and analysis.

Analyze Social Actions to Identify what Works and Identify New Opportunities

Look for the successes as well! Of course, acknowledging failures is a great learning tool, but identifying successes allows you to also identify possible opportunities you may be overlooking. Also consider missed opportunities. Both missed and overlooked opportunities are most often a result of lack of monitoring and/or engagement. Social media is two-way dialogue. Listening and replying when appropriate are key! Consider a classic missed opportunity to engage during Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s speech and sip of Poland Springs Water in February 2013. This was a huge missed opportunity for the brand to engage with the public, tweets that included the terms ‘Rubio’ and ‘water’ peaked at 57,466 mentions. This particular case would be best addressed in real time, but other not so obvious opportunities can be missed such as the opportunity to create loyal customers, nurture brand advocates, or even benefit from un-intentional crowdsourcing of ideas on a Facebook page.

By systematically reviewing data and comparing it, brands are better able to understand their fans, followers, and customers. In the case of my MBA students and our blog, previous semesters have found many opportunities for our “brand” to flourish! For example, some blog posts were shared and commented on more than others. By reading the comments carefully it identified a topic our readers really were interested about and wanted to know more about. We also looked at what posts were shared more on Twitter than others. It was found that some of our posts were more shareable than others.

For the full un-edited article, click here.