Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not everyone wants to be your FRIEND


I just returned from a breakfast meeting for Social Media Breakfast Waterloo Region  -  #SMBWR that can be found at http://twitter.com/smbwr and http://www.socialmediabreakfast.com/category/smb-waterloo-region/. A discussion lead to the difficulties of the culture in Waterloo Region and getting people involved in communities or even just knowing our own neighbours. This led to some healthy and worthwhile advice as to how to get to know your neighbours.  I agreed with many, but remained silent as I pondered this, and the phenomenon that we are expected to develop relationships with all companies, businesses, influential people within our cities, neighbours, etc, etc, etc.

Everyone wants to be MY Friend
My phone company wants me to LIKE them on Facebook - why, just give me service at a reasonable rate, and provide an easy way to connect to you if I require your service, or to research new services.
When I am in need I will review - otherwise I do not want to read your posts or tweets. There are some businesses, companies, or bloggers that I do want to develop relationships with, or at least know on a  daily basis what is new - those I may subscribe to LIKE and even follow on Twitter. I often UNLIKE Fan Pages, as find too many posts are tiresome or the information is only clutter. This does NOT mean I don't LIKE you, it is just not a priority to me and we all have a threshold to how much involvement we want to cross our path.

Please Leave Me Alone
Example - a friend of mine recently moved to a new city and was looking forward to meeting new people and discovering activities within the community. She made the acquaintance of a few neighbours, and setup a playdate for the children and got some tips about services in the area and activities. All swell! Then, the one person she met was calling her 3 times a day, and every time she exited her house, her new-found 'friend' was right there. This was TOO MUCH. My friend took to sneaking out of her house, and screening her phone calls. She felt like a prisoner in her own home.

Limits
There is a limit to how much community we can all take - some appreciate more, some need more private time and others prefer the solace of family. We should respect this, and not suspect that there is something wrong with either them or us.

Make it easy for me to LIKE you
Lastly, I would like to point out to businesses involved with creative ways of engaging - that if it causes me work to take advantage of your offer, then I may throw it away.
Example - I received an email that I could get an additional $5 off any WagJag deal
- BUT there is a hitch.
1> I must be subscriber to the newspaper.
  - Okay, I am a subscriber or I would not have received the email.
2> I must go to link provided and signup to WagJag.
  - hmm maybe later
3> And when ready for one of deals offered use a special promo code in this email
   - okay so need to keep this promo code somewhere, save email or something.
Too difficult!  And so far I have not found anything on WagJag I really need or want .... so save in case maybe...
How could this be done better? 
Well I am not sure of the point? I believe it is an advertising campaign that provides services and businesses within the community to promote themselves. The idea is that if something is offered for 50% off, that I might try it, and this gives the business a chance to show what they have, can do and to get to know more people in the community. All good for both sides right?
Yes, if it is easy to do. If too much work then it may not work for all. Is there an easier way than the signup? Do I have to be a Friend on Facebook to get the deal? Do I have to LIKE your Fan Page?
What if I just show up?

Why Should I LIKE You?
This reminds me also of an experience I had on the weekend. I was at the LCBO store and picked up the current Food & Drink magazine (which is amazing!!). Once I had gone through it initially to review the recipes, I was exploring the rest of the magazine and realized many advertisements had the Facebook connection graphic or - Connect to our Facebook Page. Now why I wondered do I want to connect to all these companies on Facebook? Such as a furniture store or paint store? If I require your services I will do research at that time, but what am I to do with you on my Facebook in the meantime?

To be clear, I am not being snarky or nasty - this is just plain overload that is happening. 
In our group of friends and family this is what is happening:
The younger generation in the 20 - 30 year old bracket just ignore. 
The 30 - 40 year olds take advantage of the bargains and deals mostly as they are being more conscious due to having young families.
Those of us older often feel a responsibility to support all - which we end up being overloaded. 
My husband has recently disconnected all Facebook Friends except for immediate family - therefore has maybe 6 Friends. He uses no Blackberry Apps, as after novelty found many annoying, so if not a business efficiency app, then it is gone. LinkedIn, he has no time for other than minimal connection. Twitter & Blogs - he leaves that up to me  :)

TOO Much Information!
I recently read that if we cannot use the information immediately - that we are throwing it away, as our brains cannot process it all. Also if we bookmark or save for later, the list becomes so horrendously long that we just add to it  - thus deciding to not save and simply throw away if cannot use at this time.
For this reason, I am attempting to keep this post short.

For further information (If your time permits)
- scientific presentation regarding the Human Brain and Social
- Professor Robin Dunbar explores if there is a limit to the number of friends we can keep track
- Number has been determined to be maximum number is 150



What do you think?  Are we overloaded? Do we want to be everyone's Friend?
Or do we want to be left alone?

Leave a Comment or Tweetback
@darleenw

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All Hold Hands and Sing Kumbaya Customer Service

Group Hug
Poor Customer Service - or what the customer perceives as unsatisfactory,  often creates an irate customer. With access to online ranting across Twitter, Social Smack, Facebook, Reddit, Groubal, etc etc  - a disgruntled customer's dissatisfaction can easily go viral.  Some even write songs about on YouTube. I am not that talented. I can only grit my teeth and tremble.


United Breaks Guitars song

HOW COULD I SING MY SONG TO GET ATTENTION?
I put some thought into how I had handled my recent situation, with my cell phone provider and change in policy now disallowing a hardware upgrade. Could it be that I, Goddess of Customer Service and Engagement, in theland of happiness - was a BAD CUSTOMER?
How could this be?


I received a Tweet from @RHBDaveHowlett - Real Human Being:
 #expedia take note RT @darleenw: “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.! Bill Gates
RHB - Real Human Being at RHBNation,  philosophy is a language of likeability that allows us to break through self-imposed barriers and achieve personal and business success. Dave teaches how to get into "third-gear" rather than "first-gear or second-gear" with our attitudes and actions.
Be the Amazing Gal or Good Guy.

I recently attended a lecture by Dave - Breaking Down Silos - and the main take away was "I didn't do it for the wave". Do the right thing, in "third-gear" - not to get the wave but to be a better person.

hmmm ...


I had to admit that I contributed to the recent Customer Service  call going bad, and ending in frustration. I had been the IRATE CUSTOMER!

I had NOT been the Goddess-Customer and did not act in "third-gear". Whoa Nelly.


NEXT STEPS
 I had a discussion with the Twitter Agent, and my recent blog post stating my displeasure of not being heard by Customer Service was amended to include accurately that in the end I had been heard. I did note that I was pleased with fact my displeasure of the policy change had been passed on to management.  I felt validated and that the Twitter Agent was using situation to learn.
The one thing missing was the follow-up call from a manager.
Note: I had been promised by the Telephone Agent that I would receive call-back within 2 - 4 hours.
It was now well past.

IS THIS THE END?
I thought on fact that maybe I was expecting a wave? NO! I was the waver. I had not yet been let in to be able to provide a wave. I still deserved a discussion with the manager. BUT, I decided I would wait until end of week 
- 2 more days.

MANAGER CALLED!
Yes, she called.  It was almost 48 hours after promised call-back - BUT she did call!
Now this was my chance to get things right. I adopted my Goddess-Customer role and expressed my displeasure for the policy change, AND addressed the fact that not only was I the customer blindsided, but so was all of the Customer Service team. I then asked if there was anything she could possibly do to bypass this change, since it was changed on the eve of our contract being eligible for a hardware upgrade. She allowed! We got the upgrade along with order placed for new Blackberry to be shipped ASAP. I thanked her for her time and solution.
We held hands and sang Kumbaya. Group Hug!

CLOSURE
To complete my acting in 'third-gear' and Goddess-Customer, I reconnected with the Twitter Agent. I informed him that I had received call-back from Manager and all was resolved satisfactorily.
I thanked him.
Kumbaya. Hug. Hug.

MORALE OF THE STORY:
It is NOT ONLY the responsibility of Customer Service people to do the right thing. 
It is the responsibility of all to do the right thing - be a better person. 
Be the Goddess, Amazing Gal or Good Guy! 
Be a Good Customer.
Create Collaboratively - Amazing Customer Experience.


Oh and here is my WAVE!

Tweetback

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Social Media Amplifies Customer Service - Can you hear me now?


Customer Service has embraced Social Media - Twitter and Facebook in particular are being used and majority of companies have a presence within these applications. This allows customers to connect to company representatives immediately.
Wonderful - you would think, correct?
We will get immediate responses for our queries and complaints.
We will be heard.
Company leaders will listen and respond to our needs
- maybe even give us half of what we want.

Maybe - Customer Service will improve, due to connection and amplification - we think. And that thought process seems to be valid. As companies must truly care and want to be connected to 'us', the customer. This is progress. If we have a complaint we can Twitter our displeasure for ALL to view, and with ReTweets it will go around the world.
Companies will have to listen. Right?

The Truth is that this is correct some of the time. There are several examples of how amplification of a problem and displeasure with a company or product has indeed resulted in an amazing response.
@dooce  (Heather Armstrong) -- And the Washing Machine debacle  - Maytag Saga  and how she used her klout to get results. And reaction by This Fish Needs A Bicycle

The other side of the same coin, however is that BAD Customer Service is amplified.
The analogy being like a bad toothache. It just gets worse!


If a company does NOT get good Customer Service before Social Media, we cannot expect or assume that they suddenly see the light, with Social Media. Adding Twitter to their 'Contact Us' will most likely only AMPLIFY BAD Customer Service. We will be told not only by the telephone agent, but also by the Twitter agent - 'We don't really care about you, the customer'. In these instances there is one  major ingredient missing.
Engaging with the customer.

1. To involve oneself or become occupied; participate: engage in conversation.
 How does one exactly go about doing this? First step is to Listen to the Customer.
There are a variety of training available for how to have quality conversations, but the #1 aspect to get right is to LISTEN -  Can you hear me now?  Methodology. 

The next step is to actually do something with this information. Not necessarily give in to this customer or all irate customers, but use the information to make your service better. 
How can you prevent customers upsets?
  • 82% of consumers have stopped doing business witha company as a result of a negative experience
  • 55% became a customer of a company because of their reputation for great customer service
  • 55% would pay 10% or more for a good customer experience
WHAT DOES THE CUSTOMER WANT?
In a recent debate with my cell phone provider, I became frustrated. NOT, because they did not give me what I want. BUT - because they did not hear me and offer to pass this information up to the TOP of  the organization.   After requesting with Twitter agent it was passed on.
As a customer, I want to be validated and HEARD.
I want to feel that I am important to you the company.
I am the voice of the customer.
I am not happy with a recent policy change.
The management that made this change should be aware and with this information -
  and ... TRY to find creative methods of resolving and providing the customers needs.
At least improve communication with customers.

EXAMPLE: 
A cell phone hardware upgrade policy has recently changed to not being without penalty from 24 months to 30 months. However customers want this hardware upgrade policy or HUP, to be LESS than 24 months ( with a 3 year contract). Due to fact that technology and hardware are changing so rapidly, why do I want to be stuck with old technology for 30 months? I don't. We don't.  We can understand that  there are cost issues by our provider - BUT, and this is where the ENGAGING comes into play.
UPDATE - My views have been passed on to Management. I am adding this to accurately report that I was heard and it was passed on. I am hoping this will result in some further response.
So far I have not had response from the Management. 
Telephone conversation prior to my Twitter convo, provided me with a 2 - 4 hr time frame for return call  from a Manager would be coming - that is now 24 hours ago.

I am happy with fact it has been reported. A response from a Manager would make it a WOW.

Be creative in finding solutions for your customer. AND cost effective for us all. 
Let us know that you HEAR US!

Do you hear your Customers? How do you respond? 

tweetback
@darleenw

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I don’t want a new job, but a career as Goddess-Matriarch of Customer Engagement


*Connect* Engage* Trust* Loyalty*
I am currently searching for employment. It has to do with requiring  a source of funds to maintain my quality of living - eating, heat, roof over head, electricity and other basics. Like my colleague and younger friend @KRCraft at Thoughelf's Blog, I don't want a 'job'.
I want a career as Goddess-Matriarch of Customer Engagement. 
This role fits well with @KRCraft's ‘Demi-Goddess Enterprise Solution Evangelist’ - and slightly more creative than our male counterparts role of 'God'.

Seriously, the title 'Goddess Martiarch of Customer Engagement' demonstrates my true passion for Customer Service, and the fact that I have amassed wisdom and respect within the field. This is not ego, but simply right of passage combined with achievements. I hire a team of evangelists to represent and support the culture of a customer-centric environment.

A Goddess-Matriarch is engaged with staff within the enterprise as well as the customer. Within her playground she wears multiple hats to ensure 'Customer Excellence' is delivered.

The many facets of Goddess-Matriarch of Customer Engagement:
  • Collaboration over-seer is utmost important role, as all need to be on same page and empowered.
  • Ensuring vision is expressed and has 'buy-in' of all staff to meet corporate strategic objectives.
  • Relationship Management from top to bottom internally, as well as external vendors, partners, customers and all stakeholders.
  • As the Matriarch having now advanced from full-time direct contact with the customer, she mentors staff not with an iron hand, but by engaging.
  • Superior Listening skills have been developed to enable all to be heard and to be on top of status.
  • Communication skills are continually honed and practiced to deliver clear Leadership.
  • Leads rather than manages teams and colleagues by example and sincerely caring.
  • Trusts those hired,  like Demi-Goddess Evangelists,  and other 'Uber' Professional Services team players - Application Specialists, Operations & Customer Support.
  • Continual evaluation, development and training of staff encased within a collaborative method.
  • CEO of FUN,  is dual role required to promote having fun while doing the best for customer.
  • Maintains links to 'cutting-edge' technology advances with pathways to connect with customer.
  • Keeps one step ahead of  technology advances, industry standards, and legal/government statute changes and requirements.
  • Social Media Advocate ensuring staff embrace, utilize and actively involved internally and externally, and collaborates with team regarding analytics & reporting in order to continually make improvements, reporting right metrics for several different audiences.
               ** Has hired Best-in-class staff that can work magic to mine data  **
  • Due to experience at all levels of businesses from startup to enterprise, within a variety of different industries, the Goddess-Matriarch engages easily with everyone from facilities staff, senior executive, board members and actively engages on Twitter, Facebook & Community Forums.
  • Liaison between technical and non technical internally and externally, able to cross over and interpret and communicate with all sides.
  • Clear understanding of Project Management, ITIL  and other frameworks required depending on industry and requirements.
  • Mentors and partners with staff and other internal departments to prevent silo creation, and same 'voice' across all channels that 'touch' customers.
  • Loyalty created between staff, internal and external partners as all are customers.
  • Spearheads Creative Brainstorming of providing Customer Excellence
    - providing the WOW.
  • Surprises - from home-made muffins, Wacky Wednesdays to Name this Tune customer contest.
  • Passion, Passion and more Passion for Customer Service above and beyond experiences.
It goes without saying that of course I have eyes and ears everywhere - or so it seems. Not due to micro -managing, but truly being connected.

Best recommendation level achieved: Amazing

I am not looking for a job, but a career within a company that my passion for Customer Service is embraced and encouraged. Let's get engaged!

Checkout my details on LinkedIn and recommendations - http://ca.linkedin.com/in/darleen

Monday, October 11, 2010

Be the Extra Mile

Do YOU wash your customers windows?
credit: http://orionserviceinc.com

In recent post by  Kelly Craft -  Thoughtelf's Blog asks if we clean our customers windows and top up their oil, in order to provide exceptional customer service - led me to a hmm moment.

Hmm - as thoughts of if and how I have received, and provided myself.

Myself the Customer
As a customer, I still go to a  Full Service Station, when gassing up my car. I pay an additional 0.1 cents per litre to obtain Full Service. This entitles me to getting my windows washed, and oil checked as minimum. But, I get much more, and go for the addons - conversation and genuine caring. The attendant asks questions about how the car has been running, and mileage, and just general weather type conversation. He is excited to see me, and also does a check of lights and tire visual check. It is well worth the additional 0.1 cents per litre. I go out of my way to get my gas at this station, when this attendant is working. In fact, I coordinate getting my gas (as much as possible) around his hours, even if I still have a half tank of gas.

Myself the Customer Service Manager/Advocate
I have always attempted to provide my customers with  'exceptional customer service' and 'go the extra mile'. I believe,  I have managed to do this, the majority of time, and mentored staff to provide.
I would like to provide service like Zappos
- PROACTIVE. Expedite orders without extra cost.

Provide Exceptional Service Rather Than fix Complaints
There are various ways that we can be 'proactive', and look ahead for the customer. You can do many proactive actions, without having a complete enterprise culture change
- take action, and others will follow.

Some of my extras:
  1. Verify Customer configuration and recommend changes for improvement without request.
  2. Sent email notification regarding upcoming system updates on horizon & what means.
  3. If CRM shows no recent activity from customer - send out email to check-in.
  4. Added customers to IM, Twitter and FB and engaged after 9-5
    - when customers are online.
  5. As Customer Service Manager - provided customers with my cell number. Never abused.
What are your extras? How do you go the extra mile?
Can you BE  the Extra Mile for your company?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Social Media In Real Life




Continuation of The Social Media Experiment

It has been a long while since I updated my Social Media Experiment, due to being overcome with the whole Twitter experience. Twitter is easy and it is complex, all at the same time. That is best left for another day, to explain and demonstrate fully.

My first experience with Twitter was close to others trials, and tests, and I did it wrong.
I should have had a plan maybe, or a test account to play around with.
The damage is now done.

What did I do? Is it repairable?
I randomly followed and attracted followers according to the 'flavor of the day' method. Which is to say, whatever my fancy of the moment was - the current municipal elections, food, cooking sites and tweets, dieting, health tweets, social media gurus, social media marketing, customer service, graphics, comedians, celebrities, companies such as Pepsi, Police Reports, Art Gallery, City Hall, Air Canada, and more.

Why is this wrong?
If I was not wishing to promote myself for either business or job prospecting - nothing.
However, if I want to get to the point of being a Social Media Manager, then maybe, just maybe - I should have kept within the 'niche' I hoped to focus.
And if hoping to highlight myself in order to get a job offer
- maybe I should have (again) - focused.

Can it be corrected?
Yes, basically I can continue on forward and focus on the tweets in the topic and voice that I want to represent OR I can create an entire new separate account. Many people have several Twitter IDs/ Accounts. Such as you might want one that you limit to tweets for family, or business. Our personal and business lives tend to be blurred any longer with ourselves being splashed across the Internet, and in most cases should always be presenting ourselves in appropriate manner if we have integrity, and are over the age of 25.

REMEMBER:
Twitter is public.
Even though some tweets can be Private Direct Messages.
Other Tweets are shared between your followers.
Therefore, it may not be the best forum to have a rant or drag down fight with your loved ones.

What's Next? How Can Twitter and Other Social Media be useful IN REAL LIFE

EXAMPLES
Customer Complaints - send complaint to store, or company that has not lived up to service.
RESULTS: 
So far I have not been impressed with any customer service responses on twitter or Facebook pages, with exception of Mazda & City of Kitchener. Others have been slow to respond or have not responded at all. I am continuing on with this exercise in order to gather a larger selection.

Get a Job - LinkedInTwitter, Facebook and internet searches.

RESULTS:

LinkedIn - Upon updating my profile,  I immediately received email queries and activity within the network I created. I also spent considerable time updating my list and ensuring that I was connected to as many people as possible.  I clarified and rewrote my profile several times. Joining Groups also increased activity and queries. Then a larger spike in activity noticed when I began leaving comments within discussions on Groups and updated my Status  - news feed then updated and kept me in front of my network.

Twitter - I have changed  focus to be within Customer Service and Social Media Management, as well as connecting with others in these fields.

Facebook - I still use for a mixture of personal and business related, as well as Fan Pages. I have done some changes to privacy settings and verified that I do not have anything too wild or crazy. But for the most part, I am just me - You get what you see. Certainly, employers can find out much more details on a candidate than ever before. Again we have very little privacy, unless we never go online.


Follow Me in My Job Search
So please do follow me now, as I focus on Customer Service, Social Media Management and Customer Relationship Management. There is much to cover under these topics. Along the way I hope that using the Social Media tools, as well as standard networking methods, will provide an opportunity in the workforce - and an employment offer!

Next Post :  
I don't want a new job, I want a new career as ______ ?? 
- To Be Continued ....

...darleen 



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Steve Martin Cured My Twitter Addiction



Social Media 30 Day Experiment

I started this blog regarding Social Media and doing a 30 Day Experiment to uncover the uses of this thing called Social Media.  Started on August 3, 2010.
I have gone over my 30 days now, and coming up to almost 60 days.
Why have I not blogged and updated regularly?
Because - I HAVE NO TIME TO BLOG. Twitter, Facebook, DIGG. FourSquare, LinkedIN, YouTube, and following all the web links in each, responding to each post HAS OVERTAKEN MY LIFE!

This experiment was to uncover the how and why of Social Media for the 'average person'.
Not for Social Media Marketers or for Business - but why does Joe or Mary Everyday person want to get involved with Social Media? What do they follow when they do? Does it enhance their life?

I was already using several Social Media applications - Facebook, LinkedIN and Blogging. I had tried Twitter previously, but found it of little value at that time, and left it. I decided to give Twitter another try,  and really learn how to use it, as well as associated applications, as well as use Facebook for other activities than just family connections and viewing photo of high school friends. My plan was to find the good in all this Social Media hype, and be able to promote to family and friends.

Twitter is Evil
Yes, I said it - Twitter is Evil.
I began by finding people to follow by using the search tool within Twitter. I searched for personal interests and Social Media.

I have many interests:
Social Media
Cooking
Motorcycles
Cars
Kitchener - local city
Waterloo Region Election
Fibromyalgia
Weight Loss
Children - Mommy Blogs led me to their Twitter feeds
Writing
Book Reviews

This led me to follow other people that  and find other topics:
QR Codes
Cloud Computing
Web 2.0
Semantic Web
Work from Home
Happiness

I read hundreds and possibly thousands of tweets, posts, and websites with up to the minute information, joined tweetchats, tweetups, twitups, SM Meetups, LIKED business Facebook Fan Pages, commented and became completely engrossed in Social Media. Books were purchased from every Social Media Marketer and Expert - downloaded and hard-copies delivered to my door, so I could absorb as much as possible, as quickly as possible.

I even had to stop my life to connect to online tweetchat regarding breaking news on - #NEWTWITTER.
   I was as excited as .. I am not sure, but it was exciting!

I slept little.
I gathered followers - 500 on Twitter - and following 600 and their connections.
Facebook Fan Pages began to overtake my News Feed. 
I slept less.

I  became both addicted and overloaded!  Or as one person tweeted:
The information is giving me a raging brainer!


AND THEN CAME STEVE MARTIN TO TWITTER:
@SteveMartinToGo  started on Sept 10, 2010
From the beginning his tweets were humourous, and he has been one of my favorite comedians since the 1970s - yes I am that old and Steve Martin is 10 years older - at least!


I began noticing his tweets, and then started reviewing at the end of each day
- as getting the entire story was more amusing.
I laughed!! 
Out Loud!!

Sample Steve Martin Tweets - minus tweets by the  monkeys he hired, and other silliness.


He is poking fun at Twitter and how we can become addicted  - obsessing over how many followers, how our book deal is rated, and information itself. I am not sure he has any interactions with any of his followers, or just as running Twitter  background comedy routine.
This background noise - I began to notice.
I started paying attention more to his tweets than others with Social Media best practices and other ground breaking technology news.

I laughed.
I slept.
I began to clean up my lists, and followers and who following, and Facebook and email choked with notifications and links and and...

REASSESSMENT
Yes there is good to be found in  Social Media,
BUT  - to those that are like me and information hogs - BEWARE!


Tomorrow  - I will be back with Pros & Cons of Social Media and how to remain in control.
There are definitely benefits.

More to come, but back to Steve Martin:


 Laugh. Sleep.

Tweetback
@darleenw

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

5 Reasons Twitter like pregnancy.


Social Media Experiment, Twitter and Pregnancy 
New Blog name - Social Tweetle 
- due to fact I had chosen a trademarked title originally

The 30 Day Social Media Experiment has reached the 30 days. Next is for me to report on my findings thus far.  Please be patient, as my head is full of 'stuff' to organize into coherent thoughts and words. I shall be refining, and continuing to analyze the effectiveness and - who the heck should be using, and which Social Media tools and apps are for the different uses.

I was thinking  of how joining Twitter effected me, and found myself comparing joining and becoming accustomed to Twitter as very similar to going through pregnancy.  Let me explain 'reasons that joining Twitter is like pregnancy'.  Just to verify my expertise - I have been pregnant twice in my life (that I am aware of) - so feel qualified to explain this analogy.

5 Reasons Joining Twitter is Like Pregnancy:
  1. Choosing a  name is nerve wracking.
    What shall I select? Should I use my real name? Should I have 2 names/ 2 accounts. What is the perceived message when I use my real name compared to a name such as @sexygranny? This is very similar to the many hours, days, weeks and months agonizing over selecting the baby's name. And equally the same as when verbalized the wonderful name of Abigail Aloysius (a deligtful sounding alliteration I thought) - to the spouse, and was subjected to being informed that pregnancy hormones had surely kidnapped my brain. Of course in the case of Twitter, it was allowing friends and T-Pals to voice opinion.

    In the end:
    I have gone with @darleenw and so far is attached to all my blogs on differing topics. Advantage to Twitter name - I can change it at anytime! As far as Pregnancy - somehow we did name 3 daughters with each 2 names, although I usually forget their names and call them all 'Hey You'.
  2. I am voraciously trying to learn everything as fast as possible.
    When newly pregnant (about 3 hours after conception), I was buying books, asking every woman I came in contact with (that had given birth or might have even thought about giving birth) all the details. Details, about pregnancy, about giving birth, about being a mother and what university to enroll the most amazing child ever born. With Twitter, I have been following everyone with Social Media expert status, and those with lots to say on topics that interest me (all but gay grey apes), following every tweet until eyes bulging and bleary. Also reading as much data online, and purchasing books about Twitter until totally thinking of nothing else each moment of the day.
    Best Advice:

    You cannot possibly read all that there is online or printed re Twitter.
    For Pregnancy - relax millions have done this before you, without studying.
  3. Sleepless due to being concerned with might happen.
    When pregnant I lost sleep due to imagining the worst possible scenarios, and every movement and twinge. With Twitter, I lost sleep due to first thinking I had to follow every tweet and respond ASAP, or I would fail and be excommunicated - or worse yet, lose followers. Gasp. What-if thoughts plagued me in both situations.
    In the end:

    Realized I could not possibly keep up with all tweets and is not expected.
    Pregnancy - well for most part (except when those said hormones clicked in) I relaxed due to realizing millions of women had done this before with great success.
  4. Afraid no one will appreciate me.
    What if my child hated me, and my husband turned on me due to now being a mother , and lost all my friends since I now had a baby and they were still single and childless - I was not appreciated for being me? What if I was ignored? Same as joining Twitter and concerned that no one would follow me, and would not like what I had to say if they did - and thus quickly unfollowing.
    Best Advice:

    It is not about the numbers of followers, but engaging with those you connect.
    Pregnancy - Of course your child at some time will hate you, but it is too late to worry about that now. Do your best - and enjoy yourself.
  5. Concerned that I really don't know what I am doing.
    Oh my, yes with pregnancy I was sure I had made a grave mistake to think I could be a mother. I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning, how could I go with little sleep with a baby? What did I know about parenting? What if I wrecked this perfect human being? With Twitter, I struggled with fact I don't yet have a niche, or specialty, or I am not a Social Media certified expert. Who do I think I am?
    In the end:

    No one really knows what they are doing!
For Twitter and all things in Life
- just do it, have fun, love what you are doing, do your best!

Show Up!




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@darleenw


...darleen

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Back to the future and beyond!

 Social Media 30 Day Experiment Week #3
The year 2010 and even scarier than could be imagined?
Advances have been made since 1985, and we are now all connected in 2010.
Mitch Joel makes reference to 'Back to the Future', in his book - Six Pixels of Separation.  He references to 15 years ago, how different online was, with modems and dialup speeds and the WWW just beginning - and if we could ' go back to the future', knowing what we know now about Google, and fact that "you would have focused a lot more of your time and energy on the online space if you had known then what you know now."

This statement struck me, since I have been involved with the internet for at least 16 years. I also provided Tech Support for a local Internet Service Provider, evolving from the Bulletin Boards and providing Internet Access to the masses. It was exciting and new. In beginning there was only text. The day that images were parsed in our browsers was cause for shouting. It did take about 15 minutes to fully paint in some of these images - but it was worth it!!  Did we ever think it would develop or get as big as it has? Yes. But ..

I expected everyone to be connected. And did expect it to grow with faster and easier ways to connect, and more information to be available at our finger tips. The wireless world yes - But.. I could not have imagined the impact of wireless and mobile.

I was, and still am 'always online' and focused to the online world - but spent most of my time promoting getting connected. Back to the Future, I definitely would use to my advantage and invent Google or at least would have bought those RIM shares in 1996.

I promoted and encouraged businesses to 'get on the internet', by registering a domain name and creating a website. Getting noticed by the search engines, and market your business with your www.companyname.com attached. People could then search for your website, bookmark the website, and voila you would be ahead of others.

Social Media? Yes we had that - email, chat programs - Pow Wow was one I used first, newsgroups, forums, mailing lists and Internet Relay Chats - IRC.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Social Media 30 Day Experiment Day 7 - Twitter to the Rescue!

Sewer Backup and Social Media - how do these go together?


This is just a quick post this evening, due to I am feeling under the weather 
- more in depth discussion to continue as soon as possible.

The Story:

Social Media Background 
As I have been experimenting with adding people to follow through Twitter, Facebook and looking at all options of connecting last week, some of these were local politicians, and city personnel, and others that are responsible for our city. Just wondering if they were able to be connected with, and how they might be using Social Media. I had found some on Twitter, and others not - such as the Mayor of Kitchener. The councillors however appeared to be on Twitter, and publish email addresses, and other contact information.  

The Emergency
My daughter - M, who lives in a townhouse unit in Kitchener, at my house very distraught. Once again there had been a flood as she called it - "and it smells like sh*t!". Which of course it would, due to be actually the sewer backing up in the townhouse complex, due to a plug somewhere. This was the 3rd time in a week, that had happened. Previously it had been dealt with twice, with the city involved to assist with the plumbing and sewer pipes being cleaned. The carpets had been shampooed. And then it happened again. Cats were trapped as they hid in crawl spaces in basement, and of course howled.
Other tenants were standing on the street. Where oh where was the landlord, property manager, and maintenance people?? 

My daughter informed me that no one could get an answer at any of the emergency contact numbers they had been supplied. The landlord seemed to be MIA.

I called another number for her and did get someone that claimed it was being dealt with. I requested that he please have someone report the details to the tenants - who were outside and justifiably very upset. I was not confident he would, but was also told to try and track the landlord down again.

Twitter to the Rescue
As time progressed, and my daughter was able to locate the landlord, but he said he could not get any assistance from maintenance or city crew. It was time to use Twitter and connect to the councillor for this area of the city. I located and tweeted:
Tweet - Assistance required please.  And added details and address of complex.
Result - he responded almost immediately  with phone number to call him at, so he could assist.


Wow I was impressed! And sorta smug  with relatives standing by - told you so.


Outcome
My daughter and her co-tenants in the meantime had been able to connect with the required personnel and all was being taken care of with additional attention to the plumbing and sewer system.
I was able to update the councillor via email and twitter, and thank him for his response and availabilityl


Morale of the Story

 Yes Social Media can be useful to the 'average person' - anyone with a toilet in this case would benefit or living close to the plumbing and sewer system attached. With having local politicians and others able to be found via Twitter, email address ( was a bit harder to find ), Facebook - we can immediately connect to these people outside of business hours.



Addendum
Since I am the only person in my immediate and extended family that is using Twitter, I am being asked - ' hey twitter for me' - person or business that they are trying to gain assistance from quickly  - and  without staying in a queue on phone, or getting voicemail etc. 

Or information about the what is happening in the city, such as the Kitchener Blues Festival  - they rely on my connection via Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other connections online.

Or when they want to know if Herrles Country Market is still open, and what varieties of corn they are selling this week ...


Get Darleen to Twitter!  
It's a start..

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@darleenw









Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Social Media Experiment Day 2 - Twitter Newbie.



This thing called Twitter and gathering followers
Ok, so what is this thing called Twitter? Seems easy enough, I tweet others receive, I follow, others follow me - happy family But, how do I get these followers, that will then Retweet my wonderful Tweets, to the Twitterland, and thereby I will become known within the Twitter community, and beyond?

Twitter Applications
desktop
I tested Twitter's use and applications to begin with.
Installed Tweetdeck on MAC, so is running in background with 'tweet' notification, when tweets received. Works nicely, and can integrate with Facebook and other apps, such as LinkedIN, Foursquare, MySpace and Buzz.  I don't like using for Facebook actually, although can connect via Facebook if I desire, and also view multiple Twitter accounts.
Twitter is easy to use for basic use, and there is Twitter Support  , which does have some useful advice.
There are many Twitter help sites, blogs and Youtube videos that will help you get started, and also for advanced users wanting to learn more about Marketing and heavy duty Tweeting.
 
blackberry
I also use Twitter on my Blackberry Bold 9700, and this is where the real fun begins. I upgraded to Twitter for Blackberry, and find it highly superior to other Twitter applications available.

Sites I have used:
Twitoaster
Things Not to do on Twitter
Top 20 Sites to Improve Your Twitter Experience
The Grandma Mary Show - Twitter Tutorials

Getting Connected to Tweeps

I confess that to begin with I just started adding people to Follow, from blogs I follow, and sites I came across with a twitter link. I ended up with about 40 followers, many spam. I admit to be lost then as to who and how to add more followers, so that could have worthwhile communications - other than just receiving promotions, blog updates and links to great information, but not necessarily what I was looking for, in my network of Followers.

Next approach, was to search for others in my geographical area, which I did by using the hashtags #kitchener, #KW, #Waterloo - and I did find several people in my area, that I Followed, and most became a Follower of mine. This increased my numbers of Followers, but did not really meet too many like-minded individuals. Although met some people, that have enlightened me very much.

I proceeded to do searches for my areas of interest - Blogging, Cooking, Social Media, Canada, Female Bloggers,  Happiness, Empty Nesters,  and then thought about Fibromyalgia, since I am a long-time sufferer - and this caused an explosion of Tweeps and Twitters. I have started some real hones conversations, with help from and to many of this group.

I also  started promoting my blogs on Twitter, as well as just Facebook friends. This increased my followers again.

BUT - the how to attract followers on Twitter, was best discovered myself, when I began treating Twitter for what it is - a social networking application. What do we do socially in the 'real world', when we want to meet new people and gather friends? We mingle.
 Again, as stated in my previous post Social Networking = Interacting online.

This is what I have learned so far, in how to attract Followers:
1) You need to communicate to others to gather followers - on blogs, twitter, fb etc
2) Join contests that promote each others blogs and leave twitter name and email address - twitter hops
3) Find like-minded people and  Reply or Retweet their tweets
4) Offer assistance (free) and encourage others with their quests and pursuits
5) Promote others and make sure that when their followers click on your name, they find your twitter account, FB, email and blog/website url
6) Communicate daily on twitter and FB, or blog - does not need to be every day but consistent
7) Be there - BB helps to always be online and respod quickly to others, communicate and always be available
Summary 
- create a presence, curiosity, openness, and caring positive attitude, which others can trust.
Truly care about others, and your Twitter Following and Followers.
I have gained over 200 Followers
- still to be determined if are correct Followers and correspond with Following group.

Mingle - work the crowd, getting to know who is there, and letting others get to know you.
Not much different than a party you attend, where you don't know anyone.


Practical Uses for the 'average person', non business and non blogger?
Coming tomorrow along with Facebook and other Social Media apps discussion.

But - yes you may definitely find Twitter useful, and connect to others in the world - that you would have never connected with, if not for Twitter.

Is it a necessity? Most likely not. It can be useful for special events, support help and community events. So .. it depends, on who you are and what information you are interested in obtaining and people you wish to connect. University students may find uses more so than seniors - but it is an individual preference.

For promoting one self for blogging, I have so far found it very useful and enlightening.

I will further discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Twitter as we go forward.
I am twittered out tonight.

What are your findings with Twitter for the 'average person' ?
How do you use Twitter?
Is it a necessity?

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@darleenw










...darleen




Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Social Media 30 Day Experiment - Day 1

Evaluation of Social Media begins

How?

To begin with I will evaluate Social Media applications and tools, as they apply to the 'ordinary person' - defined as someone who is not promoting or marketing a business in any way, that does not blog, and is any age. There may be a difference to how Social Media is accepted or not accepted by different age groups. 

Second - I will review from a business point of view as pertains to blogging, small business and how other businesses may or may not use Social Media. This may be more difficult for me, but I will utilize the many businesses that are using Social Media, and many Social Media gurus providing insight, and give my own spin on the facts. 
I discuss Facebook, Twitter, blogging and YouTube to begin with tomorrow
- from my personal experiences.

How am I qualified? 
Well, other than the fact that I am very curious and have had many people within my own family and social network question me - not much to begin with. I hope to delve into this topic and be able to provide an overview of what it all means, and if it is true that we should all jump on the Social Media wagon. Or are we being hoodwinked to follow? Can we opt out?
I do have extensive background within the IT and Internet world, through work experiences over the past 15 - 20 years. Therefore, I know my way around to find information and how to use the software applications being used for performing Social Media.

Social Media Applications
There are about 297 social media applications - most can be broken down into a few categories.
The main common thread to define social media applications, is those that allow for social interaction, through web bases publishing.

Not just Facebook &Twitter
You may be surprised by this list, as most people when they hear the term "Social Media" - think about  Facebook and Twitter, and feel that business has no right within their family and friends sharing photos. You may more surprised to find that you use many of these others, possibly without realizing. You are providing your feedback, or contributing to causes - interaction = social and online.


I will take a look at how the 'average person', is using the internet - within my far reaching social real life network of people, and also review other feedback being reported.  I think most people will be surprised that they are already using Social Media - even if they refuse to Like companies Fan pages, and do not use Twitter.


From Wikipedia

Communication

Collaboration

Multimedia

Reviews and opinions

Entertainment

Brand monitoring



One way to start looking at this for the 'average person'  - ask a simple question:
If you had to go without internet or cell phone access for 1 year, or possibly even 1 week, how would you be affected? Would it just be for personal interaction and fact finding - or is there more you would miss?

Are we a connected society?
How do we use this connectivity as a consumer and business to improve our interactions?

Take a look at this post regarding an interaction with Sears

http://newmediachatter.com/uncategorized/sears-a-mix-of-new-and-old-customer-service

-- Interesting interactions.


 

Tweetback!!

@darleenw