You’ve heard of corporate social media policies—those rules companies are struggling to define to guide appropriate employee online behavior. But what about a brand social media policy? How do you define how your brand should behave in social networks?
I’ve had some really great interactions with brands lately on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. I’ll be honest, I feel a sense of greater loyalty to those who talk with me and acknowledge me. I’ve also been ignored a lot. I hate being ignored. And on social networks, it seems to irritate me even more—because after all, why are brands on social networks if they aren’t, well, social? I can read about your news on your website. I want you to talk with me, not at me.
So I took to Twitter to ask my community if they feel that brands should be responsive when you talk about them on social networks. How do they feel if brands don’t follow them back? Does it matter?
Turns out most people, like me, also hate being ignored. While the majority of respondents said they didn’t care if brands follow them on Twitter, they did say that they feel negatively toward a brand that doesn’t respond to them when specifically called out to do so. Smart brands at least do that and also monitor and interact with the community talking about them, even if not specifically asked to answer a question or talk to them.
Here’s an example. I recently asked my Twitter followers who their favorite fashion sample sale sites are, and I mentioned Rue La La, Gilt Groupe and Ideeli. Only one, Ideeli, answered the question themselves in the form of a response to me. In fact, every time I mention Ideeli, they reply.
I also recently asked this question:
Only Entrepreneur Magazine responded, even though I’m an avid promoter of content in all three magazines. In fact, I probably share more articles from Inc. and Fast Company than Entrepreneur.
Now, of course, I was asking my followers their opinion in both of these cases and not asking the brands a specific question—but the point is, it was an opportunity for each company to interact with a prospect/customer talking about their brand, and to show that they’re listening – and that they care what the community says or thinks about them. I understand it might not be possible, if you’re a really popular brand, to reply to everything. But … why not? Companies like Jet Blue, Virgin America, Dunkin Donuts and LL Bean have done it right in my view. And here are a few other examples that some of my colleagues experienced:
- Cision actually helped me once. I was generally complaining about Cision’s login expiring too quickly and other PR people were griping with me. Cision saw it within the hour, answered me and fixed my account so the log in time out would be longer. It was a great example of monitoring your brand and making a dissenter into an advocate as I then tweeted the PR people back to tell them that Cision helped me and what they could do to fix the same issue.
- BumbleRide: I got on Twitter and complained about issues I was having with their Indie Twin stroller (which wasn’t cheap and I had just purchased a few months prior). The customer service rep responded to me via Twitter to learn more and, within two weeks, they shipped me a brand-new (and might I add, upgraded) stroller frame along with a little “snack-pack” add on “for my troubles.”
- I commented on Twitter about my satisfaction with the quick installation of Verizon Fios and they responded pretty quickly— thanking me and offering future assistance.
- I had very satisfactory, quick response/outcomes from both Comcast and American Airlines (about leaving my umbrella on a flight!).
I’m especially jealous of that last one because I once left a coat—a very nice coat—on an airline, and I tweeted about it immediately and they told me to call the 1-800 number. I did and never got a human on the phone and was never helped. And yes, it was extremely frustrating. The point here is that maybe it’s not even enough to just answer or interact, but to have a customer service action plan that includes social networks.
I dare to venture that most companies do not have a routing plan in place for how to handle customer service issues via social networks. Answering and acknowledging frustrated customers or interested prospects is just not enough anymore. It’s expected that, like a website, brands are going to be on Twitter. It’s further expected that brands are going to answer a customer talking about them or at least asking a specific question.
But now, as social media continues to evolve and integrate into multiple business divisions (marketing, PR, customer service, business development, etc.), companies need a smarter, integrated plan and organized process. They need to ask themselves:
- Who is going to handle complaints?
- What are the steps?
- Once addressed on Twitter or Facebook, do you take a customer offline?
- Who handles it?
- Who monitors niche communities (like, say mommy communities) to create relationships and address dissenters, or celebrate champions?
- Who replies on blogs mentioning your brands, further cementing positive relationships, or helping to fix damaged ones?
- Who makes sure any complaints in any social network are addressed to the satisfaction of a company or that a potential prospect was closed (or, if not closed, why not)?
Companies need to realize that just being present isn’t enough. Customers expect you to be there now. Building up large numbers of followers while following no one sends the wrong message. Businesses need better plans for integrating their social media efforts, processes and presence throughout the entire company.
You’ve heard of a social media policy for addressing employee behaviors online, but you rarely hear about a social media policy for addressing a brand’s behavior online. Do you have one? Why or why not? What positive or negative experiences have you had with brands on social networks?
Tags: American Airlines, brand image, Bubmle Ride, business development, Cision, Comcast, corporate social media policies, CRM, customer care, customer service, Dunkin Donuts, Entrepreneur magazine, Fast Company, gilt group, ideeli, INC Magazine, Jet Blue, LL Bean, Marketing, PR, rue la la, social media policy, Verizon, Virgin America