Dear Miss Social…


Dear Miss Social

I’ve been doing social media for almost three years. A close friend suggested I try it out after the sudden death of our family cat, Dugs. I was only looking for a short-term distraction but have since adopted social media as part of my weekly routine and enjoy it very much. But here’s my issue: some of the people that I am following on Twitter are not following me back. I consider myself to be an outgoing person with a pleasant disposition, and can see no reason for these slights. In one instance I know the offender personally, which is doubly hurtful… should I say something to her? I would hardly know where to start.

Yours Sincerely,
Upset Tweeter
Hobart, Australia


Dear Gentle Reader

Miss Social must correct you on a point: one does not “do” social media, one engages in it. Social intercourse of any nature is a participatory activity between two or more consenting parties. Miss Social does not approve of broadcasting into a vacuum.

Your current predicament with Twitter is understandable, but eminently avoidable. Miss Social is reminded of dogs who harbour simple notions of social reciprocity such as ‘you can smell my bottom, and I get to smell yours’ (usually a simultaneous exchange when the breeds are of a similar size). Such a compact, so to speak, does not exist within social media. Twitter is a network – it scarcely matters who is following whom, as long as all participants are able to derive value from the collective. If we all do our very best and concentrate on making Twitter an interesting place to be, the connecting threads of value will form quite naturally. “It all evens out in the wash” as Miss Social’s dear Granny Mayfield was very fond of saying.

As to your non-following acquaintance, Miss social recommends this course: lift your credibility in her eyes by adding her to a public Twitter list called ‘Interesting and Beautiful Individuals’ – few people could stop themselves from taking an enquiring sniff or two of something as intriguing as that.

Yours in Social,
Miss Social

@Follow Me – A Religious Battle for Hearts & Minds

It seems to me that Twitter is a channel very well suited to getting the religious Word out onto the street – short, sharp gems of faith-based inspiration delivered almost effortlessly into the hands of an hungry audience (preaching to the converted).

Yet comparing the Twitter activity of the The Dalai Lama and Pope Benedict XVI, only the former is on board, tweeting as @DalaiLama. HHDL opened his account over three yeas ago – as of today he or his aides have posted 783 tweets and amassed  4.42 million followers (small f). And of course he follows no-one…

But where’s Benedict? According to a recent article by The Guardian the Pope is getting ready to pop out of his newbie purple egg:  “The tweet can be reformulated, redistributed, relaunched and disseminated,” said Father Claudio Maria Celli, the head of the Vatican’s pontifical council for social communications, as he announced the initiative. I’ve not heard a tweet explained in that way before – I should start taking this social media stuff more seriously.

HHDL is also including pics and videos within his tweets, along with links to his regular webcasts. No doubt a Pinterest account is in the making.

RT @DalaiLama On a personal level, we all appreciate people who are kind and warm-hearted

HHDL, thanks for sharing.



Qantas, Jetstar & Virgin Blue – Tweet Me (Please)

I do a lot of air travel for work, and I cop my fair share of travel related frustrations: delayed/ cancelled flights, surly staff, long lines, and the occasional misplaced piece of luggage; hey, it comes with the territory. But on occasion I’m moved to the point of firing off a social media salvo – let’s call it the right of a full paying customer with a smartphone in his pocket. No, I’m not a grumpy old dog – I talk up brands and people who delight me as much as I highlight those who disappoint.

I’ve had separate reasons to directly tweet an issue to all three major Australian airlines recently: Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Blue. The way these tweets were dealt with varied: @qantas and @jetstarairways ignored me, despite the fact they were both responding to other people within 5 minutes either side of my tweet; as it turns out they were both only responding to positive sentiment tweeters or to those asking information related questions. @virginblue responded to me within 15 minutes.

If you set yourself up in social media, big brand or not, you have to be ready for two-way communications; and be ready to hear from customers who are not experiencing the implicit brand promises contained within your marketing collateral. This shouldn’t be seen as threatening or inconvenient – it’s really both an opportunity to garner unsolicited real-time feedback, and a chance to turn unhappy customers around.

Most people who complain just want to be heard and have their pain acknowledged – they don’t expect or want someone to make the earth rotate in the opposite direction. Having my bag lost by Qantas recently was a massive inconvenience – I was without my business gear and clean clothing for almost 24 hours. I also know Qantas did their very best to sort things out. Yet no-one really acknowledged the inconvenience I went through or apologised for their mistake – despite being given a clear opening to do so on Twitter.

When a legitimate complaint is ignored it festers. It makes things worse within a social media context – the original grievance is compounded with a non-response to a call-out you know for a fact was heard.