Engaging Your Customers Across the Social Web

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking to over a hundred of Dallas, TX’s brightest social media minds at the monthly Social Media Club, Dallas meeting. Not only did I meet dozens of new people that I look forward to staying in touch with at the event but I had the opportunity to bounce some ideas, suggestions and case studies off of the crowd. I also fielded some pretty awesome questions like:

  • Should we be paying attention to Google Buzz?
  • Are branded online communities a real trend?
  • How do you let a client know when they are doing social wrong?

Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone documented the occasion with video but I did put my slides up on Slideshare. I’ve also included links to the pictures that Cynthia Smoot put up on her Gangway Advertising Flickr page.

The presentation is here:

Engaging your Customers Across the Social Webhttp://static.slidesharecdn.com/swf/ssplayer2.swf?doc=smcdallas021810-100219123223-phpapp02&stripped_title=engaging-your-customers-across-the-social-web
View more presentations from Aaron Strout.

And if you check quickly enough (those folks at the Dallas Social Media Club are very conversational AND are really good at incorporating the #smcdallas hashtag), you can catch some of the highlights from the crowd. You can also click on the collage below to see Cynthia’s pics.

A big thanks to Mike D. Merrill and Colin Alsheimer for inviting me to speak. Props also go to Jessica Nunez for her awesome intro, Aaron Bollinger of KickApps for sponsoring and kicking things off, the fine folks over at Zoe’s Kitchen for providing an amazing spread and Muroch Partners for hosting. And finally, big ups to Bill Fanning for driving with me for three hours up and three hours back from Austin to Dallas back to Austin. Viva la Genesis!

Other great people I met (I know I’m leaving some out so sorry in advance)… Lauren Fernandez, Jill McFarland, Cosmin Ghiurau, Erica Martinez, Amanda HawkinsCameron Gawley, Kirby Sander, Kathy Catoe, Alyssa Gardina, Tom McCracken, David Swinney, Ivan Leon, Kat Farmer, Scott Duke, Barbar BhattiKelly Welborn, Connie Hannon, Matt Smith, Kate Aronson, @vsellis, John Langdon

Hey AT&T, if it Ain’t Broke…

As an iPhone user, I’ve always been a bit annoyed by the way it handles voice calls. Up until recently, I was definitely an apologist explaining to my friends that had Blackberry’s and other phones that, “yeah, AT&T;’s service might not be the best but 1) I don’t talk on the phone much and 2) the iPhone’s form and functionality more than make up for that fact.” After experiencing more than 20 dropped calls during the last couple of weeks here in Austin, TX, I’m not so sure.

It’s no secret that AT&T; is an anchor around Apple’s neck on the iPhone deal. [sidebar, if you haven't read this post by Fake Steve Jobs, it is pee-your-pants funny -- warning, it contains some foul language]. Yes, they may have been the only carrier big enough at the time to handle the iPhone’s data needs but since then (hello 4g on Sprint), Apple’s deal with AT&T; is looking more and more albatross-like every day… to the point where I am considering buying a different device (gulp). Yup, I just said it.

In addition to the obvious annoyances that I’ve mentioned above, there are a few things that are driving my willingness to consider a different smart phone. For one, I keep asking myself why it took three years, an embarassing shit storm in New York, a failed multi-million dollar advertising response to Verizon’s virtual “pants-ing,” and thousands of daily mentions of how much AT&T; sucks to realize that maybe they should spend some money and actually fix the problem at hand. I also can’t help but wonder why they’ve yet to really embrace social media when that could go such a long way to help change their perception in the marketplace.

Who knows, maybe I’ll stick with the iPhone in spite of the ongoing dropped calls. But probably not. I’ve already agreed to test out Sprint’s new Samsung Moment. And if that doesn’t take, Google’s Nexus One could be in my future. While I love my iPhone, I think the only thing that’s going to save it is if Steve Job’s can wiggle out of his contract and strike a deal with Sprint or Verizon. Otherwise, I’m not stickin’ around.

Image courtesy Fastcompany (great article btw on this very topic)

Quick-n-dirty Podcast Recap 31: Quick-n-dirty style…

I LOVE doing the weekly Quick-n-Dirty podcast show every week with co-host, Jennifer Leggio. It’s not only professionally rewarding but also a lot of fun. I’m not going to lie though, finding the time to do the “recap” post is always a little challenging. So this week, I’m going to do it quick and dirty style.

  • Social network of the week is the Daily Booth. Think of Flickr meets Twitter where members are encouraged to snap a picture of themselves once a day/365 days a year. Both Jennifer and I agreed that this may not be our cup of tea (lots of GenY-ers) but it is an interesting concept, especially when you watch the live feed.
  • Our special guest this week was Mr. SocialNerdia himself, Esteban Contreras. Not only is he an uber blogger/podcaster but he was newly anointed as social media manager for Samsung Electronics. Since Esteban spends a lot of time for Samsung tweeting, we asked him a lot of Twitter-centric questions. My favorite was, what if Twitter goes away tomorrow? Jen followed up with another great one asking, if you do pick another network, what are you doing to grow relationships with your enthusiasts in those other networks. All in all, Esteban was a great sport and even participated in the very chatty chatroom.
  • Our featured Twitterer of the week is Ron Shevlin, former Forrester VP and current senior analyst at Aite Group. He’s also a damn funny tweeter and a really thoughtful (and contrarian) marketing blogger. If you haven’t checked him yet, change that in a hurry.
  • Finally, Jennifer and I mixed it up a little bit on during our normal point / counterpoint session. Instead of duking it out, we talked about the premier of one of our favorite shows, LOST. If you watch the show but missed the premier, I won’t spoil it for you. If you did watch it and want to hear what we said, check out the archive of the show here.

Wow – so how’s that for fast? Did I miss something? Well, then leave it in the comments. By the way, I won’t be joining you all next week. Our friend and rock star entrepreneur/PR 2.0 king, Brian Solis will be filling in for me. Be sure to check that show out next Thursday at 6 PM ET / 3 PM PT.

Quick-n-dirty Podcast Recap 30: Home Depot FTW

When I received the call from my podcast partner, Jennifer Leggio, late in the day last Thursday, I knew something was up. Jennifer is a pro at picking her communication channels and she and I normally communicate via direct message on Twitter. Occasionally we escalate to e-mail but we rarely ever talk on the phone save for our post-Quick-n-Dirty podcast calls where we do a post-mortem of the show.

My instincts were right and Jennifer’s call was to let me know that she might not be able to do the show Thursday due to a tidal wave of work that landed on her desk. Fortunately, Jennifer and I plan for these things and I knew immediately to go into backup plan mode. Within 20 minutes of her call, I had my good friend and former colleague, Rachel Happe, on the hook (HT to Jim Storer for the assist). And while I missed the usual chemistry I’ve developed with Jennifer over the course of 30 shows, Rachel was a pro and helped keep the show running smoothly (even spending a healthy dose of time in the chat room engaging our regulars).

As always, you can hear an audio archive of last week’s show (along with all our other archives) here.

Our social network/app of the week was CauseWorld. I think Rachel summed it up best when she said that it was like FourSquare but for social good. That about says it all. I’ve downloaded the app on my iPhone and intend to play around with it a bit (what’s better than checking in to venues while earning “karma” points that can be translated into real dollars that help causes like victims of the Haiti earthquake). There’s a good write up of the service over on TechCrunch.

Next up was our featured guest, Sarah Molinari of Home Depot. Sarah is actually the person that Tweets out of the Home Depot Twitter account so if you’ve ever asked Home Depot a question, chances are you’ve talked to Sarah. During our conversation, the ever so graceful Ms. Molinari talked about Home Depot’s approach to engaging customers. She was also willing to talk about how they “listened” and admitted that they didn’t pay as much attention to competitors’ or industry keywords as maybe they could but only because they were so heads down focusing on all the existing customer conversations about Home Depot. We even got to talk about Home Depot’s Nascar race team [link updated on 2/2 - thanks Sarah!] on Twitter — a topic that Sarah was very well versed in. All in all, she was an absolute joy to have on the show.

Our “Tweet” of the week was none other than Mr. CC Chapman. If you don’t know CC, there are a few things you’ll quickly find out about him 1) he’s a great blogger and podcaster (focused on social media AND daddy blogging) and 2) he’s a teddy bear of a guy. So helpful and humble. In Rachel’s and my opinion, he is a MUST follow.

Last but not least came our point / counterpoint about tactical vs. strategic community management. Rachel and I did less debating since we haven’t spent a lot of time taking sides on issues but spent more time outlining the benefits of the different approaches one could take when it came to community management. Rachel in particular made some excellent points on the strategic side so it’s worth a listen (check out last 5-6 minutes of the show).

I’m looking forward to getting back to business with Jennifer next week. Details about the show will be on the Quick-n-Dirty site.