1. 1 #SMCustomerThe socialmedia customerSocial media success for brands that give it a go“Social networking will overtake e-commerceactivity at a global level in 2012, highlighting theimportance that social holds for brands in 2012”Global Web IndexFishburn Hedges and Echo Research were keen to understand how brands and customersfeel about social media and how this affects their relationship with one another.It’s an issue that affects every single one of our clients. Some are diving in. Some are dippingtheir toes in the water. Others are naturally more cautious. Yet what links them is the unknown.A lot is said about social media and much of it can either create panic, or mystify those tryingto build it into their businesses.We wanted to provide something more practical, so what follows is a guide which includes six simplepearls of wisdom that are borne from leading brands, and from their crucial audience: the public.We conducted a detailed investigation analysing:• 2,000 UK consumers’ views of social media and brand engagement*• In-depth interviews with executives from leading brands – a mixture of communications, social media and customer service heads• Data from social media monitoring
2. 2Executive SummaryDespite 18 million customers flooding socialnetworks to speak to brands, companies haveyet to experience the tipping point in socialmedia. In only eight months, the numberof British consumers who have dealt withcompanies through social media has almostdoubled – from 19% in August 2011, to 36%in April 2012. Most of them (68%) believethat social media has given them greatercustomer voice.Interaction between brands and consumers throughsocial media is soaring. This seems to be fuelled bythe widespread belief amongst 40% of the public –whether they embrace it or not – that social media April 2012improves customer service.If over a third of us have already interacted with brandsonline, the tipping point will come when the remaining64% of the public starts to follow suit.So how are brands and customers interacting?• A fifth of respondents (19%) said they had dealt with big companies through social media in August 2011, rising to 36% in April 2012• Two-fifths (40%) of them believe that communicating More than a third of through this medium leads to improvements in customer service. This is some six times more Brits have already than the 7% of naysayers who fear social media will interacted with companies harm service through social media• Most of those (68%) that have used social media channels to communicate with brands believe it gives This number has them greater customer “voice” almost doubled in just eight months• Most of them (65%) believe social media is a better (19% to 36%) August 2011 way to communicate with companies than call centres, some nine times more than the 7% who felt they had a worse experience on social media
3. 3Executive SummaryOf course, all brands are being talked about online, but Gwyn Burr, head of customer services atthe question they are asking themselves is whether or Sainsbury’s said:not they wish to join the conversation. Brand leadersare no longer blindly searching for ever more fans or “I wouldn’t say we’re wary of social media,followers. Instead they are seeking to win genuine as I believe that the word ‘wary’ has negativeconsumer trust and brand advocates. This race is seen connotations. We certainly respect it – as weas the top priority. would with all direct customer contact in store.”Hash Ladha, deputy MD of high street brandOasis, said: “For me, in terms of numbers, it’s always about quality rather than quantity. I would rather have five highly engaged followers than 5,000 followers that are not engaged.” 68% of those who have used social media believe that it has allowed them to find their voice
4. 4How can brands deal withsocial media change?In spite of its startling success, social media – and our Kerryn Dinsdale, a senior PR manager at Barclaycardunderstanding of it – is roughly where radio was in 1912 describes the issue:or television in 1950 according to Sree Sreenivasan,digital media professor at Columbia University. How can “We have a web relations email address.you be expected to keep pace with these changes? If someone posts a message to us on the Facebook wall, we will send them the team’sThe good news is that there are no hard and fast email address. The reason we do this is becauserules – companies are varying approaches depending of regulation and data protection issues. Weon a number of factors. Some businesses ensure that need to be careful not to hold these discussionscustomer service conversations are maintained on one in open public spaces.”channel, wherever possible: Based on our conversations with leading socialWarren Buckley, managing director of customer service media pioneers, and their public, we’ve identified sixat BT, said: key insights to help companies to use social media to engage with customers and manage corporate “I do see companies that do it in a half-hearted reputation: fashion. One of the things that I personally hate is to look at a customer trying to engage 1. Don’t be paralysed by uncertainty a company by Twitter, and they respond back with a number to call. If I wanted to call you, 2. Don’t let social media define you – brands I would have looked up your telephone number must define it and called you.” 3. Make more of the emotional insight you haveThat isn’t an option for everyone though. Financial 4. Pick your battles – but enter them fastservices companies, for example, have to read 5. Address structural barriers in the business,carefully around security and privacy rules set bythe FSA (Financial Services Authority) when dealing not headcountwith customers. Sometimes they are forced to move 6. Fear not the #failconfidential conversations off Twitter or Facebook,onto closed channels like phone or email. We will elaborate on each of these points overleaf. It’s not just the young who are engaging on social media 40% 49.5% 44.6% 37.5% 31.75% 27.4% 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+ % of people from different age groups who have dealt with a brand through social media
5. How can brands deal with social media change? 51. Don’t be paralysedby uncertaintyWarren Buckley, managing director of customer service So it’s clear you can’t ignore it, but how do you jump in?at BT said: No single model has yet emerged as a clear winner “One person with no ‘followers’ as circumstances and the nature of interactions differ can very quickly become 10,000 people” between businesses, brands and models – and many are still experimenting.Common logic dictates that when things are goingwell this is wonderful news but what if things suddenly It is important to think clearly about what it is you wantgo awry? to achieve, which channels are appropriate for your brand, and where your customers are seeking to engageAs a new field of communication, this uncertainty has with you online. A clearly defined strategy is crucial, evenbecome a psychological straitjacket for many brands. though that may recognise that it may change.Yet within this there is an opportunity: where call centreshave arguably put barriers between customers andbrands, social media can remove those barriers and bringproximity.Managers are increasingly aware of the power of socialmedia to generate both positive and negative feedback.The one thing you should not do is ignore it.A global brand development manager at a leading FMCGbrand said: “You need to make sure you’re open, honest and transparent as a company, that you build relationships with your consumers where relevant and that you ensure that they actually want to build a relationship with you.”Alex Pearmain, head of social media at O2, said: “We have set out to have a clear two-way communication strategy at O2.”
6. How can brands deal with social media change? 61. Don’t be paralysedby uncertaintyFour common communications modelsFrom our experience and conversations, the fourmodels below reflect four prevalent stages of socialmedia adoption.1. Decentralised enthusiasmKeen employees take on social media roles withoutany co-ordinated leadership or centralised guidance,leading to a plethora of social media accounts. Thesum of the activity is often less than that of its parts –particularly when much of this initial activity is startedexcitedly, but then left dormant.2. Centralised command and controlThe approach is rarely effective: enthusiasts havecontrol taken away from them and the resourceimplications can be significant.3. Hub and spoke: decentralised and a centre of excellenceThe majority of organisations (over 80% according toUS-based Altimeter research), tend to organise into across-functional “Hub and Spoke” team.This builds around a social media centre of excellenceacting as a central resource, typically managed withincorporate communications.This team which typically manages the corporate socialmedia channels:• creates and delivers an editorial calendar across those channels• acts as a support resource for others within the busi- ness, and are empowered to use social media in their own channels (usually well-established bloggers and LinkedIn Group moderators).4. Dandelion: multiple hubsIndividuals and teams who are increasingly comfortablewith social media are given the freedom to establish (orin some cases re-establish) their own channels. Thusenabling them to amplify their business unit’s objectives,alongside content led by and distributed centrally.
7. How can brands deal with social media change? 72. Don’t let social media defineyou – brands must define itToo often brands feel the need to jump onto the social To do this you have to understand more about themedia bandwagon and simply sign up to all the current lives, aspirations and needs of the individuals you arepopular channels. Social media should not just be a targeting. The benefit is you can develop a strongcollection of tools, but a way of being – an attitude or link with some customers using social media, whocontinuation of the brand. increasingly see this as a very personal service.Such is the explosion of social media that needs become Hash Ladha, deputy MD of Oasis recalls anmore emotional and decisions can be made in a knee- experience from its sister brand, Warehouse:jerk way. Just because “Brand X” uses Facebook orPinterest, “Brand Y” wants to follow suit, even if it’s “We did a campaign called ‘Random Acts ofmore appropriate that LinkedIn or a bespoke Kindness’ where if someone was having a badcollaboration is used. day we’d send them some flowers, or if they were having IT issues we would send themContent is just as important as appropriate channels an iPad. For me it’s about quality rather thanto defining your social media approach – or letting it quantity.”define you. Whilst some well loved brands can easilyfind a following on social media channels, few, if any, canmaintain an active group of brand advocates withoutkeeping them interested with carefully tailored content.According to one senior communications manager, “it’s an extremely important medium if you are relying on recommendations and word of mouth. The challenge is to use it effectively and to have a regular stream of content that is interesting enough for people to engage with you. I think you’ve got to work extremely hard to be relevant, absorbing and timely.”
8. How can brands deal with social media change? 82. Don’t let social media defineyou – brands must define itSocial media may be the biggest change in customerrelations since the rise of call centres in the 1990s,suggests BT’s Warren Buckley. However, the bigdifference is that this new medium gives much moresay to the customer, says Buckley. “What I love aboutsocial media is that it opens up completely differently,so the customer is very much in charge.” This can giverise to concerns about consumers or activists postingcomplaints or launching a negative online campaignagainst a brand. This will always be a risk that companieswill need to prepare for. But the big upside is thatthey can engage in quite powerful conversations withcustomers on a more equal level if they can establish theright tone and level of trust.A brand manager at a global consumer goods companystresses that you need to be very aware of this enhancedcustomer voice gained through social media. “I wouldn’t say that I’m ‘wary’ of the customer voice. But I do think it presents you with ever-increasing challenges as a company. You need to make sure you’re open, honest and transparent as a company, that you build 40% relationships with your consumers where relevant and that you ensure that they actually want to build a relationship with you.” This is some six times more than the believe social media improves customer service of naysayers who 7% fear social media will harm service
9. How can brands deal with social media change? 93. Make more of theemotional insight you haveCustomer data has given brands huge insights into Alex Pearmain, head of social media in the UK forbehaviour from the point of sale and from market O2, said:research. Now social media takes that to a new level:understanding emotions of consumers. “We make sure we feed back any information we get to other teams. At O2 we have witnessedIt creates an unprecedented opportunity for brands an explosion of people using social networkswhich the early pioneers are leaping on. The challenge and as an organisation we need to make sureis how to effectively tap into this information, sort the that the opportunity is capitalised on and allfluff from fact and usefully feed it back into the business. the customers’ needs are met.”John Hartley, Communications Planning Manager at the The head of marketing of one multinational brand, said:banking group, HSBC, said: “Being able to hear customer responses, “These huge communities that are building up understand how they feel and engage in fast across the globe, offer vast sources of knowledge, paced dialogue are clear benefits of using insight and emotion. One of the benefits of social social media. However, social media shouldn’t media is that you get very immediate and visible be mistaken as the silver bullet for every kind feedback. There is a missed opportunity if you of marketing challenge, and should, like other don’t do anything with it”. disciplines, be used in the context of an overall strategy.”Hash Ladha, deputy MD of Oasis, said: There are many effective monitoring tools available “You can learn things about your customers that today which can help you decipher customer trends and you wouldn’t otherwise have known.” other useful insights. The sheer volume and scale of the customer data available to brands is clear to see when you take a peek at some quick insights for a selection of the 2012 top Consumer Superbrands. This data was current as of 30 April 2012 and was analysed over a six month period.
10. How can brands deal with social media change? 104. Pick your battles – butenter them fast “In the ‘old days’ of traditional media it But you should not always feel you have to respond. was about pushing [information] to people Kerryn Dinsdale, senior PR manager at Barclaycard said: [influencing and informing] what they might think, whereas today it’s all about dialogue – “We don’t respond to all comments, though we about them telling you what they think. In that reply to those where we feel we could provide sense the consumer is king. When people post answers and advice,” a message on a social media site, they expect a response in real time. This puts a tremendous Sarah Schofield, head of corporate communications at amount of pressure on us as a business to be PepsiCo agrees: responsive.” “Some people have knee-jerk reactions whenThese words from a leading director in external affairs at they see something online and think they musta multinational consumer goods company, encapsulates react immediately. 10 people discussing onlinethe broad conclusion of the pioneers. People expect isn’t really an issue, and if 10 people were in afast communications be that on Twitter, Facebook or pub discussing something similar, you wouldn’tany other social networking site. If you fail to respond take any notice. Obviously it needs to bequickly they will lose the opportunity to connect with a monitored but kept in perspective.”customer at best and at worst might create a negative Hash Ladha, deputy MD at Oasis said:.reaction that could escalate into something worse. “If a consumer puts something on a social media site criticising us, generally we wouldn’t respond straight away. We monitor such comments and any subsequent debate with other customers, but would only interject if we felt it was appropriate and there was value in doing so. We’d never remove negative comments – it’s important we let customers air their views,” 65% think social media is better than call centres nine times more think call than those who felt centres are worse off using better than social media 7% social media
11. How can brands deal with social media change? 114. Pick your battles –but enter them fastBT’s Warren Buckley points out that sometimes peoplewon’t be expecting any further responses. “Sometimes a customer might complain about their broadband, and we might say, ‘We’re sorry to hear about that. Can we help?’. If they don’t respond, we respect that because they may just be ‘blowing off’ a bit of steam.”It goes without saying that to enable quick and effectiveresolution of online customer issues, it is essential thatthe team doing the online monitoring is closely alignedwith the customer service team who would ultimatelyresolve the issue.At Fishburn Hedges we have helped clients set up fastcustomer service channels for online queries – reducingresponse times down from a traditional three days toa number of hours. This need not be difficult and canoften simply be an new email address which is regularlymonitored by the call centre staff.Jo Causon, CEO at the Institute for CustomerService said: “How organisations integrate their channels to market is really important. As a consumer, if I purchase an item online and need to take it back, I might want to take it back to a shop rather than sending it back. Understanding my behaviour and shopping habits and how these change is really important – critically you need to make it easy for me.’’
12. How can brands deal with social media change? 125. Address structural barriers inthe business, not headcountThe brands we have spoken to have all resourced social At BT, the new focus is on creating the need for ain different ways. Some have appointed dedicated social dedicated team.media teams. Others have divided responsibilities across “My customer service team co-ordinates all ofcorporate communications and customer service and our social media responsibility, but it is fair tosome outsource a lot of the work to PR/digital agencies. say that there is a virtual team,”There is no right answer. Headcount may work for some, says Warren Buckley, managing director of customerbut throwing staff at a problem is futile if structural service at BT.barriers are in place. “We look to respond to tweets within an hour.By sharing expertise amongst the business and removing This means we need our teams to be able tostructural barriers, you may surprise yourself at the level do this within an hour. We’ve had to work withof expertise already existing within your company. all teams across the business to try and make these new types of relationships work.”Sainsbury’s digital media manager, Thomas Knorpp toldus that social media is a business-wide responsibility: “There is a huge amount of interaction between different areas of the business, with respect to social media.”Sarah Schofield, PepsiCo head of corporatecommunications, said: “We resource social media with a mixture of in-house individuals and digital agencies”.At O2 an analytics expert has been appointed to get themost out of the information that pours in. 279 heads of 1,062 social media 134,974 have social media in 511 ‘social media’ social media consultants their job title or job description related jobs advertisedA snapshot look at UK job titles and advertised jobs on LinkedIn. Data collected in April 2012.
13. How can brands deal with social media change? 136. Fear not the #failThere have been numerous public brand mishaps played Transparent trouble-shootingout on social media in recent years, and this has been In fact, being able to quickly identify and resolvea concern to most businesses out there worrying if they negative issues that bubble up on social media channelsmight be next. Nobody is perfect on social media and can be a significant reputational opportunity for brands.such is the volume of dissatisfied voices, the social medialeaders know from experience that there is a difference Increasingly, companies are learning how to managebetween a genuine crisis and flash of negative chatter crises that come through this medium. BT’s Buckleythat quickly dies down. recalls one incident.It’s important to remember that conversations are “Several months ago we had a series ofalready happening about your brand online and if you network outages in Scotland, and we actuallydo not have a presence then your half of the story resolved the issue by inviting everyone whocannot be effectively told. had participated in that particular thread to a web chat session which I hosted. We had a very open and honest conversation about that. As long as you are willing to be transparent and respond to the feedback to those groups, then, generally speaking, people accept what you are trying to do.” In one global consumer goods company, they have integrated social media into all discussions relating to crisis management, according to a senior brand manager there. “I work with a number of people across the communications department, and we have a monthly editorial board meeting to discuss issues circulating around social media.”
14. 14Please do visit www.fishburn-hedges.co.uk/social-media-customer to find out further informationand hear more opinions on this subject.Fishburn Hedges helps leading organisations promote and defend corporate reputations, in anuncertain worldwww.fishburn-hedges.co.uk/social-media-customerFor more information about Fishburn Hedges, do call Clare Anderson on +44(0)20 7839 4321or email firstname.lastname@example.org Echo Research is the premier global specialist in reputation analysis and stakeholder research.For 23 years, we have enabled clients to measure how they are viewed and to protect theintegrity of their brands and reputation. Echo’s digital platform, Echo Sonar, helps clients tounderstand in real-time what’s being said about their organisation in the news, broadcast andsocial media. www.echoresearch.com/enFor more information about Echo Research, contact Matt Painter on +44(0) 1483 413 652 orMattP@echoresearch.com* OnePoll Research is a division of the SWNS Group and conducted both customer polls. There were two bursts of nationally representative onlineresearch (August 2011 and April 2012), each one polling 2,000 UK adults.