— blending the mix

August, 2009 Monthly archive

I hope Ian and the team at Internet Retailing won’t mind me taking his headline because it pretty much sums up a dire situation.

To save you the best bits:

  • 25% of websites failed to respond to a customer enquiry via their website
  • When prompted 14% of the same businesses STILL didn’t respond

I remember a while ago presenting to the board of a well-known hotel chain and extolling the virtues of the social media approach that Marriot Hotels had in place with their blog (pictured below)


It’s a great blog, written by Bill Marriott himself (and I suspect a few editors too!) but gives a great insight into the history of the business and the personal approach that sets a good hotel apart from a bad one. The content is genuinely interesting (even if there is a sales-y angle to some of the content) and frequently commented upon. At the same time, the blog editors also respond pretty quickly too.

But, when you look at the contact us page on the main Marriott website(below), we see the standard “disappear into the online ether” contact form that is mentioned in the critical report posted at the top.

contact form marriott

Is anyone else looking and wondering how a business who, on one hand with the blog, seems to be at the forefront of customer relations and service, manages to so dreadfully miss the boat when it comes to the ways its clients can contact it?

Still, at least they have made better progress than most, it’s just a shame that all their points of contact can’t be as responsive as others.

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As we all (should know) The Cluetrain Manifesto is one of the most important pieces of writing to explain why this whole social media circus/bandwagon/phenomenon is so important.

Some people have never heard of it, some are only just discovering but if I could recommend one book – this would be it (although David’s is a pretty good, as is Brian and Geoff’s…).

But, whilst it has been available for free since 1999, and in available in print in all the usual places, it’s 95 theses were always a bit of a bugger to read until now…so, thanks to the tecorporation and SODB, we have the 95 Cluetrain Theses in easily consumable Slideshare format.




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So, as you will have seen from my previous post, I spoke at the Figaro Digital Social Media event on Tuesday 28th July about how using a few cool and insightful tools can help you make the most of your existing Twitter strategy (especially if you were a brand).

The presentation seemed to go down pretty well but I know that the best bits are the tools that make finding, understanding and developing your  twitter presence that bit more effective. And, Steve reckons I know what I’m on about so I guess I have something to live up to there!

Do you really need a whole load of tools?

Many people have argued that to be so analytical (anal even!!) about Twitter is to some extent, defeating the object. “Get in there and just talk to people” is not an unreasonable approach…but then again, is that what @habitatuk thought when they let an intern loose on their account?

Relevancy and context are core aspects of brands being relevant in social networks, but only when we know to whom we need to be relevant, can we be so – which is why many of the tools we use (and are listed below) are about understanding the people behind the tweets.

Below is a little bit of commentary as to why we use some of the tools we do. If you have any more, do let me know, i’m always keen to learn!


When we are launching a client’s Twitter account, it is important that we make the best use of that client’s time and engage initially with only those people who we know to be talking about that client, their competitors, products or industry. I call this the Push phase of the approach – where we are trying to FIND friends to talk to.

If we approach this wisely, we end up with friends who we know to be very relevant to our client’s business in that they already share an interest or have tweeted on something that would be of interest to us. This gives us (even without mentioning anything about our product or brand) a valid reason to talk to that person.


This phase is perhaps a little too mercenary for many, but again, when it is not our money we are spending, something which anyone should pay more attention to if they are trying to get more out of less!

Someone tweeting something relevant is one thing, but someone re-tweeting who re-tweets is quite something else. In an ideal world, a superstar follower will re-tweet everything we tweet, but we know this is not the case.

With Dan suggesting that re-tweets are on average, only 2-networks deep (i.e. a re-tweet only gets seen by two friends’ networks), we need to make sure that we have plenty of followers who are more likely than not to re-tweet some of our content. Some of the tools we use helps us understand the likelihood of that person passing on our content.

It’s contrary to the notion of degree centrality – that the person at the heart of the network is the most influential, when what we actually want are the people who can connect us to a wider audience with the least amount of steps (Markov centrality). Mercenary yes, but necessary.


When we move beyond the Push stage – of finding followers who are relevant re-tweeters, and we are conversing in a friendly, respectable and relevant manner (which might include twitpic, competitions, offers etc.), we will begin to naturally attract followers. The question then is raised of how we manage these people and how we remain mindful of what makes that person tick, what their experience has been of us (are they a customer, complainant, troll etc.) and who is going to manage that relationship.

Tools like Topify, otherinbox and Co-comment all help to assign notes, people and tweets to ensuring that the valued relationship we created is not lost with one careless tweet.

So, not rocket science admittedly, and some of the tools below will add more features to your toolkit (and not all of them perhaps relevant or of interest to you), but I do hope you will find them useful and please let me know of your own experiences.

Step 5: Branded backgrounds – Twitter Backgrounds

Step 6: Twitter Search

Step 7: Topic trends – Twist/Twitscoop

Step 8: Multiple topic monitoring – Tweetgrid

Step 9: Email topic alerts – Tweetbeep

Step 10: Tweet frequency, trending topics and influencers – Twazzup

Step 11: Follower audience profile – Twittersheep

Step 12: Follower profiling and engagement patterns – Twitter friends

Step 13: When is it best to approach them – Tweetstats

Step 14: Making images more viral – Twitpic/Yfrog

Step 15: Multiple account management – Otherinbox

Step 16: Easy follower management – Topify

Step 17: URL shorteners with analytics – bit.ly

Step 18: Account management/allocation – Co-Comment/Tweetdeck

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