Blog Archives

A note to my daughter: Never air dirty laundry on social media

Sometimes, things just go too far. And what both of these girls (and their families) have to deal with now is that this all is visible. No matter your privacy settings, expect that all activity in social media will survive. This provides a lesson for all companies on social media: Be careful because any mis-step will be seen by somebody.

PSA: Keep Your Personal Drama Off of Facebook or It Could Get Ugly…

Making Facebook friends with Applebee’s


Mmm, chicken tenders.

The subtitle of this post should be “A reminder that engagement doesn’t just happen.”

This story of journalist Chip Zdarsky and his long, funny relationship on Facebook with the local Applebee’s is well worth the read. The interaction between Zdarsky and the local eatery is funny and positive, and kudos to whoever is doing the social media for the restaurant for staying on message and trying to promote the Applebee’s brand throughout the exchanges.

However, the big takeaway from the article for social media marketers can be seen in this quote from Zdarsky:

I started digging deeper on the page and noticed it was, well, pretty barren of comments. It just seemed like whoever was in charge of their social media kept putting up new photos and trying to engage conversation and was left with a whole lot of nothing.

The person running social media for this Applebee’s did an admirable job of trying to bring people to the restaurant’s account, with little return on their time. So the question has to be “could they have done something different?”

In short, yes.

One of the biggest misconceptions of social media management is that engagement comes automatically from asking questions of the audience and letting the magic happen. In reality, most people who follow a brand’s page are looking for three things: News, deals and customer service.

Brand pages that have a mature, established audience can add question or poll posts to their strategy and get engagement. The goal of a post such as “Our Three-Cheese Penne goes great with ___ for a perfect Pick ‘N Pair combo” is to get users not only answering but debating. User X loves one dish and comments about it, while user Y loves something else. They (and others) begin to debate the merits of their favorites, and the restaurant gets a ton of positive feedback with little effort. In the end, each user is more likely to go to the restaurant and order a new dish.

Followers of this local restaurant – rather than the Applebee’s corporate brand page – are most likely looking for daily deals and coupons. To build engagement, this page might need to understand that communication is going to be more one-way than not for a while. And that’s OK.

(Side note: Question posts were horribly ineffective during my time at Princeton University, and many financial services companies find that asking open questions can backfire more often than not.)

The goal of any social media presence is, in the end, to get more money in the coffers and more people in the business. Not every Facebook page is going to be Starbucks or George Takei, where every post earns thousands of likes, comments and (most importantly) shares.

Success is engagement. If that means changing course midstream, it’s always worth a shot. Either that or get some publicity from Buzzfeed and The Atlantic. No problem, right?

If your business is looking for the right strategy to build a successful social media presence, contact us at Shea-Cahir Consulting today.

Comedy is difficult… especially on social media


Think before you tweet.

By now, you’ve read about “The Tweet Heard Round the World,” by public relations executive Justine Sacco. It’s pretty short and sweet.

Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!

The outrage related to this is well-placed. It’s racist, classist, really inappropriate, and just plain stupid.

However, there is a more business-related reason that Sacco was fired, and it provides a lesson to all companies.

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On soccer, Twitter and brand management

Soccer and Twitter don't always mix.

Soccer and Twitter don’t always mix.

I love soccer. It ranks third on the list of things I love, after my kids and my wife. It even lands above social media. But if you talk about social media and soccer, well, I just can’t resist…

Twitter is a tough platform for brand management. When I ran social at Princeton, we walked a tight line between when we would engage with a negative commenter/tweeter or when we would leave them alone. We rarely deleted content, and we only blocked two users in my two years there.

Companies need to have a playbook for how they will handle negative feedback. Some are excellent, and some become the debacle that was Amy’s Baking Company in Arizona.

One thing people – especially known people – forget is that they must act for the betterment of their brand. Sometimes, defending yourself on Twitter isn’t worth it, which can be a lesson to all brands and businesses.

To wit, the tale of Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl.

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A risky but ingenious social media response

Responding to negative comments on social media is a risky proposition. Most people either avoid diving in or they do it wrong. When I was at Princeton, we engaged most people and tried to get to the bottom of the negative response, but sometimes that just won’t work.

Facebook done right.

Facebook done right.

This customer, and the response from the company’s COO, are an amazing example of customer service and brand management online. This was a risky response, but in this case, the tone and sincerity were perfect, and the company gained more customers than it would have by leaving the one angry customer’s post alone. My favorite part:

Your voicemail stated ‘it is the holidays, you should be working’ and your email stated, ‘Instead of doing my Christmas cards and enjoying the holiday spirit I was dealing with this.’ Perhaps you need to spend a bit more time embracing the holiday spirit. You see, my employees were home with their families doing their cards, baking cookies, etc. Family first, product second.

Well done. Well done, indeed.

Free Guaranteed Success! and other social media sales myths

That headline sounds great, but what's hiding when I click through?

That headline sounds great, but what’s hiding when I click through?

My wife and I don’t argue about much, but there is one thing that has driven a wedge between us recently: grilled-cheese sandwiches.

She cooks hers differently than me, and I apparently do it “wrong.” While we might never agree on the method for grilled-cheese success, we can both agree that there are many methods (mine it totally the best) that can end up perfect for a person’s taste.

Such is the way with social media. Anyone who says there is a perfect template for “writing the perfect blog” or “hitting a viral home run” is really just trying to sell you something. Sure, they might have some good tips, but if everyone wrote the same content in the same way, wouldn’t that eliminate the unique-ness of all content?

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Great message for social media

Love this. I wonder if Pantene is targeting Pinterest users (84% women) with this, as well. If not, they should be.

Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Find the right platform for your audience


Looking at social media demographics is a big part of your planning.

In 2005, there was a belief that “all you need to do is start a blog and people will find you.” As a result, there are literally millions of blogs that sit dormant, unfound by the magical masses.

The past provides a lesson for today’s social media strategy.

Too often, businesses hear a story about social media and assume, “we have to be out there and get to the people.” While this is the correct idea, the execution often lets a business down. A successful social media presence is based on research, planning and one simple rule: It’s better to be excellent on one platform than to be mediocre on every platform.

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Cracking the social media news feed code

Choosing the right words makes a difference on social media.

Choosing the right words makes a difference on social media.

If you run a business with a website, you’ve either spent some time or money on Search Engine Optimization. It’s actually quite a simple concept: You add tags to blog posts, you write headlines that include keywords, you work on something called metadata, and BOOM you’re content is on the first page of Google when people search for your industry.

It would appear that Twitter and Facebook are moving toward a more SEO-like world with the changes in their news feeds.

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Use social media for good, not evil

Everything on the Internet is true, isn't it?

Everything on the Internet is true, isn’t it?

Did you know “The Bachelor” was still on the air? Neither did I.

Building brand awareness through social media is a tricky proposition. If you look like you’re trying too hard, the social media audience will often shut you out. On the other hand, most brands can’t expect that people will just magically show up.

Then there is the case of producer Elan Gale, whose Thanksgiving social media hoax proved the old axiom that “any publicity is good publicity.” Not to sound cynical, but this ruse was both despicable and genius. It’s just too bad he didn’t use his social media powers for good and not evil.

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Marchex Data Reveals Ohioans Curse the Most in the Country; Washingtonians the Least

Ian Shea-Cahir:

An interesting look at cursing and courtesy when customers call companies. One has to wonder if these statistics are really a commentary on the people in these states or on the state of customer service.
In the social media world, tone and customer service are a delicate calculus that can be a source of success or a source of lost revenue. Call or e-mail us to get the training your company needs.

Originally posted on Marchex Blog:

By Sonia Krishnan, Director of Corporate Communications for Marchex

Are you f*&!ing serious?

cursingAs a native Buckeye who’s lived in Washington for eight years, this was my first reaction to the data analysis released today by our Marchex Institute, which found that people in Ohio curse the most in the country.  Washingtonians, by contrast, curse the least. (WTF?)

The data also placed Ohioans in the Top 5 “Least Courteous” category. Apparently, residents there have a harder time saying “please” and “thank you,” which were the keywords that Marchex’s Call Mining technology scanned for when aggregating data on pleasantries.

It’s fascinating stuff. And it coincides with National Etiquette Week, a seven-day ‘gentle reminder,’ if you will, to be civil and courteous to one another.

The Institute, Marchex’s data and research team, examined more than 600,000 phone calls from the past 12 months. The calls were placed by consumers to businesses across…

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Punctuation – and tone – matter in social media

The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks. Recently, however, it’s started getting angry. I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”

– The New Republic on Mashable


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