Thursday, September 12, 2013

Channel or Strategy

Working in marketing and being a consumer, I am exposed to more social media than most. And when I'm in consumer mode, that's not always a good thing as I probably have higher expectations than most.

If I were to point at one marketing error I see consistently, it would be this - social media is a communication channel, not a communication strategy. You must still have a story to tell.
Social media is vital to business success. Especially if your business is consumer facing (and it is all consumer facing, eventually). There is an old adage that a satisfied consumer tells 3 people while a dissatisfied consumer tells 10 people. In social media that impact can be magnified exponentially - all it takes is one retweet or share.

When changes are made in your sales or marketing strategy, satisfaction and dissatisfaction can be easily seen in consumer sentiment on social media. Satisfaction is easy - everyone pats themselves on the back as the likes/follows/accolades trickle in. As a marketer, it can deflate your ego to see the dissatisfaction. But remember - for every negative SM comment you see, 10 more customers did not engage at all and simply voted with their dollars by leaving your product.

The "trick" is seeing the pattern with the dissatisfaction. Where does it need to funnel? Is the story of the change not being received well? Is there a product recall problem? Dissatisfaction is your chance as a marketer to listen to the voice of the consumer, social media style.

This is how it should work - a friend recently had a BOSE experience. (He's a music nut.) The headphone cords frayed, quickly. Very quickly. He tweeted. BOSE followed. They DM'd. Questions back and forth. And eventually, the product was returned and replaced with very little fuss and muss. Easier actually than at the store. He liked the product before. He likes the service now. And he told his 10 thousand Twitter followers. This not an isolated incident. Zappos has made a cult brand from how they handle customer service - it begins with employee empowerment.

To think about...
Have you given your SM team the tools they need? Good brand strategy?  Do they understand the communication plan? Do they have clear direction on paths for addressing customer service issues or routing sales leads? If you haven't, a tool can be as simple as a process. Think about it.

And if you need extra support, many specialty tools (social listening tools, CRM that integrates with marketing campaigns,  CRM that funnels social [Nimble!], scheduling tools that have a listen feature [Hootsuite or SproutSocial], and so much more) abound.

Remember, communication strategy transcends communication channel and begins with the brand story - regardless of channel.