5 vital tips for social (and by the way, some marketing directors are idiots!)

Yes that’s right. There are (unfortunately) far too many senior marketing professionals, even boardroom directors, who are to blame for consumer brands failing on social.

Simply put, whoever signs off their approval for junior marketers running social are idiots; whoever hasn’t bothered to understand the critical role social plays for their business and more importantly, the role it fulfils for their consumers, are idiots; whoever doesn’t realise the importance of utilising specialist skills in different departments are idiots (and they’re not progressing their business – idiots!).

Bold words. Sadly, all too often, true words.

For a moment, forget your role as a marketer or as business leader. If you will, recall the last time a brand, product or service let you down. What did you do? How and where did you complain?

Consumer brands invest millions into creating emotional connections between their brand and products, and their customers. From staff hours, to creative and media buying agencies, and everything in between. The time and money put into creating content and experiences that delights consumers is significant.

So, with that in mind, why do leading consumer brands assign social to people who are marginally beyond graduate status. Granted, they’re probably bright, enthusiastic and well educated individuals, but they’re lacking vitally important experience and savviness; they’re lacking the knowledge of other departments and skillsets.

Furthermore, why don’t these brands recognise that customer services and social staff are (by virtue of their roles) an extension of the expensive ad campaign? Yes that’s right. Social and customer services staff.

Think about it. You’ve created, developed and executed a multi-channel ad campaign that is going to progress your brand; educating and delighting consumers in different ways. What about the consumers you’re letting down?

These consumers jump onto social, posting some well cultivated messages and expect a swift resolution. Typically, they receive an apologetic reply followed by an instruction to move the issue to another channel or team. A message devoid of ownership and resolution. In fact, all it serves is to take us further from resolution than we were when message number one was posted.

You can see where this is going and what is going to happen next: fast-forward another half-dozen messages and you’ve got an incredibly angry individual who is being baited by the brands inability to own and resolve the issue.

To the consumer, they have grabbed the complaint and basically said “thanks, but we’re lobbing this over our internal wall and into the customer services camp”. They will (probably) get back to you… No ownership. No resolution. I’m clearly not important to the brand.

These leading brands have specialist customer service teams with specific skills to address, own and resolve issues at speed. Senior and experienced marketers who truly understand social know how to ‘listen’, identify influencers of note, and have the critical knowledge of what resonates with and, conversely, flies in the face of the expensive ad campaign.

It is vital that consumer brands align customer services and social. Empower the very people with the skills to address, own and resolve issues before they scale out of control. Flatten molehills before they become mountains. Social is the channel consumers will engage with and use to view brand content the most. They will see issues not being addressed and resolved. They’re savvy enough to recognise brands who try and hide customer service complaints on a separate handle.

Prove to your consumers that you care; address their issues in a fashion that evidences this. In doing so, you’ll show your audience that moody consumers have been turned to happy consumers. This is the easiest and first step towards brand loyalty and advocacy.

Here are five tips that you can have for starters:

  1. Get specialist social training for your customer services team
  2. Resolve issues on the channel chosen by consumer; don’t throw it over the wall
  3. Be available when the consumer isn’t at work; customer services isn’t a 9 – 5 gig
  4. Don’t be too formal, don’t be too familiar; speak as you would on the phone
  5. Conflict resolution isn’t a cost to business. It’s part of your loyalty and advocacy budget

Moral of the story: don’t be a business led by idiots.

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