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Creating a brand ready for social media – part 3

Scott McLean’s recent blog looked at how brands are using social media. This one is looking at why you should consider being social. The starting point, as with so many things, is to ask what are you trying to achieve? What’s the goal?


This is my second blog from an event organised by The Information Standard, held in partnership with Patient Information Forum, and the third of four from the session that I presented jointly with Scott McLean, Managing Director at Speed Communications.

Here are some of the questions you should be asking.

  • Who is my audience? Does it need segmenting? Where are they? What do I know about them and their consumption of media? Can I address all their interests through one conversation or should I consider multiple conversations? Will different audiences inhabit different social environments?
  • What am I trying to get my audience to do?
  • Who already influences my audiences within social media and do I need to influence them?
  • Have I thought through the risks? Will I need a detractor engagement plan (see below)?
  • Is this going to impact customer services and how will we co-ordinate?
  • What is my tone of voice and how does this align with my brand?
  • What is my content strategy and who do I need to involve?
  • What is the call to action which gives audiences a reason to engage with my brand?
  • What are the next step actions? Have I supported this from a content and destination point of view?
  • How does this align with the rest of my marketing and communication strategy?
  • How am I going to resource this?

There is more to this than meets the eye. But planning is vital.

I have a friend in Koh Tao, Thailand who owns a small, yet popular, fish restaurant http://www.barracudakohtao.com/  trading on his training and expertise from the renowned English’s in Brighton. He has been in business couple of years and his only (and I mean only) marketing is through TripAdvisor. He relies on, and encourages, customers leaving comments on the site to drive real, paying customers to his door. He uses it as an incentive for his employees, who get a bonus for every 50 positive comments, and as a barometer of how well his menu is going, or whether his cocktails are hitting the spot. He monitors it every day, and when the occasional negative comment comes back he’s on to it straight away, often making changes to his menu the same day. One customer, he told me, left unflattering comments. He followed her trail of reviews and all of them for her visits to the island had been negative, including her hotel and diving instructor. He offered her the chance to return and he would join with all the local businesses and show her a good time. A huge round of (virtual) applause from his other customers (as well as the neighbouring businesses) followed.

My friend has (although he probably wouldn’t call it this) a detractor engagement plan. All organisations will have their detractors. Being prepared for them means that you are on the ball, and can benefit from the positive feedback from supporters.

On the other hand, you may have spotted this story in London’s Evening Standard. A ‘hot-headed’ chef responded angrily on Twitter to a diner commenting on his food in his relatively obscure blog. It all blew out of proportion and having a plan would have ensured that this would never have happened.

Which all leads me to nine ideas you shouldn’t forget when writing your detractor engagement plan:

  1. Don’t blog, tweet, in fact, do anything, when you are blissfully happy, tipsy, dead on your feet, angry, down in the dumps, really, really hungry. You’ll just say something you’ll regret
  2. Social media isn’t an excuse for laziness. Abbreviations, acronyms, slang, bad English, all reflect badly on your brand, because they then suggest that is how you will do business with them. No one wants a service with shortcuts
  3. When tweeting or posting from a brand say who you are. Say: “Hi, it’s Peter here from The Team”
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else
  5. Don’t talk about stuff that doesn’t concern you. It’s a waste of time and will confuse your story
  6. The law of unintended consequences is amplified on social media
  7. Bad news isn’t bad news. It’s advice. Someone commenting negatively is really telling you that you’ve got something wrong. It could be the message, or the service. Manage. People will admire your honesty and intention to change things
  8. The moment you set up a social media account as a brand, you are setting up a new customer services channel. Work out how you’ll respond to enquiries
  9. Only ever do anything social if it answers your objectives. Know these inside out and return to them at every stage so you keep on track and stay focused.

Next post will be on, who will offer our 10 ideas for protecting and enhancing your brand online.

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