Social Media as a Service

I get a lot of people telling me how I can make my employer more successful if we would just learn to market on Social Media – especially on Twitter.

They have stuff to sell, and they want me to buy.  We all need to make a living.

I’m not focused on making money from Social Media – I am focused on saving money WITH Social media.

Every customer we help in near real time is a customer that that is exposed to Fanatical Support® – often for the first time.

And that support is important.  It is timely.  It is genuine – it is driven by an engineer with a desire to help a customer win.

Near real time support adds a lot of value because it both maintains your brand reputation and reinforces your core commitment to customers – that you are a partner, not just a vendor.  That you win and lose together.  That they are not just a number.

So we focus a lot on how Social Media can help us help customers win. That is our strategy.  Please steal it – emulate it – make all my experiences with brands better by making them more engaged with me.

But put real people behind those accounts and hashtags – people that are empowered to make a difference, and people that really give a damn.

That isn’t Marketing.

That is Social Media as a Service.


“I Will Never Hire a ‘Social Media Expert,’ and Neither Should You”

Below is an email I shared not only with my teams, but with my Senior Leadership.

I manage Social Media.  But I am just a customer care guy that knows Social Media tools.

That does not make me a “Social Media Maven/Expert/Guru, etc” – it makes me customer guy with more tools than I had a decade ago.  Simple.


  • It’s About Transparency. It’s about not lying to your customers, and thinking that a good Twitter apology will suffice when you’re caught. It won’t, and you’ll lose.
  • It’s About Relevance. It’s not about tweeting every single time your company offers 10% off on a thingamabob. It’s about finding out where your customers actually are, and going after them there.
  • Finally, it’s about knowing your customer, and making sure your customer thinks of you first.

The post I reference – and it is good reading.

I am very pleased to report that Rackspace has no “Social Media Experts”.  We have Rackers that care for customers and know how to use various tools. We are not, and will never become the tools.

Why I wish Amazon Web Services the best

A couple years ago, ServInt – a “competitor” to my employer wrote this blog post:

Why ServInt Stands Beside Rackspace and You Should Too

I sent the author of that post an email and soon found myself developing a great relationship with the author – Reed Caldwell, the CEO of ServInt. Yes, some could say we compete – we are in the same business – but there is a LOT of business in this space, and there are many ways to differentiate yourself so you serve different segments.  ServInt and Rackspace have some overlap. Not a lot. Not enough that I feel either of us sees the other as “the enemy”. In fact, we’ve become online friends. Eventually we will meet in person, and I believe we will become better friends.

Today I tip my hat to Amazon Web Services – much as Reed tipped his hat to us years ago. We don’t “win more” when our competitors struggle. We “win more” when the entire industry wins more.

I have a great deal of respect for AWS. I have met Werner Vogels several times and think he is an amazingly humble, kind, and brilliant man. The type of man I cannot hope fails and that is working for a company I still do a lot of business with (just not in Cloud computing!).

Amazon will recover from this, and they will do so quickly. And customers everywhere will learn more about geographic redundancy – at least enough to investigate it and discover the cost/complexity and make an informed decision on what is right for their business.

And the Cloud will get stronger. Every failure teaches us more. Every failure makes us stronger and our customers better informed. As an industry.

To my friends at AWS – hang in there.  This too shall pass and tomorrow will be a brighter day – for all of us, and for all of our customers.




“I know when to give away a few daisies to sell a dozen roses.”

This was the title of a Twitter update I posted earlier this morning. And I included the fact that there was a story behind this tweet.

And here is the rest of the story…

I sent an email to our Chairman tonight – Graham Weston, who I respect a great deal.

Here is part of what I told him:

What I just really, honestly love about this company – I
feel completely comfortable putting my personal “brand” on the line.
I am completely comfortable telling companies that if we screw up, I
will make it right for them. I do NOT promise what Rackspace will do.
I promise them what *I* will do – and I know Rackspace will have my

I am not sure many companies get how empowering that is – that I trust
my employer enough to give my customers my personal guarantee –
because I know my company has my back.

I’ve spent two + years talking to some of the best customer support
companies on the planet – some of the largest high profile social
media adopters – and none of my peers feel that absolute sense of “my
back is covered”. It is extremely empowering and adds a level of
authenticity to what we do that we could not have planned for – or built a
program around. It is what I know of us as a company (much because I was a customer for so long) – the trust I have earned, and my knowledge of the business. I am not going to give away the farm. I am running a for-profit business. But I know when to give away a few daisies to sell a dozen roses.

This is NOT normal with the other companies I am dealing with. I think we are doing something pretty unique here – and I really appreciate it. Mostly I appreciate not having to get permission to do what is right. I am trusted to do what is right.

And empowered.

And that is very unusual. More unusual than we think, I think.

So I want to dig deeper into that, and find out how what we are doing works, and how we can extend it, and how we can even teach it to others – because we are fundamentally based on giving knowledge back. Be that OpenStack, or what we are learning in Social Media.

Knowledge is more fun when it is shared.

We love startups

With all of the frenzy of #SXSW I didn’t ever share this video with you. Love what we are doing with and for startups.  Love that Rackspace trusts me with stuff like this – because it is really important stuff.

Having Dave McClure on the same video is just golden – anyone that knows us both knows we share a lot of the same fucking quirks.  Like using bad language inappropriately 🙂