XX.VI.XX – XX.VI.XXI … Socialogy™ turns 1 today!
 

Socialogy™ – ‘The Art of Social Marketing’ is today celebrating its first year of operations. Founded on June 20, 2020, the Socialogy™ brand was born as the world slowly emerged from the first phase of a global pandemic that caught many businesses off-guard. The brand is designed to provide cost-effective and sustainable online media marketing to SMEs and marketing agencies in Malta and at a European level, helping them adapt to a new reality of surviving through a professional online presence.

The idea behind Socialogy™ goes beyond the basic functions of simple contracted marketing activities. The idea is to become an extension to a company’s operations in providing an additional communication channel to its existing ones for seamless customer service, sales and engagement. 

With the boom of social media in the last decade it became evident how the importance of this online channel should not just be part of a company’s communications strategy but is today the most effective, efficient and reliable bridge to understand, engage with customers and minimise the service gap in a fast-moving and dynamic environment. Giving importance to customer satisfaction and real time engagement is the key to a successful communication channel driven by equally dynamic businesses.

While large organisations have the luxury of relying on their in-house resources and the expertise of agencies to grow their marketing activities, SMEs may not have the right knowledge nor the finances to sustain such activities, and this is where Socialogy™ steps in – an added value to any small business operation with big ideas for effective online marketing, creating tailor-made campaigns and activities respecting brand values, targets and finances.

Thanks to a network of preferred partners, services also extend to web development, media buying and specialised consultancy in several industries including retail, tourism and hospitality. 

Bespoke services for SMEs 

Guiding small and medium businesses set up and grow their presence online, especially on social media with practical and green solutions, in line with any business model and size, and it need not cost you the earth.

Value support to marketing agencies

Cost-effective and round the clock services including copywriting, creative ideas, implementation of advertising campaigns and engagement with followers.

Cost-effective consultancy services

Helping businesses understand social media trends to enhance business sales and strengthen online customer relations through practical experience.

Socialogy™ was founded by Alison Casha, an experienced marketer who was one of the first in Malta to focus on social media marketing. Well-known for her customer service relations in the local market, Alison brings a wealth of marketing and communications expertise with her 25 years of hands on experience with some of the largest local organisations and having studied at the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Whatever the job, Socialogy™ will always show maximum respect towards our planet, this is why it focuses on online marketing as opposed to traditional media which contribute towards a less green environment. 

Read the article published in The Sunday Times of Malta on 20 June 2021

How social media helps bridge gaps between hotels and guests

Imagine you are a guest who has just arrived at the hotel and not finding anyone to greet you – it’s bad. Now imagine how worse it would be for a guest to enter an establishment, press the call bell and be ignored. This is exactly how people feel when they contact a business on social media and do not get any form of acknowledgment or feedback.

Basically, the virtual world is no different than your actual hotel lobby or reception area. The idea that social media is an informal and casual way of building online relationships is flawed and short-sighted. It should be taken more seriously by any business or organisation, to each their own (platform). Just like a receptionist, a hotel manager, a housekeeper, a marketer behind the facade of your social media pages is equally responsible for the success of your hotel, no matter how many stars you claim to have. It’s no different than any customer service channel, not less worthy than a phone or an email.

Social media has evolved so fast when compared to any digital form of communication that there is really no excuse for service gaps any longer. Hotels have a multitude of channels at their disposal and intrinsically cost-free, with Tripadvisor® and booking.com possibly being the strongest and most influential platforms in the hospitality industry and widely accepted and used by the travelling public. Not only because it puts similar businesses in the same basket of online shopping but more importantly because it gives voice to the customer and serves as benchmark for both sides of the story: selling and buying. It creates a balance which is usually only broken by fake and illicit feedback.

Without forgetting Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIN, all very important social tools too, the Reviews section on booking platforms and social pages is without any doubt the most feared by managers of guest relations. And this is where mistakes are mostly done – not engaging the right person to handle online feedback, be it positive or negative. Even though guest relations specialists may do an excellent job on the floor, it does not necessarily mean that they can deliver the same level of service online. It takes the know-how of a seasoned marketer to engage with customers, black on white.

How to use social media to your hotel’s advantage:

Engage & Build : all social media channels are well built to allow engagement with partners and end customers. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook all have direct messaging systems which lend well to building relationships through private conversations which can be integrated into your CRM system. The marketers engaged to reply to messaging/comments/reviews are key to success stories – actually replying to a message and not letting it go unnoticed, remembering a repeat customer, anticipating the needs/requests based on historical data, taking the chats onto a personal level and following the guest’s mindset. The common but most essential factor here is timing: engaging with delays could actually mean losing a customer.

Listen & React: be bold, don’t be afraid to reply to reviews, no matter how negative they can be! Actually reviews should be encouraged as they are an opportunity to engage with guests beyond their stay, an “aftersales service” in the hospitality industry. Take the opportunity to listen, turn negatives into positives, accept criticism and realise that your business could always do better thanks to your guests’ own contributions. Take time to acknowledge the good comments and react to negative experiences by turning them into new opportunities. We are all human who make mistakes, it’s how we react to them that distinguishes us from our competitors. Social media platforms like Tripadvisor and booking.com are the perfect windows for this, and you would not only be impressing your own guests but also attracting millions of potential customers who come across your online presence via these platforms and assess you for your way of dealing with problems and coming up with resolutions.

Add Value & Reward: showcasing your hotel through your own social media pages resonates into shared experiences by the guests themselves, the best modern form of word-of-mouth advertising. Give more reasons to book through your online media – offer value added forms of retention by means of discounts, cross promotions with close-by businesses and own suppliers, creating apps for loyal customers and pushing digital offers/rewards which can be redeemed through an action on social media (example, sharing a story and tagging your page or place). Make your guests proud to represent your business and give them reason to do it.

Innovate & Save: one of the best ways (if not the best) to demonstrate innovation today is to go green. What is your business doing to reduce waste, plastic, energy, overhead costs and contribute to the planet’s wellbeing? Online media can surely help replace paper thanks to digital

communication mixed with smart phone technology. Think paperless brochures/receipts, virtual key rooms, WhatsApp/social messaging and apps to enhance the customer journey and offer peace of mind but respecting the environment at the same time.

Inspire & Attract: social media is your window onto the world. Inspire followers with high-quality photography/videography without falsifying your image – stay true to your brand values and keep your identity realistic.

This will help you keep your followers and grow to reach out to new unexplored markets and target niches. Follow the ethos of your business to attract like-minded people on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram for leisure customers and Twitter/LinkedIN (for business customers). Followers will easily turn into customers if they understand that you share the same X factor.

Ultimately social media can be the “fil rouge” of a guest’s journey from the research phase right through to the memories of the stay, a tangible way of joining all the dots of a guest experience and not just a means to an end. Being social online is the equivalent of smiling whilst welcoming your guests – make the best of it!

Written for Horeca Malta Magazine by Alison Casha (Founder at Socialogy™) one of the first marketers with a 20 year strong career and practical experience to believe in social media as one of the most important marketing/customer care channels for any business which believes in the importance of customer satisfaction and real time engagement.Socialogy™, “The Art of Social Marketing” provides cost-effective and sustainable social media marketing to SME’s and marketing agencies at a European level. Whatever the job, Socialogy™ will always show maximum respect towards our planet.

socialogy.eu

Just like Shakespeare’s Hamlet introductory words, I  often ask this question when it comes to customer service, and please don’t misunderstand me, I am no t one of those who believes the customer is always right. Neither a business though. 

God knows how many Facebook messages and comments I made on company pages, without ever being acknowledged, let alone answered. Sometimes I wonder if the business is simply playing hard to get in a bid to increase the desire for its services, or worse still a careless attitude towards an underestimated customer service channel.  

In fact rather than care, many companies tend to scare their customers away on social media, no matter how customer-centric they advocate to be in their marketing messages. The general mistakes which businesses commit on their own social pages are pretty common:

  1. One-way communication: businesses tend to promote their products/services with regular posts, but then fail to engage with their followers, whether via public comments or in private messages. Communication is two-way, otherwise it would be called a digital monologue. 
  2. Delayed response time: social platforms are live means of information, there is no room for delayed engagement. It’s off-putting to show an interest in something as a customer and not receiving the same (supposedly more) level of interest from the seller part. 
  3. Ignoring followers: if you first attract users to follow your pages and then just ignore their comments, messages or worst still complaints, it’s not sexy at all. There is a high probability that users will start de-following you and giving you bad publicity, and that means marketing funds going down the drain translating into loss of revenues. 
  4. Disconnected employees: it’s useless having a great sales team and a poorly-informed employee replying to social media enquiries. Just like it doesn’t make sense to have customer service or social media experts handling customer engagement to then having this backed up by a very poor support system for sales/after sales. The teams need to be in synch homogeneously so that the customer does not feel being ping ponged between one department and another. 
  5. Rejecting complaints and negative reviews: I have been raised to see the silver lining in every cloud, and apply the same creed to bad feedback. If it is true that you can never make everyone happy, I do believe it is always possible to reach a compromise without necessarily breaking rules, discriminating between customers or going against fine print T&Cs. It’s all in the way we approach our customers and show them that we value their custom that we will make a difference. 

 

So here are some tips to help you improve on your customer service skills without any added costs:

  1. Customer engagement: show your social audiences that you care. If you upload a post at 5pm or on a weekend (especially if scheduled in advance which I don’t always agree with),  it’s pretty useless if your social media specialist is out of the office at that time. 
  2. Response time: with social media being a communication platform that is so fast and volatile, almost perishable and intangible, customers who ask questions expect an immediate reply: if you can’t handle that, at least try changing the publishing time to be available for support. If this is not possible then make sure your opening hours are clearly updated and add an automated reply to private messages to keep the expectations of the customer at bay while your social customer service is closed/offline. 
  3. Acknowledging enquiries/comments/feedback: what can be more annoying than sending a message, seeing it has been read by the business and never receiving a reply back! Social media is to be treated just like any other customer care channel, if not more. In the future it will become more important than ever, so we need to gear up and get going in treating it as an opportunity to engage and to market.  
  4. Teamwork: give your salespersons (with best communication skills) some basic training in customer social engagement and incentivise them to handle their own enquiries and turn them into opportunities, whether sales related, or support-wise. You can always have a moderator to oversee the communication. 
  5. Dealing with complaints: if there is a negative public review or private feedback, there is no reason to fear being exposed for your own threats and weaknesses. Instead, use it as a chance to turn it into opportunities and strengths.  An intelligent customer will know if you’re being honest and outgoing in your approach, which will be a point in your favour already. Being respectful and open to criticism and admitting mistakes is not a sign of weakness but of maturity, you should actually thank your customers for giving you free advice to better your service! If the customer is being unreasonable and an agreement cannot be reached, you might have to let them go, but do try to offer them a completely different and separate incentive to win them over competition. From experience I can confirm that is it only the odd one in amino that stubbornly refuses a resolution.  

Finally a customer is a human being so the most important rule is to treat them as a person, not a number. Try addressing your customer by first name (informal is acceptable on social media), and not by “dear client or dear madam” (and I’m like “hey I have a name!” Sorry but I can’t stand such outdated and impersonal introductions in any form of customer communication).

Ultimately businesses should always make sure to treat customers the way they would want to be treated and going beyond their expectations. Social media gives us the chance to go beyond the cursory and traditional customer care and create the wow factor which generates a high level of satisfaction, often unexpected. When you do this in the public domain the positive direct and indirect returns you get are high. It is the best form of successful customer care I can think of, but just in case you can’t handle it as yet, just call it Customer Service because “care” is a huge word. 

Written for The Sunday Times of Malta by Alison Casha (Founder at Socialogy™) one of the first marketers with a 20 year strong career and practical experience to believe in social media as one of the most important marketing/customer care channels for any business which believes in the importance of customer satisfaction and real time engagement.

Socialogy™, “The Art of Social Marketing” provides cost-effective and sustainable social media marketing to SME’s and marketing agencies at a European level. Whatever the job, Socialogy™ will always show maximum respect towards our planet.

socialogy.eu

In a world becoming increasingly fast and impatient, the importance of visuals is taking on a new meaning. 

During the forced slow-down of the recent coronavirus pandemic, we all had to tone down the fast-paced lifestyle which had been gaining momentum with each passing year. Some of us took the opportunity to find time to read, to do spring cleaning, to cook, to invest in family time – all simple activities that have over time become less popular due to careers, engagements and socialising. For a short while they may have been appreciated, maybe reluctantly, but the minute the measures were eased, everyone rushed to go back to the speedy way of living like there’s no tomorrow.

All this ties in to the subject of this article. We barely have time to read long letters or articles let alone detailed social posts. Social media has evolved too. In these past 16 years since the inception of the social media revolution, I have seen with bare eyes the shift from text content to visual stimulation. Whichever online provider you look at, you’ll see it. Online newspapers attract readers with big photos accompanied by short and catchy titles. Facebook rejects visuals with more than 20% text occupancy for cleaner campaigns moving away from the traditional hard selling techniques. We have seen the explosion of Instagram, a social platform that is based solely on the impact of photography.  Websites are now mostly built with full screen imagery and just enough content to deliver the message. 

Why? Exactly because no one has time or patience to read paragraphs upon paragraphs of information, unless it’s a book maybe and I’m not saying that’s a healthy behaviour. We’re all increasing our multi-tasking skills and usually access social platforms from hand held devices whilst engaged in other activities like waiting for an appointment, watching TV,  standing in a queue, sunbathing, travelling or even at table in restaurants  (this is actually a bad habit and should be highly discouraged!), making our concentration very limited. So here are a few good reasons why it’s important for businesses to invest in good photography/videography material for a high quality media library:

1.    images replace words. Just like the need of a good content-writer, images need to be excellent quality so amateurish photos/illustrations are just not good enough to leave an impact. 

2.    visuals represent your business just like articles. If the images you post are low-quality, it is assumed that your business is on the same level. You wouldn’t want to pass on such a message, right?

3.    The human brain is attracted more to colour and designs than text, it’s quite simple. The impact remains imprinted in your mind which processes the message behind an image.

4.    Like love, visuals speak a universal language! If you have a multi-national audience to speak to, visuals do not need expensive and extensive translations, at most they might need adaptations and short phrase translations. 

5.    No matter how imaginative your content-writer is, no words can describe a product or service as good as an image/video of it.  This is why a good quality professional photo/video is needed, be it in terms of resolution, perspective and content. Furthermore, such visuals can also be used to complement online campaigns with other traditional marketing channels like billboard advertising, newspaper ads, brochures … there is no need to recreate campaigns if the core visual is already excellent quality. 

In all this let’s not forget the basics of visual content:

–    whether you choose a professional photographer/videographer to take photos/videos which will represent your business online, or be it a social media user who tags your brand with photos of your product or service, make sure the quality is high enough to generate immediate attention for positive engagement and attract new potential followers hopefully turning them into customers. I also encourage more use of videos, no matter how short and/or detailed depending on the use, and with today’s technologies the costs have decreased considerably. It is estimated that people remember 20% of what they hear, 30% of what they see, but 70% of what they hear and see.

–    engage a professional digital designer to adapt your visuals with superimposed logos/titles/prices or create illustrations but always keep in mind that less is more. You can always link visuals from a social media account to a landing page on your website to provide more information. This benefits your website traffic anyway, which should remain the core objective  of your sales & marketing activities.

–    make sure you have a web developer who is up to date with technology, devices and social media. All 3 need to speak well together to engage with customers, users and followers. It is useless having wow photography on a poor performing or outdated website, and vice versa. Today’s websites need to adapt to a multitude of user devices in terms of sizes and versions, the professional term is “responsiveness”.

Taking all the above into consideration it may be perceived as expensive and unnecessary however statistics and historical data prove that the return on investment is worthwhile. Don’t let last minute, rushed decisions or an ill-conceived and short-sighted urge to save on the cost of eye-catching content make your online presence look shabby and cheap.

Written for The Sunday Times of Malta by Alison Casha (Founder at Socialogy™) one of the first marketers with a 20 year strong career and practical experience to believe in social media as one of the most important marketing/customer care channels for any business which believes in the importance of customer satisfaction and real time engagement.

 

Socialogy™, “The Art of Social Marketing” provides cost-effective and sustainable social media marketing to SME’s and marketing agencies at a European level. Whatever the job, Socialogy™ will always show maximum respect towards our planet.

socialogy.eu