What The Boston Marathon Bombings Taught Me About Bullying

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

As many of you know, I’m a Boston girl, born and raised, who only recently moved away. I’m not sure I can put into words exactly what I felt as I first learned of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, and I needed to take some time before publishing this post. I was hurt. Angry. Very, very sad. But also proud. Proud of Boston and the many people who call it home. Proud of the many more who consider it home, even when they can’t be there. And proud of the many heroes who showed what that town is all about in the hours and days following the marathon. But I’m not proud of the actions of many social media users who took this opportunity to further their agenda.

Social media played a major role in the wake of this event, providing a news source for many and a way to reconnect with loved ones as cell service became difficult but wi-fi stayed strong. Information spreads quickly on social media, and while not always a reliable source, it’s preferable to many than living in the dark. For me, being thousands of miles away from the local news, I was able to get information much faster from Twitter. My feed is full of friends in and around Massachusetts and mostly contained updates about the event. But before the full story had even unfolded, already my feed was also marked by hate.

More than one social media expert was quick to recommend halting scheduled tweets. But they weren’t tweeting friendly advice. They were spewing vitriol at anyone who dared to post anything unrelated to the attacks at the Boston Marathon. In the moments following such tragedy, they turned to petty arguments over social media strategy.

Let me be clear: I, personally, could think of nothing else all day, let alone tweet. But I understand and respect that this is not the case for everyone. But the idea that someone would try to publicly shame a person or brand on Twitter for posting any unrelated content, under the pretext of sensitivity, is appalling.  And the fact that they would then turn this tragedy into a general “social media lesson” about scheduled posts sickens me.

There is the slim chance that someone may have scheduled something with a term that could be deemed insensitive in the wake of the bombing. A post with the word “explosive,” for example, would be in poor taste and should probably be removed. But should a global brand pause all efforts, around the world, immediately without knowing the situation? I argue no, while a local-only Boston company would likely need to hold messages. But these so-called experts decided that no one, anywhere, should tweet anything else.

Out of all the messages of hope, all the news articles,  what stuck out to me the most was people taking this opportunity to talk about the fact that you should never schedule a post. Ever. I’m not going to argue strategy here; that’s a debate for another post. What I’m talking about is their misuse of tragedy for personal gain.

The blatant agenda pushing was not appropriate at that time. Nestled alongside tweets reading “#prayforboston” were messages that read “This is why I never schedule anything. You look like a jackass right now.” Tell me, is hate a more helpful or hopeful thing to read than a brand mentioning their product? I don’t see how it’s preferable to see namecalling and bullying.

And that’s what it was. Bullying. It doesn’t stop after high school; the internet is full of bullies who hide behind an avatar and throw stones as anyone who says or does something they don’t like. It’s often without an intelligent argument or much thought; our fingers type much faster than our brain can process our feelings. Which is why I waited to post this. But I felt it was important and needed to be said, especially as tragedies such as the Oklahoma tornado continue to rock this country and bring up this same subject, over and over again.

We can argue about scheduling posts or not scheduling posts any day. But in the minutes after the explosions went off in Boston, I think perhaps we should have been arguing about building bombs or not building bombs. We were all angry, and hurt. And I hope that those that used this event to preach their social media gospel were simply lashing out at nearby targets while the real culprit went unknown. Because if not, if they used this tragedy for personal gain, that is yet another tragedy for this country.

Some may disagree with this post, and that’s fine. And the merits of scheduling a post should be debated, and often. But bullying is not OK. How many times have we seen children scarred for life, or teenagers that take their own lives? Respect the power of the internet, and respect each other.

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Your Guide To The Perfect Facebook Post

Wednesday, 08 May 2013

With all of Facebook’s changes, it’s hard to keep up with what size an image should be, where posts will appear and how often to post. So when the team at Salesforce sent me this handy infographic, I knew I had to share:

While it doesn’t go into all the specifications for every type of post, it’s a handy reference for day-to-day posting that reminds you to use an image, keep it short and timely and keep those fans engaged. Happy posting!

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Is Social Media A Customer Service Channel?

Tuesday, 07 May 2013

You see it all the time: people tweeting to, or about, companies they’ve been wronged by. Far less often you see them raving about a company that has gone above and beyond to provide excellent service. And while I’ve been guilty of ranting about a few brands, I always try to give props to those that work hard, online and off, to provide a great customer experience. But is that part of their social media strategy? And should it be?

A lot of brands don’t think that social media is a customer service channel. Perhaps it wasn’t intended for that, but for better or worse, customers are using social media to communicate. With friends, with family, and yes, with the companies they do business with. So if they choose to tweet about you, it has now become a customer service channel, whether that was your goal or not.

As a brand, the moment you joined Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram…), you invited customers to contact you. And guess what? They were talking about you before you got there, too, and they are chatting away even if you aren’t listening. Social Media is a part of everything we do, including customer-brand interaction, through the good, the bad and the ugly.

Many arguments center around the importance and weight of a social media complaint. Does a negative tweet get you to “skip the line” of a call center queue to resolve an issue? And, more importantly, should it? That depends on a lot of factors, but the good news is that we can measure the impact of that tweet, and that customer’s experience, more so than ever before. A company used to have no idea who was badmouthing them to their friends and how many people they were telling; on Twitter, it’s public knowledge what they are saying, and to whom.

How you handle customer service issues via social media is up to you, but there is no doubt that you need to handle them. Ignoring complaints is one way, but would you let your phone ring unanswered? Probably not. However, it’s also not advisable to let Twitter users get preferential treatment just because they are more vocal. The solution is unique for each company, and often, each situation. Social media customer service is a complicated process full of questions that you need to ask, and answer, for both your employees and your customers. The only one that’s easy? Yes, social media is a customer service channel.

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