Happy Valentine’s Day! Protocol somewhat dictates that this column be somehow tied into the latest Hallmark Holiday; and since I am cynical by nature, I will go against the grain and offer a recommendation that may change your travel businesses significantly for the better. Not a bad tradeoff eh? So, what is this sage advice? Chapter 8–whew, glad it wasn’t Chapter 7 or 14!
One of the critical components of managing our businesses is time and resource management. It is even more critical for those who are based from their home offices. When you work from home, typically you are the agent, manager, accountant, cleaning crew, receptionist, delivery person, and any number of jobs that might pop up from time to time. Since about 2008, we have had this new thing called social media which can be a time waster; yet is so crucial for us to embrace. What are the “right” social media tools? And more importantly where the heck do we find the time to manage them? Chapter 8 has most of the answers, but three areas really resonated with me and to my surprise, they are not necessarily time consuming!
Manage your reputation. Sign up for google alerts. They are simple and will let you know as soon as a searched term is indexed by the company. The same thing goes for Twitter. Set up a search for your desired term and watch as people discuss it in real time. A quick glance or two each day will be all that is needed to keep track of the conversations happening about you, your company and your competition.
Engage, engage, engage. Look at Twitter and Facebook as tools for engagement. You don’t need to sit at your desk and tweet and facebook all day. Like with the alerts, scan them a few times a day and respond accordingly. If you want, you can take it to the next level and set aside an hour or two each week and plan out a week’s worth of posts and tweets and schedule them. It is a perfect solution for when you are away from the office.
Remember email. In more ways than one. Don’t forget that Facebook and Twitter is not the replacement to an effective email marketing campaign. The main point of difference is that for your email marketing, your clients have given you, in essence, unrestricted permission to talk to them. It is a little more subtle with Facebook and Twitter—they need to come to you to read your message. With email, you have their permission to send your message to them. And with most mail programs, you can schedule these in advance as well. I write my newsletters two months ahead of time; and when it comes time to send, all I do is pop in a timely personal introduction, update a few links and double check that the other content is still valid.
It might seem that dealing with today’s technology could take 8 hours every day—and it can. But it doesn’t need to if you manage your time efficiently. Think about it, take 20 minutes a day to monitor Facebook, Twitter, and review your google alerts. Take an hour a week to schedule the following week’s updates to Facebook and Twitter. And finally take two hours a month to develop your newsletter for the next month. By the time you are done, you have spent 16 hours a month. Can you spare a half hour a day?
You may be asking what the deal was with Chapter 8. Well, it is just one of 9 chapters in one of the best books I have read on customer service. Back in December, Peter Shankman sent me a preview copy and it quickly became my favorite book. It is an easy read, it is current (just released last month) and is chock full of information you need to effectively manage your customer relationships in a social world. Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World (Amazon link) is completely worth the $19.99 retail or $12.43 at Amazon. Even if you only read Chapter 8! Happy Valentine’s Day!