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How Will You Celebrate Leap Day?

Unlike your favourite real holidays, which happen annually, you only get the chance to celebrate February 29, or Leap Day, once every four years. That makes Leap Day actually less frequent than once in a blue moon (which happens roughly every three years).

Motorbike

How should one celebrate this day? By taking a leap, of course! By trying something new that you’ve been putting off for far too long. That’s as simple as making a booking for a dance class, or trying a new restaurant, or bungee jumping in a chicken suit (if you do this, please send us photos).

I know what you’re thinking: Leap Day isn’t a real holiday. Well, neither is Talk Like A Pirate Day, but as more people support and celebrate these left-field calendar dates, we can change the world. I still hold out hope for a Leap Day miracle.

Leap Day William

We also think it’s a good day to take a risk with your marketing.

The best advertisements of all time all have an element of risk. Have you ever thought that a scripted message looks different to what everyone else does, or is a bit ‘out there’? That probably means it’s more effective. People remember things that are different. It’s one reason why we recommend updating your messages – to keep it different! After all, how do you expect to secure your competitor’s clients if you market your business in exactly the same way they do?

Old Spice

So if you’ve been playing it safe with your marketing, do one thing this Leap Day: ask us to write something wacky, wonderful and way out there. After all, there’s a Leap Day saying: if you want make a baby, playing it safe isn’t the best way to do it.

I’m on a horse.

Stop Reposting

In order to be valuable, the content you post needs to be specific to your business. Pugs in Game of Thrones costumes? Not relevant, save them for your personal page. The only way to ensure everything you post is specific to your business is to create everything yourself. If you’re just starting out, or are hitting a content brick wall, here are some tips:

social media for business

Don’t be Afraid to Hire Help

Creating enough content for your business can seem like an almost impossible task, thankfully there’s always help out there. Intern uni students or hire a freelance writer – you’re sure to find someone who enjoys writing, understands social media, and would love to get some experience. However, if you really want to be noticed, consider branching out into video content. Why? Because video is naturally engaging and easy to digest – it requires very little effort, your consumer simply has to sit and watch. The figures back me up:

  • 100 million Internet users watch videos online every day.
  • By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco.
  • YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month.

If you’re hesitant to jump into the world of video content because you’re afraid of the price tag, relax – in recent years, things have become much more affordable, and more businesses are offering video creation than ever before. At Messages On Hold, we offer VideoUpdate.me, a professionally written, recorded and produced industry-specific video newsletter you brand as your own.

social media for business

  1. Not Every Post Needs to be Earth-Shattering

Remember, it’s better to post one relevant video you created on your website/social media and have that running for three to six months than repost a video that isn’t yours every week. In the meantime however, remember to post updates, share your blog posts, and keep clients updated with products and news. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering for you or your customers either, keeping it light hearted is just fine.

social media for business

Newsjacking

If you’re struggling for ideas, Newsjacking can be a great source of content. Messages On Hold did this last year when a telephone sales rep from US company Comcast was recorded refusing to cancel a customer’s service. In the weeks following the recording going viral, Comcast’s share price dropped more than 5% – a dip many attributed to the negative publicity surrounding the recorded phone call. This happened to coincide with the launch of our online skills training, Phone Skills. We immediately put out a press release and wrote a few blogs on the subject, showing the terrible results of failing to train staff properly, highlighting the benefit of our product to our customers. But please be careful Newsjacking an issue held sacred by many may not give the results you’re looking for.

Good Example:

social media for business

Bad Example:

social media for business

Use Your Personal Experiences

You’ll be surprised at just how well your daily life can translate into content relatable to your business and audience. Our General Manager, Kirrily Davies did it in her recent blog post about leadership. By reflecting on her son’s junior football match on Mother’s Day, she was able to show the importance of every day leadership and how it can positively impact the people around you. Using your own experiences has the benefit of allowing you to write about what you know, and to develop a deeper emotional bond with you customers.

Every time you post ensure the content is relevant to you and helpful to your customers. If that means promoting your own products, even better! Also make sure you post and share your own content at least once a week. You adopted social media to promote your business – so do it!

– Steph

The Power of Social Media: Turning Disgruntled Customers Into Loyal Ones

A wise, rather scantily clad woman once said: “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” While I’m sure Dita Von Teese was referring to her female counterparts, I think this quote can be applied to business, too.

No matter how good your products, how refined your processes, how well you’ve trained your staff, at some point along the line you’re going to end up with an unhappy customer. Back in the day we were told that news of bad customer service reached more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. Thanks to social media however, that figure is now potentially thousands of times more ears.

So what does it mean for your business? Well, depending on you, it can either be very good or very bad.

The Bad

Hasan Syed, a Chicago-based business owner, took to twitter to complain of the poor service he received flying British airways.

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Followed by…

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Syed paid a cool $1000 to promote the tweet, and as a result was seen by an initial 76,000 users. It was then re-tweed in a smart move by Marty St. George, senior vice-president of marketing and commercial at JetBlue Airways; and picked up by dozens of news outlets world-wide.

British Airways could have used this tweet as an opportunity to not only win over a disgruntled customer, but to show off some amazing customer service skills. Instead, their reply was somewhat lacklustre, not to mention robotic.

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While the majority of people supported Syed’s move, finding it both a revelation and hilarious, others wondered if he might have got the same result if he went through the proper customer service channels. However, the twitter.com/we_hate_ba page – a profile dedicated to posting the customer service screw ups of the airline – begs to differ.

So, what can we learn from British Airways’ social media faux pas?

1 – Do it right the first time. You can bet if Syed’s missing luggage was dealt with competently and compassionately in the beginning, he wouldn’t have felt the need to take to social media to voice his frustrations.

2 – If you’re on social media and you receive a complaint, your responses need to be fast and empathetic.

3 – Don’t ignore angry customers. Otherwise, you might just end up with a page devoted to your mistakes.

The Good

JetBlue, an American low-cost airline are renowned for being one of the most skilled companies on Twitter at handling consumer complaints. They average an unbelievable 10 minute response time for the 2,500-2,600 mentions they see daily, and as you can see – they do it well.

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They reply to as many critical tweets as positive ones, and their human, compassionate and at times funny responses endear them to customers – a stark contrast to Hasan Syed’s experience. Take a leaf out of JetBlue’s book and instead of being offended, angry, upset, or worse apathetic when a customer has something negative to say, cherish it. Customer feedback is gold. They’re teaching you how to make your product, your service and your business better.

While this blog has focused on Twitter’s involvement, it shouldn’t just be the fear of backlash of social media that makes you want to excel in customer service. With loyal customers being worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase – it’s better for your bottom line too.

– Steph

Marketing Messages: What Kim Kardashian Can Teach You

Whether you loved it, hated it, or thought it was the latest character in Ryan Murphy’s and Brad Falchuk’s American Horror Story, you probably saw the photo of Kim Kardashian’s behind. There’s also a good chance you shared it, tweeted it, liked one of the hundreds of memes it produced and discussed it with friends. While a great lesson in Photoshop, Kim shows us that just one carefully selected image can be shared, posted and published over and over again across social media, websites, and even in good old fashioned press. In a nutshell, if you have the right image, it can be seen by millions.

Kim’s Paper Magazine shoot is also a great teaching tool when you’re deciding how to market your small business. Whenever you upload, post, or interact with customers on social media, or update your website or online shop, words are only half the battle. To be truly effective, you need marketing messages with images – good ones.

 Bolster your marketing messages with compelling images.

Websites

If you have an online shop, take note that 56% of consumers consider images of products to be more significant than any other information you may provide, including detailed descriptions, reviews and ratings. Forget ‘images coming soon’ notices and grainy iPhone photos, consumers want images that are both clear and professional. This is because a) they want to know what they’re getting before it arrives at their door, and b) only tangible images will produce that “yes, this is exactly what I want” feeling.

If you don’t have an online shop, and instead just have a contact number, email and a two year old “under construction site” notice, (you know who you are) you still need an image. Upload one of your store front, or with your staff members standing in the foreground. Why? Because 60% of consumers are more likely to consider or contact your business if an image appears in local search results. Consumers want to put a face to a name and want to know that the company they’re choosing to do business with is a) real, and b) legitimate.

On Social Media

90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual, and visuals are processed in the brain 60,000 times faster than text. This means when a person is scrolling down their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn feed they’re 90% more likely to stop for an image than for text, not because your tagline isn’t engaging, but because their brain picks up on the image rather than the text.

The statistics back it up. Images are liked twice as much as text updates on Facebook; articles with images on LinkedIn get 94% more total views; and using images on Twitter increases retweets by 150% and click-throughs by 18%.

Pinterest and Instagram

If your business isn’t currently on Pinterest or Instagram, here are two figures that should change your mind. Pinterest saw a 1047% growth in unique visitors in their first year, (unique visitors refers to a person who visits a website more than once within a specified period of time) and Instagram has 130 million users who like 1 billion photos per day.

Whether you’re a fashion, furniture or fencing business, get an account and start uploading. Images are so important for your marketing messages because they let consumers imagine. Customers can picture themselves in your dress, imagine how their pool will look with a stylish glass fence, or envision how your dining set will look in their home. Plus, Pinterest and Instagram let you connect and interact with current and potential customers on a fundamental level, and by constantly uploading and updating, consumers are constantly exposed to your brand. And as we know from the Effective Frequency Theory – a consumer has to be exposed to an ad at least three times before they take action – more exposure to your brand can never be a bad thing.

The Bottom Line

Next time you’re updating your business’ Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account I want you to stop and think about Kim’s oiled up bottom, and imagine what kind of photos will stop your customers mid scroll. Stay away from poor stock photos or images that looks too set up, and get creative – images that show your human side will create stronger connections with customers.

– Steph

It’s Always Personal, It’s Business

“It’s nothing personal, it’s just business” is a phrase that, unbelievably, still lingers in some modern business owners’ lexicon. The reach of social media, the rapid rate at which consumers can communicate and the speed with which they can congratulate or condemn means that whether you’re in customer service or marketing: business is always personal.

When customers use social media to query or complain, the business is presented with a unique opportunity: to personally engage with this one customer. Studies into complaints made over social media indicate that 50% of customers give a brand only one week to respond to a complaint before they stop doing business with them. The same study indicated that 89% of customers began business with another company after a poor experience. Can you afford to stay silent?

The most common words on a major airline’s Facebook newsfeed.

The most common words on a major airline’s Facebook newsfeed.

It would be unreasonable for a business to completely change their terms of service on the whim of one customer… but prompt acknowledgement and resolution of a complaint online can help a customer to not only forgive the grievance, but flip their view of the company from negative to positive, thereby strengthening brand loyalty.

Another study indicated that after having two-way interaction with a brand over social media, 90% of customers would recommend the brand to others. In developing an emotional connection, a sense of loyalty, between customer and brand, social media is an invaluable and incredibly effective approach.

Still not sure just how “personal” it can be? In 2008, United Airlines were shown just how effective social media can be as a weapon when it was used against them with humiliating and ruthless efficiency. After irreparably damaging musician Dave Carrol’s guitar during a flight, and refusing to reimburse him despite 9 months of negotiations, Dave released a song on YouTube which blasted their business and customer service. The song went viral, and four days after its release, United’s stock had dropped by 10% – an estimated $180 million.

As more consumers choose social media as the means to communicate with the brands they use, the age old adage “it’s nothing personal, just business” should recede from all minds serious about strengthening brand loyalty, and increasing their customer base.

– Kyle

One Giant Tweet For Mankind

Full disclosure, I’m a massive Twitter fan. Twitter lets me say what I want to say, when I want to say it, to who I want to say it to and lets me feel like someone is listening. I’ve had problems as simple as ‘what to have for dinner’ answered, I’ve interacted with famous people I admire and will never meet and I’ve connected with people I have never met in a meaningful way, all within 140 characters.

One of the most powerful examples of the influence Twitter can have is that of Barack Obama’s political team and their use of the social media. Having successfully experimented with social media in the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama began personally contributing to the @BarackObama account signing personally written tweets with BO. You, the follower, can now read direct communication from the President of the United States! At last check, the account had a cool 30 million followers and in December of 2012 Obama made history by tweeting a photo of him and his wife embracing along with the text “Four More Years”…. which was re-tweeted 769,000 times in 22 minutes. Just the sheer number of people he was able to reach, with nothing more than a Smartphone, is astonishing. In no other format can such a simple, unchanged message reach so many people with so little effort.

Four More Years...

Four More Years…

Specific brands have caught on to the Twitter juggernaut as well and used it to fantastic effect. Not with never-once-clicked-on, spend-your-money-somewhere-else ‘sponsored’ tweets, but with real-life, personal and communicative tweets. While there’s always the risk of consumers taking to Twitter to vent horror stories, there’s also the option for consumers to take to Twitter to share positive experiences with a brand or company.  Not to mention the great customer service you can display when you get back to your consumers with their Twitter feedback with a timely and helpful response. Remember that old saying where one person has a good experience and they tell two friends? Well now they’re not just telling two friends, they’re tweeting to thousands of followers all across the world.

Companies and brands like Kodak, Starbucks, NASA and WWE use their Twitter pages to great effect. They ask their millions of followers questions, they find out why their customers choose their brand and best of all they have fun with their customers.

It’s all well and good relishing what there is to gain from Twitter, but like any good footballer will tell you, it’s important to know your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Errant tweets can not only impact your business but the flow on effect from re-tweets are only just being discovered. On Tuesday 23 April hackers took over the Associated Press Twitter account. They used the account to tweet there had been explosions at the White House and President Obama was hurt. In the few minutes the tweet was available before it was deleted and the account taken offline it was re-tweeted 3000 times. Although the news was confirmed as untrue it was online long enough to send a shudder through the stock market which plunged 143 points before it recovered.

Even tweets from companies themselves have the capacity to be major PR blunders. Just looking at some of the top corporate disasters of 2012 makes it blatantly clear that each tweet needs to be thought about both in the context of the business it comes from, but as part of the greater Twittersphere as well. A misplaced or mistimed hashtag can have a massive impact on a brand’s image and even one re-tweet of a terrible tweet is one you’re not going to get back.

But let’s not dwell on the risks – we love taking risks! Be aware of them, but embrace them and use them to your advantage as well. Messages On Hold has just dived into the world of Twitter as well and we’d love for you to follow us as we explore just how  much we can achieve… in 140 characters or less.

– Sophie

The Element of Surprise; Surprisingly Easy

Do you remember the good old days when you didn’t have to pump your own petrol? I don’t, because I was born in the nineties. But I’ve heard great things about those pre-World Wide Web times; milk delivered to your door step, corner shops where the shopkeeper knew your name, bank tellers that were neither automatic nor machines. But those little customer service quirks have gone the way of the dinosaur and the human race has evolved to have lowered expectations to help cope with this changing climate.

My generation is getting used to poor customer service to a point where we don’t even know what we’re missing out on. We’re desensitized to video game violence and waiters who won’t make eye-contact. While this may make us an apathetic lot, it also makes us strangely easy to surprise.

A bar in Perth recently announced it was going to go against the norm and sell coffee for $2.50. Big whoop. But in Perth, this is newsworthy because we’ve been subjected to coffee that’s on average 40 cents more expensive than the rest of the country.

So why not take advantage of these lowered expectations and surprise your disgruntled customers with some good old fashion service? Your customers will either react like this guy (watch the video, I’ll wait here until you’re done) or they’ll be so surprised by the interaction that it will become an anecdote shared by word of mouth or across social media.

The Interaction

The Interaction

There are many examples of customers making waves across social media, some good, and some bad. One positive example is the story of the Dragon and the Kangaroo. When the Galaxy SIII was released a man asked Samsung Canada for a free one and attached a picture of a dragon he had drawn for them.  Samsung apologised to the man, stating that they could not afford to send everyone a new phone who asked. Pretty run of the mill response, except for one interesting addition; they complimented his dragon and gave him a drawing of a kangaroo on a unicycle in return.

The man was charmed, took a screenshot of the conversation and posted it on Reddit with the caption “Well, Samsung Canada has won me over”. The image went viral and Samsung Canada gained the image of a cool, laidback and friendly company.  But then they took one step further. As a token of their appreciation for the positive media, they sent the man a one of a kind Samsung Galaxy SIII customised with his drawing of the dragon. (And of course, that photo made the rounds online as well).

The Payoff

The Payoff

Now I’m not suggesting you dish out free products to your customers, but they are likely to be surprised by outstanding customer service. They’ll also want to tell their friends. So take advantage of Generation Y’s careful combination of lower expectations and desire to share every life event online. You never know what will go viral.

– Emily

An Experiment In Social Media

When I tell people I work at Messages On Hold every now and again I’m met with a blank stare. That’s until I ask them ‘Have you seen those big yellow hands behind the goals at Eagles home games?’ Once I let loose that little gem, people immediately know who I’m talking about. Trevor and his comrades have become synonymous with West Coast home games for waving our big yellow hands, so I thought it would be fun to take our Facebook friends behind the scenes of the Messages On Hold team at Patersons Stadium with an experiment in social media.

The Aim: To live update sights, sounds and insights from the Eagles home game.TrevSmall

Now I’m a big social media freak – if there’s sport/politics/anything on the TV and there’s a hashtag, you better believe I’m going to join the conversation. I love blogging about events and places I experience around Perth and I get a weird thrill out of getting as many ‘stats’ as I can with my own personal uploads to Facebook. So you can imagine my excitement at the idea of sharing the fun of an Eagles home game on social media when the opportunity presented itself.

Doing my pre-game research I wondered a fair bit as to why no sports clubs actually updated their Facebook pages during matches. West Coast Eagles, along with most other AFL clubs, is fairly prolific in its tweeting during matches but it had started to bother me why they never updated their Facebook mid-game. Well my foray into Facebook updates during sports games gave me a stern and no buts about it answer – there’s no reception in big stadiums when there’s heaps of people in them!

The Twitter platform is highly suited to covering sports games because you don’t have to rely on mobile data. Clubs can tweet from a PC or laptop and it’s instantaneous because they don’t have to rely on mobile data – which is slow and often times drops out completely. When you’re updating Facebook with pictures or video, it’s time consuming over a mobile network. Something I learnt quick-smart on Sunday.

Up until about 15 minutes until kick-off I wasn’t having any issues with my network connection (thanks Vodafone). Once the stadium had filled-up though, there was no hope. I did a double-lap of Patersons Stadium to try and find somewhere to upload something… anything… but I had no success. I even tried going up to the highest stand right next to the phone tower. Still nothing! It seems too many people one spot causes data over mobiles to slow down so significantly logging on to Facebook becomes nigh on impossible, let alone uploading a video.

Sunday’s game certainly gave me a lot to think about. Social media at sports events is a great way to share experiences, especially for a company like ours who is an official sponsor of the club. How am I going to solve this problem next time? Well I’ll try and take a different phone and I’ll probably take along a WiFi hotspot just to make sure I can stay connected to the network. Either way I’m pretty determined to keep trying because sport is an undeniably effective way to get people active with social media and our involvement with West Coast is an opportunity too great to miss.

If you’d like to keep up to date with my progress, jump over to our Facebook page and hit that like button. Remember to add our page to your interest list to ensure you’re across our latest posts.

– Sophie

Let’s Chat About Chatting

Interacting with customers online is a given in business these days.  But turning those interactions into sales?  That’s a whole new kettle of fish.

Messages On Hold has its own Facebook page, but it’s not quite a sales tool. Sure, we can field questions from current and potential customers there, but it’s more a branding exercise. It allows us to connect with people in a relaxed, social manner and show a more playful side of the company.

So we could interact with prospects in a purely sales-centric, low-pressure environment, we installed a chat application on our website. This allows web browsers to navigate our site at their own pace and, if they want to ask us something about a product, it’s as easy as clicking on the chat icon and having a real-time conversation with one of the sales team.

Chat With Us!

The benefits of having a chat application on our site are two-fold. It allows our sales people to multi-task: chatting with several clients at once or even fielding email enquiries whilst a chat session is in progress. It also breaks down that fear some people have about picking up a phone and being locked in a sales conversation. Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is the fact you can connect instantly with a prospect while they’re pumped and interested in your products.

There are plenty of ways to encourage online interaction from your target market, and installing a live chat application is just one of them.  You can start by setting up a Facebook page to open a casual dialogue with customers and prospects.  Twitter is another simple, streamlined way of prompting communication from customers.  The most important thing is to get something underway.

To learn more about the benefits of live chat applications, check out this useful article.

– Lachy

Is Your Caller Important To You?

The worst recorded words you can hear over the phone are; “Thank you for holding, your call is important to us. One of our operators will be with you shortly”. The first time you hear it you believe it. “Why would this lovely voice lie to me?” As time goes on you realise that in your heart of hearts they will not be with you shortly. The tell tale signs appear; you might put the phone on speaker, you go on the computer, maybe turn on the TV because you to know ‘shortly’ is a relative term.your-call-is-important

In our Copywriting Department we shudder at the phrase – knowing full well that it does the complete opposite of what it is supposed to do. It does not put the caller at ease, especially when they hear it multiple times. In fact, it reminds the caller that they’re caught in ‘on hold purgatory’ and makes their wait time seem longer.

When a client requests a generic courtesy message in their on hold production, we remind them that doing so has the opposite effect. We remind them that it’s much wiser to inform callers of the new services available at the company, encourage the caller to like a Facebook page or check out the website. After all, the longer a caller stays on hold, the less the courtesy message sounds reassuring and the more it begins to sound like a taunt!

In an ideal world your callers would only be on hold long enough to hear a few messages, but for any number of reasons this isn’t always the case. It’s important in these situations to entertain and educate the caller with fun, interesting and informative messages. You might even like to let them know alternative ways of contacting your company. The objective is to take your caller’s mind off the wait and tell them how you can in fact assist them.

Thank you for reading this blog, your time is important to us.

(See! Even when it is genuine it rarely comes across that way!)

– Emily