When it comes to social media these days (and it generally does), there seems to be more than the usual amount of noise regarding ROI. Just for grins, I’m going to tell you what I tell my clients.
First, I tell them that if it’s truly a social conversation, we don’t speak. We listen. I tell them that our focus with social media is to provide access to the brand, and to make sure that the brand is capable of responding immediately - no matter what the reason or request. I explain how we believe that social networks have completed the “circle of commerce.” And that we’re doing everything possible to allow everyone and anyone involved with the brand to gather, interact and converse, about everything and anything they feel is relevant to the brand itself.
I tell them how we feel about “commerce” having a business model and “social” having a community model - and that we truly need to understand the difference. I explain that these are still developing technologies, but that we believe there are three types of commerce conversation. There are positive conversations, negative conversations, and analytical conversations. And all of them must be treated - and responded to - accordingly.
Then I tell them a short story about the effects on a brand from three points-of-view…an unbridled enthusiast, a dissatisfied customer, and a true convert. It’s actually a story about a family trip to Washington D.C. when I was a boy - and my mother’s complete and utter dissatisfaction with the Holiday Inn® reservations she had so painstakingly put into place prior to our trip. My mother was an enthusiastic Gulf® Oil L.P. charge-card-carrying advocate. And, at the time, Gulf® was aligned with Holiday Inn®, to leverage the obvious summer travel/vacation cross-promotional advantages.
Our family’s summer trips were invariably planned-out based on the accessibility of these two brands. The ability to charge both gasoline and room-and-board on the same card ranked very high on the list of my mother’s budgeting and itemizing disciplines.
When we arrived at our Holiday Inn® base-camp for our country’s capital (and my family’s endless memorial walk-a-thon), to say that my mother’s disappointment was palpable was an understatement.
Aside from the actual hotel being much further than promised from any of our destinations, the rooms were filthy, and the air conditioning didn’t condition anything.
Needless to say, we left, and immediately set up a new base camp at a non-Holiday Inn® location. After which the vacation, fortunately, proved quite memorable.
Upon our return home, my mother diligently called and wrote to management at both Holiday Inn® and Gulf® Oil L.P. - while also telling everyone she knew about her awful experience with this particular brand.
Several weeks later, a letter arrived from Holiday Inn® corporate. Contained within was a pre-paid voucher for a two-week stay at any Holiday Inn® of her choice.
Total turnaround! My mother not only once again became an enthusiastic advocate for the brand…but she did so with an enthusiasm and a persistence the likes of which may never have been seen since.
All these many years later, I continue to point out one central theory to my clients (and anyone else who asks): A brand’s focus on customer-service, and its ability to respond and engage in conversation, is, in my opinion, the greatest asset afforded through social network technologies.
Today, blind reservations and off-the-radar accommodations have been displaced by real-time customer service. And today’s technologies – specifically social networks - have given us all the ability to articulate how we feel about a brand, both positive and negative, in real time…24/7/365. And, in many cases, all we need do is tell just one person.
I tell anyone who’ll listen that the cost of IOR is minimal when you take into consideration that it’s a fundamental requirement for a brand’s survival. Then I borrow a line from Wieden+Kennedy. And I tell them to… “Just do it.”