4 Lessons from The Dark Side of Social Media

Community Managers from brands, agencies, professional organizations and more meetup periodically in New York City to network IRL and benefit from one another’s experiences—the good and bad. It’s a great way to share new knowledge and bond over common experiences.

This week, the #CMmeetup group gathered for a panel discussion on The Dark Side of Social Media. And here are the takeaways:

  1. “Leverage your personal social capital only for your own creations.”
    You may be the author of the latest viral social campaign. And of course, you work with a brand you believe in. “That doesn’t mean you should invest personal social capital to ensure the campaign’s success,” says Savannah Peterson, Global Community Manager at Shapeways, the 3D printing marketplace.
  2. “Be open and honest about why you can’t be open and honest.”
    When matters of privacy and legal concerns restrict how much a brand can share with fans and followers, share that fact with them instead. Honesty is really the best policy. “Be sincere, and also let them know what steps your team is taking to correct the concern or improve service,” advises Morgan Johnston, Corporate Communications Manager and Social Strategist for JetBlue Airways.
  3. “Have fun with harmless mockery.”
    Every brand gets made fun of; learn to roll with it. “When no one gets hurt and the teasing is in good fun, it can be a chance to show that the brand has a sense of humor and to engage in a bit of frivolity,” says Jeff Ramos, Community Manager with MKG.
  4. “Behind every tool is a person.”
    “Egregious mistakes cannot justifiably be attributed to a glitch or a platform error. People create and post content,” confirms Evan Watkins, Community Manager at MRY. The upshot: take time to make good choices because, in the end, you’re personally responsible.

Wish you’d been there to learn from the pros? Here’s a video of the lively panel discussion!

Featured image courtesy MKG.

Bring Your Coats for Regina Holliday’s Walking Gallery Exhibit

Interactivity. Engagement. Participation. Empowerment. These are all things we value in a SMWNYC event. And this is embodied in a special interactive exhibit taking place on Monday, February 13th from 2-8 pm at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness. But you should bring a coat with you to participate.

The Walking Gallery: An Exhibit
Regina Holliday is a patient rights art advocate, who paints series of murals depicting the need for clarity and transparency in medical records. Regina will be screening her film, “73 Cents” at 1 p.m. and will remain on site from 2-8pm for the Walking Gallery Exhibit, where she will to listen to and paint people’s patient stories on coats, which they can then wear to tell their story to the world.

What should I bring? A business jacket or Doctors Lab Coat. Best fabrics are poly blends, linen, cotton or wool (NOTE: No denim, leather or pleather garments please). Also you might want to bring a jacket a size larger than you usually wear, as the painting will may stiffen the material and make it harder to close the buttons.

When can I tell my story? Email your patient story to Regina along with pictures of yourself and the people involved in your story. If you do not want to send photos, Regina can use her imagination to create an image. You can also visit her at the Walking Gallery at Social Media Week’s Health & Wellness Hub from 2-8pm on Monday, February 13th to tell her your story.

How will I receive my painted garment back? She will finish a handful of garments at the event and can ship the remainder of work to participants following the conference. Donations of $10-$15 to offset the cost of shipping and paint are appreciated (but not expected) and can be left in the pocket of the jacket for along with an address or business card. You are joining a movement, and this is a sacred oath to walk the walk and spread the word.

Who is Regina Holliday? Regina Holliday is a DC-based patient rights arts advocate, who was inspired by her husband Frederick Allen Holliday II and his struggle to get appropriate care during 11 weeks of continuous hospitalization at 5 facilities. After his death in 2009, she began painting a mural entitled “73 Cents”, which has been adapted to a film that will be screened at Social Media Week. “73 Cents” is an 11- minute documentary that tells the story of one woman’s grief with her husband’s death; her ability to turn tragedy into change; and her transformation into an influential advocate for patient rights. Learn more about Regina.

You can keep up with the conversation with these Twitter hashtags:

Engaging The Most Important Audience…Customers

Customers want to talk to a real person. A Customer Can Use the Ration Books of the Whole Family. But the First Thing She Will Want to Know When She Buys Pork Chops, Pound of Butter or a Half Pound of Cheese Is - "How Many Points Will It Take?" 1941 - 1945

What happens when you call a company and you reach an automated response?

You immediately tell yourself to buckle in for a ride and a wait. You navigate a maze of torture before you finally reach someone. From time to time the automated attendant will jumble what you say, and you’ll get lost in the labyrinth with no way back. The times when you call a company and actually get a person the first reaction is “Wow! A real live person!”

Customers are the lifeblood of a company. Frustrate them and they might refuse to do business again. Wow them and they’ll be singing praises. Customers are no longer faceless people who drive a company’s bottom line. They are partners with a voice. And an avatar.

Some of the most successful companies are now providing great service by utilizing social media to engage customer concerns and praises. It’s a way to engage customers directly to share information quickly and publicly. Companies that are executing customer service well are using a combination, if not all of the social media platforms available. We’re seeing companies utilize Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, blogs, and Tumblr to varying degrees of success. The best companies are using them to provide engaging content and actively monitor conversations. How? Read on:

Lend a human voice. If leveraged correctly, social media can create a distinct company voice. Customers would rather interact with a business that engages people with fun and interesting content over a company that use social media to report earning figures. To ensure a consistent voice, make sure to understand what your company represents. Select three adjectives that describe your company (e.g. whimsical, informational, old-fashioned), and use these adjectives to guide your copy and presence while addressing issues with a personal touch.

Build loyalty through transparency. Companies make mistakes. Through social media, these mistakes can be turned into successes. Social media allows for a quick apologies. More often than not this will garner admiration from even the most frustrated customers. One of the best ways to lose customers is to not admit mistakes. Social media provides a direct and quick avenue for companies to reassure customers.

Morph customers into evangelists. Engage with contests, bantering, quizzes. Convert customers who were just looking to purchase into people who want to talk about you. Awesome service combined with interactive activities will prompt customers to interact and spread the word. Quirky provided a Black Friday campaign on their Facebook page and nearly quadrupled their fan count overnight (If a person “liked” the page and signed up for the sweepstakes they would get a free $5 gift card). This push came from a pool of loyal customers who passed along the deal and spread the word to their friends.

The X-Factor. You never know what will spark conversation and go viral. A funny post can go a long way. Information that you didn’t initially think was meaningful can become meaningful. Even a little mistake can do wonders. As seen in 2010, an American Red Cross employee accidentally posted a tweet about imbibing on beer. With a little push from Dogfish Head, this little accident brought in a surge of blood donations and monetary donations after the mistake was embraced.

Not every social media platform is ideal for every company. Find out what works for you and listen to how your customers communicate. Once you find out, target your audience and make them your best representatives.


Christopher Tran is a New York transplant by way of San Jose, California. His experience engaging community and clients through the use of social media spans the nonprofit and government sectors in addition to current position at a NYC based start-up.   On a personal level he’s aspiring to find the perfect balance between working, brewing beer, eating, and searching for the perfect burrito in New York City. You can find him at his blog and on twitter @tealsharkie.