Wednesday, 15 December 2021
There’s no denying the power of social media in the business world.LinkedIn is used by 300 million professionals, 6,000 Tweets are sent every second of every day, and 1.39 billion adults worldwide are active on Facebook every month - with 890 million logging in daily.
But getting social media right can feel like walking a tightrope – when individuals and corporations get it wrong, it can be headline news. Whether you’re looking to build up your own online profile or that of your fledgeling enterprise, there are important lessons to be learned from the organisations, big and small, who successfully operate in the Twittersphere and beyond.
Large, sexy, fast-moving consumer goods brands aren’t the only ones who can engage with humour. On the surface, a small laundry chemicals manufacturer from Northampton, England, might not be prime breeding ground for a humorous social media exchange, but in winning a 2015 Zest Award for Best Campaign, they proved that good things come in small packages.
As the team from Ideal Manufacturing Ltd set off to attend a Milan conference on the potentially dull topic of new advancements in laundry chemicals, they launched #TheItalianJob, along with the slogan “We’re taking our minis to Italy” with reference to the images and animations of their laundered underwear hanging on washing lines along their route.
Learning for small businesses: Find ways to bring relevancy and humour to your core messages, even the driest of which can resonate with the customer when injected with a dose of entertainment. Information needn’t be dry: when Ideal Manufacturing Ltd wanted to tell their customers (laundrettes around the world) about the latest research in chemical cleaning, they produced an attractive and easy to follow ‘Periodic Table Of Laundry’. Visualising information under your brand name and logo is a memorable way to both inform your customer and position yourself as experts in your field.
Learning for individuals: Use imagery, hashtags and classic storytelling techniques to demonstrate that your job, sector or industry is fun, exciting, innovative and worthy of interest. You might have a serious point to make, but communicating with a lightness of touch can help your message travel further. Share information that catches your eye when you genuinely believe it will add value to your network, explaining why you’re sharing it in a short, simple statement.
In a world where presidents, queens and business tycoons communicate in 140 characters, pithiness is critical in your social media communications. But short and sweet needn’t mean trivial. Obama’s three-word re-election Tweet resonated to the point it remained the most shared Tweet on the social network for 18 months.
Four more years.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
Home improvement specialists Lowe’s use their customers’ short attention spans to their advantage with the help of Vine, a technology that allows you to create six-second videos and share them on your social media platforms. Each of Lowe’s six-second videos in the #TapThruHowTo series, show the completion of a DIY job in time lapse – from tiling a wall to hanging shelves to building an outdoor fire pit. At any point, the customer can click a section of the video to get more in-depth information.
"Brevity inspires creativity," said Lowe’s on their campaign. “We liked the idea of needing to tell incredibly concise brand stories - it would force us to have a sharp point and get to it quickly.”
Learning for small businesses: Work on condensing the core message of your marketing campaign into a punchy statement, using new technologies if they’re relevant to the assets you’re using (Vines, interactive images, infographics and so on). Even if there’s a lot more information or depth to convey behind the main message, a succinct top line statement is the hook that will make your brand stands out amid the noise of overflowing newsfeeds.
Learning for individuals: Don’t be tempted to use your LinkedIn summary, Facebook group profile or Twitter bio to showcase every one of your career achievements since the year dot. Consider the three attributes, skills or accolades you want anyone discovering you in an online capacity to take away and remember. Stay on point and review regularly to ensure relevancy.
A study by software specialist Sage found that 20% of us use social media to air our grievances about a brand we’ve purchased from (this number rises to 46% for those aged 24 and under). And while 17% of Tweeters expect to find customer support on the Twitter feeds of organisations, 71% of companies who receive a complaint via the social network ignore it (the numbers are 47% and 78% respectively for Facebook).
Furthermore, research by Lithium Technologies found that 53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within one hour (with that percentage rising to 72% if it’s a complaint). Where brands are concerned, what customers really want is a little less conversation, a little more action, please.
Done well, customer service conducted via brand’s social media can win awards, create positive press and further a brand’s image and values.
Royal Dutch Airlines has won numerous accolades for its Twitter care. In response to complaints they always use their customers’ names, are polite, courteous and genuinely committed to solving disputes, continuing the conversation until the customer is satisfied. In one of their more innovative measures, the Twitter account’s cover photo is updated every five minutes to display the online customer service team’s current response time – sometimes as low as seven minutes.
Meanwhile, proving that people-centric customer service needn’t be about scripts, platitudes or goodwill gestures, O2 made global headlines when a quick-thinking customer service representative sent a series of tongue-in-cheek responses to a customer in the slang style of his original complaint, and continued in that tone as he attempted to decipher the issue with the customer’s broadband connection.
@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
The tech giant was widely praised for its handling of the issue (“you are my absolute heroes” said one follower; “so much love for O2” Tweeted another), proving that sometimes, the human way is the best way.
Learning for small businesses: You may not have the capacity to be on call 24/7 or offer valuable goodwill gestures, but you can devise a clear strategy for how your brand deals with complaints and enquiries – and communicate this to your followers. Set up a system for how you’ll deal with complaints in compliance with your brand values and tone of voice. Cath Sheldon, Social Business Manager at Sage UK says: “Keep responses personal and simple. You don’t have to solve the customer’s problem on the social media platform (especially when you may have 140 characters). Just begin the process of addressing it by asking to contact them or passing on more information.” It’s also critical, she says, to evaluate how the exchange went from the customer’s perspective: “Keep talking to the customer and ask them for feedback. Check the issue is solved and take on board any ideas for improvement.”
Learning for individuals: Always remember that if you’re Tweeting publically, your Tweets will survive long after your feelings of anger or disappointment towards a brand have subsided. Be mindful of how any outbursts might be perceived by colleagues or future hirers. Be courteous, thankful for any help offered, and don’t forget that Twitter can also be used for offering good feedback to the brands that deserve it.
Bear in mind that where your online network is concerned you are the customer service manager of your own personal brand. Respond to requests for or offers of help in good time, enter into differences of opinion over professional matters in the spirit of healthy debate, and maintain a strong, auth