Asking for feedback isn’t a sign of weakness

asking for feedback isn't a sign of weakness

The CEO of a multi-million dollar public company asked a new entrepreneur for feedback on their software. The entrepreneur was excited to share their honest thoughts and suggested a fix to one of the features. The fix was implemented that same week.

Meanwhile, a smaller competitor was hiring employees in an attempt to expand. They reached out to candidates with the promise of a job, only to redirect them to an impersonal screening call. The recruiter recorded answers to questions without actually listening to any of the responses. The candidate ended the call by asking for feedback to better prepare for the next interview. The recruiter then shamed the candidate for demonstrating weakness, and disappeared without replying to any of the follow ups. The company struggled and ended up laying off 50% of its employees before being acquired for parts.

After experiencing the culture of each of these companies first hand, their fate doesn’t surprise me. The CEO is a reflection of a company that is successful because it values feedback and continuous improvement. On the other hand, a company that considers asking for feedback to be a weakness is bound to end up failing. True weakness is being afraid of rejection and constructive criticism that might lead to you having to change.

Ask for, and listen to, feedback.


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Social Media Audit: FreshBooks’ Twitter Account

Company Overview

The following social media audit is based on FreshBooks’ Twitter account. FreshBooks offers a cloud accounting solution designed for small business owners.

You can learn more about FreshBooks here:
http://www.freshbooks.com/
https://twitter.com/freshbooks

Branding

FreshBooks’ bio features a succinct tagline, consistent with their other social media accounts. Seeing as many Twitter users reach out to brands for a quick answer, FreshBooks invite inquiries within their bio and assures users that they are available and ready to respond. FreshBooks also proudly displays their location and tracks clicks from the url. A shortened link tends to discourage clicks, but a referral link is a great way to measure how many signups are generated through Twitter.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

Twitter’s profile pictures are pretty small, and appear even smaller in the feed. Instead of the FreshBooks’ text logo, their profile picture is of the green leaf which also appears as the favicon on the FreshBooks website. The green leaf is quickly recognized, and the full logo appears on FreshBooks’ customized background image.

The custom background image includes additional information that could not fit within the bio. The information is presented in bullet-points, and doesn’t showcase a list of unclickable links. Twitter users viewing the account on the web might have different screen sizes, which often affect custom backgrounds negatively. However, FreshBooks took the time to match the background colour to their branding. Upon a closer look, their header and link colour are also the same blue.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

Content

In addition to tracking their website link in the bio, FreshBooks also uses Bit.ly to measure the performance of their individual tweets. Identifying the type of information that your followers prefer can help you plan an effective content strategy and in turn offer superior value to your audience. Bit.ly, Buffer, and similar third-party services, can also inform you of the best frequency and time for updates in order to maximize results.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

FreshBooks has a deep understanding of their audience and shares valuable updates, however, they all seems to be from the company blog. Twitter can be a great tool for driving traffic to your own site, but the focus should be on listening. Monitoring relevant keywords, and influential accounts, can serve as a source of quality content and better position FreshBooks as a leader within the space. Freelancers and small business owners are undeniably interested in FreshBooks’ advice, but they will benefit even more from a variety of expert sources.

Twitter is known for delivering real-time news to users, and often the first place customers visit when they encounter technical difficulties. FreshBooks alerts their followers of any downtime through updates marked with the hashtag #status. Assuring customers that the issue is being taken care of minimizes the pain of the outage as well as the volume of individual complaints.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

Engagement

In their bio, FreshBooks states that the team is available for assistance directly on Twitter. FreshBooks delivers on their promise and provides users with superior customer service. In addition to actually responding to inquires, and those @mentioning the brand, the team does so promptly. The one thing that can be done better is follow-ups. Once an issue has been resolved or passed on, be sure to check back with the individual to make sure everything worked out.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

FreshBooks taps into an existing community of small business owners and professionals by engaging with Twitter users through the hashtag #smallbiz. The use of hashtags can increase the reach of each tweet, resulting in additional RTs, favourites, and @mentions. Instead of only using the hashtag to push relevant content, another way to boost engagement would be to interact with top contributors.

FreshBooks has created several lists within Twitter to organize relevant accounts, which can help the brand better retweet and engage with others. Retweeting other Twitter users provides followers with a variety of information sources, leads to increased discussion, and may even result in people returning the favour. Twitter also allows for private lists that may be used to observe competitors’ best practices and reach out to their followers.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

While scrolling through FreshBooks’ tweets, it was apparent that they have not shared any images for the past couple of months. Multimedia is highly engaging, as seen by the response to a recent SlideShare update (below). Different forms of content can help brands better tell a story as well as enable your company account to better connect with followers on a personal level. In addition to positioning FreshBooks as approachable, visually appealing content is highly memorable and often leads to increased word-of-mouth.

FreshBooks Social Media Audit Danielle Geva

Conclusion

FreshBooks makes the most of their bio and highlights their commitment to customer service. Due to the past-paced nature of Twitter, be prepared to provide prompt support, as users will expect it regardless of your brand’s promise. This can be a blessing, as a simple reply recognizing the issue will delight your customers.

Be sure to create a profile picture, header, and background that are consistent with your site’s branding, but also be mindful of Twitter’s specific limitations. In addition, don’t expect links in your background image to have an impact as people will rarely take the time to type a url into their address bar.

FreshBooks has successfully grown their account over the past years; however, conversion can be improved by spending more time proactively interacting with others. Monitoring keywords and trends can help brands share timely content, and have memorable discussions that will result in higher customer satisfaction as well as customer acquisition.

If you’re interested in uncovering your company’s social media strengths and weaknesses, please contact me here.

 

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Snapchat is Already Driving Ecommerce Sales

Snapchat post

It used to be tricky proving the value of engaging customers online, let alone the fact that people were actually interested in talking about brands. Currently, there are useful tools which visualize brand chatter and prove that people are talking about ‘boring’ industries, such as banking and healthcare. Other advanced tools were also developed to aid in calculating ROI, in order to demonstrate that social media done right is good for the bottom line. However, support hasn’t been rolled out for recent social networks, namely Snapchat.

Snapchat itself has yet to offer built-in analytics or cater to brands. Since there are limited metrics available, only a small number of companies have chosen to experiment with the platform. Regardless, the absence from any social network isn’t stopping users from talking about your brand on that very platform.

Increased Word of Mouth

There is no doubt that social media buttons boost word of mouth and drive ecommerce sales. However, there are certain products that consumers would rather not share with their network. Consumers may opt to send a formal email or a text, but the time it takes likely deters many from spreading the word.

Snapchat’s design is optimal for sharing, as the app is quick to load and opens directly to the camera screen. Doodles and text can also be included for additional context. Product images can be sent to a decision maker, the user herself, or even be saved and accessed for later viewing.

Snapchat DKNY

Even though Snapchat can be as intimate as a text, especially with Android push notifications, the app has more of a casual feel. Since images disappear after viewing, the pressure is off and users are more inclined to share moments without thinking twice.

Ecommerce businesses benefit from increased word of mouth as one customer browsing their products can easily let others know about a new item or an upcoming sale. Even if the user isn’t sure their friends care about the deal, she knows they can stop viewing the image at any time. Further more, since the emphasis is on sharing rather than conversations, users don’t feel obligated to reply to every snap unless they are interested in more information.

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Introducing Social Media Audits

Dare to Create Store

New clients often ask me for a sample of my work if they weren’t obtained through referrals. While this is a completely fair request, up until recently I couldn’t comply.

The startups I work with often insist on an NDA, and the small businesses simply ask that I keep the documents confidential. Seeing as my reports involve strategic planning, or are based on analytics that aren’t publicly available, it’s understandable that the client prefers to keep the information private.

Approximately a year ago, I was able to dig into the data of three clients in order to get some quantitative results to present to future clients. I’m proud of the results as they showcase some of my achievements, however, the document doesn’t go into much detail in terms of planning.

When preparing a social media plan, I like to combine my knowledge of best practices as well as examine successful accounts in the client’s space. Learning from the mistakes of well-established brands, and identifying effective activities, can help clients better understand key concepts which will in turn lead to improved performance.

Pinpointing specific strengths and weaknesses of a social media account, or overall online presence, can be thought of as a social media audit. Over the past few weeks, I’ve taken the time to create several social media audits, which are available for sale will be available as posts over the next few months. These documents are based on brands I admire, and are full of actionable advice.

If you’re interested in learning how to boost your Pinterest account, or what is the one thing missing from Square’s beautiful LinkedIn page, please subscribe and keep an eye out for future posts or contact me at for a custom report.


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5 Ways to Leverage Your Existing Customers for Growth

Rising Bread

No matter how small your current user base is, these five simple tactics will help you acquire new customers by leveraging existing ones.

1. Video Testimonials

Creating video testimonials is a powerful way to convey customer satisfaction and convert prospects. You may have been avoiding video due to high production costs, but unlike your intro video an engaging testimonial can be as simple as a Skype screen capture. The lighting doesn’t matter as much as the sound; however, don’t forget to have the customer clearly state their name and company (if relevant). Upload the videos both to YouTube and your site, and consider using memorable quotes for written testimonials. Instead of constantly asking loyal customers for references, you can now simply direct an endless number of prospects to the videos at any time.

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Why do you want to work for us?

The Office

The make or break question. Interviewers often end interviews with this seemingly simple question in order to weed out those just looking for a paycheque. However, less than qualified candidates can fake interest with a shallow answer.

It seems as if some candidates prepare for interviews by only spending a couple of minutes on online research. They then mention a unique aspect of the company during the interview, which may fool some inexperienced interviewers. While information can be harder to find when applying to smaller businesses, I used to wonder why recently launched startups even asked interviewees “why do you want to work for our company?”.

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Your Company’s Five Customers

#beta #invite

Every business has to deal with these five types of customers. Below are some tips on how to treat each customer, once you’ve identified which category they fall into.

1. The Early Adopter

Characteristics
The Early Adopter signs up before you’ve even had a chance to read your own launch announcement. They are eager to try the latest products, and their Twitter feed is full of “I just signed up to x, join me now… #beta #invite”.

How To
Beware, it won’t be long before the Early Adopter gets distracted by the next shiny startup and forgets all about you. One way to keep these customers around is to make them feel like insiders and constantly update them on new features. Don’t worry if they do disappear, as they are often not your target audience. However, try to keep the Early Adopter engaged long enough for the word to reach prospects in her network.

2. The Groupie

Characteristics
The Groupie is an Early Adopter that felt so special she decided to stick around. These customers will bombard you with suggestions, and won’t hesitate to answer any requests for feedback.

How To
Accept their advice graciously, but don’t feel compelled to satisfy their every demand. You might find some gems, but as much as these customers love your product, you’ll notice the Groupie rarely converts into a paying customer.

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You’ve had a bad day

haters gonna hate

Once your company will be worth billions, one mean-spirited email won’t matter. In fact, it will most likely never even reach you.

The story is different when you’re a team of five. Every single email, good or bad, is forwarded to you. While feedback is always welcome, some people don’t realize that sending an email full of hate isn’t very helpful. These people might even be your biggest ‘fans’, but they fail to realize how badly their careless email hurts. Furthermore, they fail to realize how their follow up tweet will hurt your chances to close your upcoming funding round.

The best solution is to kill them with kindness, and hope they move on to their next rant.

Don’t worry about launching your MVP without an email sign-in if you’re targeting Facebook users. Don’t delay your weekly blog post because you haven’t found the perfect image. Don’t leave out a call-to-action until you’ve hired a copywriter.

These type of people are always going to find something to complain about, make a big deal out of it, and say that you’re the worse. Haters gonna hate. The next time someone has a bad day and takes it out on you, remember that the only reason you have a missing feature is because you actually had the courage to launch something in the first place.

 

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Invite Your Friends

Invite Your Friends

Word-of-mouth is undeniably the most powerful form of marketing. While you can’t force your users to tell their friends about your service, you can do your best to delight and make it easy for them to spread the word. If your customers love your brand, or just had an experience that exceeded their expectations, they will find a way to share it. However, more often than not, you have to build in the tools that gently nudge, and even incentivize, customers to share.

There are a couple of methods to encourage word-of-mouth, but it also comes down to the way they are executed. Slapping a couple of social media icons on a physical product isn’t going to cut it.

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