Using Social Media to Make a DifferenceMike Krass • August 10, 2012 • 3 minutes to read
Social media allows consumers & brands to engage in a two-way conversation.
That conversation can center around...
- Customer support
- Product development
- Real-time feedback
All the traits mentioned above gather around one central concept:
How brands can use social media to make a difference in the lives of their customers
With that in mind, how can brands use social media to make a difference in the lives of their customers?
Build a Social Media Army
Whether that army is paid or unpaid, brands should build out a team to manage and grow the company footprint across all the demands the social sphere presents.
How many times have you mentioned a brand negatively on Facebook or Twitter based on a poor experience? Wouldn't it be nice to actually speak to and hear back from these companies as your problem is unfolding?
Take CalTrain, a local bay area train service, Twitter account for example:
Any time a train is delayed / running ahead of schedule, Caltrain will post it on their official Twitter feed for travelers convenience.
But you don't just need an army to manage bad press ...
A social army can help your brand grow. Establish dominance in your space. Become a trusted resource for news and information in real time.
A great example of a social army focused on growth is the New Jersey Devil's 'Mission Control' group.
Mission Control is an unpaid group of up to 25 daily volunteers that manage and develop the NHL teams' social footprint across the web.
Located inside the Prudential Center where the Devils play, they provide real-time team news, league information & additional 'members only' details to die hard Devils fans using the handle @DevilsGenerals.
Understand the Power of the Masses
Social media, inherently, is only as powerful as the number of users you can get to follow and promote your cause.
Take Matthew Walzer, a 16 year old who suffers from cerebral palsy, who wrote a letter to Nike CEO Mark Parker asking for easy-fasten Nike running shoes for patients that suffer from his same condition.
Nice Kicks, an online sneaker kingdom, got wind of the letter and began aggressively promoting its cause across the Twitter-sphere.
The official Twitter hashtag #nikeletter was adopted and companies from Finish Line to Pete Cashmore joined in the effort to put the letter in front of Parker.
So what does this teach us?
It's not enough to be simply 'present' in the social space; companies need to understand how to leverage the power of the masses to promote their cause.
Process, Process, Process!
In order to build out an army or start a movement, organizations need to create and real-world test a social media process in order to actively make a difference in their customers lives.
A few elements that brands should be aware of in creating this process are:
- Hand Over the Keys to the Castle: Brands need to be okay with handing over partial control of their brand messaging. This environment is dominated by real-time information; the longer your team lags in providing said information, the quicker your audience will go to unofficial sources to obtain the information.
- Transparency: Be transparent with your workers and your audience. Let employees know exactly what is acceptable and, more importantly, what is not acceptable.
- Accept Mistakes: There will be mistakes. Get over it and make sure that employees own up to and learn from those mistakes.
This is exciting!
While traditional / traditional digital communication channels between brands and consumers had serious lag time in collecting R&D, customer complaints & advice, social has opened the floodgates for brands to learn what their audience is thinking about their brand in real time.
Don't silence these users; embrace and listen to them.