Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hey! Marketers! Leave Those Customers Alone!

How often do you want to "engage" with your toilet paper brand? Or your phone company? What about your bank? If you're like me, if you want to be "engaged" at all you want to initiate that engagement when you have a question or problem, and then you want that engagement to end once the problem has been solved.

You don't want coupons for toilet paper in your Facebook stream. You don't want to read tweets from the CEO of your mobile carrier. You don't want to get e-mails about the interest rates on money market accounts your bank offers.

You just want to be left alone until you need something. Does that sound right?


According to social media marketer Neicole Crepeau , despite what you may have heard "most customers don't want a conversation with a company or its representatives." And the glut of company fan pages on Facebook may be part of what's driving people away from Facebook. Either way, people are un-liking businesses, and that trend is being driven by marketers trying to "engage" too frequently.

Sure, there are a handful of brand loyalists who might want to spend a lot of time following a particular company (and different industries will have varying proportions of these sorts of people). But as Crepeau writes:

It may be worth engaging that minority deeply, as brand advocates. But companies aren't focusing on deeply engaging with the few people who deeply want to engage with them. Most companies either aren't doing social media, or they are in a race to acquire as many fans and followers as possible and then get likes and comments from as many as possible.

It should be obvious, but getting followers on Facebook or Twitter doesn't equate to making sales. But with the number of household products with Twitter accounts these days, it seems like this point is worth repeating. (Grocery stores may be an exception here, if the coupon offerings are strong enough.)

So what exactly should companies be using social media for? I agree with Crepeau that "Good companies will continue to monitor, respond, answer questions, address concerns, elicit suggestions, all through social media as well as other means."

Large companies should use social media to help their customers, not ram marketing down their throats. And your social media strategy and tools (such as monitoring and analytics tools) should be in alignment with this idea. Building a fan page for your company is fine, but the real work is in keeping your customers happy. Remember: customer service is marketing.

Photo by kioan


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