To Respond or Not to Respond – That is the Question:
In today’s landscape, consumers expect brands to demonstrate accessibility with responsiveness on every social platform. Above all, consumers want to engage and feel like they are conversing with an actual human being.
But, it isn’t just that responsive brands get rewarded for their social media acumen. Those that choose to ignore consumers on social media face a real possibility of backlash. Take the Cracker Barrel, for example. The casual serve restaurant was the target of public outrage when a consumer named Brad asked why they had fired his wife. Because the restaurant chose to remain silent, the masses were quick to share their thoughts on the situation. Before long, amidst an onslaught of social media heckling, a Facebook page and hashtag were created entitled #JusticeforBradsWife. In addition, a petition demanding answers emerged, garnering tens of thousands of signatures. Comedians and meme creators gave it further traction, and although much of this activity was in jest, it had a tangible impact on Cracker Barrel’s image.
Join the Conversation
Brands that have an active voice on social media and stay on top of trends succeed in remaining a relevant part of the current conversation. For example, during the 2017 Solar Eclipse, MoonPie won over fans when its account responded to Hostess Cupcakes’ declaration of being the “Official Snack Cake of the Eclipse.” With a curt, two-word reply, the 100-year-old brand was officially back on the radar, and meme amplification soon followed.
Another favorite? During the 2014 Grammy awards, Arby’s noticed an uncanny similarity between Pharrell’s hat and its iconic logo – so much so that it tweeted directly to the singer and asked for the hat back. Naturally, Arby’s achieved thousands of retweets and media attention, but the real win was when Pharrell playfully responded by asking if Arby’s was “Tryna start a roast beef?” This is the kind of organic PR you simply can’t pay for.
Authenticity is Everything
This is the most important consideration because, without it, even the best intentions can backfire. Adopting the voice of the consumer is a tricky endeavor when you are a faceless, big-box brand, and there is a fine line between being authentic and trying too hard.
When Jell-O launched its tongue-in-cheek “Fun My Life” campaign, leveraging the popular #FML hashtag, it intended for consumers to appreciate the play on words with a wink and a nod. However, Jell-O missed the mark by trying to force a shift from a sarcastic and self-deprecating tone to one that was overly “fun” and highly branded. In the end, it came off as if the brand didn’t really understand the sentiment behind #FML, and that it was completely out of touch.
Communicating with consumers via social media is an integral part of the brand experience.
Brands need to consider their tone, message, and the potential impact these interactions can have on customer loyalty. Although social media may not appear to have a direct correlation to the bottom line, it is important to remember that all experiences will invariably reflect on purchase behavior. When comparing your brand to the competition, social media is the ultimate equalizer – unbound by budget, size of brand, or marketing resources. So, take advantage of the opportunity. Be involved, be responsive, be relevant, and be authentic. If you can accomplish those things, you’ll find yourself at top of mind for consumers everywhere.