Been debating the issue whether the “Customer Conversations with Brand” is at all something us social media communicators should spend time, energy and resources on.
Sometimes it is so tiring to see every (social) marketer worth his/her salt (or so he/she thinks) going on and on about ‘sparking conversations’ with customers. If you think of it, no one fires up a social media app thinking, “I can’t wait to have a conversation with my shampoo brand!” But (and a big but) there are situations and categories where people actually do so. Let’s examine this ‘sparking conversations’ thingy
Every time a marketing team says their social media objective is to spark “conversations” with people, there are a few simple things that need to be established:
- If someone comments on your social properties, and a Customer Care rep gets back to them – that’s not a conversation.
- If a comment on a social property is met with a GIF or a meme to spark “engagement” – that’s not a conversation either.
- The most important – the marketing team wants to have conversations, but does the business want the same?
When someone actually calls your helpline, how many minutes do they spend pressing buttons on a menu trying to hear a human voice? When they go to your website, does the little messenger in the bottom right corner lead to an automated response, or a real human being?
More often than not, the marketing team wants to have conversations with customers, but the business doesn’t. It’s not set up to. And the definition of a brand conversation in a marketer’s mind and a consumer’s mind are two very different things. Forced conversations are terrible. Especially with brands. “Sparking conversations with brand” cannot be a marketing objective.
On the other hand
What about the brand who have conversation and community as a core part of their proposition?
– The weight loss brand built on the principle of people coming together to encourage each other to success, with a conversation that is actively encouraged and started by both the brand and its customers. And that brand is not authentic to itself, or as successful, without sparking conversation (that add value, create loyalty, grow retention etc)
– What about the mental health brand who’s core proposition is conversation, where people openly share their stories and experiences on social, and where creating awareness of discussion forums and expertise deepens the value of the brand to the users.
– Same is true for gadgets brands. Last I checked, One Plus became such a ‘Never Settler’ because of brand’s relations with its community of enthusiasts, evangelists and common customers
So what this leaves us at. I am as confused as you, but one thing is sure, things are fluid in this world of gigabytes and smart phones. Customers are sending signals with every tap of on their screens. Research and understand your customers and their needs, then decide what they want.
If, they want to have conversations, talk away, as humanely as possible, and address their needs. If all they want is good quality products you do that. If they are craving attentive and empathetic customer care service, you should be there when they need you. You keep pegging away and you won’t know what you may end up with. Hell, we have dyed-in-the-wool B2B chemical company BASF selling their chemicals on Facebook. So everything works (may be not everything), just figure out your sweetspot.
BUT FIX THAT AUTOMATED CHATBOT FIRST!!!