Happy Birthday! All the best! Seemed about every message on my facebook profile on my birthday, some from people I haven’t actually heard from in 10 years and some from my closest friends. I tried to keep up and thank everyone in person but soon gave up and sent out the generic “thank you everyone for the birthday messages” status. The reaction I got from that status update was a little surprising as I had an old friend ring me up to tell me that he was not happy with my thanks as he is not just anyone but my best bud, rugby, beer and braai colleague.
The personal lesson for me is to read your wall posts properly. I rely heavily on my blackberry for all sorts of things including facebook and it was my downfall in this case as I had skipped over a few very nice messages in among the general gab of happy birthday messages that all look the same. This got me thinking how many of us actually end up doing the same on our business pages.
When a person posts on your page they are often looking for a bit of recognition from the brand. A simple “we are glad you enjoyed our product/service, you are welcome back anytime” goes a long way! That is often all they are looking for, that recognition from the brand (someone bigger than they could ever be) to say “you are important to us.” To me facebook fails in delivering this along with twitter and the other social networks as they suffer from what I would call “The Birthday Syndrome” and please some of the people some of the time but not most of the people most of the time (let’s face it, all the people all the time is a goal for those who have marketing hallucinations). This can lead to people becoming slightly disenamored with the brand, it will not necessarily turn them away from your brand but just like any other bit of rejection, the loyalty gets lost and the shine seems to get taken away.
So how can we fix this syndrome?
Your social media platforms should create a community around the brand, not be a helpdesk platform unless you have the sole objective of running it as a helpdesk. This is not a bad idea but avoid it if you are suffering from The Birthday Syndrome. Encourage conversations between members; don’t just punt your brand the entire time directly to the fans. Encourage conversations around your CSI’s and other key issues to your brand. If I can Liken Social Media to internal branding, except this is with your fans so keep the discussions going about important things in their lives as well as your brand and what your brand is doing. Encouraging this form of interaction will allow for your “brand ambassadors” amongst your fans to do some of the work for you. You want your fans to buy into your brand as much as your internal staff should. You are essentially bringing people into the brand, make sure they believe in it before they have to vote for the next t-shirt design.
Now what do we do about those complaints and those lovely thank you messages? There are many options out there to deal with this, from call centres to ignoring it completely but I am going to let you know how I think it can be done with the technologies available today. Form personalised websites, a place where people can purely interact with the brand. Allow them to theme the website, adding their favourite things about the brand with tools you supply them, therefore you really get to know them. Put questions up and make interaction easy. Everything on the website/mobile site must be about what the consumer can tell you, not about you telling the consumer. This will allow you to gather valuable data on your consumer and ensure that your marketing is personalised and relevant to your fans/customers. This platform that you lay can facilitate complaints, thanks and enquiries. Ensure you conduct research on this platform; it can become the most valuable data collection point for your business. Allow the profiles to be viewed by others who enjoy the brand and the engagement with the brand should be open to all, never let someone get the feeling that their messages are hidden. It is easier and simpler to build a CRM tool into the back-end of a website or mobile site than it would be to create an application for a page, also easier for users to use and the data is even more effective. You can really get intimate with a customer or fan on this level and ensure their activity and involvement with your brand.
Once your data gets better it improves the relevance of your marketing. Relevant marketing improves sales, which is then added to your data and so the circle continues. This is an important concept which many have forgotten, take charge of your data and what you want to know, find out what the consumer wants. Data is more than a name, address and telephone number. Do not fall prey to The Birthday Syndrome, it will be the downfall of social media if we are not careful.