Facebook is nice. So is Youtube. And other social media out there. The trouble is online conversations should always be supported by real-life attention to detail and care for the customer. Otherwise, all our PR efforts will eventually be in vain.
Social media is … well, social. It’s more about behaviour and psychology than some of us would like to admit. People stay online for a reason. Some seek companionship, some look for an audience, some have something to share with the rest of the world. We already see a shift from “likes” and “shares” to valuable, inventive content created by users. (Content which we still don’t know how to put to use, though that’s another story…)
Companies and PR firms do their best at estimating preferences of their audiences but, despite investing considerable amounts into social media, at times they forget the basic fact: people are people.
No, this time it’s not about the title of a Depeche Mode song. It’s about understanding that, before online self-fulfillment and creative content, people have been proven to like anyone who can make them a promise and keep it. Including brands. And, furthermore, it’s about us people wanting only to experience nice, happy, fluffy moments, that we’ll make us coming back for more.
Why am I babbling about this you’d ask? Because I often ran – like many others - into companies with a good social media presence which treat their customers with little to no consideration. I often find myself in front of a store counter with a Facebook idea in my mind and end up annoyed and frustrated.
A brand is about the experience a company manages to create in my mind over and over again. It’s about the Starbucks coffee or the Coca Cola drink that always taste the same, everywhere in the world. These names are successful in social media because they are successful in real life, where they never fail the customer.
So, next time I’ll be less generous with my likes on Facebook. Rather than liking the great pharmaceutical chain that refuses to correct their mistake after charging me 100 bags instead of one and prefer to return me the value of 99 bags rather than recalculating the VAT, I will spend a larger amount on Amazon, because they have a great customer service which sent me (again) the DVDs I did not receive and answered my e-mail in a heartbeat. On a freaking Sunday.
As PR professionals (because this is a story about PR after all), our job in using social media and developing strategies for it is not easy. We are still discovering what works and what doesn’t. But one thing we can make sure of: that we match our online promises with those we make face to face. That we deliver our company’s best rather than some moon that isn’t real. Over-promissing is not recommended.
Until next time, make only promises that you can keep. And practice white magic (=PR).