How to Explain the Cloud During Small Talk

If you work in technology, you've probably come across the task of attempting to explain what your company does to your friends, family, and even random people you make small talk with at a party. There's one question in particular you've probably come across: "What is the cloud?" So, how DO you explain the cloud

Small talk is inevitable when it comes to meeting people and building rapport. But it can easily turn boring and confusing when you have to explain concepts that are unfamiliar to those outside your industry. Being able to articulate those concepts so the other person can quickly and easily grasp them goes a long way in keeping them engaged and connecting with them. One such concept I have run into trouble with during my small talk conversations with people outside the technology industry has been The Cloud.

But first, some background.

I am fortunate enough to work in the marketing department at Salesforce, and that means I've been able to collect a variety of hoodies, shirts, and other apparel covered in Salesforce logos and branding. I am also grateful that my company has allowed me to work remotely, which allows me flexibility in what I wear. So, I spend most of my days as a walking billboard (hey, our swag is really comfortable and yeah, I'm proud to represent Salesforce).

Occasionally I'll leave the confines of my home office to grab some food or fresh air, and I'll strike up conversations with others because I'm social or desperate for human interaction (or both). And many times it has gone something like this:

Person Not Familiar With Technology: Hey! What's that on your shirt?
Me: Oh, it's a lightning bolt - it represents the new UI for our product. I work at Salesforce.
Person: What is Salesforce?
Me: We're a company that helps businesses connect to their customers.
Person: How do you do that?
Me: Well, we're a cloud-based CRM system that organizes your customer data.
Person: ...I've heard of the cloud but don't really understand it. And what's CRM?
Me: Um... well the cloud is a network of servers...

And then I stumble through a confusing explanation usually involving computers, databases, SaaS models, the internet, security, and products. But that was getting old and I was always slightly embarrassed that I couldn't do a better job communicating, so I decided NO MORE. I've been researching many definitions, and while you can go into lengthy explanations filled with industry jargon (not conducive for enjoyable small talk), I wanted to create a quick, easy answer that anyone could relate to and understand, even if they don't have a great understanding of technology. Here are my new answers, as tested on my family and friends:

What is the Cloud?

The cloud is like a storage facility within the internet. Instead of boxes, you can store software or information and access it anywhere you have an internet connection. The reason this is a big deal is previously you could only access information stored locally (or in one place).

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. A CRM system allows you to store information about your customers to make it easier for your employees to sell, service, or market to them.

Again, this is just a super high-level (cloud-level?) explanation so whoever you're talking to can get the basic idea. If they want to dive deeper, you will probably have start to using industry terms and more technical explanations. If all else fails, just make a beeline for the bar and grab another drink to get you through all the small talk.

3 Important Lessons of Social Customer Service on Twitter From 2016

Another day, another fire to put out.

Working in customer service isn't easy, and working in social customer service is its own unique challenge. Not only are you dealing with angry customers, you're dealing with them in a very public forum. With service becoming a key differentiator for companies and consumers having increasingly high expectations, it's more important than ever to provide better customer experiences.

Every year, companies must put customers first, and this year was no exception. Here are a few lessons from 2016 to help you prepare and improve your customer service on Twitter for 2017:

1. Respond to everyone (or at least try to).

70% of surveyed Twitter users expect a response from brands they reach out to on Twitter. This year, one study found Nike responded to 96% of all customer service inquiries on Twitter - an impressive feat for a global brand with over 6.7 million followers! It's no news that social media has become a channel for consumers to voice their complaints or ask for help, but today's users expect your company to be on social and respond back to them. Leave no stone unturned.

2. Respond fast (especially to complaints).

Not only do consumers expect you to respond to them, they expect you to respond to them fast. 71% of Twitter users expect a brand to respond to their query within an hour. Jet Blue is a good example of a brand that responds to its customers in a timely manner - sometimes within 10 minutes of the complaint being posted!

3. Climb aboard the chatbot train.

Chatbots are becoming the future of social customer service. Just recently, Twitter started rolling out customer service chatbots for businesses. Chatbots help take the pressure off service teams by engaging with consumers through automated messages. As Artificial Intelligence continues to improve, we can expect to see more of these chatbots being used by companies to help solve customer issues. Don't be a laggard and pay attention to this trend.

Just remember - happy customers, happy life. Good luck in 2017!

8 Ways to Make Your Facebook Live Stream a Success for Your Business Page

In case you haven’t noticed, Facebook is betting big on live streaming. Released in April, it’s already become a powerful tool for sharing experiences—and people are watching.

At first glance, it seems like something that might separate business from pleasure. People are using it on their personal accounts— now you don't have to just look at picture's of your friend's food, you can't watch them eat it, live! But there's plenty of reasons businesses should be live streaming, as well.

Facebook is changing its algorithm again to give priority to family/friends posts—meaning brands that struggle with reaching audiences organically might see their numbers drop even lower. But here's how they can recover: While you are broadcasting with Facebook Live, your post gets priority and is pinned to the top of viewers’ news feeds, increasing your reach. Our top Facebook Live stream got nearly 15,000 views!

We know the average person has an 8-second attention span when watching traditional videos (yes, that’s less than a goldfish, which ends at nine seconds). Yet when it comes to watching live streaming videos, viewers are, surprisingly, watching 20-minute live streams. We're guessing that's because it has the same appeal as reality tv—the story is seemingly unscripted. 

Consider this a great new tool to get your message out to a captivated audience.

Speaking of attention spans, you made it this far into the post, so now we're going to reward you with some tips on how to shoot a  live stream. Having done a few of them myself, here are my top tips:

If you have more than one person in the screen, make sure they all fit!

Facebook Live broadcasts as a square. Set it up ahead of time (but don’t go live) and view how the shot looks.

Choose a quiet location if possible, and use a microphone to capture sound.

You’re shooting this from your phone, so it will feel low-production (that’s okay, and is to be expected). But, you still want your viewers to hear what you’re saying. To improve sound quality, find a quiet space, speak loudly, and/or use a condenser mic.

Got an incoming call while filming? Don’t panic—just hit decline!

NOT NOW MOM. When the phone rings while your in mid-broadcast, hit "decline." Better yet, put your phone on vibrate or silent beforehand so you don’t have your DMX ringtone awkwardly captured in the background.

Type your copy ahead of time (but know you can always go back and edit later).

Make things easier on yourself. Type up your copy ahead of time in an email or notes app. Include any links, emojis, or CTAs, “copy all”, and then paste when prompted for your live stream text. If you catch an error later, or want to change anything, Facebook allows you to go back and edit the post.

Prep your on-screen talent (how to open, talking points, what to do if they mess up).

If you have someone speaking on your live stream, it’s a good idea to prep them with some talking points (give a brief intro about yourself, talk about these things, end with this call-to-action). Remind them that they will be live, which means if they mess up they can't drop F-bombs and then ask to start over.

Use tools to help with shaky camera syndrome.

Sometimes it’s hard to hold your phone steady. It’s not a big deal, but if you want it to look a little more polished, invest in a tripod.

Horizontal or Vertical? It doesn’t matter!

Horizontal or vertical, it will show up correctly, as a square in your feed. Still feeling apprehensive about going horizontal? Test it out on a dummy account.

Promote it after!

Do some promotion to maximize your viewership. After you broadcast, the video lives forever (unlike Periscope), so you can promote it again afterwards to increase views and sharing. Yay repurposing content!

Now go forth, and go live.

Want to get more tips on how to win with social media? Get our free e-book #Winning at Social: 4 Steps to Enhance Your Social Media Strategy.

Share the Salesforce Love with Our Customizable Valentines!

Share the Salesforce love. We’ve brought back #SalesforceValentines - our favorite cloud pick-up lines penned by our fabulous Salesforce MVPs.

This year to make them extra fun, we made the “To” and “From” fields customizable - just click next to them on the card, type away, and tweet them to friends, coworkers, and your Salesforce admin!

Don't forget to add their Twitter handle in the message!

How to Create Your Social Media Strategy in 4 Easy Steps

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” - Paul J. Meyer

Creating and executing a successful social media strategy takes effort. It can be a little daunting starting from the beginning, but I’ve laid out a few steps (complete with thought-provoking questions) to help you get the ball rolling! Whether you’re just starting out on social media or giving your current strategy a refresh, these will help you form a plan and set you up for success:

1. Determine your audience.

This is Marketing 101 and you probably already know this info. Who is your audience? What are their demographics? This will be the foundation of your strategy.

2. Decide on channels.

Based off your target audience, determine the appropriate channels to reach them! Every channel has a unique audience and unique purpose. For example, if your target market is professionals and you have content geared towards business advice, focus on LinkedIn. If you have a younger audience that responds well to visuals, focus on Instagram. Don’t use the same strategy for every channel! Also, don’t try to be on every channel at once. It’s better to get started and do great on a few platforms, than to do poorly on all of them.

3. Come up with a posting strategy.

How often will you post to each channel? What days? What time of day? What type of content? What’s the tone of your voice? Much of this will depend on your audience. Try testing different times of day, weekends, and different content types to find the right mix!

4. Create an execution plan.

Who will be in charge of running social media? What tools will allow them to effectively do their job? Tip: Social Studio allows you to schedule posts, monitor conversations, and create reports!

Excited and jumping for more? Enhance your new social media strategy by downloading #Winning at Social!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Social at Salesforce

There’s a lot more to social media strategy than just posting to Facebook and Twitter. Our lean, mean team of three runs our corporate social media channels, and we want to share with you some interesting stats, strategies, and insights that will hopefully get you thinking about social media in a different light. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about social media at Salesforce:

1. We post cute stuff for a reason.​

Fun posts → Higher engagement

​Higher engagement → More of our content gets seen

​When people engage with a cute post, it makes it more likely that when we follow up with a meatier post (e.g. an e-book), more people will see it—which means we’re more likely to reach and engage new prospects.

2. Our LinkedIn page drives the most traffic.

​Each of our posts on LinkedIn gets more clicks than posts on our other organic social channels.

​It makes sense. ​LinkedIn audience: professionals. Our audience: professionals. It’s a match made in heaven.

​Food for thought: Not every social media channel is created equal. Different audiences are on different networks, and people use each network differently.

3. We host Twitter chats! Join us at #salesforcechat.

​How it works: ​Twitter chats are real-time Q&A events. A host tweets out questions, people reply back with their answers. All parties use the chat hashtag so everyone can see the conversation and engage with each other.

Why we do it: To engage our audience, reach new audiences, and drive traffic.

4. We monitor thousands of mentions about Salesforce on Twitter.

During Dreamforce, we get 6X our average daily mentions.

​​Thanks to Social Studio, we’re able to handle the high volume of mentions and also engage with users, answer questions, and help customers.

5. We have a Social Ambassador Program!

Our Social Ambassador Program enables our employees to share the content we produce (including blog posts like this!) with their own personal social networks. According to a report by Forrester Research, 70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising. That’s why our employees are one of our greatest assets.

Our program empowers our employees to increase the reach of our brand story — through easy access to shareable content.


Want to learn more about social media? Check out our e-book #Winning at Social: 4 Steps to Enhance Your Social Media Strategy.