Let me set the picture for you. I’ve booked a flight from the UK to Spain with Monarch, which cost me £250+. Now some may say that at £250 I shouldn’t be complaining, but I am. I am complaining because I do not deem the value of the experience that I have had with Monarch to be anywhere near the region of £250. And, as Chris Brogan recently wrote about, value is in the eye of the beholder.
So what has all this got to do with Business in the Social Era? Well, here are 3 social mistakes that I believe the Monarch team have made (and are still making):
1) Removal of Negative Comments. - “We learn from our mistakes.” “Customer feedback is key to our growth and development.” These statements should be emailed daily to the top level management at Monarch. I noticed that within an hour of my comment (which wasn’t totally negative - more a request for an explanation) being posted on the Monarch Facebook page, it was removed. All this action tells me is this: a) they don’t want to hear my thoughts. b) they don’t want to provide a solution. c) they no longer want me as a customer. Would you treat your customers like this?
What they should have done instead: By posting said comment I was expecting to open up a dialogue with the Monarch team to express my disappointment, and to learn what solution they were going to provide in order to keep me as a customer. - by deleting the comment they effectively deleted me as a customer. - By explaining their reasons, and explaining the solution, they could have opened up a dialogue for other disgruntled passengers to see… meaning less negative comments posted on their wall. I was quite happy to stay a Monarch customer, provided they listened to me, and others, and communicated with us. Listen to everything your customers have to say. Hidden in their negativity may be the willingness and desire to help you better your offerings/experience. Social Media provides you with an army of R&D team members. Listen, Learn and Act.
2) “I’ve passed your message on to the relevant department”- a) I didn’t ask to speak to “the manager” or any other team member. I posted the comment on Facebook because that’s where I wanted to communicate with Monarch. b) The “relevant department” is the entire business. My complaint effects Monarch, not just Monarchs customer service department. c) what’s going to happen next? And how long do I have to wait for a response/explanation? I’m not going to wait with baited breath for you to finally decide when to reply… I have other things to do.
What they should have done: Answered my question there and then, where I, “the customer”, chose to communicate. Answer me this, Monarch, if your community management team cannot provide answers/help/advice/etc for your customers via social media…why do you operate official social profiles? Answer: sales. <- this is a major mistake by the way, as a lot of the current traffic is negative - and they are certainly not their to be sold at. In the Social Era businesses are not split into silo’d departments in the eye of the customer. Customers don’t care about job titles, they care about having their questions answered in a timely and positive fashion…when and where they choose. Don’t ever put a customer on “social media hold”. - on the phone all they can do is put it down, but on social media…well…that’s an entirely different story. As for selling… you have to earn the right to sell. Enough said on that.
P.S. It’s been 2 days now and I haven’t received any form of communication from Monarch. In the Social Era 2 days is a lifetime.
3) “We Respond To Comments 9am - 5.30pm Mon - Fri.” -What?! Are you crazy?! You’re a fairly large and certainly well established business, and in the Social Era you’re putting a timeframe on communication with your customers?! That’s Social Business suicide. Monarch Boss-Man I have one word of advice for you here… Zappos. Check them out. If Monarch were a small business with only a handful of employees I could understand. But they aren’t, they’re a large organisation with a large team. Plus, quite recently they have been leaving passengers stranded at airports with 5+ hour delays… some after 5.30pm. How about a bit of communication then?
What they should do instead: Realise that social media, and social consumers, do not switch off…EVER. Imagine this Monarch - disgruntled passenger x posts a negative comment on your Facebook page at 5.45pm. Their flight is then delayed further, so at 7pm they post another message etc etc. - you don’t realise that this has happened until over 12 hours later! In modern day business that is a ridiculous amount of time to let pass before spotting a problem! (I’d like to take a moment to say that I am baffled that a 21 year old youngster like me can understand this, but an established multinational company cannot. Wow.) Anyway, all passenger x wanted was a response. For you to enter into dialogue with them to firstly apologise, and then explain what is going on and what you intend to do to make it up to the passengers. But you can’t because you’re all at the pub! Your passengers, the foundation of your business, are reaching out to you, and you’re no where to be seen or heard! You’re a large enough business to be a 24/7 business. Business is now 24/7. The consumer does not switch off. Social Technologies do not switch off. Therefore you, the business, cannot switch off… unless you want this action to be permanent. You respond to comments when and where the customer dictates (within reason of course), otherwise they will take their custom elsewhere.
The morale of this story is this: business has changed. The customer is in control. The social consumer is more demanding and less forgiving than ever before. Being a large organisation no longer affords you the power that you once had. But most importantly… you have to care about your customers, and you have to actively show that you care. Otherwise, like in any relationship, they will leave.
So what do you think? Am I right, or have I been to harsh on Monarch? What advice would you pass onto Monarch having heard my story?
My key piece of advice to Monarch HQ: invest in some social business education and training. You are not providing your team with the right environment, skills, and knowledge…and it’s negatively affecting your ENTIRE business. And hey, if you want I’m available… I could write 20 advisory articles specifically for Monarch Airlines. Just a thought. ;)
How often do you hear experts spurting out about how “social media enables you to connect with your audience” or statements along those lines? The answer is quite a lot if you ever frequent Twitter, Facebook et al. And although this isn’t bad advice… it isn’t good advice either. Allow me to explain.
Social Networking, in fact networking of any kind, isn’t merely about connecting with customers, suppliers etc… it is about STAYING CONNECTED.
Think about it, how often do you meet someone for the first and only time, and they pass business your way, or purchase what you are selling? Ok, if you’re a retail store owner this may happen often… but that’s not a good thing, right?
As most, if not all, business consultants and coaches say, “it’s easier and less costly to sell to an existing customer, than it is to find a new customer.” So why then are sites like Facebook and Twitter cluttered with businesses asking people to “like” and “follow” them, only for the engagement, value adding, content sharing etc to stop post “like” or “follow”?
The Solution: Put Effort Into Staying Connected
Introducing a supposedly inspiring and informative quote and analogy…
A full stadium with a capacity of 5000 is better than a 1/4 full stadium with a capacity of 10000
No sports team has ever filled their stadium without first making an effort to connect, and then staying connected with its fans. The players do daily interviews, opening training sessions, sports store signings, they play games at least once a week, and in todays world they tweet with fans. And all this is geared towards the sale of tickets on a saturday (or whenever they play). But the sale of tickets and merchandise would not happen if the club (and its employees) weren’t staying connected to fans on a continuous basis.
Maybe the sports team isn’t the best analogy, but I hope you get my drift?
In the Social Era there is a colossus amount of noise on an hourly (second-ly?!) basis, and that connection you made 2 days ago will likely have already forgotten you… and they certainly aren’t likely to be buying from you anytime soon.
You have to maintain the effort of staying connected, creating and sharing relevance and value, and taking part in conversations that matter to your audience - remember social business is about creating mutual benefit for both business and consumer.
I’d like to leave you with 3 key tips to “staying connected”:
1) Create a list or group of some kind (on every social platform you’re active on) and place your current customers within this group/list… and more importantly, make a concise effort to engage/share/connect/add-value/etc with them at least 3 times a week… make it personal to them (i.e. quit the sales messages)
2) LISTEN, LEARN, ACT. Staying connected doesn’t mean that you have to continually push out messages to your audience. As we all know from networking, letting the other person talk whilst you listen is good etiquette. And it provides you with a better platform to respond and add value.
3) You have to care. I cannot stress enough how important it is for you stay connected only if you care. In the Social Era it is so easy to spot falseness in peoples engagement and activity. If you don’t care enough to stay connected, don’t chase the initial connection in the first place, as this provides no value for either party involved.
I hope this helps you, entertains you, or sparks the energy in you to re-connect with your social connections. Please feel to free to connect with me… but only if you wish to stay connected, of course. Let’s create and share relevance and value with one-another!
Now I’m not a fan of putting the word “tactic” in the same sentence as the word “social”, for obvious reasons. However, this post is targeting a very specific social business “no-no” of mine, so we’ll let this slide for one article.
Recently I’ve noticed a trend pop up on Twitter, that generally follows this pattern: “Hi followers, please like our Facebook page.”
So what’s wrong with this, why does it bother me, and what should I do instead? Here goes:
What’s wrong with this?
1) “Hi followers”, is way too general. You’ve heard of the terms “target audience” and “customer profiles” haven’t you? Firstly, you cannot add value to everyones social/online activity, so don’t reach out to (more like shout at) everyone. This is called “mass marketing” or “interruption marketing”, and people don’t like it. Secondly, your time is precious, therefore why waste it on “hit-and-hope” social engagement?
2) “Please like our Facebook page.” My first point here, when I see this, is to scream the word/question “WHY!?!?!?!” at my screen. Why should I like your page, what’s in it for me? Why should I leave Twitter (where I have made a conscious effort to spend my time, in case you haven’t noticed - oh wait, you haven’t) to do this?
3) You sound pathetic. People like other people/brands/ideas/etc for reasons… but first they have to be made aware of that reason in some way or another. By begging for ”likes” it sends out the message that your business cannot gain the support or social presence on its own merits, so you have to beg. You and your business are better than that. Respect yourself more, and respect those that you’re trying to reach more.
Why it bothers me so much:
1) You are better than this. You have started your business because you’re passionate, ambitious, and hard working. So why ruin this reputation with lacklustre social engagement?
2) Your customers and other online community members deserve better. Imagine if I came round to your office everyday, came up to your desk and said the words, “please like me”. What would your reaction be? ….exactly.
3) It does not benefit your business one iota! If you’re that bothered about the relatively insignificant “Facebook likes” metric, please just shut up and buy some Facebook fans. It’s a pointless thing to do, but at least the rest of us won’t have to hear your begging.
4) This is my biggest annoyance on the topic, but it may only relate to a select few. Is your businesses social media usage and social engagement outsourced? If it is, and this “tactic” is taking place, that “expert” you hired is at best only achieving zero results, but at worst they are damaging your businesses reputation.
What to do instead:
1) Work out who your target audience are, and create customer profiles. Find where these people like to spend their time online… do NOT try and force them elsewhere!
2) Understand their needs, desires, troubles, questions, behaviour etc. Then match to these customer profiles how you can help them… how you can add value to their lives through social engagement.
3) Be a bit more social and personal! Find one of your customers/prospects and see how you could possibly help them. Reach out to them personally. Then they really will “like” your business, and whats more, you may find that other people have seen the advice you’ve given and it has benefitted them, so hey presto you now have more quality “likes”!! Wow! In fact you’ll have more than a measly “like” you’ll have one or more customers/advocates…and these affect the bottom line more than a “like”!!
I hope this helps shed some light on why this “Twitter tactic trend” is pointless, and must stop? If you see any social profile that insists on using this tactic, please either tell them why it’s pointless or point them in the direction of this article. Thanks for reading, you’re awesome!
Oh and one more thing… if you do Tweet asking people to “like” your Facebook page, make sure when they get to your page it doesn’t consist only of “Please follow us on Twitter” messages!! That’s just taking the p**s. ;)
- “The action or business of promoting and selling products or services.”
- “The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer.”
- “The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”
Above are 3 different definitions of “marketing”, with the third coming from the Oxford English Dictionary. I’ve highlighted what I believe are the 3 keywords of each definition. Can you spot the trend? Yep, marketing is actually the “polished” version of sales… which thanks to car salesmen has become an evil word over the years.
We need to clarify something before we continue: why have social media become such an important part of people’s (consumers) lives?
1) To keep be able to keep in touch with friends/family/connections more easily and as a group. 2) To keep up to date with the latest news. 3) To be able to have their own voice on topics close to their heart and personal/professional lives. 4) Because they want to keep in touch with brands they love on a human level (for various reasons - p.s. you have to ask and listen to find these out!), and to get away from the spam infested traditional marketing/advertising methods of old.
Don’t believe me, then do something you’ve probably never done before… call your customers and ask them their reasons and motivations for using social media. I bet none of them reply, “it’s just another way for me to receive your awesome sales pitches”.
If you truly must look at social from a marketing stand point, you have to realise 3 things:
1) Social has rewritten “marketing”. It’s not an evolution, it’s a REVOLUTION.
2) Your traditional marketing of the past actually sucked, but the consumer had no alternative way of relating with your brand so you got away with it.
3) That same consumer has a voice, and the power to either completely ignore your “marketing” or slate you publicly for it.
Out of the three definitions above I do kind of like number two. The main reasons for this are that it doesn’t use the word “selling” and it does use the words “process” and “customer”. Social Media Marketing should be be based on that. A process whereby you’re continually listening to your customers, developing processes and products/services that best suit their needs/problems/wants/etc, and delivering them in a way that suits the customer.
Social media allow your brand to bring the customer on board. This, as a result, allows you to “market” your brand/products/services more effectively, productively, in a more likeable manner, and with a greater chance of success and repeat success. No marketing manager or team can ever be as great an asset than your customers… all you have to do is stop talking at them, and start working with them. (oh and “being on facebook” is nowhere near enough of a change.)
Now, I want to leave you with one KEY point…
The present and future of “marketing” has changed. But the biggest change must come from within your business, the team, the culture, the processes, and the mindset. If you continue to attack social media with a traditional marketing mindset YOU WILL LOSE. The worst thing is, it may take you too long to realise.
Traditional marketing is not social, but those that you are marketing too, human beings, are social by nature. It’s time for your brand to change… and technology alone is not the answer.