Don’t Do What Users Expect

I know. Seems stupid. “Greg, you’re an idiot”, you say. Well, hear me out.

If you’re like me, as you think through what your product needs to deliver next, the first thing you try to answer is,

“What are customers complaining about?”

…and then work to solve those exact problems. While that does help our users a bit, if we’re on our game, we step back and try to answer,

“Why are customer complaining about that?”

That usually gives us a much better solution that not only solves their immediate problem, but also may solve many related problems. We have a chance to meet or even exceed their expectations since the solution is just better.

But what if we took one more step back and asked,

“Is the way customers want to accomplish their goals really the best way?”

…along with,

“Is there a different perspective we could offer that would completely change how fast/better their goals could be accomplished?”

…and quickly finish with,

“…and how can we solve it with new technology that’s just emerging?”

If we did that, I think we could start hearing the kind of customer feedback we all really want…

…not “Neat. That helps my current need”

…not “Cool. That saves me time to accomplish my current goal”

…but we could start hearing,

“Wow. This is incredible. I didn’t even know that was possible!”

I’m starting to think that taking the extra effort to not only understand our users’ goals, but also think of how to accomplish them from a unique perspective that’s different than everyone else in the market, combined with using new, innovative technology, can truly deliver a killer user experience.

What do you think? What products have you used that don’t meet or exceed your expectations because they completely blew you away because you were in awe at how incredible the product was?


3 Steps To Get Started In Social Media

Recently I was asked, “What does it take to get started in Social Media as a corporate employee?”. Here’s my response…


That’s easy: It will take 10 minutes per month — from 12:50-1:00 p.m. central time — on the third Thursday, to be successful in social media.

OK so it’s not quite that simple. The real answer is that it takes three steps:

  1. Define Your Goal
  2. Have Balance
  3. Be Consistent

Define Your Goal
Before you start anything in social media, you need to define your goals. Once you have a clear picture of why you want to engage in social media, you need to be honest about how much time that would require.

For example, if your goal is to help an occasional user, you could, in fact, spend only 10 minutes per month reading your go-to forum and responding to individual questions about a topic you know about. However, if your goal is to be known in the industry as an expert, you could spend an hour per week creating your own technical blog to provide others in the industry tips and insight based on your experiences.

Have Balance
It really is up to you how frequently you are involved with social media, but make sure you can balance your social media effort with what you’re currently doing in your work.

Here are some example guidelines I have used to keep balanced while working towards my goal:

  • Blog: Post at least once per month. The more frequent, the shorter the posts can be. I find 300-500 words is ideal as users want to gain insight but not spend a lot of time reading
  • Tweet: Tweet at least once per week. Followers want regular insight. Think about making it a ‘tip of the week’.
  • YouTube: Post an educational/demo video once every 2 months. Make them short, and have them cover only one key topic.
  • Online in-depth article: Once per quarter since these are generally much longer and have a wider distribution.

Tip: When you feel like writing, work ahead! You will feel much better if you have a collection of blogs/tweets/videos that are publish-ready and can be scheduled using many available tools, rather than scrambling to meet the next deadline.

Be Consistent
The reality is that to be engaged in social media, you need to be consistent with how often you interact. Nothing is more useless than a stale blog or channel. If you think it might be ‘too much’, get a small team together to share the responsibilities. That way the frequency for you can be less but your followers still get the consistent cadence.

Regarding duration: Social media is an ongoing interaction. If you stop, your digital presence will fade. As long as your frequency is consistent, your social presence will stay, but there really is no ‘end date’. If your followers do not see regular updates, they will stop looking for your content. In my experience, if your goal is to help your customers gain insight into a product or service, make the blog/handle reflect the product name so if you move on to another job, someone else can take over the social media outlet and your customers can still gain insight from a new expert.

Finally, don’t forget to interact with your customers through comments. I often create content, but then forget that the real value of social media is in the conversation that happens between you and your subscribers in the comments section. This will not only keep things personal, it will grow your social media presence.

Question: How do you approach social media?

Flip Your Focus: Serve Customers Through Social Media

Recently I was asked “Can you explain the professional benefits for a corporate employee engaging in social media?”

My response surprised me, and I thought you might find it interesting as well…


Engaging in social media professionally does benefit you directly, but as I think through my experience, I find it becomes especially rewarding when you flip the focus from how it benefits you to how it benefits our customers.

Why flip focus?

Because our customers deserve our very best, and if we are involved in social media for  our own benefit, then our conversations, content, and perspective will always have an ulterior motive. We may make more sales or become more well-known in the industry in the short term, but the relationship with our customers will remain shallow with no lasting impact nor loyalty.

The social web is filled with “Look at me!” blogs and sites and tweets. It’s quite self-serving and it can take our users some time to tease out useful and unbiased information that they can use. However, if we start with “How can I serve you?” then their interest rises at the potential of rich, unbiased, relevant content.

When we focus on serving our customers through social media, their benefits include:

Customer Benefits:

  • Customers will gain better insight from your expertise in how to do their job better
  • Customers will trust that the conversation, tip, recommendation has their best interest in mind
  • Customer loyalty will increase as they realize they have real human relationships with experts that create our products/services.
  • Customers will share your expertise with their peers
  • Customers will feel relevant because you asked them to give honest feedback about your product/service

Notice that while our customers benefit, at the same time you benefit in even greater ways:

Your Benefits:

  • Trusted Industry Expert: You will become known in the industry as an expert, but even more importantly, a trusted expert
  • Real-World Impact: You will have real customer quotes to show your impact you’ve had over the year
  • Greater Purpose:  Because you help real humans in their work with your expertise, you will feel a greater purpose in your work. Instead of feeling like a small cog in a large machine, to a group of customers you are the expert in your area that helps them succeed
  • Improved Product: You will get unbiased feedback about your product/service that you can fold into your next release, thereby improving it for all customers

Like most things in your professional life, the more you put into your social media presence the more you get out of it. And at least in my experience, the more you focus on how to help others succeed through social media, the more personal reward you end up with.

Question: How do you serve customers through social media?

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