When is it ok to ignore a comment, tweet, etc?

No peeking, via Flickr (Dave Rutt)There’s a ton of advice out there that you ignore social media (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) at your own peril.  I’m having a difficult time finding best practices on when you may need to use ignoring as an approach — or is it something you should never do?

I’d love to know how you feel on this.  Is it ok?  If yes, when? Feel free to comment below, send me a tweet (@kevinmic), or email me directly.

Thanks!

-k

Conflicting messages are not our way of thanking you-learning from apologizing

Last Wednesday, just before Thanksgiving, I took the time to give thanks to my Dimdim customers (Dimdim web conferencing, giving thanks to you.)  I left the office later in the day to enjoy the long weekend.

My walking buddyEverything was good and relaxing until Friday, early afternoon, when I got a call from the office.  I had just bundled up and was getting my dog ready to go for a walk around our block (about 4 miles.)  While in the process of setting up a new workflow to help test our outgoing emails, the wrong list of people was selected.  Luckily the team caught the problem and turned off the new workflow, but not until after 1,000+ people had been emailed (some receiving up to 25 emails in under 10 minutes.)  There were a few customers on Twitter expressing concern and a few emails received, but that was about it.  Once we had identified what went wrong, I put in a request for help in getting the full list of people and went back to my weekend. (which was otherwise good, by the way.)

Monday morning I had my list of affected customers.  Deciding what to do wasn’t difficult, it was clearly our mistake.  If I had suddenly received anywhere from 1 to 25 email messages in under 10 minutes, most unrelated to the product/trial I was in, I’d expect an apology.  So this is what I sent to all these customers:

Subject: Conflicting Dimdim messages are not our way of thanking you

Early in the day Friday (Nov 27), we were excited to be working on some improvements to our process, but unforunately we accidentally added you to a new program that wasn’t ready yet. I’m very sorry for the extra emails – it’s definitely not a good way for us to say thank you.

As soon as we realized what was happening, we stopped the new workflow so you should not be receiving any more incorrect emails. We’re changing how we manage workflow updates to make sure this never happens again.

Thank you!

-k
Kevin Micalizzi, Community Manager
Dimdim Web Conferencing
e: kevin@dimdim.com
twitter: @dimdim

I know sometimes it’s hard to swallow our pride, but the fact of the matter is that we’re human and mistakes happen.  When I scheduled the email to go out I started worrying a little about what type of response I’d get.  I’m still surprised at the responses I’ve received.

  • 3 people asked me to never email them again
  • 13 people sent me thank you messages

The thank you notes were such a wonderful reminder of how much people value an honest direct approach.  Here are some of the responses:

“How refreshing!  Admitting, apologizing and fixing an error. I appreciate this very much.” [Email]

“I was wondering about the massive number of emails. Thanks for the clarity.” [Email]

“Thanks for the clarification, I assumed I requested the wrong information.  I realized it did not affect my account and I simply deleted the duplicate messages – no worries at all.  These things happen and we move on.  Hope your Thanksgiving Holiday was enjoyable!” [Email]

“‘No worries man!  I love your site and I’ll provide any feedback or help you out in any way. ” [Email]

“Kevin – Thanks for your email.  I was thinking it was unusual to receive so many emails in such a short space of time.” [Email]

“Thank you so much for your message.  As a matter of fact, at first I was surprised by the messages, but it was pretty obvious there was a glitch somewhere.  It speaks very highly of the organization when you take the time to explain to the users what happened; it is not as common as it should be.  I just started testing DimDim, and if this is the support I can expect in the future, I’m sure I’ll be a very happy customer.  Thank you again and a belated Happy Thanksgiving to you.” [Email]

“Bravo ! Je viens de recevoir un courriel de DimDim qui s’excuse pour les nombreux courriels envoyés la semaine dernière. C’était une erreur” (Via Google Translate: “Bravo! I just received an email DimDim who apologizes for the many emails sent last week. It was a mistake”) [Twitter]

Next time you encounter a problem where an apology is needed, remember it’s not about you.  It’s about the customers who deserve your apology.

Thanks!

-k

How refreshing!
Admitting, apologizing and fixing an error.
I appreciate this very much.

Kev’s Rules–3 Rules for Online Community Engagement

For the September, 2009 Social Media Breakfast NH (#smbnh) at the Manchester, NH Public Library I gave this talk about my rules for community.  I call it ‘Kev’s Rules for Community’.

I try to live these rules every day–whether I’m engaging online via twitter, blogs, or any other tools.  The rules are simple:

  1. Be Real (don’t be a bot)
  2. Address the Need (not just the explicit ones)
  3. Be the Gatekeeper (never be the roadblock)

These rules are part of a project I’m working on to get the Dimdim support team on Twitter, directly engaging with customers.  My goal was to go beyond just teaching the tools.  Anyone can create a Twitter account and jump into the conversation.  I wanted to make sure we are consistent in our approach.

I personally have a hard time following rules if there are too many to remember.  What are your rules?  Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@kevinmic)

-k

[Special thanks to Matt Turner (@onmatt, www.onmatt.com) for helping to pull all the examples together for this talk, and Leslie Poston (@geechee_girl, www.uptownuncorked.com) for the opportunity to speak.  I do so love to talk.]

Twitter convenience vs. security – a cautionary tale

Last Thursday ended up being a very interesting afternoon.  During lunch I went out to run some errands.  At one point (while waiting at a red light) I checked Twitter to see the following:

kevinmic-hack-tweet-notice1

I’m grateful that @AppraiserJenn took the time to let me know.  A few hours before I had tweeted a link to a blog post by Rachel Happe (@rhappe) on the Community Maturity Model using the bit.ly link shortening service.  I’ve had great luck with the bit.ly service so I doubted the problem happened with them, but since I was on the road and couldn’t look into it — I was concerned.  At another stop light I tweeted apologies, then rushed back to work to see how bad the damage was.

Back at work I finally saw the mystery tweet, which was supposedly sent “from web”.  Problem is, it was sent while I was driving.  And I didn’t send it.

kevinmic-hack-tweet

That was enough to convince me somehow my account had been hacked.  I immediately logged in to change my Twitter password (took 5 tries because Twitter was again “over capacity”).  I also went into my profile to see what applications/services I had authorized (under Settings/Connections).  Changing my password was probably enough, but I was feeling a bit violated.

I’m a pretty trusting person and love trying out new services, so I’ve very freely been entering my Twitter username and password many places.  Why copy and paste when I can just click “tweet this”?  Until I forget about this eventful Thursday (which I’m sure I will), I’m only using my desktop Twitter client, BlackBerry client, and TwitterFeed.

What can you do to prevent this from happening?

  1. Pick a real password!  Easy to remember, hard to guess (which mine was)
  2. Be careful who you give your username and password to (which I wasn’t)
  3. Change your password periodically (I’m very bad about this)
  4. Don’t use the same password for everything (now working on changing them all)

Twitter is also trying to help us by creating OAuth, so we won’t have to give out our passwords to use 3rd party sites/services.  When you want the 3rd party application to have access to your Twitter account, that app calls Twitter and Twitter manages the login process.  Twitter remembers what applications you’ve authorized (TwitterFeed uses this service), so you can go into your Twitter settings and revoke access at any time.  No password was given to the 3rd party site.

-k

(for those wondering, my curiosity got the best of me late in the day and I clicked the link.  Let’s just say it’s about “male enhancement”. Definitely not safe for work!)

Be real, be brief on Twitter (just ask Sean Bohan)

I’ve been extremely behind on my blog reading and started to catch up tonight.  One post that caught my attention was from Sean Bohan, My 11 Twitter Guidelines.  There’s plenty of Twitter advice out there, but few who boil it down to the essentials like Sean did.  All 11 recommendations are good, but two really stand out for me:

 

  • Be humanTwitter
  • Make your tweets inherently “retweetable”.

 

It’s important to be human (or “real”), but worth noting that doesn’t mean the world needs to know you’re going out for brunch.  That’s why I keep my @kevinmic and @dimdim lives separate.  I assume people following @dimdim are there because they are interested in web conferencing, webinars, elearning, etc.  People following @kevinmic are subject to my scattered interests.

After reading Sean’s post, I realized I’ve started to look at my tweets from the perspective of “is this retweetable?”  But, I was only taking that approach with the tweets I wanted retweeted.  A few hours before reading these tips, I had someone prove the point — they retweeted a tweet I thought no one would want to tweet.

Thanks to Sean for this great advice!

-k

Best birthday yet! Two job offers and many good wishes.

Last Friday, October 31st, was my 37th birthday. It turned out to be my best birthday yet!

Two offers

The night before my birthday, I received another job offer. This means I started the day with two offers in hand, from Dimdim and from Mzinga.

Patrick Moran (@patrickmoran ), CMO at Mzinga, made me an offer for a Web Director role. Mzinga has great technology and people and I could easily see myself working for Patrick. I even had the opportunity last week to meet with Barry Libert, Chairman, and Rick Fault , President & CEO. They both seem to work very well together. In the end, I called Patrick Friday morning to thank him for the offer, but to decline. I feel the new role at Dimdim is where I need to be right now. It was tough coming to my decision, the offer was competitive, the challenges interesting, and Mzinga has some great people.

Later that morning, I spoke with Steve Chazin, CMO of Dimdim to let him know I would like to be the next employee at Dimdim. I accepted the offer for the Community Manager role at Dimdim because it gives me the opportunity to focus my attention more directly on building relationships with customers and participating the broader online conversation. Dimdim also has an excellent team and I’m sure I will be constantly learning new things. Steve has a great set of experiences and insights. (see his blog, MarketingApple .) I’m looking forward to working directly with him.

We’ll be sorting out the start date this week, but it was very nice to accept the offer on my birthday.

Many good wishes

The web rocks! I’ve believe this for about 15 years, but I love being reminded. I’m a fairly social kind of person and over the past few years I’ve connected, reconnected, and met many new people through the web. This year I was amazed when birthday wishes came pouring in via a number of mediums. I received 4 traditional cards via postal mail. (I’ll be the first to admit I try hard to remember birthdays but I’m terrible at getting birthday cards in the mail, so I’m not complaining) Here’s the breakdown of my birthday wishes this year:

  • 24 via Facebook
  • 14 ecards/emails
  • 6 over Geni
  • 4 calls
  • 5 via twitter
  • 3 via IM
  • 1 SMS
  • 2 automated emails (from DCU and webmaster-talk.com, and the best part was they only wished me a happy birthday, no other messaging or ads)

A few people even wished me a happy birthday through more than one medium. For me, it doesn’t get any better than having people wish you a happy birthday from across the US, UK, Spain, and Germany.

Kevin-up: some waiting (for good news?), more Practical Conversations, and more tweetups and parties

I held off on putting this post together, hoping to have some concrete updates for you, but I can’t wait any longer. Been some beautiful days in the past two weeks, but we’ve also had a real frost – feels like the seasons are changing. I’m excited about the possibilities this week and next will bring.

Some waiting (for good news?)

First frost of the seasonThe hiring process always seems to involve waiting. When I was a hiring manager, I remember a number of points where I had to wait too, so I know this isn’t unique to the candidate. Right now, I’m doing a bit of waiting. Hopefully will be talking about an offer with Dimdim today or tomorrow. Still haven’t had a chance to catch up with Mzinga to schedule further conversations, but I now have time scheduled on Monday to interview with a company I talked to over a year ago. (I’m not mentioning them by name as I haven’t had a chance to ask how they feel about it.)

More Practical Conversations

I’ve done four more interviews for Practical Conversations. Had a lunch chat with John Cass (@johncass), a bagel chat with Alexa Scordato (@alexa), and enjoyed a beautiful October day with conversations in Boston Common with Ben Grossman (@bengrossman) and Rebecca Corliss (@repcor). Great conversations all around, now I just need to get them written up, reviewed, and posted. Because my focus for Practical Conversations is on a person’s individual process for managing online conversations, I’m taking the time to review each blog post with the interviewee to ensure I understood the process and articulated it well. I’ll let you know as I get them posted.

More tweetups and parties

 

Apple pickin tweetupLast Saturday my partner Matt and I joined some tweeps (Twitter friends) at a “Apple Pickin Tweetup” (a gathering organized via Twitter). It was the first daytime, family-friendly tweetup I’ve been to. We went apple picking in Stow, MA. We had some great conversations as we hunted for good apples (it’s late in the season). It was a great time and a very nice day to be outdoors. We had gone apple picking the prior weekend with family, so we helped everyone pick, but didn’t bring home any more apples.

It made for a busy weekend, but it was fun. Matt and I even managed to squeeze in a wedding reception in Nashua, NH, and a “Johnny Cash appreciation party” in Somerville, MA. We didn’t get home from until 3:30 am Sunday morning, then got up and went for brunch with an old friend.

Heading to another tweetup this Thursday night. It started as an event to meet Ken Burbary (@kenburbary), who will be visiting Boston, but it’s grown as Aaron Strout (@astrout) is leaving Mzinga and heading to Austin, TX. It’s now the Ken Burbary & Aaron Strout Social Media Extravaganza, if you’re in the Boston-area Thursday come join us. Should be a great time!

Hopefully my next post will have some very good news. Keep your fingers crossed.

-k

And yes, I’m trying out a new title for these: “Kevin-up” instead of “Kevin’s Update” — Do you like it? Is it tacky? Let me know.

Interview with Alexa Scordato, changing the world, one chairman at a time.

alexa-scordato-128x128Background

One of the first people I met at my first tweetup in August 2008 was Alexa Scordato (@alexa). She was just moving to the Boston area to work for Barry Libert at Mzinga. Alexa and I spoke for less than a minute, but I made sure to follow her on Twitter. Since then, I’ve had more opportunities to talk with Alexa at events in the Boston area and even joined her a few weeks ago at an “Apple Pickin” tweetup in Stow, MA she helped organize. Alexa has a passion for social media and technology. She’s active in the blog community, working with some of the industry’s A-list bloggers, and has been working on “bridging the gap between Microsoft gurus and MySpace addicts.”

Tools

Alexa uses a relatively basic set tools for managing her online conversations.

  • Twitter (following 414 with 1063 following her)
  • Facebook (490 friends)
  • LinkedIn (39 connections)
  • Twitterific for following Twitter conversations on the go.

When it comes to blogs, Alexa remains very active in the blogosphere, but doesn’t rely on any feed/rss readers or Google alerts.

twitter logo-125x29 facebook-logo-125x47

linkedin-logo-119x32 twitterrific icon-54x54

 

Usage

Alexa follows conversations on Twitter primarily using the Twitter site and Twitter Search . Her approach is a bit different from others I’ve talked to. She is very comfortable joining existing conversations and starting new ones, but views the Twitter stream as an ongoing conversation.

For the blogs she follows, she doesn’t read every single blog post. She picks up on the current conversation when she can. Alexa knows many bloggers and will often call a blogger to discuss what’s being discussed on their blog. She’d rather have an hour conversation by phone to better understand the timeline. She keeps a strong focus on the personal relationships, with the understanding that you can’t keep up with everything.

Alexa grew up with technology (as with most millenials). She has a more native use of technology, not working to follow any specific “best practices.” As an early beta tester for Facebook and early Twitter adopter, the technology is just a new platform for the same type of conversations.

On Twitter, Alexa will typically check someone’s profile to see if they are in the Boston area. As someone new to the area, she is using the platform to help her meet more people. With Facebook, she typically connects to people she knows well or meets in non-social media contexts. For Alexa, the quality of the connections is more important than the number. She goes for higher quality connections.

When I asked her about how much time she spends a day on social media, Alexa asked a great question. “Was I including interactive sites like the NY Times?” I wasn’t — though I’ll need to give that more thought for future interviews. If she just focuses on the “social media/social network” sites she uses, she is currently at around 2-3 hours per day. Before taking on her new job, she used to spend 12-14 hours per day.

Insights

The way you conduct yourself in real life should apply online.

As I mentioned already, for Alexa it’s about higher quality connections and natural conversations. To help maintain this, she keeps her use organic and doesn’t try to force connections with tools. She uses a great metaphor, “If you were at a party would you want to know what everyone in the party is saying?”

Alexa feels you lose the “connectedness” the more people you follow. It’s about understanding what people need and “give so you can get.” She brought up the example of the teenage girls who are creating wildly successful MySpace fan pages. It’s clear they understand what people need and they are willing to let it grow organically.

Alexa believes that social media as it stands isn’t scalable if you are going for quality connections and natural conversations. In real life, who has 1,000+ good friends? She defines good meaning the type of person who would drop everything if you were in need.

Advice

personal is the new professional

Alexa sees the need for more “personal” with the “professional.” She’s found there is “no shortcut” when building your relationships. It needs to be organic and we need to catch ourselves so we don’t end up being socially inept in our attempts to communicate on the web.

For those getting started, Alexa recommends Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn . Facebook because it is a more living breathing social space. Twitter because it’s hot. It’s where the cool kids are. And LinkedIn because it is your digital resume. She’s even heard that some companies are only allowing their employees to have LinkedIn profiles.

Interview with Christine Major, High tech PR pro and social media junkie

Christine Major

Background

Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Christine Major of PerkettPR. I first met Christine in August at a Tweetup in Cambridge, MA organized by author, blogger, and Forrester Online Community Manager John Cass. Since then I’ve been following her on Twitter (@CMajor). Through her I’ve learned of several events in the Boston area I would have otherwise missed and have had the opportunity to connect with more interesting professionals.

Tools

Christine uses social media both personally and professionally. She’s quite active on Twitter with more than 500+ followers and uses it to track for news, maintain professional connections, and some personal interaction. As a PR professional, Twitter has been a great tool to help her connect with reporters and influencers. She uploads photos to Twitter using twitpic and recently joined the twitter moms group. She keeps up with friends on Facebook with 150+ friends and maintains professional connections using LinkedIn with 92 connections. To help her keep up with the conversations on Twitter, both for herself and for clients, she uses Twitter Search (formerly Summize).

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn

twitpic Twitterrific

 

Usage

Christine has been on Twitter for a year now. Initially she was resistant to jump into the dynamic Twitter conversation, but quickly started realizing its value and became more active. Through Twitter, she’s found a great blend of online and real life connecting unlike any other social networking tool.

She spends about an hour each day directly engaged with social media. Just like email is a part of everyone’s daily lives, Twitter is now part of hers to check for messages and monitor and participate in conversations. For general Twitter discussions and any replies directed towards her (called @replies), she checks them using the Twitter web site and Twitter search. This system lets her work during the day without being interrupted by the general stream of “tweets”. Any private, direct messages to her go directly to her email inbox. On the go, Christine checks Twitter on her iPhone using Twitterific (sometimes a little too often.)

With her personal connections on Facebook she uses a more passive approach, relying on the Facebook generated emails for comments and messages. Occasionally she will go to the Facebook site to check the statuses of her friends. Facebook has been good for catching up with old friends. She had tried MySpace, but wasn’t thrilled with it’s interface and ultimately found she made much better connections on Facebook and canceled her account.

She is being selective about what tools to use to keep things manageable.

Insights

Christine has found success using social media tools by investing time in helping others. Recently she was chosen to be a panel liaison for SXSW . When she tweeted about it to share the news, another Twitter user contacted her to ask how she went about it. She helped get them connected with the appropriate person to get involved. Christine has also witnessed the impact of the medium more directly. A few weeks ago, she tweeted about going for a run. She received a response that it had inspired one of her followers to go out for a run too. The tools have been great in helping her manage connections and make friends.

Using social media has helped her grow personally and push “out of her shell.” To help keep a balance, she has been careful about who she follows back on Twitter. If someone follows her, she looks to see who they are by checking out their bio and reading what they are tweeting about before she decides to follow them back. When she follows someone on Twitter, she’ll take the time to look them up on LinkedIn and Facebook to learn a bit more about them. People she has met in person are more likely to get connected with her across all her social media tools.

Using Twitter was a strategic move by her company. Once she began using it she grew to like it. Meeting people in person and connecting with them on Twitter has been very exciting. She is now working with her clients to introduce them to the space. Some of her clients are hesitant to jump on board, but know they need to do it. In Christine’s view, successful social interaction online needs to come from the client.

Advice

You can’t just feed news – you have to add value or people are going to ignore you.

  • Remember it’s public. Be careful what you are putting on there. People are going to check online for you. Show your personality, don’t stifle it.
  • It takes time to build up your following and your community. It takes effort to cultivate. Be patient. Grow it organically, don’t force it.
  • If you are starting on Twitter, follow friends and ask them to follow you. Ask your friends to suggest to their followers that they follow you. Again, don’t force it.
  • Put information about yourself in your bio so people know who you are. You are likely to receive a follow back if you seem like a real person with real interests.
  • Be consistent, don’t just tweet once a week and expect a following.
  • Get involved. Get engaged. Network. Meet. The best success comes from a combination of meeting people in person and extending that relationship online. It takes time and effort, but the benefits are so rewarding.

Author’s note : I want to thank Christine for allowing her interview to be the first posted to Practical Conversations. Not everyone is willing to blaze trails. It’s my hope that more interviews like this, with people sharing their experiences, will help us all to improve our personal processes for managing online conversations. Thanks Christine! -k