Social media is free, sure. But it is not a channel to shout your messages and get people to buy your products. The ‘spray and pray’ method does not work here. Social media is social by nature. It is about developing relationships and rapport with customers and potential customers. By doing this the sale will come eventually. And that sale will also come with brand loyalty and support for life.
One of the many reasons companies join Facebook and Twitter is to be discoverable. When a potential customer searches for you online, can they find you? Step number one. But once they find you, what will they see?
If your Twitter handle is spammed by buy this, buy that, this sale is going on and no @mentions to customers, you are doing it wrong. If your Facebook page looks similar, giving people information on your product sales and specials but nothing more than that, what are you doing? That is one-sided crap that simply does not work in a social context.
I believe it starts with the core philosophy of your business. Do you truly care about the customer experience? Is the customer at the forefront of every business decision you make and every interaction you have? If yes, then you are most likely in a good position with your social media strategy.
If you are in the game to make the most money you can and act with strict guidelines and rules and not empower your employees as brand advocates and give them the chance to do what they feel is right then get out of the game. Seriously. You are not going to survive in today’s day and age with every customer being as connected as they are.
Why do brands like Zappos, Ben & Jerry’s, and JetBlue excel on social media? Because the customer is at the forefront of every business discussion they hold and every decision they make.
Zappos is in the business of delivering happiness, not selling shoes and apparel. Ben & Jerry’s is not in the ice cream business. They have a three-part mission that aims to create linked prosperity for everyone connected to their business. JetBlue’s slogan ‘You above all’ is backed by their Customer Bill of Rights which clearly defines their commitment to bringing humanity back to air travel. Bravo, guys.
Zappos put their focus on the customer long before the existence of social media. So when Twitter and Facebook emerged, it was a no brainer to them to be on the platforms and continue providing the same user experience as they always had. Zappos monitors their social media channels 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure they are able to assist customers in a timely manner. Whether you want to talk about shoes, the weather or a sports game, Zappos is there. They are more of a friend than a company. But, as a result of their commitment to delivering the best user experience they could, they have my loyalty for life.
Ben & Jerry’s has surprised and delighted me multiple times. When it comes to ice cream I usually go for what is on sale that week but I am starting to rethink that strategy and grab Ben & Jerry’s every time.
It started this summer when I was able to chat with the fine folks running Ben & Jerry’s Truck scooping tour and bring them into my office to scoop for us.
Then, in having a conversation with another marketer on Twitter, Ben & Jerry’s jumped in and offered to send some coupons as a thank you for talking about them! I ended up with TEN free pints (don’t worry, I shared.)
@heyheyman @annhandley We'll bring the ice cream! DM us your mailing addresses.
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) January 6, 2014
Then, Ben & Jerry’s Boston surprised me with an ice cream cake delivered to work on Valentine’s Day! Who do you think has my loyalty and support for life after a few random acts of kindness?
Thanks @BenJerryBoston for the Valentine's Day love! pic.twitter.com/uJ6g1TQlor
— Ben Heyman (@heyheyman) February 14, 2014
And lastly, JetBlue has become my airline of choice. Through every interaction with them, whether it be online, on the phone or during travel they continue to wow me. I actually feel treated as a human being and like I am precious cargo, rather than cattle being shoved into a flying metal box.
@heyheyman Wishing you a Happy New Year! Have a great trip, and we'll make sure to get you to your destination safely. Here's to you!
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) January 2, 2014
@heyheyman Ben, it sounds like you're almost there! Thanks for being a good sport and hangin' in there with us today. We appreciate you!
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) January 5, 2014
@heyheyman Hey Hey- we LIKE what you're saying! We love to engage with customers and anyone that just likes to chat! #CultureMatters
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) May 24, 2013
Maybe it is time to rethink what your business stands for. You could tweak what you do on social media but you cannot truly rock it if your business goals and values are not aligned. The customer and customer experience has to come above all. It might be more costly both in time and resources. But you are in the business of empowering the customer just as much as you are in the business of empowering your employees. Today 140 characters can be deadly to your business. Are you going to let that take you down or are you going to make a pivot?