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471st Friday Blog Roundup

Josh and I were all ready to drop down over $100 for a small piece of tech this week.  I’m being purposefully vague because my goal is not to harm the reputation of this company but to point out an issue with brands utilizing social media.  So we were all ready to shell out the money, but I decided to ask a question before we plopped down the cash.  It’s my new canary in the coal mine: if I can’t get a company to answer my questions BEFORE I’ve given them my money, I have a good idea that they’re not going to be available to answer questions AFTER I’ve given them my money.  And for some of these obscure tech items we get the kids, there are such a small amount of other people out there who own the same item that if we run into a problem and the company itself won’t help us out, we’re out of luck.

So I write a quick question.  If I get an answer back in a reasonable amount of time, I make the purchase.  If I don’t get an answer back at all, then I walk away from the product.  So, for instance, the Wolvog desperately wanted a coding app.  It wasn’t clear that the app came with a tutorial, and it was a pretty expensive app.  It happened to be a coding language that the Wolvog doesn’t know, so I wanted to make sure that there was going to be something on the app to help him when he got stuck.  I sent an email in mid-October.  I’m still waiting for an answer.  In the silence, I told the Wolvog that I wasn’t willing to spend that amount of money to be frustrated.  So no app.  Instead we put that money towards an engineering toy where the person not only answered my first question quickly, but each subsequent one in quick succession.  That company is a keeper.

I think brands — especially small brands, just starting out — look at social media as this paradise where the customers are like low-hanging fruit.  There are just so many of us, and we’re all so accessible.  They can purchase ads and send it to our Facebook wall, tweet at us, slip comments into our blog posts.  They can throw up a project on Kickstarter and get tons of people to contribute small sums of money vs. going through the grant writing process (which is often an exercise in frustration).

What they don’t realize is that if do social media poorly, it hurts their brand.  It affects their reputation.  And social media is loud.  A single complaint sounds louder than it would in the face-to-face world.

Part of being a brand on social media (and perhaps some small businesses may want to think twice about joining in with social media if they don’t have the bandwidth to do it well) is engaging in that social part.  Not just talking at, but talking with.  Sometimes that means hundreds of people asking you questions.  If you’re asking them for money or support for your idea, that’s a fair trade.  Sometimes it means someone whining about your product, and you need to pleasantly respond and try to make their experience with your product better.  And sometimes they have such a fantastic experience with your product that they give you tons of free press, spreading that love across the blogosphere.  It works both ways.

So I sent an email that got no response back from this tech company, despite the fact that the company continues to tweet and Facebook and blog.  And yes, I sent them a message on Twitter letting them know I emailed just in case it went into spam.  Crickets.  They just keep tweeting, “support our project!”  And I’d love to.  I just want my question answered in return.  Especially since I got the email from a page that asked potential customers to email them with questions.

I know I’m hella cranky.  I should probably go drink a cup of tea.  Though I am giving them a week.  That seems fair-ish.

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The 2013 Creme de la Creme is trucking along.  There are currently 75 on the list and under two weeks to go until the hard deadline (December 15!).  So, are you on the list yet?  It’s wrapping up, so this is your last chance.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

Processing Thanksgiving was a theme this week.  Birds, Bees, and Medicine had a post about her two Thanksgivings — one with kids and one without.  Both contained their moments, but it was her words about a family member’s Christmas present idea that gave me pause: “a family tree with the parents in the trunk, the four children in each of the branches with their spouses, and then all the grandkids as leaves with thumb-prints. I wondered if our branch would really look as sad and barren as it did my imagination and if there would be space for us to add our thumbs prints later or if this was her idea of the family being complete. ”  I especially loved the end of the post.

LittleLightLuke sat at the Thanksgiving table and remembered her son who should be here but wasn’t.  As they went around the table, stating what they were thankful for, her mother answered that she’s thankful that they’re all together.  She wrote, “My heart felt stabbed–We are all here?!  It is so glaring to me that we are NOT all here.  I know she didn’t mean anything bad by it and she misses Luke too, but it still bothered me.”  But the moment most moving was when the author brought Luke’s name to the table.

Lastly, the Road Less Travelled had a post about the elf on a shelf.  And I love love love this part: “But these days, it seems the pressure to do more, buy more, give more gifts — on top of all the other pressures of modern life and parenting — just keep ratcheting upward.  And who is benefiting here?”  I don’t even celebrate Christmas, but who hasn’t felt the volume turned up everywhere year after year?  Brilliant post.  Actually, I feel like I need to unpack it myself in my own post.

The roundup to the Roundup: It’s hard to be a brand on social media.  The 2013 Creme de la Creme opened: is your post on the list?  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between November 29th and December 6th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

11 comments

1 Pepper { 12.06.13 at 7:46 am }

I love that you do that and I am definitely stealing this idea! I am so frustrated when I cannot get help with tech issues. I own a tablet that I completely love. It’s awesome in so many ways and everything I was looking for when I bought it. However, I ran into a hardware issue and the company that manufactured the particular piece had some of the worst tech support I’ve ever experienced – condescending, rude, not helpful, and ultimately overpriced had I chosen to go the route they suggested. (We were eventually able to solve the problem ourselves for pennies.) This is going to weigh heavily in whether or not I will purchase another of said tablet when it’s time to upgrade. I think I’ll give them a second chance, using your method and see what happens. 🙂

Also – I love what you are teaching your kids by doing this.

2 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 12.06.13 at 8:20 am }

That is actually a good idea. Poor after-sales support really sours me very quickly, but clogging up my social media by talking over the top of everyone and not listening in return? There’s an extra dimension to that.

3 KeAnne { 12.06.13 at 8:21 am }

It’s a great idea to suss out how responsive the company will be before you buy! I’m still stunned at how badly so many companies handle social media. Being minimally responsive isn’t difficult. It makes me think they haven’t thought out the customer support aspects of their business.

I loved this post by Through the Ardennes about “The Dread of Advent” http://throughtheardennes.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-dread-of-advent.html I think her feeling is something many of can or have related to at some point during IF.

4 loribeth { 12.06.13 at 9:50 am }

What a nice suprise to open my blog this morning & find a bundle of comments waiting for me! My semi-rant seems to have struck a chord, lol. Thanks for the shoutout!

5 loribeth { 12.06.13 at 11:57 am }

I’m way behind on my blog reading & commenting, but By the Brooke has a beautiful post this week about Christmases past & present, her daughter Eliza’s birthday (which is today), and how her grief has evolved over the past three years.

http://bythebrooke.blogspot.ca/2013/12/christmas-its-coming-again.html

6 It Is What It Is { 12.06.13 at 12:06 pm }

I completely agree with vetting a company before buying their wares. I try to do as much research as I can, not only about the quality of the product/service but of other user reviews (and, from multiple sources if possible) and I will reach out to the company directly, too.

There is just too much flightiness out there and I do NOT have the patience to be frustrated by a lack of post-purchase support.

Good job!

7 Lauren { 12.06.13 at 12:32 pm }

I agree with By the Brooke’s post about Eliza.

Also MJohnson’s post “The best I can” about grief, the new normal, and what might have been. http://mjohnson101.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/the-best-i-can/

8 Buttermilk { 12.06.13 at 4:30 pm }

I really enjoyed the post Megs wrote called “Courage for the Present” at Work is for Suckers. She talks about the fact that their is always somebody getting bad news at the same time as someone else getting good news; and she talks about dealing with the fear of the unknown. http://workisfor.blogspot.com/2013/12/courage-for-present.html

I also thought Robin at I’m Polycystic Inside really nailed it in her post yesterday about the complicated position of “not trying/not preventing” and how impossible it is to try not to try…even if you aren’t trying for your first. http://polycysticinside.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/i-am-not-a-loosey-goosey-come-what-may-kind-of-lady/

9 dspence { 12.06.13 at 5:11 pm }
10 Jerri { 12.10.13 at 8:26 am }

I just LOVED Teresa’s 20 Ways post! She wrote a great post on ways to give back this holiday season!

11 Jerri { 12.10.13 at 8:26 am }

Oops! Here is the link to Teresa’s post!!

http://wherethebleepisourstork.blogspot.com/2013/12/20-ways.html

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