The company who always hits the mark with me for doing things right in social media is Blendtec.
Tom Dickson’s accidental invention of the “Will it Blend” series for his Utah blender company launched, then skyrocketed, their online presence which now includes Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.
Ranging from advice, customer service assistance and recipes to contests and giveaways, they use the social media platforms individually and cohesively to foster a lifestyle, not just to promote their product.
Their strategy to “be genuine and create original content that people will love to see” is a benchmark for all other retailers to replicate. They monitor the engagement success of each post, fine-tuning the content to meet the demands of their audience to increase exposure and build momentum.
Not only do they use it successfully themselves, they offer social media articles, tips and infographics to the benefit of the businesses they service in a user-friendly, digestible format.
I was drawn to Intuit through my company, which supports small businesses in Eastern Ontario in a variety of roles. Many of these firms use Quickbooks as their accounting software of choice.
I have made use of the many free services that are offered by Intuit to assist my clients, including the TurboTax AnswerXchange which has more than 15 million users and facilitates the exchange of questions, answers and tips among common users as well as experts.
Intuit’s fantastic online community branded “Inner Circle” was created as a forum for users to provide feedback and requests to Intuit in order to improve the product(s). This forum played a key role in the product development cycle and led to the suite of Small Business blogs.
Their major 2013 online campaign “Small Business Big Game” led to tens of thousands of businesses enrolling for a chance to win a SuperBowl tv ad and was responsible for more than 8 billion impressions in social and traditional media. This was won by a small Oakland, California toy company called Goldie Blox.
Their 2014 contest, called “Small Business, Local Buzz” awarded 15 small businesses with $5000 in tools for online exposure.The customer care team monitors posts for support via multiple Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts, engages a broad audience through a dozen different blogs geared for a variety of audiences, and provides many instructional YouTube videos. They have a strong presence on LinkedIn for recruiting and careers.
One of their most popular forms of engagement is the “Question of the Week” that promotes a buzz feed among users of all platforms. They also offer support through a live chat option on their website.
Social Media, like Accounting is an integral part of every business and paramount to the function and success of the organization. Marrying the two in order to exploit the combined benefits is brilliant. Intuit definitely has an impressive social media strategy.
Their “Connected Services Vision is to meet the needs of an increasingly connected world, by creating products and services that are available how, where and when customers want them”.
They are well on their way to accomplishing that.
On the flip side, the company I feel that needs to greatly improve their social media strategy and capture a greater market share through authenticity is United Airlines. They have still failed to embrace online engagement effectively, in spite of the huge kerfuffle after Dave Carroll’s guitar was broken in 2008, his now-famous video ballad, the ensuing social media frenzy, and his book “United Breaks Guitars”.
While they have succeeded in achieving 591K followers on Twitter, 782K on Facebook, 54K on Instagram and 9K YouTube subscribers, their safety video is the only one to break 100K views. Whereas the United Breaks Guitars complaint video has over 14 million views.
The ‘About’ field on their Facebook page clearly indicates they won’t be responding directly to posts.
To add insult to injury, the link they provide lands on the main page of their website, not the ‘Contact Us’ page. That page is not user friendly in the least, revealing itself as both overly wordy and starting with an FAQ section. It takes digging to uncover the phone and email contact options and any assistance requires several clicks or lengthy form completion, which only serves to magnify the disgruntled mindset of the inquiring passenger. The first two posts on their Facebook page were negative and they failed to respond.This is repeated in the management of the LinkedIn page, except it appears their preferred handling is to just delete complaints from the page:
United needs to differentiate itself from its competitors as well as distance itself from its own negligent reputation. It could certainly learn from airlines like WestJet that use social media as a focal point in delivering their marketing strategy.
United’s priority should be to listen and respond individually on a person to person basis, (not from a pre-formed dialogue), in order to build a genuine and respected presence. Learning who their clients are, what needs they have, how they spend their days and what’s important to them will help United to identify channels to effectively fill their demands.
If they choose not to respond openly on every platform, they need to at least offer a direct link to their customer service department and ensure that responses are timely and performed by individuals with the authority to act.
They need to develop a proactive, sound social media strategy and not just use social media as a venue to react to customer responses.
Once they have started to build a bridge between themselves and their communities, they can then change the focus from themselves onto their audience. The attention needs to shift from “all about United” to “all about United’s passengers” if they want to be successful with social media and their followers.