Recently, several of us from the agency attended PRSA Boston’s Social Media Summit at Bentley University. The summit was brimming with attendees who helped peak the event’s Twitter hashtag to the nation’s second-highest trending topic.
360PR’s Director of Digital Strategy and Creative Services Kyle Bishop led the Driving Engagement panel, with Chandra Carson of Stonyfield, David Oksman of The Life is good Company and Jeremy Warnick of LoJack Corporation.
Bishop kicked off the session by explaining seven easy engagement steps that every brand should master: Pay attention, create a plan, get visual, tag it, time it, join it and adjust. He also expressed that, as a brand, you cannot expect your customers to engage if you aren’t actively listening and engaging with them every day (and even more often – minutes count in social media).
While that may sound simple enough, there’s no one-size fits all solution. For example, Stonyfield has a vast array of products that appeal to a variety of shoppers that span across differing demographics. Instead of creating one Facebook brand page that rotates content to serve distinctly different audiences, Stonyfield took the savvy approach of launching three individual Facebook pages – one catering to moms, one to Greek yogurt consumers and one to their traditional yogurt fans. That has enabled the brand to engage on a more personal level.
In the vein of listening to your audiences, Oksman of Life is good stated that sometimes driving engagement may be achieved by simply asking your fans what they want and being as transparent as possible. He followed that with a Life is good social media credo of “making some joys, not some noise.” Creating a brand presence that is enjoyable and well respected online will translate into a deeper offline experience. It’s important for brands to strike the perfect balance of share-worthy product news and community-based interaction.
Oksman believes that when consumers and brands come together and engage, the outcome may result in a powerful movement. “When we do something together we can create something beautiful,” said Oksman, who added that new product ideas, retail locations, and community events have all derived from conversations that were sparked online.
Warnick of LoJack Corporation asked the audience, “How can you engage with someone if you don’t know how they feel or what they’re thinking?” By assigning dedicated recovery agents to social media, LoJack Corporation manages their social media platforms in a very customer-focused way. Their commitment to social media forces them to proactively listen and engage. Warnick presented a case study in which a LoJack customer — with a very high Twitter following — had their car stolen. The customer tweeted to her following and included LoJack’s Twitter handle. Due to active listening, LoJack was able to engage with the customer, obtain important information, and with police assistance they were able to locate the stolen car – creating a success story that gained significant attention.
One audience member asked if panelists had mistakenly posted incorrect information or an unintended personal post on one of their brands’ platforms. Everyone was a bit reluctant to answer. However, Oksman reminded the group that even social media gurus are human and that mistakes happen. Once it’s out there, the best thing to do is to acknowledge, remove and directly engage with fans who spotted the snafu.
I’m reminded of the adage ‘honesty is the best policy.’ Old, but perhaps more relevant than ever, with today’s social media conversations.