At EmpowerCX Americas 2019, social media expert Dan Gingiss revealed the five simple steps any company can take to get their customers to actively promote them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
How do you get your customers to start talking about you positively on social media? It’s a question being asked in every marketing department in every major organization across the U.S and beyond. And unfortunately, according to Dan Gingiss, all too often the answer is to keep trying things until something hits the spot.
As well as co-hosting the Experience This! podcast dedicated to all things customer experience (CX), Gingiss has been the Senior Director of Global Social Media at McDonald’s, Head of Digital Marketing at Humana and the Head of Digital Customer Experience & Social Media at Discover Card. What’s more, he’s also the best-selling author of Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. So, when he talks about how to get your customers talking more positively about you on social media, brands sit up and take notice.
Don’t be afraid of Twitter
“When we think about what gets shared on social media we often think about negative customer experiences,” says Gingiss; “In fact a lot of companies are afraid to get on to Twitter because they don’t want to deal with the negativity.”
But even if at first glance Twitter and Facebook feeds seem to be full of brand criticism; it isn’t all negativity. Sitel Group research shows that while 30% of consumers would share a negative customer experience on social media, 49% of people would share a positive experience.
“So people want to share a positive experience we just don’t give them enough positive experiences to share because too much of what we do is what my millennial friends would describe as ‘meh’,” Gingiss points out. “People are talking about us whether we’re on social or not. We should be part of this conversation.”
Being on social channels lets your brand participate in the conversation people are having about you, but how do you steer that conversation so that people are talking about you positively?
Being wise to social media
The first step, according to Gingiss is to listen to your customers, across all channels. They’re already telling you what you’re doing well and where you need to do more in terms of products, services or approach to CX.
Once this is clear, it’s time to take a WISE approach. “WISE is four things that you can do, four filters you can apply to the experiences your company is delivering to determine whether these are things people are going to want to talk about on social media in a positive way, explains Gingiss. “WISE is being witty, intentional, shareable and extraordinary.”
By witty, Gingiss isn’t urging companies to become joke tellers, but rather think about how you would normally say something and find another way. “I don’t mean that you have to be humorous. Humor can be dangerous because what I find funny you might find offensive. And vice versa,” he says. “Being witty means being a little bit clever, saying things in a slightly different way than expected and therefore standing out.”
That can mean being simple and direct. Often the language we use to engage with customers is the language we use internally – office speak and industry jargon. And often it fails to connect with people who don’t work at your organization.
“Positive, shareable experiences don’t happen by accident,” warns Gingiss. “You have to prepare them and create them in a way in which you believe they will be shared.” In other words, you have to be intentional. To illustrate the point Gingiss uses the example of Imperfect Produce, a U.S. company that lets consumers sign up to receive a box of imperfectly shaped fruit and vegetables on a weekly basis.
The food is perfectly edible but because of visual quality control supermarkets won’t buy it from farmers meaning that in many cases they have no other option than to send it to landfill. As consumers order more food, they receive little gifts in their boxes to celebrate how many pounds of produce they’ve saved from landfill. “They’re little surprises and delights,” says Gingiss of the presents. “Do they cost a lot of money – no. But are they intentionally shareable – yes.”
Whatever experience you create, it has to be easy to share and it has to be something that people will want to share. To highlight how simple this can be, Gingiss points to a company called Punk Post that sends personalized, artist-designed thank-you notes and thank-you cards. “People that receive these cards hang them up in the office, tell their friends, take photos and share them online,” says Gingiss. “Did anyone do that the last time you sent a thank-you email? Of course not.”
“Nobody shares a ‘meh’ experience,” stats Gingiss. “So we have to think about how to be a bit better than ordinary so that people want to talk about us.” That can mean going a little further when resolving a problem and writing a personal email that directly speaks to a customer, rather than using an email template.
Or it can mean something as outrageous as IKEA’s recent marketing campaign where it treated paper fliers advertising a crib with the same chemical used in pregnancy tests. If you urinated on it and were pregnant, a money off voucher would appear.
But whatever it is, you’ll arrive at the best idea by walking in your customers’ shoes. Then by combining that idea with the other points you’ll have your WISE approach. But even that isn’t enough.
“I want you to be wiser than the competition and the thing that makes you wiser is to be responsive,” says Gingiss. “There are so many companies today that are getting mentioned on social media and are not engaging back with their customers. Do you let the phone ring off the hook? No. Do you let emails go unanswered? No. But a lot of companies think it’s ok on social media and it’s not.”
And of course if you follow the WISE approach then there will be more positive talk on social channels. Therefore you have a responsibility to recognize that customers are being nice about you.
“People don’t call your contact center to tell you what a great job you’re doing. But it happens all the time on social media,” emphasizes Gingiss. “Why would you ignore somebody who’s taking time out of their day to say something nice about you, in public that their friends and followers will see? You have to engage back.”
The acceptable time for responding to social media posts is getting lower every year. Today, the leading brands aim to reply to a Tweet within 30 minutes and companies such as American Airlines, which operate globally, 24/7 have been known to respond in under 10 minutes, any time of the day or night.
But just because social never sleeps, does that mean that your brand has to stay awake, too? “The answer is it depends on your business,” replies Gingiss. “If you’re a retail store and you’re open 8-5 you don’t have to be on social 24/7, what you do have to do is set expectations. So on your channel tell people that you’re here to help them 8-5 and they’ll understand. Setting customer expectations goes a long way to making sure they don’t get disappointed.”
To create a positive buzz on social media about your brand means being wiser. And that means being witty, being intentional, being shareable, and doing something out of the ordinary. “And finally when people are kind enough to take time out of their day to praise you in a social channel you have to be there to say thank you, we love you back,” stresses Gingiss.