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Archive for the tag “social media”

Social Media Marketing at The Grammys

I like watching major events with social media close at hand. It provides a much more immersive experience than watching alone, or with a couple of other people. It’s great to see what other people are saying, to see what’s going on behind the scenes, and most importantly (and fun!), to participate in the conversation.

As we know, shared experiences are a powerful method of making a connection. Personal connections based on shared values or experiences are a great way to make friends. Brands know this. They want to be your friend. Instead of “buy my product”, brands know they do much better saying, “hey we think that was cool too!”

Building trust is key to building a brand.

Naturally, since social media brings many people together over major events like the Grammys, brands want to be there too, sharing the experience and making a connection. They show up in droves, some making an impression, some making enemies.

pharrell-hat-590x331Anyone who watched the Grammys last night while keeping twitter open knows well what the “meme” of the night was. The biggest social media story wasn’t the Beatles semi-reunion, it wasn’t the mass wedding, it wasn’t Taylor Swift’s whiplash, nor Lorde’s “movements”. All those moments got traction, but the big story of the night was Pharrell’s hat. Inspiring non-stop conversation throughout the show, and at least a half dozen parody twitter accounts, Pharrell’s unique headwear was the darling of Twitter all night long. So much so that when Pharrell changed chapeaus for a performance, Huffington Post Style was moved to tweet:

When events such as the Grammys happen, or the Superbowl, Oscars, SAG Awards or even the Tonys, social media teams assemble in “war rooms”. They monitor the TV feed, the news media, and social media, waiting for that perfect opportunity. Oreo is famous for doing this during last year’s Super Bowl, when there was a short power interruption at the stadium.

It was groundbreaking use of social media, at the time. It made headlines, and blew the proverbial doors off livetweeting. Today such a tweet would be viewed as self-serving and “corporate”.  Now everyone tweets like that, and the real groundbreakers are the ones who make a more personal connection. The successful teams share rather than shout.

Let’s look at a couple of examples from last night.

One credit card company, which shall remain nameless, put forward a big effort, appending the #GRAMMYs hashtag to its usual mindless marketing tweets, in the vain hope of hijacking a few readers.

Delta Airlines had a team in place, graphic designers and all, to respond to big moments. They missed the boat on most of them, and instead posted carefully crafted Delta ads such as this:

180 RTs on that particular tweet, plus a few offended Beatles fans. Not a good effort.

Gain laundry detergent was closer to the mark with this one:

Over 8000 RTs, but still, photoshopping the story-of-the-moment onto your product isn’t a best-effort situation. It felt insincere and contrived. Especially since they paid for it to be a “promoted” tweet, which put it on a lot of extra timelines. Trying to interact with the parody account rather than Pharrell himself was also a weak choice.

The one that really caught my attention, and the attention of marketers worldwide, was a simple off-the-cuff tweet from a fast food chain. Someone noticed that Pharrell’s hat resembled the stylized hat in the Arby’s logo. Arby’s was quick to respond, with a sincere and simple tweet:

Slam dunk. It made a connection, with 75k RTs and 41k favs so far. Arby’s, with one simple tweet, beat the teams of graphic designers. Even Pharrell himself responded:

Adweek called it “The Tweet Of The Night!

Even marketing giant Pepsi conceded:

Hyundai too:

Sometimes, simple is best. Once you start concentrating on making a friend instead of selling something, you’ll sell way more somethings.

UPDATE: I happened across the Twitter profile of Josh Martin, Social Media Manager at Arby’s. Seems he was the Arby’s tweeter in question, and is taking some well earned bows over here.

Justine Sacco: An angle you haven’t thought of yet.

Everyone’s heard of the curious case of Justine Sacco. The communications professional who was apparently born without an internal filter. The woman who tweeted what has been called, “The Worst Tweet Of All Time“. I’m not sure if it was the worst of all time, but it is likely in the top 10.

It really was the perfect storm of internet rage. The tweet went out just before Sacco went wheels-up on a long Christmas flight to Africa. The rage was immediate, but since she was at 45,000 feet enjoying packaged cookies, limited legroom, and carefully screened movies and television, she did not have the opportunity to respond. She didn’t have the opportunity to re-think her tweet, and delete it. She didn’t have the opportunity to apologize for her apparent lapse in sanity.mob

The fallout was predictable. The longer she didn’t respond, the angrier the hive mind of the internet became. In one thoughtfully written article, the folks at Buzzfeed were accused of fanning the flames even further, even dumping gas on said flames. The pitchfork squads formed in dark corners of the internet, and they marched on Sacco’s employer, typing as fast as they could, hashtagged placards waving wildly.

Poor Justine Sacco got off the plane 12 hours later, and did something she probably still regrets. She turned on her phone. She discovered that she was the most hated woman in the world, and that her employer had publicly fired her while she was on her fifth episode of “Big Bang Theory”.

Sacco made a very bad decision, and paid a large price. However, the mob mentality that formed around this incident is really the scary part of the story. The fact that her employer knee-jerked, succumbed to the mob, and canned her without discussion, is a sad comment indeed.

The Sacco case has been dissected ad nauseum since Christmas. Analysis is plentiful. Social media tips about personal branding have flourished.

I have but one question: Do you think Justine Sacco would still have her job if her twitter bio had included a disclaimer reminding everyone that “tweets are my own!”, or “views do not reflect those of my employer!”.

Of course she wouldn’t. Her life would still be in ruins.

Your views absolutely do reflect on your employer, disclaimer or no.

People who still put these useless disclaimers in social media profiles thinking it gives them some sort of license are, to put it mildly, fooling themselves. These disclaimers have no legal force, look silly, and are, most importantly, wrong. Social media disclaimers are the present-day equivalent of the old Facebook “post this status to protect your privacy” chain letters.

Your views, your actions, your tweets, all reflect on people, brands, and companies that choose to be associated with you. Or hire you. Justine Sacco learned that in the worst way possible.

Twitter’s Customer Service Revolution

Let’s start today’s entry with a little story, shall we?

Last week I received a new debit card in the mail. A perfectly routine and normal thing that everyone experiences once in a while. Mine, however, had a small error in the printing. Not a big deal, but it was my name, and when shopping online, I would have to enter my name wrong in order for the data to match that which had been erroneously printed on my card. A minor inconvenience, and I somewhat naively assumed the solution would be just as minor.

First thing I did was call the toll-free customer service number on my card. I explained the issue to the agent. He, naturally, assumed that an error of this sort was not possible. I managed to persuade him that it was indeed a problem, and that it needed to be fixed. He told me that he couldn’t help me, and that I would have to go into a branch.

To the branch I went, and explained the situation again. Again, disbelief was expressed that this particular error could occur in the first place. The staff finally got it, and patiently explained that there was nothing they could do about it, and that I would have to call the toll-free customer service number. “But wait”, said I. “I’ve just done that, and they sent me here”. “Sorry”, said the teller, “all I can do is call that number myself”. She kindly offered me the use of a phone in the branch to contact the customer service line once again. I sat in the branch and waited 15 minutes on hold before giving up and going about my day. I resolved to call the next morning when wait times would be shorter.

The next morning, I had the much better idea to tweet my troubles.

@(bank) new debit card arrived, my name is wrong. 1-800 says branch can help, but branch says it’s 1-800. Help?

A response was almost immediate, inviting me to DM some details. A brief conversation in DM followed, while I explained the situation. The Twitter CSR told me that yes indeed, the branch was the solution. I explained, while rolling my eyes, that I had been to the branch and they couldn’t help me. “Which branch and who did you speak with?” was the encouraging reply.

Then a remarkable thing happened. My cell phone rang. It was the manager from the branch I had been to the night before. I had not provided any account info to the Twitter CSR, but they had tracked me down. Off I went to the branch, where I was greeted personally by the Branch Manager. With a few quick keystrokes, my name was restored to what it really is, and a new debit card was dispatched from head office.

Sitting quietly in the corner was the teller from the previous night, looking very sheepish indeed.

The whole episode struck me as particularly remarkable. It would appear that my bank has the most empowered and and engaged customer service agents monitoring social media. Why?

It’s public.

That’s the silver bullet of customer service via social media. Everything you say about a business is on the public record for all to see. Companies and brands want to make sure their online reputation is the best it can possibly be. Smart businesses engage quickly, resolve issues promptly, and make sure they are seen doing just that.

Now some tips for business, and some for consumers as well:

For business:

  • Be available via social media, and monitor your channels. People are talking about your brand whether you are there or not
  • Realize that you cannot control what people say about your brand
  • Monitor related search terms so you can proactively respond to issues involving you that haven’t been brought to your attention
  • Respond promptly to complaints
  • Once contact is established, take the conversation private, via DM, email, or telephone
  • Solve the issue as quickly as you can
  • When there is a resolution, follow up with the complainant.
  • For huge bonus social media street-cred, follow up again a few days later, publicly. “Hi @123, just checking in to see if everything is still OK!”

I read a blog post this morning where a major hotel chain (Novotel) appears to be actively discouraging customers to complain on social media. It was a pretty shocking read, almost to the point of scolding the author who had complained to the front desk, to no avail, and then tweeted about the problem. The chain did not respond for days, and then admonished the author for not letting the front desk know. This kind of customer service is incredibly damaging to a brand. See tip #1 above. The conversation is taking place with or without you. Best to be a part of it.

Social Media Tips For Consumers:

  • Find the correct Twitter account to complain to – Some brands have several
  • State your problem clearly, without editorializing
  • Ranting, raving, insulting, swearing, or generally being abusive will work against you. You won’t get what you want this way. You are likely to be ignored
  • If a brand invites you to discuss in DM, do it
  • If there is no resolution, don’t be afraid to restate the trouble publicly
  • Communicate from an established account. (More on this later)
  • It’s always nice to thank the CSR publicly upon a successful resolution

One more thing for consumers: If you start a tweet with @brand, only the people who follow you and @brand will see that tweet. If you start a tweet with “Hey @brand” or even a dot, “.@brand”, everyone who follows you will see your tweet. The more people who see your tweet, the more impact it has.

Twitter certainly appears to have quickly supplanted mail, e-mail, phone, postcards and telegrams as the most effective customer service channel. The public nature of twitter encourages business to much quicker action than a private phone call ever would.

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