This will do as an excuse to post this pic

 

Are you using Social Media in Business effectively?

 

‘You need to be on Twitter and Facebook. You need a blog. Everyone does Social Media now’

 

If you have heard any of these kind of comments, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is really easy – set up a Twitter or Facebook account, do a bit of blogging, and you will see profits soar. 

Well, it can be simple, but there are a few things that make a Social Media strategy more likely to succeed. 

Interestingly, it is not always the big names who do this well. The companies, or brands, who do this successfully follow a few basic rules, I have observed:

 

1. Don’t do it half-heartedly.
If you are going to use Twitter, then use it. Don’t say to the office junior, “You are young, sure to have your “finger on the pulse” of what young folk want. You can do the Twitter account”. This is not a job for someone who does not know your product, or your brand. Or does not have the time to dedicate a couple of hours a day to it. Ideally they should be able to check constantly so that they can respond to queries and comments.

An example of doing it half-heartedly is Oven Pride – I blogged about the product a week or so ago. And tweeted a link @oven-pride. No response. Nothing. And look at their Twitter feed – barely any followers, and only 7 tweets.

 

2. Do it with humour
Getting consumers to follow your Twitter feed is easier if it is not all just boring, “Look at our product, isn’t it great?”. Allow your Twitter-rep to joke with consumers, maybe post links to other sites that are – loosely – linked to your products or brand. This is a fine line to walk, but worth it as potential customers will actually want to follow your Twitter feed.

Marks and Spencers have shaken off their fuddy-duddy image and are showing others how this is done. This week I posted this response to M&S

 

 

This was their reply
3. Post regularly
One of my favourite jewellery designers Monica Vinader posts a couple of times a day; enough to stay interesting but not too often to start to annoy followers. If I look at your Twitter feed and see that the last post was two weeks ago, then I am unlikely to follow you.

 

4. Reply to followers

It is boring to follow someone who doesn’t reply. This also goes for slebs, most of whom don’t bother to reply to tweets. Ok, they are followed by thousands but an occasional RT or reply would not go amiss. The same applies to companies – if your customers speak to you, then answer. And follow some of those following you. Writers are not companies, or brands, but they are trying to sell us something – their books. Some writers, such as Jill Mansell,  Katie Fforde  reply to their readers, using Twitter as it is intended to be used – as an interactive tool.

 

5. Search for comments

Have a constant search set up so that whenever a customer mentions your company or product, you can respond to it. This can be a consumer complaining about your product, to which you should take the time to get in touch and try to sort out the problem. Or it could be a compliment, which you can RT to your followers.

Don’t however do as Asda do – and only react to a customer complaint when the customer creates a Social Media storm – I have seen two instances in the past 6 months where customers have been left with no groceries, and no refund of payment after a computer glitch in Asda’s systems meant that a home shopping delivery was cancelled. Only when the customer posted on Mumsnet, and the thread was subsequently posted on Twitter was the issue resolved.
 
6. Have a ‘Disaster Plan’ Ready
 
Social Media is not predictable, and neither is life. Be ready to respond to negative comments. If you make a mistake apologise and move on. KitchenAid showed how to respond to potentially damaging mistake by the person manning their Twitter feed. Posting from the corporate account rather than his/her private account, during the presidential debate, the hapless Social Media ‘expert’ attracted the wrong kind of attention
”Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he came president’. #nbcpolitics”
The response from KitchenAid was swift, and showed their understanding of the use of Social Media. 
 

Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand’s opinion. #nbcpolitics

 

That article contains a very good tip – consider removing personal Twitter account from work computer. I would add that you should consider using different Twitter apps to tweet from professional and corporate account.

Using Social Media to promote your business can backfire, as Microsoft discovered to their horror when they promised to donate a $1 to the Japan quake fund for every RT of their Tweet from their search engine Bing’s twitter account. They later apologised and promised to donate $100k to the Japanese earthquake fund. Think carefully about what you put out there, and dialling it back can be costly, both for your company’s image and for the profits.

 

Old Spice showed how to do it well.

 

 

The campaign with actor Isaiah Mustafa was incredibly successful when it went ‘viral’ on Twitter and Facebook, and it helped update the brand.

 

What companies do you follow and which ones have you swiftly unfollowed, and why?

 

4 Comments

 

  1. May 14, 2011  10:08 am by Sarah Reply

    @OrchardToys are very good at Twitter. They thank all new followers and will reply to most tweets, responding to questions quickly and with humour and retweeting compliments. They also fairly regularly tweet details of new products and competitions to get their followers involved.

    @PoppySparkles_ is another company who do the same, happily chatting with me about Mothers Day one evening when I tweeted about the lovely necklace I'd recieved.

    @Dominos_UK are fairly prolific tweeters and regularly post dicount codes but, in my opinion, spoil it by being overly sycophantic - offering free pizza to any and all celebs they can find in the hope of a retweet. It's the everyday customers who make thier business and it's annoying to see people being given freebies just because they're famous.

    • May 16, 2011  3:40 pm by MmeLindor Reply

      Thanks for the suggestions, off to look for the. But did you really have to link to jewellery maker? My credit card (and my husband) won't thank you. ;-)

  2. November 3, 2011  11:03 am by lynda@orchardtoys Reply

    Thanks Sarah *blushes* for your lovely compliments about our tweeting, they are much appreciated! Have been tweeting for just over a year, following a morning's course with Business Link. Three words remain with me from that course, 'like me, trust me, follow me' which, I think, are very true! I love it because I'm a chatterbox anyway, so will carry on happy in the knowledge that we seem to be getting it right! :-)

    • November 3, 2011  12:47 pm by mmelindor Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Lynda. Great to see companies responding to their customers. My children loved your toys when they were younger.

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