Everyone loves social networks, right? It’s redefined the way we communicate and consume information. With so many with Twitter or/and Facebook accounts it was inevitable that cash hungry companies would look to social networks as a new marketing channel.
At Bronco we still see prospective clients approach on the basis that having a website is the done thing. Social Media is suffering the same fate as companies desire the benefits of social media but often fail to implement an effective strategy.
At Bronco we'll admit our own social strategy is lacking, mainly because we don't have the time to dedicate to social networking. Instead we use it as a soapbox for articles like this or for other company information. If people happen to mention us then we get notified and then respond if necessary.
Many companies also adopt a soapbox approach, focusing more on follower numbers than on the quality of what they distribute on social networks. Other companies do add value to their feeds by including offers and promotion but mostly this just improves follower counts rather than improve the perception of the company.
The Right Way
The advantage social media has over many other forms of electronic communication is the ease and speed of response. It's this idea of communication that companies sometimes forget. Social media like Twitter and Facebook aren't about giving a marketing department another means to publicise the company but to encourage two (or more) way communication between a business and their customers.
Here's how some companies have used social media the right way:
One of the great things about Twitter is that if the company is willing it can be a great way to run a helpdesk. Opening a Twitter account as a helpdesk removes many of the issues people have with traditional helpdesks such as cost, hold times and overseas outsourcing.
@Tunde24_7 saw @O2 as the best way to get a response to a complaint he had:
@tunde24_7 Have you tried to reset the router ting fam, so mans can use the wifi and dat?— O2 in the UK (@O2) October 9, 2012
O2 responded, as you would expect any company, to try and solve Tunde's issue and thus not lose custom. But even Tunde couldn't have expected O2 to mimic his use of street slang in their responses.
It's possible such mimicry could have offended this individual but in being reported to a wider audience it has shown O2 is not afraid to show some personality. Instead of carrying a stiff and corporate tone O2 have engaged Tunde in conversation much like he might expect from his own social circle.
Richard Neill's complaint to Bodyform was more about putting a humorous slant on what he saw as an inconsistency between Bodyform's TV adverts and his experience of his own girlfriend's "Time of the Month".
Bodyform was similarly humorous as they created a video responding to Richard's concerns. The attention to detail shown, as to even include non-verbal jokes such as the blue fluid shows Bodyform saw an opportunity to engage wider audience than just Richard. Many other companies would simply have ignored Richard's comment thinking it childish or not worthy of an actual response.
In responding to one customer and engaging many more Bodyforms video has "gone viral" a goal many companies try to attain but few can, as knowing how viral something could become is impossible to judge.
But some companies mess up and miss the opportunities that are presented by being unable to look beyond old habits. This is what recently happened to Thomas Cook.
Writing on Facebook a cheeky individual by the name of Thomas Cook asked his business namesake for a weekend in Paris as compensation for the distress he has endured and the free marketing he has provided by the two having the same name.
Thomas Cook for whatever reason said no. But Lowcostholidays, able to see the opportunity, offered Thomas not only the holiday he'd asked for but extended it to a week. The result is Thomas Cook the person gets a holiday, Thomas Cook the business loses business by appearing too inflexible and corporate and Lowcostholidays gain custom by being seen as a more friendly and approachable company.
For the price of a week's holiday in Paris Lowcostholidays has likely attracted more future business than it could hope to achieve with the same marketing spend elsewhere. Not only have they increased the company's awareness short term but they have improved the public's perception of their brand long term.
Read the original posts and see Thomas' holiday snap here.
It's all about engagement
Social Media isn't about who can talk the loudest and to the most people; it's about engaging with those who are most interested. By fostering and maintaining relationships with fewer people they are more likely to become brand loyal and ambassadors for your company. This means that they will promote your business through word of mouth and social networks because they have had such good experiences with your company.
This goodwill expands and will gain a company more followers and more customers by appearing to be a company whose focuses on their customers and not just profitability.