Category Archives: Towanda Long

Debunking Twitter Rules

Myth #1: Don’t tell us what you’re doing. Some people enjoy knowing what you are doing, and if those are your followers then there is nothing wrong with your tweets.

I enjoy getting personal tweets mixed in with professional tweets. It makes my Twitter friends feel real, not so much virtual. I’ve also found great restaurants from these tweets.

Myth #2: It’s about two-way conversations. This is not always the case. There are some people and companies that I follow because of the information they provide. It doesn’t matter to me if they respond to a DM or @ reply. What’s important is that the information they give me is accurate and useful.

Myth #3: Don’t tweet more than 5 times a day. True, some people go overboard with spam, but that’s another issue. I don’t care how many times you tweet; as long as I can use some of the information I’m fine.

Myth #4: Only follow people with similar interests, that you can learn from, etc. One of the great things about Twitter is it’s a community of people with different interests, expertise and information.

Do not feel like you must limit who you follow because of any absolute; you set the rules for who you follow. I follow people with similar interests and opinions along with those that are the complete opposite. I follow marketers as well as jewelry designers. I don’t follow spammers.

Here’s the thing, I use Twitter as a news feed. It’s a place where I can find out about current events, career news as well as my friends and family. And from each of these Tweeps I am interested in different information.

So, if you must have a Twitter rule this is it. Tweet what’s important to your current and potential followers.

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Using the New for Motivation

The pink crystal paperweight on my desk? I bought it on a lunch break when I had writer’s block. And a lot of the cutesy jewelry I wear on my right hand? Well, that was purchased when I needed some motivation and/or inspiration for a project.

Adding something new can help us look at everything in a new light. It’s the reason throw pillows can change the look of a living room and why adding a plant can give new life to a room.

This works not only for our living and work spaces, but also for projects. If you are in a rut, now is the time to try something new. Freshen up your presentations with new graphs. Here’s a Seth Godin post on making graphs that work. Compliment a campaign with some social media initiatives. Here are some great examples compiled by Mashable. If these are too drastic, then at least go shopping. You may find your inspiration there.

The Real Problem with Calling Customer Service

It’s more than the annoyance of prompts for an account number, zip code, phone number, pin number, birth date, last five digits of a social security number and your bra size (okay maybe not that one but you get the idea).

It’s the false sense of hope once a customer service rep answers. For a minute, customers believe that the rep has power to resolve an issue. They believe that the person will be able to listen to an issue and come up with a human-based answer, not an automated, scripted one.

However, customers soon realize the rep is just a live version of the automated help maze. They see that the person on the line has little to no power, because they are not trained to use their judgment to make a decision. They must rely on scripts and cookie-cutter answers for questions that are not cookie-cutter.

If your company is going to hire people for customer service, empower them to make decisions (Zappos is my favorite example of this). If you don’t feel your reps can handle making decisions, then hire new people with competent judgment skills. Stop giving your customers a false sense of hope when they hear a person. It’s not fair to them and it’s not fair to your reps that have to deal with irate customers.

Here are other things you can do to improve the customer service experience:

  • Don’t ask customers to repeat the information they just entered into your automated system.
  • Use a CRM (customer relationship management) system to record your customer’s history. That way your customers won’t have to rehash previous problems or conversations with other reps.
  • Insist that all reps are nice to clients (And no, this is not a given. I’ve had reps hang up on me and I was not irate).
  • If you are going to use a survey to evaluate your efficiency, use questions that will offer productive feedback. Instead of “Were you happy with your service today?” try “What part of your experience could have been better?”
  • Hire happy people.
  • Monitor what people are saying about you online (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
  • Don’t use generic answers (e.g. Our policy states…).
  • Find reasons to say yes to customers’ requests.

Ways to Reach Your Target Audience Offline

Here are some basic ways to reach a target audience that’s not online because let’s face it, there are still a lot of people that don’t use Facebook, Twitter and hold your breath… Google.

  • Support causes special to your audience.
  • Organize an event for your audience.
  • Gain credibility of thought leaders.
  • Create a subscription-based newsletter with valuable information.
  • Utilize Print, Radio and Television Ads.
  • Run a contest.
  • Give samples.
  • Produce a cable access TV show.
  • Distribute coupons.
  • Use a referral campaign.
  • Create a campaign based around a holiday.
  • Create your own holiday.
  • Team with a company that offers a vertical service.
  • Attend social gatherings.
  • Find interest groups that can benefit from your product/service and:
    • Offer or sponsor a class/seminar of interest
    • Offer to speak at a meeting
    • Give samples

 

The Problem Is We Always Agree

If members of your team consistently agree they either don’t want to voice their true opinion or everyone drank the same water and you need to shake up the group.

The purpose of a group is to bring together different people with varying perspectives in order to offer feedback and suggestions. Groupthink defeats that.

Here are some signs that your team suffers from groupthink:

There is no debate. No matter the issue, there are many possible outcomes. A group should weigh these outcomes. And how can they be weighed if there is no conflict? True analyzing, testing and evaluating require conflict.

Stereotypes are used as facts. Many times like-minded people treat stereotypes as facts, either because they don’t know better or it’s easier. If it is impossible to diversify your group (which I find hard to believe), at least have someone in your group do research on your target audience beforehand.

There is no Plan B. There should always be a contingency plan. If you have not discussed a contingency plan, chances are you have not discussed the many possible outcomes of your decision.

Here are some things that you can do to combat groupthink:

Have at least one person play devil’s advocate at each meeting. This will train people to look for the loopholes and not just take the information at face value. This will also provide a safe environment for dissension and erase concerns of being blackballed later.

Have the leader voice his/her opinion last. This gives people an opportunity to voice their opinion without fear of upsetting the leader. It also gives the leader an opportunity to hear many perspectives, which may sway his/her final perspective.

Distribute a copy of the agenda before the meeting and have members contribute their feedback anonymously. Have an unbiased party compile the feedback and use that as discussion points for the meeting.

The Blogging Hiatus is Over

The following is not an excuse; it just shows that life happens…

When we moved in September I gave myself until November to get settled. I figured two months would be enough time to unpack and establish a routine. Things didn’t work out that way. I spent the first two months training for my new gig, being the primary caregiver to the girls and trying to adjust to southern life as an adult. My husband was contractually obligated and couldn’t join us full-time until November.

So I moved that date from November to January (this was a more realistic goal anyway…) and said I would make no excuses. Well, I didn’t make an excuse, but I DID find out that I was expecting. And trust me, expecting another child is definitely a reason to alter plans. So I moved my timeline to May.

Well, I didn’t quite make that deadline either. For starters we were supposed to move into a house April 4th, but due to contractual issues, that date had to be pushed back to May 1rst. Then I had some unexpected family issues that were draining, both mentally and physically.

But now, it’s May 12th, and I’m back. Tweeting has filled the void a little, but it’s not the same as being able to write in more than 140 characters. I’ve missed blogging; I’ve missed the conversations.

I have a lot of topics on schedule, so now that I have a decent routine you should see new posts here at least once a week.

And since I’ve said that out loud that means I’ll have to follow through…

Towanda Long

Why Your Press Release Was Ignored

Here are a few reasons your Press Release was ignored:

 

  • It was not well-written.
  • It did not tell the media outlet why their audience would be interested in your news.
  • The story was not news worthy.
  • It got lost among the hundreds of press releases the outlet receives everyday.
  • It was sent to the wrong person in the organization.
  • There was no follow-up.
  • The timing was wrong.
  • It got caught in the spam filter. 

I could go on but the point is this. Getting your story covered takes much more than writing and distributing a release. It takes research, follow-up, relationship-building and sometimes a little luck. Think about it; there’s a reason media relations is considered a skillset. 

Towanda Long aka mscafe