Need More Sales? Put the “Social” in Your Social Media

TRP party crowd surfingGive some thought to your social media campaign.  Is it working?  Sure, you may have “likes,” and “retweets” and “favorites,” but is your social media strategy measurably generating sales?  Or perhaps it’s generating a boatload of reports and metrics you never considered 5 years ago (and yet your business somehow managed to hum along quite nicely).  Given the millions that are invested each year into technology to measure social media, there’s a lot of vested interest in, let’s be frank about this, smoke and mirrors that can distract from the tangible needs of the business.  If you find that people are telling you your social media is working, but it’s not generating sales, it’s time to re-evaluate.  The points below might help:

Problem:  You Create All Your Media

If all of your social media content comes from “over there,” (by which I mean a department in your organization, or your agency), then it probably won’t do a lot for your sales funnel.  In fact, without a strategy to drive interaction, this common approach is little more than old school advertising using new technology.  The only difference is that the message appears on a computer screen instead of a billboard.  Sure it’s media, but there’s not much that’s social about it if there’s no engagement or interaction.

Solution:  Your Customers Create your Content

Any 13-year-old can set up social media pages and post spam.  The magic is to post content that people who want your product, and can buy your product, actually, really care about.  Unless your brand is linked to a social or political cause, achieving this consistently is nearly impossible.  An option is to let your customers create your content for you.  This isn’t easy, which is why not many brands do this well.  The upside is that, if it’s done well, it will drive sales, while increasing your customer base.  Here’s one way to do it:

Tactic:  Using IRL (In Real Life)

Real life is the oft’ forgotten essential ingredient in great social media campaigns.  Used strategically, IRL will contribute to your user generated content, create a “buzz,” for your brand, and will act like hundreds of mini-testimonials, demonstrating that lots and lots of people are enjoying your product or service.   Two Canadian companies that do this very well are Mogo socially responsible financial services, and TheRedPin real estate brokerage (full disclosure, the latter has been a client of Socialicity).

Setting up opportunities to engage IRL takes planning, coordination, and persistence.  It’s not easy.  However, the payoff is a groundswell of content, all of which is about your brand, that your customers are sharing to their networks.  The next solution runs along the same lines.

Leveraging the Power of Employees to Create Content

Many organizations typically funnel all of their content through one single Facebook page.  Without paying Facebook to boost the post, a post on a company page that has about 500 likes will get to the computer screens or smartphones of only a small fraction of that number.  The real power lies in a brand’s employees.  Brands who are good at this allow content to be created independently by employees, on their personal pages, and shared with their friends (newsflash, this actually happens way, way more often than brands are aware).  A friend of mine who works at a coffee shop recently posted a latte she created (the “latte art” looked eerily like a gnome – it was actually pretty funny), and invited her friends to “come down for a custom-designed gnome latte.”  With 600 friends on her Facebook page and about 300 followers on Instagram, the coffee shop was suddenly much busier than they’d been in a long time.  How big is the army that is your employees’ Facebook friends?  Makes you think, right?

The Obvious Challenges

Giving hundreds of employees carte blanche to post whatever they want about your brand has some obvious challenges, but they’re not insurmountable (One strategy is to start by setting up a team of brand ambassadors who work closely with marketing).  The benefit is that where you once had a reach of perhaps a few hundred, you now have a reach of many, many times more than that, depending on your business.  More about organizational change management than about social media, this approach often leads to fascinating unintended results as organizations begin to weave the thread of “social” into the fabric of their organization.

While neither of these solutions is easy, they both make a measurable difference to the bottom line.   Don’t fall for the, “because we should” rationale of social media.  If what you’re doing doesn’t create sales or populate the sales funnel, it’s time to re-consider your strategy and tactics.  It might be time to put a little “social” into your social media.

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Don’t Bury Amazing Customer Experience Under a Mountain of Customer Effort

 

Shreddies

Back when I was a kid, we used to get prizes inside cereal boxes, and getting to those prizes was a bit of a ritual.  Arriving home after the Friday night round of weekly grocery shopping, my brother, sister, and I would open the box of Shreddies we brought home and spend the next fifteen minutes or hard at work.  Our first step was to peer inside the box hoping the glint of plastic would catch our eye.  If that didn’t yield results, we’d reach in and see if we could find the prize through touch (touching every, single Shreddie in the process).  If that didn’t work, we’d dump the entire box into a big bowl and sift through it until we got the prize.  Looking back, I see how much effort we invested to get them.

I share that with you because of my recent experience with the company that makes my blender.  They buried their prize, which was a stellar call centre experience, beneath a mountain of effort to get there.  A closer examination of my experience provides an excellent case study on how great recruiting (the customer service agent I finally spoke with was superlative), training, and an obvious customer-first culture was buried beneath heaps of inattentive social media, a poor IVR, and a website that made finding their toll-free number more difficult than it needed to be.  So, let’s get to it.  I broke my blender, and here’s what happened next:

Step 1:  Twitter

Upon discovering my blender had become non-functional, I hit their website on my phone and found that they’re on Twitter.  Awesome.  A look at their Twitter handle showed some customer service related engagement (the standard, “Sorry to hear that.  Please DM us your details and we’ll get back to you.”).  I Tweeted my issue and expected a reply.  After 24 hours, nothing.  I Tweeted again: More silence.  The result of this was a sense that my blender company had little concern for customer satisfaction.  Turns out that perception was far from accurate, but I wouldn’t have known that from my experience with them on Twitter.

Step 2:  Phone Call Attempt #1

Going back to their website, I managed to find the “contact us” button at the bottom of their site in very small text.  Clicking on that, I scanned the page, found their toll-free number, and dialed.  After listening to their automated greeting and being given 4 options (none were for what I was calling about), I hit “0,” was greeted in French (not sure why), told the call would be recorded, and then after a moment the recording advised me that the office was currently closed.  Argh.

Step 3:  Phone Call Attempt #2

The next day I called,  hit “0,” got French, pressed “1” for my language preference (English), seemed to get more French, then an English call-recording notification, then silence.  And more silence (one usually hears music, or….something).  Unsure of whether I had been disconnected, I hung up and re-dialed.

Step 4:  Phone Call Attempt #4

I repeated Step(s) 3, but this time instead of silence I was connect to a truly fabulous customer service agent.  Alice took the time to express sympathy for my situation, carefully made sure she understood what the issue was with my blender (she even got the same model blender I had, so we could walk through my issue together), and she made careful notes.  At the end of the call, she took my address and promised a new blender would be sent within 10 days.  And voila, 4 days later, I have a new blender.

Keeping the Prize Well Hidden

What’s fascinating about this is that based on my experience with Alice I’m convinced that my blender company is 100% dedicated to their customers’ satisfaction.  Having said that, the focus of their efforts has evidently been on the contact centre touch-point, potentially at the neglect of other touch-points that come earlier in the customer journey.  The onus was on me to sift through the pile of negative experience (including the fact that the blender had broken), until I finally got to the prize, which was a brilliant customer service professional and a new blender that arrived earlier than expected.  Had I not done the equivalent of dumping the box of Shreddies into a bowl and gone sifting, all of the effort that had gone into the phone experience would have remained hidden, and I would have a new blender from a different company.

What We Can Learn

Many organizations invest significantly on training and technology designed to deliver great customer service at the contact centre level.  But if your customers need to exert unreasonable effort to experience that service, you may be investing in something that many of your customers never get to.  Indeed, they may have given up earlier in the process and taken their business elsewhere.  Providing great customer experience through the contact centre is awesome.   Be careful not to hide it under a mountain of customer effort to get there.

 

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