Unreliable Customer Experience = No Social Media Love

social media love

Ever since social media became a force, the idea of ‘social media love’ — getting positive feedback from clients and customers and fans, essentially — has been something that many brands aim for in the social space.

Here’s where it all begins: for many organizations, the bottom-line business value of social media can be hard to prove. Social engagement — likes and shares, basically — is great and might help brand awareness and drive some incremental sales, but … there’s no direct tie to the bottom line in most cases.

In most organizations, anything that decision-makers pay attention to typically has to meet one of these criteria:

  • It’s measured
  • It makes money

In a customer-obsessed organization, however, the concepts need to be much different.

Earning Social Media Love From Good Customer Experiences

In the early days of social, there was a big movement from marketing consultants to simply ask for re-tweets and shares in your posts. Over time (thankfully for all of us), that’s died out.

Think about the first word of ‘social media:’ social. People on different channels are basically trying to document their lives — their relationships, what they’re seeing, their interactions with friends and family, and (yes) their interactions with brands and organizations. Many brands forget the first word and forget, thus, that it’s supposed to be a social experience. This can lead to ad-sounding copy, up-sells, and other aspects that will turn someone off on a social media channel, thus preventing any social media love from a potential consumer.

In a customer-obsessed culture guided by customer-focused decision-making, social is a channel you need to take into account. Your customers (and potential customers) will be there talking about their experiences with you regardless of your plan to monitor it, so you need to have a plan or concept around dealing with social media.

If you want to earn social media love, you need to be a company that earns it by delivering a customer experience others want to have again and tell others about. That’s Step 1.  And that comes from being the type of deliberate company that grows its business by improving customers’ lives.

In addition, if you want customers to share their social media love,  there’s a second important step: you need to make it easy for them to reference you and share your ideas. Simple user-names. Simple hash-tags. Simple marketing campaigns that don’t require a ton of exposition for a general consumer. K.I.S.S. Make it social, make it easy, and make everything you do customer-obsessed.

Social Media Love Case Study: Trader Joe’s

Carl’s Fine Films is a branding agency. One of their offices used to be down the street from a Trader Joe’s, and employees would end up there several times a week. Once, an employee was filming inside a Trader Joe’s and a TJ’s employee came over and said filming and photography was prohibited. The Carl’s Fine Films team snuck in a Palm Treo and recorded footage on that, then turned it into a YouTube called “If I Made A Commercial For Trader Joe’s” that has been viewed close to 1 million times by now:

Here’s the beautiful thing about Trader Joe’s, though: they don’t need to conventionally advertise. They bring delight to customers through the experiences they design, and it shows up on the balance sheet too: as of late 2014, they were selling about $1,734 per square foot. By contrast, Whole Foods is around $930 per square foot.

Now, the interesting thing about Trader Joe’s and a post on ‘social media love’ is that the company doesn’t have active social media accounts. So why am I mentioning them when discussing social media love? It’s simple: they still get the social media love — go do a search on Twitter or Pinterest for references to Trader Joe’s and you’ll see an infinite scroll — and it’s because the customer experience is so great. People still talk about them. People still tag themselves at locations. People still want to share what’s happening, even though the official channels aren’t there to “@” reference.

The social media love comes from the customer experience, not from having all the branded channels done properly.

And in the case of Trader Joe’s, the lack of official social media channels comes from the very principles of the founder:

You can get the social media love without official social media, without branded campaigns, without impression tracking, etc … if you root everything in customer experience and alignment.

The big takeaway on social media love

If you want to do social right as a brand and get the social media love you’re probably chasing, here’s the path to follow:

  • Focus on becoming a customer-obsessed culture (I can help!)
  • Focus on what your mission, values, and purpose are
  • Focus on aligning all those things around the end customer of your product or service
  • When you get to discussing social media, design your social experience around the same core values
  • If that involves allowing your employees to be on Facebook sharing things part of the day, so be it
  • Social media love comes from being authentic, and being authentic comes from understanding your organization’s priorities, goals, and customers — and how to serve all three

I’m not claiming this pathway will get you to Kim Kardashian selfie numbers in terms of social media love, but … as brands in different verticals go? It will get you up there.

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