A personal inbound marketing indulgence

Ed Marsh | Jun 11, 2012

Social media has a "flip side"

Did you realize that your twitter handle (at least your business') brings with it obligations?  Of course they're voluntary.  Businesses can approach that channel of customer communication as many do the telephone - convoluted menus to either frustratingly "self-serve" or diabolically discourage customers.  And if your goal is resentful customers, frustrate away.  But if the objective of customer engagement is more than a clause in the "mission" statement that hangs slightly crooked on your lobby wall....then pay attention.

A moment for myself

I'll ask for a rare indulgence.  Stick with me for a couple moments while I go off on a personal tangent. 

(Actually I haven't done so for a year since I commented on my ToughMudder experience with a couple of my sons - raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project and reminding myself that I was aging!  And speaking of The ToughMudder and Twitter, kudos to Twitter guru @Pistachio for making the call!

it's official. it's on. VT in July. #howbadcoulditbe? /cc @toughmudder http://t.co/TTUvSUsT
91 days ago via Basno · powered by @socialditto
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Re: #howbadcoulditbe?  You'll know in a month @Pistachio!)

United, StubHub & Ford

I don't often use Twitter to comment on the routine events of my daily life.  (As an international business consultant I spend most of my time focused on helping clients grow their global sales upon solid international diversification strategies.)  But very occasionally I'll be inclined to do so - and three experiences illustrate the "Good, Bad & Ugly" of the social media element of a company's inbound marketing strategies.

For anyone who frequently flies @United, you've certainly noticed the gradual decay of customer, ground and inflight service (and aircraft cabin condition - except the legacy Continental 777 fleet) over the last several years.  By all accounts the decay has substantially accelerated since the merger.  (The picture I recently took on a BOS-SFO 757 is illustrative.  The best headset United could provide this guy in "First Class" had one missing earpiece and dangling wires!)

That decay is reflected in the way they service their Twitter account.  Comments, complaints and even requests for assistance simply disappear into the ether, unanswered, based on my personal experience.  They demonstrate a desire to leverage the outbound power, without intention to actually dialog with customers.  The net result?  More frustration.

I recently had a slightly different experience with @StubHub.  With the site frozen mid-transaction and endless call queues, my desperation tweet was immediately answered.  Hooray!  Or maybe not.  The response instructed that I DM them back with the transaction number in question.  Now there are Twitter wizards out there that understand the tool better than I, and maybe know of a workaround.  But since @StubHub doesn't "follow" me, I couldn't "DM" them.  And my reply to them to that effect?  Unanswered.  A good start but lame finish - probably some operations efficiency and cost reduction plan that looked good on a PowerPoint slide.....

And then there's @FordService.  Out of sheer boredom recently I tweeted from a Ford dealership's service department, using only a #FordTruck tag, and commenting (without request for assistance) on the dreary 70s environment.  Within minutes I was engaged in an upbeat conversation.  They kept at it for a couple days and really made a difference.  I love having my F250 with extended cab and 8' bed (except when I have to park it in Boston!) and love Ford more now too.  (Ok, maybe I'm an easy sale.)

But since I spend my days talking about export and international sales, it's always exciting to find #MadeInAmerica companies and products using technology in ways that will help them expand internationally.

But my SMB isn't Ford - What's it got to do with me?

I'm out of time and out of room - so short and sweet.  That's the point.  You're not Ford, but as United shows, being big isn't the discriminator.  For your SMB, technology is an incredible force multiplier. 

Inbound marketing is an amazing business tool.  Like any tool there are "safety and proper use considerations."  Are you ready to really work your social media channels?  Don't waste the time if you're only looking for a billboard.  It needs to be a dialog.

But if you are willing to make the commitment, and then to take a step further to explore the opportunity for global business development through creative and effective use of international inbound marketing methodologies, then you'll be taking a huge bound toward invigorating your business with substantial international growth.

Want to learn more about export sales growth and how a well managed international inbound marketing campaign can help?  Contact us.  Wondering if the time might be right for your SMB to export more?  Download our free eBook.