With brands and businesses taking to social media to add to their traditional marketing mix, there are a lot of elements to consider in building your social media strategy. Sure, you've got to consider your content, curated content, tone of voice, audience and online reputation, but there seems to be one hugely important element that many seem to be forgetting. So let me ask you this; what one thing makes a customer feel part of your brand, improves their online and offline experience of your business, almost guarantees repeat business and encourages word of mouth marketing? Well, in my opinion, it's customer service.
I recently reached out to an established UK brand on social media (as I often do) to ask them about their products, social media goals and hopefully begin a dialogue where we could discuss what I can bring to their efforts. Using the usual three-pronged approach of tweet, email website and then telephone call, I usually manage to spark up a conversation and establish a rapport. Not so in this particular case. To date, the tweet has received no answer, the email received no reply and the telephone call got through to an automated service which suggested I email. I attempted the same approach a second and third time, with exactly the same results. It's a familiar story, but it's incredibly frustrating when you think how many messages must go unanswered as a result of these brands not being set up to deliver good customer service online and how many opportunities they miss to delight their customers.
These days many brands field hundreds to thousands of customer service enquiries through their social media channels so I wouldn't expect a reply straightaway. But how long do you think is acceptable to make your customers or potential customers wait to hear from you? As a general rule, we act on behalf of all our clients to respond as soon as they possibly can, in real-time, because it shows they're listening and that they care about their customers. If you can't do it immediately, make sure you at least reply within the same day or set the expectation of when your customers can expect a reply.
As we all know, there's also a lot of spam out there on the internet, clogging up business inboxes, Twitter feeds and Facebook messages. So it's important for brands to be able to quickly differentiate between what is a genuine customer service enquiry and what is not. From the point of view of smaller businesses (like mine) approaching larger businesses through social media, it's therefore incredibly important that your message is honest, authentic and carries a genuine interest in the company you're trying to talk to and their products or services. It also helps considerably if your message doesn't look like a generic email which could have been fired out at a thousand companies in one hit by a robot mass-mailer.
So when you've crafted a potential masterpiece of an introductory message, clearly interested in the business in question, asking questions about their products, why do so many brands fail to reply at all? In my experience, it's simply because they use the channel to broadcast their marketing material and they don't expect to receive speculative replies or enquiries. Some simply don't have the resources to employ someone to watch their newsfeeds all day and reply, in fact I've even been told by the CEO of a digital technology company "I'm not going to employ you to sit on social media all day!" during an interview for the advertised post of Social Media Manager. Perhaps not all day, but how else are you going to know what your customers are saying about you?
And therein lies the problem, many simply do not understand that their online presence should be founded on the same values as their real-world business. In any business, excellent customer service is the foundation for everything else. If your business is retail, then I'd imagine all the staff in your stores are trained specifically to be attentive to customers, answer their enquiries and provide an excellent service in-store. That same level of commitment also has to translate to your online and social media efforts. Your website is just another store, as is your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Tumblr account or whatever other platform you've decided to give your business a presence on. They all need to be staffed the same way and with the same customer service you should be able to pride yourself on.
At Socially-M, we help brands and businesses manage their online presence and ensure that it mirrors their brand values, matches their tone of voice, tells their story and above all else, that it consistently delivers excellent customer service. If you'd like to know more about what we do, or how we could help you, then feel free to get in touch and start that conversation with us.
We're big rugby fans at Socially-M and with only 7 days until the start of Rugby World Cup 2015 we're getting incredibly excited about all the media buzz surrounding it and it's English hosts. England Rugby have always had a great track record with social media and communicating with their fans online, so it's no surprise that their sponsorship deal with O2 has delivered some fantastic social campaigns. Their current #WearTheRose campaign, encourages fans to show off the iconic England Rugby emblem to support the team with the very simple explanation:
"It's a fact that in top level sport, the power of support can be the difference between victory and defeat. This year, you can be that difference. Your support can make the England team bigger and stronger than ever before. So show it. Wear it. Share it. Make them giants. Wear The Rose."
They launched their campaign this week with a short animated film entitled 'Make Them Giants' which at first glimpse many will no doubt assume is aimed at children thanks to it's clean and simple animation style. However, after watching the video you cannot fail to appreciate exactly how clever the creators have been. Just watch it for yourself below, see what you think, how it makes you feel, and we'll tell you on the other side exactly why we think it ticks all the boxes for social media success.
Whether your an England Rugby fan or not, you can't fail to appreciate what they've done here and just how appealing their content is. We love how they've approached the campaign, it ticks every box for a successful social media campaign and we'll tell you why.
By choosing an animated film they've automatically made their message accessible to all age ranges, much like Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks do with their feature animations. This short works on so many levels, that a multitude of viewers will identify with the characters even if previously they couldn't name any of the players featured in it. For those of us who are already fans, the players are instantly recognisable, but we're given a little more than just them in an England shirt. We see the hard-hitting Courtney Lawes as a family man, spending time in the park with his daughter. Mike Brown travelling on public transport before taking his seat in a cinema to watch a quintessentially British film. And Chris Robshaw not as the team captain, but as a man unable to fit in the same house as his partner Camilla Kerslake. Quality social media contact relies on accessibility and being approachable, which this most certainly is.
We already know that visual and video content outperforms any other form of social media post in terms of views and sharing and this video is certainly no exception. By choosing an animated video with a rousing soundtrack, you'd initially be forgiven for thinking you were watching a children's movie and it very much captures the tone of successful television advertising. It has been designed to be used across multiple platforms, and no doubt we'll be seeing it on television, tablets and smartphones throughout the tournament. It's shareable too, which an audience responds to incredibly well and this style of authentic visual-storytelling immediately makes the content instantly engaging.
The video is undeniably engaging, especially for England Rugby fans as it provides a direct relationship between wearing the shirt and what that means to the team for the coming competition. The metaphor of the team growing in stature as more supporters wear the rose also translates directly to the swelling of pride supporters feel when the team performs well. It reinforces the symbiotic relationship between England Rugby and the empathy of their supporters, rarely will you see a sports team or any other organisation so emotionally in tune with their audience as England Rugby are. From a social media standpoint it's an excellent example of knowing what your audience responds to and giving them exactly what they need.
And once you've grabbed your audience's attention, pulled at their heart strings and got them emotionally involved you need something that continues the momentum and makes them feel that they're doing something to be a part of it. The addition of a unique hashtag gives the campaign longevity, encouraging users to share photos and stories as part of a clearly identifiable group. The supporting website with O2 also gives supporters the opportunity to immortalise themselves as cartoon characters in a similar style to the video, with images downloadable in a range of sizes, designed specifically for Facebook and Twitter profiles, header pictures and Instagram posts.
All of which ticks all the boxes for social media success. We expect we'll be seeing a lot more of this campaign in the coming weeks.