Free advice for companies

June 30th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Yo listen up.
There’s 2 things you need to know

1) I’m a fair person.

2) Don’t argue with me when I’m right.

That’s all you need to know. To deal with me and pretty much everyone I know. 

Now all you need to do is empower your employees to deal with that. When I’m rightfully making a point, they should listen. (See point 2) IF they contradict me, they will get raised hackles. (See point 1) If they acknowledge my point, you get my business again.

When I’m wrongfully making a point, they can (cordially) set me straight, and I’ll take that. (See point 1) And you’ll keep getting my business.

Makes my life easy, and believe it or not, yours too.

Yo Twitter, does the phrase 'eating one's own dog food' mean anything?

April 23rd, 2010 § 2 comments § permalink

Some weeks ago I had what to me was a serious issue. The two Twitter clients I use, Digsby and Mahtweets, weren’t connecting to Twitter. After troubleshooting for a bit, I got a bit paranoid and went into to change my password – just in case.

So I go through the change password steps, click on ‘Change’ and get an error. Something about an error with my profile. Try again, same error. Wait a while and return to it, still borked. Ok, now I’m really worried.

Hit up Twitter’s help link, prominently placed in the menu bar at the top and the bottom of the pages. It took me to a Googlesque search page. Tried a few queries, none that addressed my issue. Browsed their knowledge base for a bit, and got to the Known Issues page. Nope, nothing there.

Now, the thing about having a Known Issues page is that it signifies to me that I can submit an issue. That and the fact that there is a ‘Check your Existing Requests’ tab on the page. So now I search intently for a way to submit a request, and I can’t find one. Thinking I must be going blind – surely, SURELY there’s a place somewhere to do it – I spend about 1/2 an hour just looking for that. I even manage to find a past request I submitted last year listed under ‘Solved and closed requests’. No idea how I managed to do that – it was either a miracle, or they have made massive changes to the support system.

On to the final step – when all avenues have been exhausted, send the company an e-mail. Hit up the contact page, and the Customer Support link takes you back to their Help section. E-mail addresses listed there for Partners, Press and Law Enforcement, nothing for the pesky user with issues.

If this were ANY other product, I woulda ranted about it on Twitter upon exhausting all avenues. So I did, thinking, hoping, someone at Twitter would see it and get back to me. Nothing, nada, no response. Not that day, not in the following days.

What of the issue? I tried to change my password more than a week later, and the process worked.

So why am I bitching about it now?
Well, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And I can’t let it go. It bugs me. It bugs me that I spent SOOOO much time trying to get help and I couldn’t find a single piece of information to aid the situation. It bugs me that I could see Troubleshooting topics started recently, but I couldn’t find an obvious way to start one. It bugs me that there might be people out there new to Twitter or long-time users slightly more n00b than I having issues and not getting the help they need. I understand their frustration.

And most of all, it bugs me that these days it’s almost a requirement for other companies to monitor Twitter as part of their customer support/care strategy. We call companies out who aren’t up to date with customer feedback coming in on Twitter, or those who don’t respond adequately. And Twitter seems to get away with not doing exactly that.

I was at Evan Williams’ SXSW keynote, where he spoke about being as open and transparent as possible both within and without the company. In my line of work, that means listening and responding to customers. In this context, it means monitoring Twitter for cries of help and reaching out. Not an easy task by any means, but one that needs to be done nevertheless.

So Twitter, hows about that dog food?

Some thoughts on the KFC racist ad brou-ha-ha

January 11th, 2010 § 5 comments § permalink

Sometime last week I read somewhere that KFC pulled their annoying ad due to accusations of racism. First thought – Yay, I don’t have to put up with it any more. I’m a cricket fan, and watched every match through summer. The ad was annoying the first time they aired it. Couple it with the whole series of ads, and the sheer number of times it airs in a day, and you’ll understand my pain. (Plus I’m against fast food sponsoring sports. I’m also against fast food. Anyways…) Second thought – Yeh, it was off-putting, but I didn’t think it was racist.

Oh, in case you aren’t a cricket fan, and haven’t seen it even once:

Today I saw a tweet by @MashableOur most retweeted post right now: “Is This KFC Ad Racist? – and I groaned.

I kinda feel sorry for Australia right now. It’s been on the receiving end of a lot of racism accusations over the past couple of months, some just, others not so in my opinion. (And to everyone who’s been asking – Yes, I’m fine. No, there isn’t more racism here than there is anywhere else.)

So, back to the ad. Some thoughts –

  • It is annoying. I’m glad they pulled it.
  • It made sense in the context it had been airing in – during cricket matches, when Australia and the West Indies were playing. (I can’t say for sure if it was aired outside those hours)
  • It was personally off-putting to me because it was targeting the Aussie white male. As most ads during sports events do. Because I guess only Aussie white males watch sport on that channel. (The ‘us vs them’ context of the ad irked me more than anything)
  • I’ve come to welcome the targeted ads. It means I’m not being marketed to. I like that. Leave me alone.
  • It’s endemic of the ad industry. Either I’m a super-minority, or they generally do a poor job of making ads that speak to me.
  • (from an earlier tweet) Is KFC halal in Aust? If it were, would they have made the same ad, this time with the guy sitting amongst Pakistani supporters?
  • If such an ad were made for the Aust v Pak matches (or Aust v Ind for the sake of argument though the Indian team doesn’t play here this summer), would the people crying foul still be crying foul?
  • Ads these days aren’t local. Even if specifically made for a local audience. Marketers need to keep that in mind. (This actually makes me feel sorry for them. *gasp*)
  • If the local needs to keep the global context in mind, shouldn’t the global keep local contexts in mind?

  • The last two points I find the most troubling. Audiences are global now. We’ve all seen cute/funny/quirky local ads shared on Twitter, forums, Facebook, blogs, via e-mail etc. But if I were making an ad, just how much consideration would I need to give to sentiments of the global audience before I lose all context for my local audience? And is it reasonable to assume that I will be able to avoid the localised rules of the global audience? (I needed an explanation for the racist angle of the KFC ad.)

    The ‘global’ audience can only make meaning of a piece of content within their own frames of discourse (the ‘localised rules’ mentioned earlier). Once the meaning is made, is it then reasonable to level accusations of racism and expect others, with their own frames of reference, to defer to their interpretation? Doesn’t that then lead to those with a louder voice being heard more? Swapping different meaning-making references is how we educate each other, but where do we draw the lines between sharing and insisting one is more correct than the other? Should there be lines drawn?

    The questions never end, and I have no answers, so I’ll leave it here. The only thing I know is that KFC pulling the ad in Australia worries me more than the ad itself.

    Real time is the best thing since sliced bread, but where are my archives?

    November 28th, 2009 § 3 comments § permalink

    This issue is fast turning into one of my pet peeves, hence the following rant.

    Dear Facebook and Twitter,

    I’m a active member of your sites. So active (productive even) in fact, that I have thousands of Tweets, likes, shared items, comments, you name it. I’m doing exactly what you want and need me to do. So why won’t you let me access them?!?!?! *pulls hair out*

    Why is it, Facebook, that I can’t search my past activity? Why is it you won’t let me search wall posts I’ve received? Why is it there is nowhere I can go to view the comments I’ve made?
    And Twitter, you’re no better. Thanks to you, I’ve had to resort to ‘favouriting’ my own tweets so I can find them when I need them.

    (I mean, seriously, how insane is that?! Not to mention it makes me look like a complete egomaniac… *tsk*)

    This might seem like a trivial issue to some, but there is a lot of information exchanged in micro-exchanges on both these services. Information directly related to and useful to me. And every once in a while, I need access to this information. It would be great to be able to perform a simple search and get the information I’m looking for. And I don’t understand why I can’t already do just that.

    Living in the moment is great, but I would like the ability to wander down memory lane too.

    House of Reps passes bill. Oh yay

    November 10th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

    Those following the US health care drama will know that the bill has been passed by the House of Representatives.
    This is good. After months of hysteria, there’s been progress.

    Then why the tone in the title? Read this in a BBC article:

    However, the government-run healthcare programme – the so-called “public option” – was scaled back in the run-up to the vote.

    One key concession to get the bill through was to anti-abortion legislators.

    An amendment was passed that prohibits coverage for abortion in the government-run programme except for rape, incest or if the mother’s life is threatened. Private plans can still offer the cover.

    Health care for everyone. ‘Cept you, whose morals don’t fit with ours.

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