We are at the beginning of social commerce. No one has got it right yet and no one will earn millions from it straight away. Much like when e-commerce began, companies are still trying to figure this new commercial channel out. Where does it fit in to to their current commercial model? How do they do it?
Today Lynx launched a social commerce campaign in order to launch it’s new unisex brand on to the UK market. Brands would do well to look at how Lynx have approached this. They have recognised that the currently, Facebook is not the place to do your entire weekly shop. They have set up a commercial campaign that is not designed to compete with its retail sales, but instead, add value to it’s core consumers and start talkability about the product launch.
The key insight here is that Facebook is the place where your brand mavens go to connect with you. These are the biggest fans of the brand. There is a distinctly different commercial paradigm with them, than there is the casual consumer. Here they have used the channel to sell a limited run of the new brand ahead of it being launched into the general market. 100 cans of deodorant to the first 100 people to buy.
It wont make money. It is not about making money at this point. It is about reaching out to this core of consumers and getting them to make a commercial transaction with their favourite brand on a socially connected platform. This campaign is the embryonic beginnings of Lynx’s social commerce strategy.
You might note as well, that they did not get to this point straight away. The page is engaging and is filled with apps and competitions. The vast number of followers and reasonably heavy page engagement show that there is a solid base of social media marketing from which this commercial strategy has been launched.
Good work Lynx and relevant agencies and partners.
Now where is my credit card?
The brand will go unnamed because I fear litigation and you never know, they may be a client some day. They are not the only brand who do it, they weren’t the first and they won’t be the last. What do they do that is so bad? They content dump. They fill my news feed up in one big chunk with all of the stuff that they want to say that week. Flump! Not so much as a “by your leave” , they just pour everything they have down your throat in one big go.
So how does the social media strategy look for that sort of approach?
Brand X – Lazy Ass Social Media Strategy
1. Acquire content from Marketing Department
2. Acquire content from PR department
3. Acquire additional content from the web
4. Put all content on to all social media channels at the same time
5. Wash, Rinse,Repeat
This is such a negative for the brand. Never do this unless there is a specific reason to post in such a heavy manner ( breaking news or product lunch etc) . Post as you would occasionally , regularly and when you and your message are relevant for the ones which you want to consume the message.
Dump on me and I will dump you.
The cold sweat drips down the young marketing executives back. Her worst fear has come true. She thought her post would win the favour of her managers and the senior staff of the company but now it has backfired. Her post which went up a day ago reads, “Hey everyone! We have a special this week on the Indigo, half price to all our Facebook fans! Just quote the code RXBB in store to avail of the offer!” . The first few replies were brilliant. Some thanked the brand. Others gave positives like, “cool” and “nice one” .Then at 1145 pm last night it happened. The complaint. “Indigo’s are rubbish. I had mine a full week and it crashed. Not even worth a quarter price never mind half.Fail.”.
What does this marketing exec do now? Does she delete the post? Does she deal with the query on Facebook? Who can she go to for advice?
The answer to those questions are unique to every company. There is no right or wrong way of approaching it. For some, certain complaints are best left alone or deleted ( it is a rare case but it does happen) . For others they will want a swift resolution to the matter and bring it off Facebook. Others may be in favour of opening up the dialogue on the platform. Whatever the approach, one thing is certain – if you go on social media, make sure you have an integrated plan for dealing with customer complaints and customer service.
Ideally, you should have a social media specialist in your CS team devoted to solving the problems of your customers. They should work within the agreed framework of the CS division and have a dotted line in to the Head of Social Media with reference to tone, standards and process. Each complaint on social should be logged and dealt with in a timely manner. Positive or negative comments form the CS interaction on social should also be logged and used for training purposes.
One thing that isn’t readily done on social media is pro-active customer service. The kind you get when you walk in to a good clothes shop or a car dealership. “How can I help you?” . It is the ultimate preamble to a sale or at the very least a conversation. Brands should look to give themselves the digital equivalent of this greeting. This will come in different forms for different brands and in some cases may not be applicable at all. But the action should be investigated and it might be a good idea to bring the sales manager of the brand into this investigation.
Further to asking your own customers if they need help, what about asking disgruntled customers of your competitors if you can help? This is the ultimate in customer service for me. There are many good social media listening tools on the market at the moment. They will enable you to eavesdrop on any conversation happening about your brand or others. If someone is complaining about a competitors service or offering and no one is listening, why not offer your product or service? Again, this might not be for every brand and there are a myriad of ways in which this could work but this outreach could play an important role in your acquisition strategy.
Customer Service is the sharp end of Marketing. It wipes off the make up and tinsel of advertising and branding and states what the brand really is. Customer Service 1.0 was a one to one experience. Now, in a viral world everyone can see good and bad customer service. Once again, people now have more power over the brand because of this. Get it wrong at your peril.
This is a great study that gives an illustration of where we are now with the adoption and integration of social media. Good learnings about consumer habits and some interesting responses concerning how senior managers within organisations are viewing social media. Most notably only 6% think social media will make a difference to their commercial activities.
“I don’t get Twitter.” . If you were born after 1981, you will have heard this often enough. Most of us gateway-ed into social media via Bebo, Myspace or more commonly Facebook. Twitter is a bit of a leap from these platforms and is used differently. Convincing friends to persevere is one thing, but if the Marketing Director or CEO doesn’t “get it” , you will have trouble convincing the organisation how important twitter could potentially be to them.
I saw this nice little infographic today and thought it would be a nice little card to show these people in case of an “I don’t get Twitter emergency” . If you push the person through the stages shown below, they might just get interested. If they get interested, they should get addicted. If they are addicted, watch how quickly and easily you can role out your social media strategy!
Caution – CEO addiction to Twitter may result in your company failing within three months.
Infographic courtesy of: El rincón de Lombok Design
Dear theartofsocialmedia ,
Please can you fix it for me to have a social media strategy for my small business? I really think I need one and I don’t know where to start.
Mr Small Business Owner
Republic of Bankrupt
I have never received a communication of this type, but if I did, I think I might have a starting place for a small business with social media. I think social media is the great leveller for business marketing and growth. Success in social media marketing is measured primarily in engagement and brand advocacy. Money cannot buy you that. Knowing who you are, who your customer is and the relationship between the two is the key here and anyone can make this connection from Coca Cola to Sam’s Hardware store. So first thing is first, if you are a small business get excited about social media, it could possibly grow your company in ways you never knew or thought possible.
As with the first post on this blog, the beginning of your journey is asking yourself why? Why are you doing this? Look at the Why? post and try to answer the questions. As a small business you hold a massive advantage over the corporate world…you know your customers. Large corporations spend millions trying to constantly understand their customer base, you, on the other hand, can probably tell me all about your top twenty customers off the top of your head. Why use social media? Because primarily, it will activate your relationship with the customers you know and develop them from loyal customers to brand advocates and promoters. Secondly, it will help you develop relationships with the longer tail of customers you have and develop them in to fans of the brand.
This deeper connection with your core customer base is the centre of your strategy. Often businesses enter social media because they think that by posting something, it will get many eyes seeing it and this will be free advertising. They are right for the first few posts, but when your fans realise you are shouting at them rather than adding to their life, watch how little they start sharing your posts or acting on them. That line of thinking is a house built on sand. Your strategy must have good foundations so lets build those foundations.
Foundation 1 – Who Am I? Consider the questions posed in this post about finding your brands voice. Who are you and what do you mean to your customers. If you are a hardware store in a town, you are more than the some total of your inventory. You are everything to do with DIY. You are the experts in repair and mend. Think about the people in your social circle and what they bring to your life. Everyone has a friend who knows more about cars than everyone else and religiously watches Top Gear. That is the person you will always ring when something goes wrong with your car. Well brands can fill these gaps and needs in peoples lives as well. If you are the hardware store you should open yourself up to be the fountain of knowledge for your local area for DIY. Set the brand up as that, “Joe’s Hardware – Middlesborough’s DIY Guru” or something more engaging 😉 . It is a land grab out there to fulfill that role for people, grab it.
Foundation 2 – Now that you know who you are, what do you want to achieve? Set the goals for your social. Not just Likes or followers. Set goals of how many people are engaging with you a week. How many people recommend you a month.Set goals and reassess every quarter. My advice would be in your first year, concentrate on setting goals which relate to making your social channels somewhere where your customer base want to be and actively engage in. The ultimate goal for Year 1 should be a small but highly active community on one or maybe two social channels.
Foundation 3 – Pick your channels. Find out what you want to do and pick the right channel or channels to help you to do that. If Facebook doesn’t seem right, grab the URL for your business and park it for now. Don’t force a channel if it doesn’t seem right to you. My advice is start of engaging with one, learn the platform, build your following, engage here and then, if necessary extend to other channels. Different platforms bring different things, don’t just replicate. Your Twitter channel may well have a completely different function to your Facebook or Youtube. When choosing ask “Why would people want to engage with me here? and What do my customers need or want ont his platform?”.
Foundation 4 – Content. The style and direction of your content is dictated by your findings in Foundation 1. Once you know who you are, then you should know what you are going to say. People get hung up on creating their own content and sure that is nearly always better but it is also not practical. Your content just needs to be good. If you own car garage, you have a wealth of content you can constantly update with. Car videos, funny car crashes, motor racing videos, car maintenance videos etc etc. All of this is what I would expect from my local car garage, the experts in cars. Entertain and inform. Dont just post your latest offers. Be confident, post things people will want to see on their timelines not ads.
With your foundation in place you can go forward and begin the integration of social to your business. Your behaviour will now dictate your success or otherwise with social media. To help you, I have laid out some behaviour rules below –
1. Listen – it’s a conversation, listen to what people are saying. Don’t just search brand mentions, search what your customers are saying, listen to them and step in when you are relevant. Learn to listen with this post.
2. Be Honest – don’t lie.
3. Embrace Social – get in to social media, explore it. It won’t bite.
4. Integrate Social – bring it in to your business. Give it importance to you and your employees.
5. Be Consistant – once you pop, you can’t stop. Social is the biggest sign for your business, if you are on Facebook, there are 800 million potential customers on there, don’t let your social channels drag or become inactive. It is the worst advert for your business.
6. Have Fun
There is an awful lot more to social strategy but this should be enough to get anyone started. After that you have to hire really expensive social media strategist……just email me 🙂
It seems that every brand who have activated a social media strategy nearly all sound the same. They sound like a young, pleasant hipster. Like a kid who has just finished college and is in an interview. Weird that because if you look at the majority of people who are community managing brands they are hipster kids, just out of college, trying to make their way in their first job in an agency. It cracks me up when I see a post from a car manufacturer that begins “Hey guys…” . Come on, is that really the personification of your brand? It is just lazy.
The start point to finding your voice is to determine what the brands personality is. Your brands channels are after all, the personification of your brand. This is the point where your brand manager should lead, rather than the head of PR. Someone in PR has been trained to polish a brand and shine it to the highest degree then present only that front. Brand managers understand that there is a layer of complexity and depth to the brand and are better equipped in general to explore the brand. The more honest your communication is, the more relevant it is to your audience, the more people will actively engage with your brand. If you do a bland PR voice, you will get bland engagement in return.
In my experience the best way to start is to imagine that your brand has manifested itself into an actual person. What does that person look like? Whats their name? What do they like to do? What programmes do they watch on TV? What music do they like? What car do they drive? Political views? Build up a character. Note it all down and refer back to this character constantly. It’s a process that actors use and it helps bring a depth to the personality. The more precise your back story, the more you will get out of it. Remember, you are not creating your target audience, but instead you are creating the person your target audience will engage with.
Investigate this person you have created. Look at how this person would react to the world around him or her. What would they find interesting in the news and what would they say about it. Build out this persona for anyone communicating on behalf of the brand and dictate the style to your community manger/s. This means that there will be a consistency to the communications, even if you change managers a few times or have multiple contributors.
Now, you need to map out how the different parts of your business communicate through this personality prism. Work with the Head of Marketing, the Head of PR, the Head of Customer Service and other interested parties and figure out what the personality sounds like when dealing with each of those sectors. This will mean that you can create interesting and relevant communications for them rather than having it sound like a press release or a complaint resolution. It now sounds genuine. It gives a point of differentiation to the followers, it gives them information in a way that feels more human and conversational. I have found that this inclusive approach within brands prevents arguments further down the line. Keep the relevant people involved and get agreement on your approach.
Ok I have my voice, I have cleared my throat……now what? Get talking. Join in conversations, join in trending topics and arguments. Be controversial, be funny, inform, entertain . Do it all, just be true to your personality plan and be relevant to the audience in hand.
Don’t try to be liked unless that is inherent to your brand personality. The people you like and know in real life are rarely the people that plead to be liked at every stage. Be interesting. Be the personality your target audience will actively want to connect with.
I recommend quarterly reviews of the brand personality. Go back over the communications, look how to improve them. How does the personality grow? Personalities in real life are never static. There is a consistency but they also tend to grow in certain ways, let the brand personality have a bit of growth and movement.
My mother always told me, “personality is more important than looks”. Turns out she was right.
I have just read a very interesting piece by Frank Barry on Social Media Today about charities on social media ( link to full article -http://goo.gl/383L0 ). Seemingly, “over 92% of nonprofit organizations have a presence on at least one social networking site, but most raise very little money through their social activity”.
Their challenges are the normal ones of staffing and resource to create engaging content etc. Many SMEs face a similar dilemma. But like those other businesses, charities must think beyond their traditional fundraising processes to be able to succeed here.
I worked with a charity in Ireland called Trocaire on a campaign that I am still proud of. Instead of shaking the old collection tin at everyone we used social media to help the public understand what Trocaire does, what the actual conditions of people in war torn countries are like. We created a series of videos, made from the point of view of a young African boys mobile phone. We pretended that someone had found the phone and was uploading these videos in an attempt to find him. It was harrowing stuff. It didn’t get a massive reach, but the people it did reach were affected by the videos, they engaged with it and the comments showed that we had achieved our goal – we had people out there talking about Trocaire and the things it did.
That was on Bebo and that was nearly three years ago. Now Facebook has so much more power to do good in the world but how? Give, give, give doesn’t work. Charities should start with education. Their social channels should first and foremost be a font of information about their cause. What are they helping, how are they helping, what needs to be done etc. Pictures and videos of the work that is being done. Don’t just go for the tear jerkers either….funny can be just as powerful. That should be the base of the strategy.
After that, there are many different ways of going forward but I would recommend one approach. Build applications that your members can use to fundraise. Any charity will have its core group of followers. The people who devote time and energy to the charity. These are the people of interest, these are the engines that will make things work in this sphere. So instead of just having these people as Likes, mobilise them and utilise them.
Charities should build applications that help these people recruit and collect on behalf of the charity. Make these applications engaging and fun. Make them be something people will be proud to do and will be even more proud to advocate them to their friends. Make them relevant, maybe its just an application that helps people set up a sponsored fancy dress day in work or a simple app to help people get sponsorship for a fun run.
By using an application on Facebook the charity can also then accrue some CRM data to bolster future fundraising efforts. Charities should look to lean on their core following to help them in this space and in return give that following the necessary tools to help spread the word.
I really hope charities do find some traction on social media. I hope that social media can be an agent for real change for the wealth of good causes out there. Most of all, I hope that social media can take those awful charity muggers of the street…..I hate those guys.