Visit the New LunaWeb Blog

December 8, 2009

If it looks like we’ve been as quiet as the dark side of the moon, It’s because we’ve moved.

LunaWeb's new home: LunaWeb.com

Please visit our new homepage at www.LunaWeb.com, and our new blog at blog.lunaweb.com.

If you’d like to connect with us through social media, we’d love to hear from you.

Visit us on Facebook at Facebook.LunaWeb.com and Twitter at Twitter.com/LunaWeb.

We hope we’ll see you out there!

For so much of the 20th century, Sears’ name loomed large in the American consciousness. “Sears” has taken quite a beating recently. The current recession has drastically cut demand for the durable goods that are Sears’ bread and butter. The retailer still hasn’t quite bounced back after how it suffered at the advent of online shopping.

Sears Crosstown by nichcollins on Flickr

"Sears Crosstown" by nichcollins on Flickr

But online shopping has quite a lot in common with Sears’ catalog origins, so it’s nice to see that they seem to realize how important it is to have a strong online presence.

It’s just too bad they don’t seem to know what to do with it.

While it’s a great step in the right direction for Sears to have a public profile on Facebook, there’s a slight catch: they put information out there, but they don’t seem to check back for their fans’ responses.

This seems like it might be okay, but when you scan their wall, you’ll see that there are 23 posts from customers – seven of which are complaints. That’s almost a third of all the complaints, and they aren’t the softer side of Sears complaints, either. These customers aren’t merely dissatisfied; they have vitriol enough to fuel a thousand Craftsman mowers. These people feel abused and ignored.

Sears’ apparent response? Ignore them.

That’s a bad move, no matter how you look at it.

Now, to be fair, it should be noted that Facebook doesn’t currently notify the administrators of a public profile when fans post to their wall. The people managing Sears’ page need to keep an eye on it every day if they want to stay updated. And it’s clear that something isn’t happening like it should be.

The employee(s) responsible are treating Facebook like just another task. Make a post, move along. They aren’t responding to negative comments – or positive comments. There is simply no apparent understanding that social media functions and thrives based on interaction.

Looking for answers, we went to MySears.com, the social network Sears started for itself. We signed up for an account and made a post on their message boards asking why this was happening. To our amazement, this began turning things around – within hours of our posting, happy, zealous Sears employees found our post, and set about responding to the angry customers.

We love watching people who clearly love to make things right – especially when they understand how to do so online. It’s too bad, though, that there is nothing on these employees’ Facebook avatars identifying them as legitimate (if non-sanctioned) representatives of Sears.

Whoever it is who posts the fun discounts, sales, and videos to the Sears Facebook public profile needs to stop turning a blind eye to the fact that there will occasionally be a customer who gets the raw end of the deal.

If Sears were to publicly make things right with the customer complaints on their Facebook wall, it would show to all other customers that, though things do go wrong, Sears is committed to their customers.

We like to call this possibility “a public relations coup.”

This is true for any business – the easiest way to show the online world that you’re focused on your customers is to actually focus on them. Interact with them. You can make the wrong things right, changing detractors into promoters, and turning the loyal into evangelists. It’s not called “social” media for nothing.

There are important models out there. Try Dell Computer, or Comcast. Even smaller retailers like Zappos shoes continue to make a name for themselves as companies run by real people – the kind you could meet on the street and have a conversation with.

There’s a rumor going around that Oprah has gained control of her eponymous Twitter handle, and that she’ll be posting her first tweet during the show tomorrow. You can imagine what kind of immediate impact that this will have on the service.

As a result, we’ve been thinking a lot about the recent explosion in popularity of Twitter.

There used to be a standard progression for people making their way through social media.

The online presence of the first digital natives seemed to evolve from writing online journals read by only four or five people to maintaining MySpace and Facebook profiles with a few dozen friends on to full-fledged blogs and Twitter accounts accessible by the general public.

Digital Natives at Work by Gerard Bierens on Flickr.
“Digital Natives at Work” by Gerard Bierens on Flickr.

Though other sites and services empowered them to take those steps, Twitter seems to have been the triggering mechanism for making social media into a more truly mainstream phenomenon.

Twitter’s simplicity took the focus off of the means of communication and put it right onto the communication itself.

It may have been that simplicity, along with the suddenness of communication via Twitter, that led mainstream media to embrace it as a way to get information to consumers as quickly as possible. National Public Radio and the New York Times, for example, have been using Twitter since the network was still in relative infancy.

Even celebrities of all kinds have embraced Twitter, from TV Host and comedienne Ellen Degeneres to basketball player Shaquille O’Neal to songwriter Colin Meloy.

Twitter has officially broken down the barriers between the common person and celebrity. We here at LunaWeb have to wonder if this is why people who haven’t really dipped their toes in the waters of social media are now doing cannonballs into the deep end of Twitter.

If so, this marks not so much a gradual evolution in people’s progression through social media as a sudden mutation.

Whereas the digital natives eased themselves in, this new flock of Twitter users seems to be jumping right into using publicly accessible forums.

It’s exciting to watch. Especially considering that many of these new users aren’t digital natives at all. They’re immigrants to the internet world. By jumping in like they have, they’re expressing a newly empowered willingness to learn a new – online – dialect.

Once these new digital immigrants are acclimated and fluent, however, and they decide they need something other than what Twitter has to offer, where do they go?

Will they behave like a flock of migratory birds, moving almost as a single organism, or will they simply quietly disperse, as though the party has ended?

One (completely unresearched) impulse, based on Facebook’s near-simultaneous bump in membership, is to say that this new social wave is like a flock of birds. It’s not exactly predictable, but it undulates gracefully, pulsing with each new possible direction.

Flock of Birds by Picture Perfect Rose on Flickr.

"Flock of Birds" by Picture Perfect Rose on Flickr.

Here at LunaWeb, we’ve been giving a lot of beginning social media lessons to our clients. We’re thinking about opening these up to the public. If you’re part of this new wave of users, please sound off in the comments. Let us know what you’d like us to cover.

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blogpost by lunaweb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

The fun doesn’t stop

April 9, 2009

Last week was a busy week. Not only did we have the Social Media Expedition breakfast, but we gave a half-day workshop for the Grizzlies Foundation.

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The workshop, held at Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis focused on the ways non-profit organizations can use social media to promote their message and attract supporters. We had representatives from over 50 local non-profits show up.

By all accounts, everyone was grateful and eager to learn why and how Facebook, Twitter, and blogging can all be great tools to spread your organization’s message.

But one busy week can lead to another, and another after that.

April 16, for example, marks the second time we’ll be holding TwilightCamp, the evening time equivalent to our Social Media Expedition Breakfasts. It’s the same idea, plenty of time to learn and network with fellow Memphians, and with those core conversations to tap your new friends’ minds for answers to your social media questions.

Twilight Camp will take place from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. We’re still not sure on the location- we want to be sure we can fit everybody, so please RSVP immediately.

And then, on April 23, Launch Memphis, along with Southern Growth Studio, is hosting Tech Fuel, a combination private workshop and open panel discussion. This time around, the theme is “Mastering the New Modes: Insights and Innovations from the Blending Worlds of Technology, Marketing, and Culture.”Adrian Ho and CC Chapman: Mastering the New Modes, hosted by Launch Memphis and Southern Growth Studio

The speakers for this event are Adrian Ho of Zeus Jones and C.C. Chapman of The Advance Guard. These two are leaders in innovation at the blurring intersection of marketing, interactivity, and user experience.

You’ll need to reserve your seat for the private workshop in advance. You can do that through the Launch Memphis website.

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blogpost by lunaweb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Wednesday morning, April 1st, found the Social Media Expedition Breakfast at the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis. After some opening remarks from Social Media Expedition’s Dave Barger, The mic was handed over to Kris Markman, Ph.D., from the University of Memphis, for her presentation, “A Species Driven to Connect.”

Dr. Markman’s presentation focused on how society functions with technology. Her central assertion is that social technologies are nothing new. Though they use new tools to cover greater distances faster, it all essentially sums up to basic communication – Facebook, even as it nears ubiquity, is just a fancy version of cave painting communication.

Humans, she continued, simply need other humans for survival.

So we communicate as we always have, and we find brand new ways to communicate. One pattern Dr. Markman has noticed is that society is beginning to stratify naturally among those who can more readily adapt to new modes of communication.

Markman cites Pew Internet and American Life numbers that show that Americans, along with being divided along lines of behavior, can also be divided among the age groups and economic traits that allow them this behavior – but that doesn’t necessarily fall along the same lines as would be expected.

For example, podcasting is more common among the Generation X set, even though they aren’t as into things like Facebook or Massively Multiplayer Games.

Essentially, what Markman seems to be saying is that what makes online communications so interesting is that it’s so difficult to pin down the demographics of it in a general sense, because the information skews from example to example.

After the presentation, as always, we broke into smaller group discussions, including topics such as blogging, Facebook for business, Twitter, and social bookmarking. There was even some demand for information about Yahoo! Pipes – if you’ve got an interest in or knowledge of Yahoo! Pipes, (or Twitter, Facebook, or any other tools) please, by all means, join us for the next Social Media Expedition Breakfast, the first Wednesday of May.

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blogpost by lunaweb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

TechFuelLaunchMemphis’ latest TechFuel networking event was all about atmosphere.  This past Thursday, Memphis technologists, media, creatives and entrepreneurs assembled at the top of Clark Tower to meet old friends, make new connections and have a great time doing it.  The evening was graciously sponsored by MPACT Memphis, who share LaunchMemphis’ mission to promote growth in the Memphis entrepreneurial community.

The LaunchMemphis group has been hosting these networking evenings as part of its ongoing effort to bring focus to entrepreneurial activities in Memphis, TN, and to deliver new technology business startups to the economy.  The organization was very successful in making progress towards this goal last year.  In that spirit, they have designed a schedule of events for 2009 that will continue moving Memphis to the forefront of the business community.

Upcoming on the LaunchMemphis Calendar are:

MPACT MemphisSocialCamp Memphis – March 6 & 7
Location: Memphis College of Art
SocialCamp Memphis is an unconference focusing on Social Media and Social Networking.  Just imagine a conference where the morning is comprised of designated speakers/topics, and the afternoon is comprised of focused discussions and impromptu presentations that are decided on by the attendees.  There will be a networking event the evening of March 6th, and the main event during the day on March 7.  See more information at the SocialCamp site and Facebook pageRegister early!

Startup Weekend Memphis 2: Back by Popular Demand – May 29, 30, & 31
Location: EmergeMemphis and Mercury Launchpad
Startup Weekend recruits a highly motivated group of technologists and entrepreneurs to build a community and new business ventures in a weekend in a short 54 hours.  These motivated individuals come together form teams and decide what to make. Attendees are responsible for bringing the ideas, desire, and passion and walk out of the room with a brand new businesses launched or started.  Startup Weekend is a national program that has once again selected Memphis, TN as one of the cities that it will visit this year.  See more information and don’t forget to register.

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blogpost by lunaweb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.