Passing the Soap on Social Media
I've blogged before about the importance of realism in social media - the fundamental requirement to define your audience and aim for multi-channel benefits that can be measured at board level. To move towards this goal, take inspiration from entrepreneurs.
When combining channels including broadcast advertising, SEO, PR and social, brand owners face challenges in terms of preparation and control. With these on the whiteboard for the year ahead, I took notes from Ian Monk, founder of Bathrooms.com whose company recently launched a combined digital drive, following venture capital investment in excess of £10m.
Sharing the soap with Ian Monk:
How important is social media to your customer service approach?
Social media is a contributor to the customer experience and, of course, customer service is part of that. The aim is to use it as a means to expose our brands personality as such we don't focus solely on conversations that promote product.
It’s important that customers have rapid and easy ways to feedback about their experiences, both good and bad. Customers are welcome to use the channels as a method of customer support - if there's a problem or a negative experience, we want to know about it so that we can act rapidly. We've made sure that our social team liaise very closely with our sales and customer relations departments. We have even trained members of customer service in social media liaison to further help our responses.
Channels like Facebook and Twitter also serve to help shape our products because they can be a great litmus test for what's a hit in terms of design trends. In some ways it functions as our ears, helping us to create better products and service experiences for our clients.
It would be naive to approach social media (especially Twitter) thinking that you aren't opening the door to some real-time customer service monitoring issues, but the return on investment will be seen in capturing customer sentiment quickly.
How do you measure the impact of a campaign which involves broadcast, PR, SEO and social simultaneously?
I'm a believer in clean numbers and statistics so we have previously been driven by A/B and multivariate testing. However it can delay movement on a campaign and when it comes to social/pr/broadcast mix, the impact is spread across so many touchpoints, so there is undoubtedly a level of intuition that has to be added to the metrics.
SEO is often clearly measurable, however the real results are seen when Google deploys algorithm updates. If we maintain or increase rankings when this happens then we really see the benefits of our integrated approach. Anyone engaging in shady SEO activities is likely to see their SERPS suffer as Google evolves.
PR and social have an impact on the bottom line as last click converters but with a product such as a bathroom which might have a three or four-month sales process, in some ways you can only measure the quality of your output, not mico-level conversions. Saying this, we insist on clear deliverables, every channel with activity has goals and those are tightly monitored, even if it's a case of ensuring that every one of our Facebook fans is actually interested in affordable design, not just there for freebies.
You have a popular YouTube channel with 100,000 views of your last video, do you see web based broadcast of your TV adverts as key to brand awareness?
We were very pleased to have so many views of our new campaign on YouTube so quickly. There's a lot more work to be done on our channel. We're investing heavily in inspirational content for social (especially our blog) so there's room to extend that vision into multimedia.
YouTube amplifies a campaign and it's closely aligned with our analytics, so the value is in seeing movement amongst 100,000 people that might represent or escalate up to what a million will do through TV."
How do you ensure your Facebook fans are relevant to your market?
We're lucky to work with an experienced consultant [thanks!] who understands that we want real figures not necessarily big ones. Social media can be just noise unless you define your conversation and stick to it.
A realistic approach to Facebook comes with caveats that some fans are attracted to a single image or promotion rather than your USP but the key thing is to ensure you have relevant conversations.
We avoid meaningless competitions and giveaways. Our latest opportunity is driven by suggestions made by influential design bloggers and those who enter are their readers who want the literature and tools to be better designers. As opposed to just saying ‘like this’ to win a generic prize. We prefer this approach to endless sponsored posts.
We were pleased that the first time we mentioned an actual product on the page, it pretty much sold out - this wouldn't happen if the audience had been bought or baited.
Photo (cc) Ann Althouse.