Twitter recently made the decision to replace its Favorite button with a Like button giving users a new way to show their appreciation for Tweets.
Of course, Facebook has been using this feature for years. This sudden change at Twitter may have come as a shock to the system for avid social media users, but it's not the first time that something like this has happened. In 2013, taking a leaf out of Twitter's book, Facebook added a panel showing trending hashtags to its homepage.
Social media platforms seem to be slowly blending into one and to prove it, here are three examples of social media features that are now spread across a multitude of platforms.
To appeal to new users, Twitter has swapped its Favorite feature for a Like feature, symbolised by a heart. According to Twitter, newcomers often found the Favorite feature (with its star symbol) confusing and were unsure what they should use it for.
Crucially for businesses, it's likely that companies that use Twitter will get more Likes than they did Favorites because liking something has a much lower barrier than making it your Favourite. However, this move by Twitter could reduce the number of retweets and these currently generate the most social reach for many firms.
It's hard to ignore the surge in video across all social media channels.
Recently, Facebook introduced an auto-play feature, making it impossible to avoid the viral videos that fill our news feeds. Image-sharing platform Instagram also introduced a 15-second video feature, responding to the micro-video craze established by Vine. Twitter rolled out 30-second videos for tweets and began offering promoted video ads. Even Pinterest unveiled Cinematic Pins, a GIF-like video feature.
Video sharing has even created micro-celebrities, including Cian Twomey, an Irish Facebook user who rose to fame after posting videos of himself impersonating his girlfriend. Cian's Facebook page now has over three million Likes.
Anyone who has been tagged in an unflattering photo on Facebook will be unhappy to find out that Twitter has also adopted this feature. Rather than listing the names of the people in the tweet, users can now tag them in the photo.
Thankfully, anyone tagged in a photo can amend or delete the tag themselves. The photo will only appear in the original Tweeter's stream, unless tagged users choose to retweet. One thing worth knowing about this feature is that the default setting for private accounts is to not allow any tagging.
Like it or not, it's clear that social media channels are slowly converging on a single set of standards.
Copyright © 2015 Jessica Phillips, account executive at Stone Junction.
The stakes have never been higher when it comes to customer service; 46% of shoppers in the UK under 25 use social media to comment on their customer experience.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos describes a brand as "what other people say about you when you're not in the room". But today's customers are less discreet - in fact they are quite happy to shout about you on social media if you get it wrong. So how can you use social media to improve the customer service you provide?
According to a study by American Express, companies that respond to and resolve complaints via social media see 21% more sales than companies that handle complaints on the telephone or in written form.
Social media savvy consumers have higher expectations, but they'll spend more when they get good service and quickly ditch a company when they don't. So when you respond well, in real time, customers are impressed and become more loyal.
As a result, those taking a social approach to customer service are raising the stakes significantly in their favour. You'll now even see big brands signing off tweets with the first name of the person that wrote the tweet to add a personal face to the communications.
Digital is a great leveller. With so much choice for consumers, there's no room for average, mediocre or just okay. That means a smaller business offering the personal touch can really stand out.
Businesses built on products that truly deliver - with customer care that is personal and responsive - are creating genuine competitive advantage despite their limited budgets.
This is how King of Shaves - as a start-up with little budget - became a strong challenger brand in a market dominated by billion-dollar rival, Gillette. Up against their £40m UK advertising budget they used an incredibly personal service on social media to create genuinely happy customers who then went on to do their marketing for them.
Social is more than just a way to get your message out there; it's also fantastic for listening to your audience, responding to their needs and tracking your competition.
And it is great for getting feedback from your current customers and new prospects. Feedback can be given on your profile or it can be what people are saying about you in the feeds. So listen up; both positive and negative feedback will help make your business better and will make you more interactive on social.
At the heart of social customer service is transparency and honesty, but this isn't always easy when things go wrong. It is at this point that many brands try to stop anything negative going online but this can quickly backfire. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to be great - recognising that by responding to a criticism in a positive way you will often impress that customer, as well as all the others listening in on the conversation.
We all have those heart-in-the-mouth moments. Launching our social sharing tool Openr we've certainly had a few - including our entire domain not being available and users having to take to Twitter to tell us about the issues.
The trick is to treat customers as you would want to be treated yourself. Always respond to comments and when things do go wrong, make sorry the first word. Think about it from their perspective - they don't care if the issue wasn't actually your fault. It isn't their fault either, so sorry is the first step to making it up to them.
It seems strange that social media - a technology - is making businesses more human, honest and transparent, but it is undoubtedly raising the bar for customer service. Those that embrace it are standing out for all the right reasons.
One of the tried and tested ways to establish your business in your sector is to win an award. An industry accolade is an independent evaluation of your firm and a public recognition of your worth - and it's something that your customers are more likely to trust than your own marketing material.
Most business owners already know this - and yet many fail to take full advantage of a win and leverage it for the massive authority building that it provides.
Here are five ways to get more mileage out of an award:
Writing a press release can be one of the best ways to leverage an award. Not only does it increase your media exposure, but it also provides core content that you can adapt and use in a wide range of marketing materials – such as on your blog, on social media channels and to send in emails.
Potential clients often visit your website to look for proof of what you do, and the quality of what you do. An awards section will help this tremendously.
Convert your press release into a blog. Details of your win will persuade anyone that is sitting on the fence that you are credible and it will further reassure those who already believe in what you do.
Share links on your social media channels to your press release, any media coverage and your blog post. Share a snippet from your press release; something short, sweet and compelling, in line with the tone of your business.
Include a picture from the awards night. Social shares with photos tend to capture attention better than those without. Sharing to your social media is essential as many consumers look to social channels to find out more about you and gauge your quality.
Using your press release as a starting point, write a short announcement to those who have opted in to receive your emails. Upload any relevant photos to your Facebook or other social media platforms. Then place a link to the album within your email. This helps encourage readers to share via their own channels.
Gaining social shares contributes not only to your authority but to your "social signals" which is great for search engine optimisation (SEO).
Towards the end of the email mention how to get in touch, or flag up one of your latest offers, to encourage prospects to convert.
Take a break in your day-to-day activities and really celebrate this achievement.
This is an opportunity to build authority with the public and to foster a sense of achievement amongst your employees. It is their win as well and they need to see that you appreciate their contribution to the business.
This will allow you to get to know your team better and have a good time with them. Plus, it will contribute to motivating your team to keep your business on a trajectory of greatness.
Putting into action these five steps whenever you win an award may take some time out of your schedule. However, the time taken to leverage something like this is worth it for the authority building that has far reaching effects with your customers and with your team.
Copyright © 2015 Shweta Jhajharia, principal coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.
I was pretty despondent when I walked through the door of my parents' home. I was 17 years old and had just had my first driving lesson. I thought driving was going to be a breeze; but inevitably I had stalled the car and made the multitude of mistakes most people do the first time they get behind the wheel.
As I passed my Dad on the stairs he asked, "What's wrong?".
"Do you think I will ever be able to learn to drive?" I murmured.
He quickly responded, "Have you seen all the idiots on the road?"
Of course, that was my father's way of saying "yes".
I meet company directors all the time who tell me they don't understand social media. They don't use Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and wouldn't know where to start. I always want to use my father's quote, "Have you seen all the idiots on Facebook?"
Facebook is used by 1.3 billion people a month. It is designed to be user friendly. It is not elitist and it's not that difficult. Anyone who gives themselves some time on any of these platforms will quickly master the basics. Moreover, there are a plethora of online articles and videos that can help if you're stuck on a particular task.
Social media doesn't go wrong because people don't understand a particular aspect of functionality on LinkedIn or Twitter. Social media doesn't work for businesses and individuals because they don't understand the mindset shift that has to happen to make it work. Social platforms are very different from broadcast media. To put it simply, social media is not a platform; it is a mindset, a way of thinking, a state of mind.
The mind-shift is simple to explain and yet I am often surprised at how difficult people find the change of thinking. Quite simply, broadcast media was about "me". I would talk about my company, what we could offer, the benefits we gave and so on. This worked when the audience had no right of reply. In a world where there was scarcity of choice and information, audiences would allow themselves to be interrupted by messages they would not necessarily be able to access in any other way.
Social media, however, is not broadcast. It is a two-way communication. Audiences don't merely have the right of reply, rather your business is communicating in their channel. Social media platforms are the primary communication tool of choice for a growing number of individuals. Rather than pick up the phone, many individuals will prefer to send a Facebook message. Therefore, when a company communicates on social platforms, it is in its customer's space. This, of course, is what makes the channel so potentially powerful. It is also why it can go badly wrong.
To make social media work, you have to make your customers the heroes. This normally means allowing your customers to get involved and participate – by encouraging social sharing and feedback.
However, the more you can allow your customers to be involved, the more effective your social media will become. Great examples are Walkers Crisps encouraging customers to come up with a new flavour, JetBlue asking customers to share the story of their flight or Heinz asking its customers which bean they are.
These companies understand the importance of the narrative. Stories are what we tell each other. Stories are how we learn. Whether we obtain the story via word of mouth, books, TV or films, it is stories that have been capturing our imagination since the beginning of time. Before you unleash your communications on the world, ask yourself, "what is your narrative?". What is the story behind what you are doing or the story you are trying to tell? Is it compelling? Could it be improved?
Once you have the story, then you need to work out how the audience can take a central role in the story. If the audience are the heroes they will want to get involved and share the communication with others. And that is ultimately how your social media will be successful.
I don't mean going "viral", which is one of the most overused marketing terms; I'm talking about "social sharing". It only takes a small percentage of any audience to share your communications in order for you to reach a relevant group of potential new customers in the most credible way. After all, it is not you saying how good you are, but a trusted friend or colleague. Rinse and repeat this process on a weekly or monthly basis and that is a lot of potential reach over the course of a year.
Social media is not about the platform. That is merely the outlet for the communication. Social media is about great narratives where your audience takes the central role. David Bowie famously sang: "we can be heroes, just for one day". If you can make your audience the heroes, then your social media might just work.
Just this week I had to practise what I preach as I was having a problem with a big organisation's customer services.
I teach people how to open doors to long sought-after contacts and how to get themselves into the press. I applied my own teaching to a situation I was facing and it worked!
I was having some big techie issues with a very large organisation that does not have phone support. This organisation has been highly recommended to me by many people so I decided to take the plunge and use it, despite the lack of phone numbers.
Then it happened that I needed to speak to them urgently...I emailed their support daily. Zero response.
I kept on emailing thinking I would "break" them but I got no reply.
Then I decided to go all out and use my secret weapon, LinkedIn.
I Googled the company's marketing and communications manager and the business development manager and in so doing quite a few new contacts in the organisation popped up in LinkedIn.
So I sent all of these people (in this very hard to reach company) a personalised LinkedIn contact request.
Luckily one person accepted that very day. I took the bull by the horns and thanked her kindly for accepting me and then I wrote about my experience.
The next day: boom! My issue was resolved.
This doesn't only apply to customer services issues but also when trying to contact anyone no matter how high up or unattainable they appear to be. Try it! Use the back door to open the front door.
The use of social media has become an integral part of marketing a business but there are also pitfalls to watch out for. Here are seven tips on how to avoid getting into sticky situations on social media.
Sharing repetitive posts and overly-promoted or irrelevant content will turn off your audience, losing you likes and followers. Do your homework to work out which type of content works best for your audience. Find out when are they most active and which topics are most likely to be retweeted.
Social media can be time-consuming but if you rush things, you'll miss opportunities to engage online and mistakes are more likely to happen.
Social media tools such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite can make managing your social networks easier; helping you schedule tweets and monitor hash tags. In addition, Buffer gives you the opportunity to keep up-to-date with changing trends and timelines with user engagement analytics.
A lot of businesses make the mistake of signing up to and posting on all the social media platforms, even those irrelevant to their business. You know your audience better than anyone else; carry out research to determine what platforms are the most important for your target market.
Carelessly posting on behalf of your business can have a negative impact on the way your brand is perceived by your customers. So, carefully proofread any posts before hitting the share button.
Your social media accounts should be a reflection of your brand and represent how you want your customers to see you. Make sure that everything you send out supports this message, including the content that you are sharing.
Inviting criticism can be fatal on social media channels; a well-documented example of this comes from British Gas, who carried out a live Twitter Q&A with its customers on the same day that it put up its prices. As a result of this, the company was bombarded with criticism and negative feedback, all in the public eye.
Carefully consider who has access to and control of your social accounts to protect your brand. Putting control into the wrong hands can be disastrous. When HMV made 60 members of staff redundant in 2013 a stream of Tweets narrated the course of events, resulting in a backlash from the public. It was later revealed that the company had left an intern in charge of their social media account.
Copyright © 2015 Sophie Greenwood, account manager for PR agency Peppermint Soda.