I am sunsetting an old email system and was going through a folder of writings I wanted to expand upon and I found this:
“I realize that I’ve become frustrated with the speed that life works at in the physical realm. When I have to physically be somewhere, the amount of time it takes to get there and do that is painful. The internet has spoiled me. Instantaneous action, activity, and results is what I expect and the physical world frequently disappoints me.”
This was actually recorded in my car on an audio file. I could hear the frustration in my voice as I listened to it. I was speaking really slowly like I was trying not to wring the steering wheel dry. Like the very idea was painful and I was trying not to go postal.
What I know is that the pace you *can* work at is different than the pace a human *should* work at. I took my first real vacation in 6 years recently. By real, I mean in a hotel, without the kid, in a beautiful place where I actually wanted to be. I came back a changed woman. I thought so and now hearing my voice from about 8(ish) months ago, it’s even more obvious.
Just because the world runs at such a furious pace, doesn’t mean you have to. You don’t have to use every tool, read every book, watch every show, go to every event, or know everything. You simply can’t. Give yourself a break and go take one. Get a massage. Get adjusted. Take a nap. Relax.
When my clients have me come in to solve a problem for them, it frequently involves calling technical support or customer service. People HATE calling and ending up in the on-hold limbo. I am an expert at these kinds of calls. Let me give you some tips on how to turn a painful situation into a productive endeavor.
- Make sure you have AT LEAST a half hour of uninterrupted time to devote to waiting plus the time it takes to solve the problem.
- Wear a headset so that you can continue to type and work while you are on hold. This really makes the time fly. If they offer you the option to hold with no music, you don’t need me to tell you to take advantage of that. I frequently forget that I’m on hold until I hear someone say hello in my ear. Surprisingly, you can get a lot done while forgetting what’s really going on.
- Have all of your notes out and ready to go. If possible, write down the issues/problems/questions to speed up the process and make sure you don’t forget anything. This also prevents further calls.
- On that same note, have yourself logged into the website or account. Not having your password available is the biggest sucker of time. Get it out BEFORE you call.
- If you are upset while making the call, remember that the person that answers is likely not the person who made a mistake (if that’s why you’re calling) and try not to take it out on them. If need be, let them know you are upset and that you don’t want to unload on the wrong person and it would be a good idea if they sent you along to a manager.
- Let’s say there are some basic steps you’ve already taken to try and solve your problem but they didn’t work. Inform the customer service agent of those steps and what the outcome is. I’ve saved hours by letting them know, “YES, the computer is plugged in.” (80% of the time the problem is solved at the power source i.e. plug it in!).
- Contact the vendor using social media.
Number 7 is magic, I’m telling you. Have you tried to find a phone number to contact customer service recently? They are burying that information (or simply not providing it at all) because it isn’t cost effective to have reps on the line with customers anymore. Heck, it was never cost effective but it’s REALLY not anymore.
Don’t believe me? Test it out for yourself. I’ve tested Paypal, Vertical Response, Hootsuite, Comcast and Involver to name a few. Yes, they are all involved in technology but did you hear about airlines booking flights for people via Twitter during the recent snowstorms on the East Coast? Every time I’ve asked for help or complained via Twitter (and Facebook for that matter), I’ve had a speedy response from customer service that helped me solve my problem. I also feel like I got better service than via phone. I think it’s because of the layers we have to work through to even reach a person makes me feel distanced from the individual that’s helping me. With social media, that distance is minimized. If you have an Xbox, you might want to reach out to Microsoft on Twitter as they are monitoring activity to make platform and technology changes.
Be prepared, reach out in multiple ways, and you can slay the beast that is technical support. Oh! And they can hear you when they turn off their microphone, so don’t talk smack.
You are now officially on the Twitter map. You probably said or tweeted practically nothing so far but WHO ARE ALL THESE STRANGE PEOPLE FOLLOWING YOU? The people that are following you are one of two categories.
1) You followed them first and they are reciprocating. It’s generally considered nice manners to follow back but you aren’t technically rude if you don’t. I say Quality over Quantity!!!
2) They are “Follower Hunters”. They will follow huge amounts of people everyday. They either believe that higher amounts of followers are the way to be successful on Twitter or it makes them feel bigger/badder/more popular to have a high amount of followers. They followed you to get you to follow them back. Most likely you don’t yet have enough information or tweets on your page for them to be truly interested in you and your message yet.
If it bothers you receiving notification emails of the people following you, you can remove that notification. It’s used for you to see the activity on your account. As an example, you post a link to a video you have on YouTube or a blog you’ve written. Within the next 24 hours, you should receive many notification emails about new followers and that lets you know that your video/blog posting created an effect and people are following you after that post. It shows spikes in behavior and interest.
I simply glance at my new follower emails and delete them if I’m busy. Personally, I do a mass follower research session about once a week (I pick Saturday because I’m not generally working and I’m feeling leisurely). I sit down and click on my “followers” link on my Twitter homepage. I click on each person’s name and see who they are, what they have to say, and then make a decision about whether or not I want to follow them back. This process is part of the practice of understanding how Twitter works, who’s out there, and the people that you are interested in engaging with.
**One note. There is a high amount of spam on Twitter. After awhile they are easy to spot. The most noticeable is the “Cute Girl”. Generally she looks like she’s taken a picture with her cell phone in her bathroom. Often they are only seen from the chin down OR they are, ahem, inappropriately dressed. Frequently their names are Claire42020 and Stephanie4848756, cute names with numbers on the end. If you go to their page, you will see several things: 1) They are generally brand new with few tweets 2) The word “sex” or “single” or “teeth whitening” (?) shows up in their tweet stream 3) They are tweeting from API (used by programmers) instead of the web or a phone application. These are all clear signs that they are fraudulent accounts that are set up by spammers to get you to single dating websites and the like. Reporting them as spam does little good. I click on the gear looking button to the right of their name and choose “Block”. It’s just like spam in your inbox. I block ‘em a couple times a week. UPDATE: Spam of this type has been greatly reduced since this was originally printed. But it’s still out there in other forms.
After you’ve explored Twitter for a few days, try saying something. It could be a general comment or to someone in particular. If you want to say something to me, “@kregobiz Do you want to go to lunch?” will come directly to me and only people that are following you and I both will see it. “Hey @kregobiz do you want to go to lunch?” everyone will see because it doesn’t start with the @ symbol. Even “.@kregobiz” will go out to the general world because I put something in front of the @.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you check your @ Mentions! Click on that and you will see all your mentions by other people that are directed to or just mention your name. This is how you check to see who is “talking” to you. TWITTER IS A CONVERSATION. If you aren’t talking back to people, you are IGNORING them. Mentions aren’t to be confused with Direct Messages, which is your private inbox, if there is such a thing. If you DM people or they DM you, it is private and no one else can read it. Only if you are both following each other do DM’s work. Your mentions are viewable by the public. Never forget that.
It’s a whole new language, I know. It just takes a little practice.
My clients say this to me this all the time, “Tell me why I need to be on social media.” You don’t.
I liken Twitter to a cocktail party. It’s full of people and everyone is talking away. You need to decide if you even want to be at the party, sometimes you are simply too busy or the party isn’t the right venue for you. Of course, there are boring/obnoxious people at every event, you steer clear of them. Everyone has different uses for it. I use Twitter as a personalized newspaper/periodical. I keep my follower list very small (I’m quality not quantity) and read my stream from my phone throughout the day. (FYI, I use Twitter for iPhone and Hootsuite <–affiliate link) I am mostly in listener mode. I email myself links of interest to read when I have the time. I post those links to appropriate channels or email them to those I think would be interested. I use it as an educational and inspirational tool. I sometimes think of it as a think tank with the world’s smartest and brightest minds a tweet away. I also use it to champion the causes of my local community. I’m building relationships with people by conversing with them, building my reputation as a community cheerleader amongst those I support by RT’ing, and am adding value to my client/colleague base by providing them with the information that I’ve found.
It’s NOT a selling tool. It’s just another communication tool like a phone/fax/email/website/blog/text/IM. The ROI for the majority of businesses is unclear. But business seems to really be about relationships and providing value. You wouldn’t bust into a cocktail party, hand out your business cards, say “Buy from me!” and leave, would you? Twitter is that cocktail party. Stay, have a drink, have some good convo, learn some things and take it with you into your everyday life.
*UPDATE I recently heard another social media consultant say, “The ROI of social media is that you’ll still be in business in 5 years.” So well said!