The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Effective Social Media Utilization

In 1990 Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer published their influential article “Emotional Intelligence.”  In it, they defined emotional intelligence as, “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”  In the same article, Salovey and Mayer defined a construct that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence:

      1. Perceiving Emotions: The ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others as well as in objects, art, stories, music, and other stimuli
      2. Reasoning With Emotions: The ability to generate, use, and feel emotion as necessary to communicate feelings or employ them in other cognitive processes
      3. Understanding Emotions: The ability to understand emotional information, to understand how emotions combine and progress through relationship transitions, and to appreciate such emotional meanings.
      4. Managing Emotions: The ability to be open to feelings, and  to modulate them in oneself and others so as to promote personal understanding   and growth

Emotionally Intelligent Social Media 

“The emotionally intelligent person…attends to emotion in the path toward growth. Emotional intelligence involves self-regulation appreciative of the fact that temporarily hurt feelings or emotional restraint is often necessary in the service of a greater objective. (Salovey and Mayer 1991)”

At its core Social Media is about human interactions.  However, in the Social Media ecosphere, these interactions occur in short bursts across multiple platforms with potentially devasting consequences for those who are “tone deaf” to their audiences.  The inherent limitations of Social Media make refined Emotional Intelligence devastatingly important, because EI failures make their way around the SM ecosphere in minutes, damaging reputations and shifting customer perceptions–usually in the wrong direction.  Let’s talk about WHY and WHAT you can do to prevent these failures.

The WHY:

  1. Difficulty of “perceiving emotions” 140 characters at a time.  Twitter has 140 characters.  YouTube loses people after about 30 seconds.  Long FB posts do not get read. In the SM space, those trying to provide service, deliver information and otherwise assist customers start at an inherent disadvantage.  Traditionally, a customer service rep in a call center might be  forced to listen to the tirade of an upset customer.  Although unpleasant, at least the rep had a significant amount of “data” and the opportunity to sense what was below the surface of the customer’s emotions.  With SM, there just isn’t that much to read into and the criticality of perception is heightend dramatically.
  2. Propensity for emotional response.  Without direct, face-to-face contact with someone, it is easy to fire off a damaging, unproductive response to a critical or negative post.  Anyone with a teenager has probably seen this effect.  It took center stage nationally with the Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood mess.  The ability to think and then act is critical.
  3. Limited processing power for information.  The reality of our world is we are all in information overload.  Interpreting the academic or business implicatios of vast amounts of data is daunting.  Appreciating the feelings generated by tweets and posts and then understanding the growth of the feelings in those is almost unmanagebale.
  4. We all have our emotional limits.  We live in a high-stress, move-at-lightspeed world.  We get tired.  We get worn down.  Given the right set of circumstances we all have the propensity to snap.


  1. Make openness and transparency the norm.  If you try to hide it online, they will find out.  They will also be mad.
  2. Promote respectful assertiveness.  Pushovers get no respect.  A**holes get no respect.  Find the middle.
  3. Tolerate constructive diagreement. If everybody thinks your product is ugly, respect their opinion.  Then ask them why.  It’s a huge opportunity and they will appreciate being included in the dialogue.
  4. Value flexibility.  Do not compromise your organizational principles.  After that, give your staff the SM flexibility they need to support your customers.  It will make them, and your organization real.

Of course, the key to all of this is finding employees with the right EQ to engage in your SM efforts.  This is no simple task.  However, the time and effort you put into the recruiting process will return many fold in your SM reputation.

5 Ways To Lose Customers via Social Media

Social Media provides a remarkable opportunity to enhance the delivery of customer service. It also provides a means by which to fail on an epic scale. Here are 5 ways to fail using social media to provide service:

  1. Don’t provide 24/7 coverage when your product/service is time sensitive.  Kristina Allen wrote a great post about Fandango’s site crash last summer.  Basically, while the site was down and no one could purchase tickets, Fandango was no where to be found when it counted.  They got pilloried on Twitter and FB.
  2. Don’t respond to negative feedback in Social Media.  Most of us know the story of United Breaks Guitars.  It was clever – and damaging.  United’s response was non-existent and eventually inept. To understand how to respond to negative feedback, see Jason Falls great post.
  3. Threaten, lie, swear, and generally go postal on them.  Paul Christoforo of Ocean Marketing did exactly this.  It was an epic fail.  See the story here.
  4. Involve someone else without direct customer contact first.  Price Chopper’s fail is detailed here.
  5. Fail to disclose your affiliation with the company/organization.  Honda’s Crosstour facebook page was inundated with comments criticizing the new car.  A Honda employee started posting positive feedback, without disclosing his employer.  See the story here.

There is a huge opportunity to provide great customer service using Social Media.  But, there is a huge downside risk if you don’t have the right policies, processes and culture in place.



4 Pillars of Viral Content

According to Visible Measures, the 30-minute documentary about Ugandan leader Joseph Kony was the fastest growing viral video in history, amassing more than 70 million views in just 5 days.  It surpassed Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” video which took a full six days to reach 70 million views.  Both of these videos evoke significant emotional reactions in us as human beings, but so do many other things which do not end up “going viral.”  So, the question is, “What gives content the potential to go viral?”

There are four basic pillars of viral content that we label The Four F’s.  These are: 1) Form; 2) Function; 3) Fidelity; and 4) Fascination.  While it is true that something can hit viral status without all of these, the more you can make sure your content meets these requirements, the more likely you are to see your views, likes and downloads mushroom. Keep Reading…

Great Digital Customer Feedback Process – AT&T Wireless

So, I went to the AT&T store yesterday to buy a new bluetooth earpiece to replace the one I lost (long story, another post).  I was short on time and new I would need something right then.  I picked a Plantronics (highly recommended) and left the store.  About 10 minutes later I received the following text:
Thanks for buying your mobile accessories from Christopher at our AT&T store.  We’ll text you shortly for some feedback.   (SURVEY TEXTS FREE)
Not bad.  Not sure I needed the whole warning thing, but I do appreciate the expectation setting on the cost of participating in case I was not the proud owner of an unlimited text subscription.  Next came the survey:
How satisfied were you with the service provided by Christopher our retail Rep – on a scale from 10 (completely) to 1 (not at all)?
I reply “10″ because Christopher is one of those guys that will be sitting in the executive suite at a large company someday and treated me like a truly valuable customer. Their response:
Happy to hear that.  How likely would you be to recommend AT&T to a friend – on a scale from 10 (definitely) to 1 (definitely not)?
I reply “8″ because the customer service is great, but the reception sucks. Everywhere.  Then I get the next question:
Thank you.  Could you tell us why you gave that rating, or how we could improve your AT&T experience?
I reply: Yes. Your customer service is usually a 10 and you cell coverage a 6.  So I averaged the two.  Their response:
Thanks. One final question: How long did you wait for a Sales Rep to assist you?
a. Less than 5 mins
b. 5-10 mins
c. 10-15 mins
d. 15-20 mins
e. 20 plus mi
My reply is “A.”  Their final response is:
Thanks again for your time and feedback.  Your comments will help us continually improve our stores & service. AT&T.
Three things about this interaction:
1. It engaged. - The survey was delivered quickly and the experience was still relevant.
2. It was (relatively) short. – It could have been shorter, but it was not so long that I quit in the middle.
3. It was (somewhat) personal.  – It included Christopher’s name and mine, but including the actual item purchased would have been a really nice touch
It will be interesting to watch and see how they progress with this.

Great Customer Experience – Entrepreneur Magazine

I absolutely love Entrepreneur Magazine.  I find the stories inspiring and the writing clean and easy.  So, I was perturbed when I tried to pull up the site on my iPhone the other morning.  There were numerous problems including slow pop-up ads (which you had to switch to landscape to close) and a comments section that constantly bounced up and down.  Normally, I don’t have the time or inclination to give feedback, but that morning I was in a “mood” so I fired off the following missive to Entrepreneur’s feedback email:

I love your mag but your site pretty much sucks on the iPhone.  First, the popup ads need to go away.  they are slow and you have to switch to landscape to be able to close them.  Check out CNBC to see how it is done.

Second, the comments section loads poorly and the site bounces up and down.  I left when I couldn’t read the comments.

Again, I’m a big fan, but I’m gonna lose interest if the mobile site is hard work.

And that was that.  I never expected my note to be read, let alone receive a response. Much to my (pleasant) surprise, I received the following response from Dave Pomije, VP of Digital at Entrepreneur Media, about two weeks after my note:


Sorry I haven’t responded sooner.  We just rolled out

Please check it out and let me know what you think.  Soon, it will load by default for all mobile devices.

Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated.


We continued the discourse briefly and I am now a very happy camper and even bigger fan of the magazine.  There were three things that I loved about this experience:

1. Acknowledgement: Dave specifically acknowledged, through his response, that there was a problem.  It was not mine, it was theirs.  His response was not as prompt as I might have hoped, but there was a good reason–they were launching an entire site that addressed my complaint.  Good enough for me.

2. Solution: Dave gave me a solution to my problem. Period.

3. Engagement: Dave invited me to continue the discourse on how well their site is working for digital fans/users.  In addition, he was genuinely interested in my ongoing feedback (not posted here) and engaged me one-on-one.

This not only saved me as a customer/reader, it gave Dave direct access to someone who is a power user and will give them honest feedback.  It even got me to write an entire post dedicated to them.  Well done.


3 Ways Small Business Should Use Pinterest

Pinterest has been growing. Fast.  According to ComScore, Pinterest hit 10 million unique monthly visitors faster than any site ever (via TechCrunch).  That kind of growth should be a boon for small business owners.  Here are 3 ways to use Pinterest for your small business (and a bonus 1 way to not use it):

1. Capture the Essence of Your Business – If you own a restaurant, pin some really good images of your best and most popular dishes as they would sit on the diner’s table, AND post some cool pictures of place in the establishment that diners might not see (i.e. the cool equipment in the kitchen).  If you organize events, pictures of actual events will give people a visual feel for what they can expect from you.

See: Petal Pushers and Four Seasons – Austin

2. Capture the Culture of Your Business – Pictures of your office or store are a must, especially if much of your business is done online.  Also, pictures of your employees at work, will help humanize your business and give people a sense that they are working with real people and not just a voice and a computer.  Even pictures of your town or city engage Pinners on a real level.

See: Premier Jewelers

3. Capture Product and Service Feedback (Marketing Research) – Type the following into your browser and replace “” with your own web site:””.  You’ll probably find out some interesting information on what visitors to your web site find visually interesting.

As with every Social Media channel, the secret is listening and sharing.  Pinterest gives you the opportunity to listen simply by looking at the names of boards where your service/product has been pinned and by seeing how many board followers – “reach” – the pinned item has.  You may also get a sense of the competitive marketplace based on what else is pinned on the boards your product/service shows up on.

Bonus: Do not start throwing up pictures of products on Pinterest.  You’ll seem unorganized and likely appear a bit of a shill.  Plan your efforts with Pinterest just like you would plan any other Social Media effort.  Ready, Fire, Aim won’t work.


Non-Profit Social Media Success – Step 3

Web site?  Check.  Social Media Strategy (and implementation)?  Check.  Now what?

Now you need to consider Web 3.0 — the mobile web.  If you are a power user of your iphone or android phone, much of this may seem a bit elementary.  If not, then it may seem overwhelming.  Either way it is absolutely necessary that you have a mobile strategy and execute to it.  Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2015, mobile browser use will surpass desktop use.  That means that your supporters, donors, voluteers and participants will be online and will expect you to meet them where they are, not vice versa. So, what can you do?  There are 3 basic steps a non-profit can take to make sure they are “appropriately mobile:” Keep Reading…

Non-Profit Social Media Success – Step 2

So you now have your website revamped.  You’ve redesigned your pages.  You’re putting some rocking content out there. And, it’s easy (and maybe even fun) for your supporters to sign-up, donate, etc.  It’s all good.  Where do you go from here?

Now, with your Social Media foundation poured, it’s time to start laying some bricks.  There are a few basic steps you need to take:  Keep Reading...
Keep Reading…

Non-Profit Social Media Success – Step 1

Web sites themselves are not supposed to be “Social Media” per se.  However, a good website is the absolute lynchpin for your success as a non-profit.

A website, by definition is a one-to-many broadcast.  The non-profit decides what information they would like to share with the world, puts it out there and lays out the welcome mat.  But, it’s not quite that easy.  The ROI from using Social Media (the topic of this series) is directly tied to the quality of your website design, the quality of the content you provide and the ease of use for your signup and donation processes–all things provided through your website.

So, what must your website have to make it a successful foundation for your Social Media campaigns?  Three things:  Keep Reading... Keep Reading…

3 Steps to Social Media Success for Non Profits (Series)

Social Media in the non profit world has often been cutting edge (see Komen, CURE International, CARE).  However, like the commercial world, there are many, many non-profits behind the curve (see most of your local charities).  The good news is that social media success is well within reach of the average non-profit without great expense.  Just like the commercial world, though, it requires attention, focus and lots of hard work (see prior post on Social Media and Farming).  Keep Reading... Keep Reading…