Businesses must have a presence in Social Media

Something that has come to a head in our family this weekend is trying to get answers out of our pay tv provider, which got me thinking more about how businesses need to have a presence in the Social Media world in order to converse with clients, and when they do have a presence to actually use it as more than just a press release!

The only reason we pay for TV.

The only reason that we pay for TV in our house is so that my husband can watch the MotoGP and SBK races live in HD. We are paying almost NZ$100 per month for this, tomorrow morning my husband should be able to watch the first MotoGP race of the season. Unfortunately this won’t be happening…. why? Our pay TV provider (and there is only one to choose from in our little country) can’t reach an agreement with Dorna the owners of the GP. 

Here is where Social Media is coming to a head for this provider of pay TV. 

There are many threads started on the a fore mentioned forum that my husband frequents, slandering the provider. So many people are upset over the lack of coverage for something that they believe they have the rights to as they pay for the service. Until today we had not reached a decision on our views as to who was holding this process up, we had noticed that our Aussie neighbors on Thursday didn’t have an agreement either so thought we would be ok, and that maybe it was the owner that was holding out for too much $$$. However this morning we noticed that our country’s name is missing from the list of countries with broadcast coverage on the MotoGP website….. and the press release made by Dorna today has even listed cruise ships as an option for watching the races while you were travelling….. but not us…… 

This got me thinking that maybe it was our provider who didn’t want to pay too much for the coverage……

Being of the Social Media generation I immediately took to the providers Facebook page. What do you know? They have put a news release up for the fans of the GP saying that negotiations had stalled but they still hope to show the coverage….. what has ensued is comment after comment after comment from disgruntled customers. Noticeably some comments about posts being removed by the provider…….. Obviously moderating the posts and what was said about themselves! – Which is their right, especially if there is objectionable language or the like in the post. But it is making their customers upset…..

One post however got me thinking. One unhappy customer commented that he had cancelled his subscription (like many others) and that he had started a new group who would do the same if the provider didn’t come to an agreement with Dorna. This group supposedly has 900 members. Now this doesn’t seem like heaps, but when you think about it, these members are probably going to be spending about the same as we are, so over a year, this is over $1 million in lost revenue for the provider. Now this is only this mans little group, imagine if out of their estimated 1.6 million subscribers they lost 100,000 of them due to this lack of coverage – I don’t think this is overestimating the figure either. That would be almost $120 million loss in revenue.  That is not something to sneeze at! Needless to say I think that their profit (as posted on their website) last year of $122 million means that they can afford to make a deal on this coverage to make their clients happy.

What my Pay TV provider needs to learn…..

“What do you think they need to learn, Rebecca?” I here you ask. I think they need to learn to be more open with their clients. They also needed to have a staff member man their Facebook page over the weekend to diffuse the HUGE amount of flack they are getting on their page from unhappy customers.. many of whom have already cancelled subscriptions because there will be no coverage. There is no point having a Facebook page, making a press release and then not responding to their customers! Social Media is about interactions and relationships between people. It is not a one way dictatorship. 

With the advent of live streaming these customers don’t need the provider anymore, for NZ$151 they can get a full access pass to the full coverage over the internet for the WHOLE season, plus all the videos from previous seasons….. This compared to $1,200 for a year when we really only watch the free channels except when watching the bike racing is really making me feel like we won’t be hanging onto our subscription for much longer either!  The only reason why we are hanging on at the moment is because the SBK has coverage, (same owner by the way… so why an agreement can be made for that and not the GP I can’t figure out) and if they do manage to sort the coverage out for the GP it will be in HD, and to be honest our streaming internet in this country is pretty pitiful, so it would be jumpy and not great to watch streamed anyway. So our preference, even though more expensive overall is to stick with our provider…. however we will be reviewing that over the coming weeks depending on the developments.

What can I take away from this?

What can I learn from this situation? I think it really brings home the 4C’s concept that we have been looking at during our readings for my class. Author Niall Cook in his book about how social software will change the future of work discusses that there are four primary functions of Social Media. 

Communication, Cooperation, Collaboration and Connection. 

Social media for businesses is supposed to make a way for us to communicate with our customers, its a way for businesses to cooperate with each other and in my case by using creative commons be able to promote my company better, in the sense of collaboration I am able to read others blogs and articles on how they made their companies better, but most important at all Social Media creates a connection between people. 

I say most important and I think that it honestly is the most import aspect, I also think this is where my pay provider has really let the ball down, they have communicated with their customers, but they aren’t maintaining a connection by answering their customers directly on this issue which has now escalated into something more than it needed to be. 

 

Fingers crossed however that we still get to watch some racing this week! 

 

 

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Someone stole my post!?!?!

Well, no, not actually. Nobody has stolen my posts -that I know of…. But the comment that T0715 gave on my post regarding the use of images really got me wondering about how safe what we write and what businesses write and post on websites, blogs, and other Social Media outlets really is?

Copyright – more than I expected

I did some research into copyrights and found that things had changed since my childhood memories! I remember going through the faze around 9-10 years old at primary school where we suddenly had come across the concept of copyright and every drawing that we drew, or story that we wrote we started drawing © at the bottom to say “this is mine, you can’t copy it”! 

However we now have international laws covering original works. The Berne Convention is an international treaty which ensures that the rights of someone who created a work in India for example has their rights protected not just in the originating country but also in those that are part of the convention. 

 

Image used under Creative Commons from Wikipedia’s wiki on the Berne Convention. The countries in blue are signatories under the convention.

 

Based on the above image there are very few countries NOT part of the Berne Convention. Which must be a good thing when you are talking about the global phenomenon of Social Media!

 

Did you know?  – cause I didn’t!

Did you know that as soon as you have written something, taken a photo of something, or recorded something it automatically has protection under copyright laws? I didn’t!. I always thought that you had to apply for copyright of your written works etc much in the same way that you have to apply for trademarks. The work doesn’t even have to be published to be covered! 

But what does this mean for me and my blog, and also my business with the pictures that we publish on the auction website that we do most of our sales through and our Facebook page?

It means that no one can take and use my work without my permission as soon as I have finished it and published online.

But what can I do if someone does?

Options for getting your rights back

There seems to be HEAPS of blogs and articles around what to do if someone copies your work. This blog talks about how you can leave it, or take action, and the methods of how to do that. Some methods (like contacting the offending persons provider) look to be more in depth than I would be worried about, but then I am not publishing anything (at this stage) that I would be worried about people using. This blog really talks about how the blogger protects her works, firstly by sending the offending person a note explaining that he work is copyrighted – please pay a fee for using it, pay her to write you something specific or remove it, and by the sounds of her blog she most of the time gets some kind of action. Her blog is really worth the read on this topic. One other blog worth mentioning is this blog where the blogger talks about using google alerts to search for your content, or how to use the webmaster tools to see how your page has been linked. The three mentioned above are some of the better blogs on the topic that I have come across and well worth the read!

I think for me, the big issue would be why the person is using my works. Are they using it to further my ideas and talk to more people about it? In this case I think I would be fine with them doing what I have above, spoken about someone else’s blog, but linked back to it so that my readers can read my original text. Or are they using it for an assignment like my own? In this case I would definitely want to be mentioned as being the author of the works where they got the idea. Or are they using it for monetary gains? Then I wonder if I would be ok with it? I think for my little business if someone were to buy something off me, and then sell it on I would be pretty upset if they used the image that we originally took and sold the garment with as the picture on their listing….. 

 

Its an interesting topic and one which I think everyone (not only those in business) who publishes work on the world wide web should look into. Firstly to make sure that you are not stealing someone else’s ideas, images or content, but also to ensure that someone else isn’t using your ideas for their own gain! 

Can I use that image on my blog or company’s Facebook page?

My next quandary which came about over drinks with one of my best friends last week (we left the husbands at home with the kids! Yay!)  –who happens to own her own business and has just started using Facebook, so a good person to bounce ideas off – is regarding the use of images on our Facebook pages, and in my case also my blog. 

An embarrassing fact…..

As mentioned in my “about me” page I’m the sales manager for an internet based company selling overruns and cancelled stock from our main fashion manufacturing company (which I am one of the accountants for!). I started a Facebook page when I initially set up the company and here’s the embarrassing thing…..  in the last 6 months I am now up to 18 likes…. and to be fair, 1 of them is me…. 4 of them are probably my family/friends, and another 4-5 are staff from our main company and my assistant who now does the main day to day dispatch work for this little company….. so we haven’t gone so well on the likes thing. However the sales has been ok, we’ve sold over 1000 garments in the last 6 months, which is around 40 garments per week on average, however I would like to see this average over 100 – which we did do some weeks, but I would like to see this consistently happen.  Part of my plan for doing this paper (besides going towards finally finishing my degree after starting it in 2008!) was to help me better understand what I needed to do to make us stand out, gain a larger customer base and basically run more efficiently using Social Media as the main tool. 

My idea – that wasn’t probably such a good idea

Whilst talking to my girlfriend over said drink(s) I told her that I really liked what you see in women’s magazines where they will show a celebrity or a model wearing an outfit and then tell you how you can “recreate” that look, and I thought maybe I could start doing something like that with our clothes, however the idea was to use an image of a celebrity or another fashion retailers lookbook like image. Now I knew right away that another fashion retailers image was going to be a no go. Initially the thought runs through you head saying I am just a little tiny company at the end of the world compared to them and are not actually going to be taking any of their customers away as most of my customers seem to be farmers wives who live away from shops and who buy their clothes online. But then I started thinking of copyrights, intellectual property rights etc. 

Some interesting reading

So where do I go from here…. RESEARCH! I used my friend Google and searched about the legality of using images on Facebook. I found some interesting publications on how to use images from facebook, how fashion retailers should use social media and also copyright infringement. What did I learn? Basically to be careful! One idea that I got from an article regarding fashion retailers using social media was to use staff members wearing our clothes to make our own lookbooks on Facebook. Another from two articles -one about journalists using social media images and another about copyright infringement  gave me the idea to look for creative commons images on flicker etc. where the owners of the images give you the right to use images with certain restrictions (usually to link it back to them, or name them as the owner of the photo). Which I think  might be a good option for me when looking for celebrity photos. 

The worry for this assignment

I think one thing I have struggled with in regards to my blog is adding photos and images etc throughout the blog to try and make it interesting. The readings we have done on good blogs have shown lots of images on the blogs as a good layout, and I have looked at some of my classmates blogs and seen after every paragraph there is an image. However the readings mentioned above talk about how the everyday blogger normally doesn’t realise that they are infringing copyright by using those images on their blogs! I think part of my struggle with this is that it just isn’t me to put a random photo/image of something that slightly works with what I have said, even if it is just an expression. So I have struggled with the need to look at this as an assignment, where I will probably get better marks if I have used many images, but also as a blog where it is an expression of what I have to say, which if I am saying it doesn’t have a lot of random images attached. 

Where do I go from here……

From here, I will start looking into creative commons images available so that I can start creating lookbooks based on images of celebrities wearing outfits similar to those that we are selling ourselves. I think I will also look into the idea of liking other fashion designers facebook pages and share some of their images just to show that we are following then latest trends etc. 

Phew! There is a lot to think about when promoting your company through social media and the hard thing for a little 2-man-band like my own is being able to create the images to appeal to peoples senses whilst either sticking to a very small budget or not “stealing” other peoples images to use as my own! There is lots still to learn and investigate!

 

The risks for companies of the social media age

Well this week I have been reading stories of how social media has hurt companies reputations and their share price for that matter, and to be completely honest it does make me nervous about pushing my own little companies profile, however as an internet based company – how else am I going to increase our customer base without “getting out there” as such? But there are definitely some lessons to be learnt from those that have gone before!

United Breaks Guitars – How not paying attention to customers can cost millions! 

I came across this video and case study during my class readings over the last couple of weeks. The long and the short of it is that Guitarist and Lead singer of Sons of Maxwell – Dave Carroll – was travelling on United airlines with the band for a concert tour and witnessed the baggage carriers throw and damage his guitar case, he brought it up with 3 different flight attendants, however received no sympathy. Upon arriving at the destination he found that his US$3,500 Taylor guitar had in fact been damaged. Over the next 9 months he tried to get compensation for the breakage, however was continuously told no. So he wrote a song, and published the video on the bands YouTube channel. What conspired after that was in the end something that showed (in my opinion) the arrogance of a company who didn’t understand and appreciate how social media can damage its reputation – and in this case its share value! Taulbee Jackson’s blog on social media risk outlines how United Airlines failed to respond to this complaint early enough which resulted in the share price dropping by 10% and the shareholders loosing US$180 million….. all for a $3,500 guitar. 

Kinda gets stuck in your head huh!

From everything that I have been reading it appears that many big companies have been slow to react to the social media age – especially those that have been around long before social media was even a consideration. However social media is not a craze. It is not something that is going away. The world is becoming smaller and smaller as everyday people are connecting with each other through Facebook, You Tube, Blogs, Twitter, Flicker etc. the list goes ON! People who would otherwise never have met (and probably will never meet face to face) are sharing experiences with each other. With this connectivity it takes seconds for an upset customer to write something unfavorable about their experience or dissatisfaction with the service they have been provided, this is then read by everyone that person is connected too. In the case above, Sons of Maxwell already had a You-Tube Channel with many followers, after posting the video many of their followers would have “shared” the video through either a link on twitter or as a video on their facebook page, thereby sharing it with all the people they are connected to, then many of these people will have “liked” and shared with their list of friends. Before long the video went viral and the above loss happened for the company because they did not act on the original complaint, and then work to mitigate the outcome when the video was posted. 

How a company can fight back using social media as a tool

One of my class mates posted an interesting video on our class forum where our national airline created a video as a response to a magazine article slandering their service and where it was headed due to a proposed merger. Funnily enough the CEO responded in a way that made the magazine look like they didn’t research their story at all. 

In this situation, social media worked in the companies favor as they were able to respond to an article about them in a humorous and yet factual way, that was immediately available to all of their customers, non customers and media alike. They did what most companies refuse to do when they are caught up in a scandal. They fronted up! How often are we watching stories on the current affairs shows and at the end of the article there is a final note from the presenter saying that they contacted the company in question only to either have no response or be told no one was prepared to come on camera and comment…… The joys of the Social Media age that we are living is that companies are able to present their side of the story, either through a YouTube video (like AirNZ’s it doesn’t need to cost a fortune to make!), a Tweet, a press release on their website or through a blog or Facebook and there is no worry regarding the media twisting what they say to mean something else, or leaving part of what they have said out which then skews the rest of the statement to look like they have said something else. 

Lessons to be learnt

So what have I learnt for my own little company regarding the use of Social Media as a tool for customer satisfaction. Mostly, take care of each and every customer! It only takes one upset customer to write one bad thing about you on Facebook or the like and it can ruin your entire reputation. Especially for a little company like mine and the small market base that I have to work with.

I have learnt that Social Media can be a wonderful tool to advertise yourself, your products announce new and exciting opportunities but it can also be a tool for your unhappy customers to bring you down!

Basically – no customer is unimportant!

 

Too many options! Where to start!?!?!?

Well for the last couple of weeks I have been reading and reading and reading about how to make blogs, what makes a good blog, why should businesses make blogs. So for my first ever blog post I am going to start with:

Where do I start? 

So for the last week I have signed up to WordPress, created a profile, decided what to call my blog, figured out what I want it to look like, but really? there are so many options! It has taken me all week to get to the point where I think I actually want to make my blog “public” and start publishing what I am going to say. I at least have a direction to go as my topic is given by my assignment which is written above in my by-line.

From what I can see the norm for a blogger is to have something to say, but with that is a need to share that with the world in general. Me? I guess I have never held that compulsion. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Social Media nOOb as such. I joined facebook back on the 27th Sept 2007 (according to my profile timeline) and did another couple of sites before that. But my friend list is reserved for actual friends whom I see in what some call “meatspace” and my family. Which means unlike the majority, my friend list only runs to double digits rather than triple or quadruple and when I post, only those I actually have contact with see what I have to say. With this comes the fact that I am an inherently private person, and don’t feel the need to share my opinions with the world in general. However! As you may (or may not) have read in my about me I am studying a paper that requires me to write a blog, but more than that I am running a small side branch of a company and I think that Social Media might just help me grow that further, so I will get over my aversion to sharing my thoughts!

Overwhelming number of options!

So I joined (all good), but here is where my problem starts… I’m a perfectionist… and find it very hard to decide and commit to things. Especially when I am being marked for it! hehe. The first thing that WordPress asked me to do was to choose a theme…… But which one is right? Which one should I choose? Then when I choose one do I customize it so that it looks like I have done more than clicked “activate”? I guess I put a lot of store in the age old adage of “First impressions LAST!” So if I use the wrong theme…. I could be setting myself up for failure! 

So then from here my thought process moves to wondering how does a business choose the right theme to ensure that they make the right first impression in their blog? Yes I guess if you are big multi-national company who has an already established branding, you would have designers use your current branding to make some thing that matches. But what if, you are like me and have started a small side company selling clothes and accessories… how do you decide on your theme when you haven’t got an established brand? From here I starting thinking the usual “target market” etc. but even then. there are so many choices!

The right theme for this blog

I tried on many blog themes over the last week. Trying to find the one that would give me “that look” that I was after. However struggled to decide what that “that look” was. Traditionally I go for that filigree, elegant type look.  I tried on one that I loved the elegant look of, but then struggled to add page links. So decided to try something else. But again, as I seem to be on repeat in this blog “there were so many to choose from”.  On a whim I decided to try on this fishing theme. Scrolled down and saw my new friend the little worm on a hook. Now this was a theme that made me giggle!  It brings some humor to my otherwise serious ramblings and I hope that I can make everyone else giggle too!

So what is the right theme? 

From my experience over the last week I have decided the right them is the one that feels right to you! Yes as I have said above the right theme for a multi-national company will be one that matches their current branding. However for a small start up company, (or the average student blogger like myself), the right theme is one that makes you feel good, and gives out the impression that you want to put across. It isn’t a permanent thing, it can be easily changed. My impression that I am trying to make – is that I am not going to take myself so seriously and that I am going to have fun trying to explore my first exploration into blogging, whilst figuring out how I can use Social Media to help grow my little company!

What do you think…. did I pick the right theme for my impression?