Project Disengage: What Not to Do With Social Media

Social media is a great way to drive engagement – you can grow, you will learn, and your fans will help spread the word. It is true that you can grow your list and use social media for effective customer service; but if that is your only focus, you are going to end up with a not-so-typical problem on your hands.

A major consumer goods brand brought me in to give their digital engagement strategy a makeover. They had begun their strategy with three major goals – use social media to grow exponentially, use social media as a means to manage customer service issues, and do something viral every single week.

What they had created was scary – they had grown a large list through extreme couponing, which only resulted with more than half of their list full of people who had just signed up for the freebie. They created multiple sign-up pages for consumers to access their brand through multiple social media sites. A consumer could receive a coupon via Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, and even YouTube. A consumer could even sign up via their website, receive a coupon through their mobile site, or call up customer service to get the freebie.

A consumer could also sign up at multiple venues. All that was needed was a unique identifier. The problem was that a consumer could have multiple unique identifiers – Twitter, Facebook, email addresses, mobile numbers (with no shortage of email addresses). And with over 1 million digital connections, they were connected to less than 200,000 unique people, and the level of engagement was pitiful.

Their other big problem was that their social forum turned into a place where people continuously complained about different issues. This started off as a good thing because it gave them an opportunity to address issues, but the challenge that they ran into was that they had too many sites for their social team to monitor. When the customer issues did not get addressed, the problems started escalating.

In a little time, their social sites turned into places where consumers would only complain about their bad experiences. This was compounded by tardy responses or no responses at all.

The goal to create something viral every week started off quite well. They had some good videos that gave them a boost, they ran a few contests, and they even got consumers to “check in” at their locations. After a few weeks, this got stale – and the brand started reusing previously published content with disastrous results. In no time, this endeavor sunk to the ground.

My audit was easy because the problems were very obvious. We were forced to restart and rebrand on social media. Our new approach was far more focused and engaging. We came up with a value proposition for the brand where the brand would use social media to find new consumers, know more about these consumers, and get the consumers involved in spreading the word.

We got the consumers involved by running trivia contests to get engagement going. We found fewer consumers, but the consumers we found were those that were interested in our brand offering. We were able to do a much more effective job with customer service by reducing the number of social channels we had, and by actually training our traditional customer service channel to monitor and respond on the social media sites.

Oh, and we did go viral – every week we posted an engaging picture that was sent to us by our fans. Other fans jumped in by coming up with suggested captions, and while we don’t have thousands of hits, we have been successful in keeping our audience engaged.

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