In 2009, it seems that most major brands and companies are utilizing social media to connect with customers and users. But the question remains: Despite the fact these brands love to claim how they are ‘on’ Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, how well are they actually leveraging these services to the benefit of their brand?
There has been some excellent examples over the past year of some major brands using social media to connect and respond to customers complaints, opinions and problems. Let’s take a look at some of the brands using social media to their advantage:
A gamer “Levinator25″ posts a video on YouTube claiming to have found a glitch in the EA Sports game ‘Tiger Woods Golf 08′. The video creates a buzz of conversation on the web about the so called glitch in the game. EA could have ignored this but instead opted to create a YouTube video response directly aimed at the gamer “Levinator25″. The video response by EA featured none other than Tiger Woods himself and created a hype for the game that drove sales through the roof. This is a great example of a massive corporation/brand talking to the individual through Social Media.
American Cable Service provider Comcast are one of the leaders in offering superior customer service via Twitter. The customer service team at Comcast monitor complaints and general feedback on Twitter like a bird watching its prey. If you complain or have an issue about Comcast and their services, rest assured that you’ll promptly hear from @comcastcares to see what they can do to help you out.
The Fiesta Movement project was initiated by Ford to promote their new car. They enlisted 100 people, all aged in their 20’s that are regular users of social media. Each person was given a new Ford Fiesta to drive for 6 months and they were then required to blog about their experiences with the car via social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.
Ford had been clever enough to engage entries for the Fiesta Movement project via YouTube and in the process managed to draw an enormous number of submissions. This allowed a healthy buzz of conversation to develop on Twitter and news blogs all for minimal cost outlay.
Virgin America, an offshoot of Virgin Airlines tweet from everything about new flight deals and destinations to everything fun and irreverent in between that the Virgin brand is renowned for. Virgin America also uses social media for some promotional activities, which included posting live tweets onboard a flight by Virgin founder, the one and only Sir Richard Branson.
The airline is also incredibly good at managing customer service issues via social media. Customers with damaged baggage or complaints about their flights have voiced their problems to the airline via Twitter and have had the issue addressed the same day.
Using Social Media To Your Advantage
Turning a negative customer experience into a positive one has been one of the most powerful uses for websites such as Twitter.
Being able to monitor conversations about your brand via Twitter now allows you to see what people are saying and gives you the ability to create personal relationships with customers and talk to them one-on-one.
Gone are the days of massive corporate entities ignoring the consumer, social media has given a voice to everyone that these companies can simply no longer ignore.
The ripple effect of social media is so great that all it takes is one poor customer experience, issue or opinion to spread across the web via Twitter or YouTube, and a brand can have an instantaneous public relations nightmare on their hands.
For example, take American fast food giants Taco Bell and Domino’s pizza. Last year, employees of both companies filmed videos of severe breaches in hygiene standards and then uploaded them to YouTube.
Despite the damage that these videos caused to the respective brands, both Domino’s and Taco Bell used social media as their response mechanism to the YouTube videos and managed to repair their image and address customer’s concerns.
The lesson learnt by brands from all of this is that the web and social media are the greatest equalizers of all when it comes to allowing customers and the general public a platform to voice their opinion.
Whether your brand is doing good, bad or ugly things, social media will call you out. How you and your brand use social media to talk to the consumer and manage the situation effectively is totally up to you.
Just remember that social media is an incredibly useful tool to talk to consumers and inform them about how your brand is responding to certain situations. The key thing for any brand to remember is to be transparent when communicating the details as this will more often than not work to prevent a negative scenario from going viral and spreading across the web.