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Posts Tagged ‘money’

Research: Use of Twitter in Customer Service Increasing

When I’m asked to explain the allure of Twitter, and why someone would want to be a user, I always say the same thing: Twitter is exactly what you want it to be.

For individuals, that can be a lot of different things. But for businesses, over time many have  come to realize that what they want Twitter to be for them is a customer feedback tool.

That interest goes both ways, as new research by eMarketer shows that more Twitter users are wanting businesses to be there to answer their questions when tweeted at.

Users indicated that more responsive brands would benefit from greater loyalty and purchasing. Almost 60% of respondents said they would be more likely to follow a brand that answered them, and 64% said they would be more likely to make a purchase from that brand.

However getting to the point where businesses are freely interacting with customers can often require the business to undergo significant cultural changes. Employees whose job it is to interact with customer complaints and answer questions via e-mail or over the phone, must also be given the power to do so via platforms such as Twitter.

For an example, read through this post on the SmartBlog on Social Media about Delta Airlines’ approach to social media.

Delta trained all of its employees with an emphasis on “Twitter Watch.” It was the idea that any time a Twitter agent saw a chance for an airport employee to help out, they would. Responding to offline issues — such as an unmanned desk in an airport — by using Twitter made Delta more accountable to their customers both online and in real life.

This approach is paying off. For evidence of that, look no further than @DeltaAssist, with just under 25,000 followers. The profile’s bio invites feedback and questions: “We’re listening around the clock, 7 days a week. We try to answer all tweets but if you require a response pls visit or call 800-221-1212.”

This applies across all businesses, including news organizations. A news organization could use Twitter as a customer service tool for interacting with subscribers to the print and online products, or for people who use news apps. It has the potential to streamline at least a portion of the customer service process.

If you open your business up to taking questions and handling customer issues via Twitter, chances are that you will get customers wanting to interact with your business that way.

In order for that to happen, businesses must hand over the reigns to their customer support staff, and give them the ability to interact with customers as they always have, just in a new way.

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New York Times‘ New Paywall Vs. WSJ, Newsday paywall coming to a browser near you.

Today, The New York Times announced details of its new paywall, which hits Canada today and everyone else March 28. Print subscribers will get access with their subscription, but for the rest of the online community, perusing the Grey Lady’s content could cost you if you’re a regular reader (i.e. more than 20 stories per month).

There are, of course, workarounds and ways to game a paywall system, and they will be working out the kinks. (This isn’t, after all,’s first foray into charging for online access). But on first glance, it appears the NYT is taking a middle of the road approach that will allow the casual reader to surf in and read their content without disruption, while gaining revenue from the daily and heavy readers who stick around. Whether this renewed attempt at a paywall works and actually succeeds at convincing people to change their mood about paying for online content or not will be watched closely as more papers and chains nationwide look for ways to recover their news-producing costs.

Read on to see how this new paywall stacks up to two other large newspapers with paywalls in place, the Wall Street Journal and Newsday.

To see that spreadsheet full size, click here. Or read the same information below.

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5 sites to 'follow the money' in politics

by Ethan Klapper

With the midterm elections just around the corner, here are some great resources for journalists who cover government and politics to track campaign finance, lobbying and related information.

1. Federal Election Commission

It might not be the prettiest site, but the campaign finance data you see somewhere else on the Web likely originates here. This site is useful because of the sheer amount of data dumps it offers from its disclosure data catalog. Seven sets of data are offered here, ranging from “Lobbyist/Registrant Committee Statement of Organization” to “Administrative Fines.” Of course, you’ll also find “Candidate Summary” which contains general financial information about candidates.

2. Influence Explorer

A project of the Sunlight Foundation, Influence Explorer crunches the FEC data and makes it digestible for the average user. It displays a number of attractive, colorful graphs detailing the source of a politician’s political contributions. Users can also sort by company, industry and also look at lobbying information.

3. OpenSecrets

While not as attractive as Influence Explorer, OpenSecrets offers more features. With OpenSecrets, you’re able to track where members of certain congressional committee receive their donations, by industry. The site also features a lobbying disclosure database and information about political action committees. It also tells you, by cycle, who ran the most and least expensive campaigns. OpenSecrets is a project of the Center for Responsive Politics.

4. Follow The Money

While FEC data is useful for those seeking federal office (House, Senate, presidency), it does not exist for candidates seeking state or local elective office. Follow The Money, a project of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, aggregates the campaign finance data from local jurisdictions across the country and presents it in an easy to use format. It also offers a handy API and some widgets.

5. LegiStorm

Journalists love this site, while Capitol Hill staffers notoriously hate it. Why? With LegiStorm, you can look up the salary of everyone who works on Capitol Hill, from the staff assistant to a first term congressman to the chief of staff to a powerful senator. Financial disclosure forms for senators, members of congress and staff are available. In another database, you can search foreign trips that were funded by private organizations. Even more databases have information about lobbying and foreign gifts. LegiStorm is a for profit website.

The sites here offer lots of information useful to both application developers and journalists on deadline. What’s your favorite site? Please share in the comments.