Social Engagement: Only as Cool as the Other Side of the Pillow

Accurate listening and efficient workflow will win customer loyalty

by Malcolm De Leo |

Social engagement is quickly becoming a critical component of any social media program.  Because as far as use cases go, it is becoming one of the most critical elements in bridging the gap between the social media fog and your brand.  It is the listening that seems to be paying soft ROI dividends because it allows you to listen for the moments that can quickly enable success in your program.

For example, I went from lambasting 1-800-Flowers for what I called the mother’s day fiasco, to being pleased with their service response.  During this past Mother’s Day, the flowers I sent to my Mom had no card attached.  You wouldn’t call this a disaster, right?  But to add insult to injury, when she called the florist to find out who sent the flowers, they told her my sister did.  Doh!  $50 bucks later and you get no friggin’ credit for the last-minute, online-at-midnight sending of a Mother’s Day present.  It’s enough to wish that Hallmark Gold Crown stores had a similar service so I can control sending both the card and the gift to her.

That being said, while sitting in a hotel room one evening in Atlanta, I tried my first social media engagement experiment and decided to see if they were really listening.

MDL Tweet 1

 

Almost immediately, I received this response back.

MDL Tweet 2

To make the story shorter, I will jump to the part where they gave me 50% off my order, I was pleased and I quickly thanked them to end the “ordeal”.  In fact, as with most social media moments when we come out on top, I was amazed how well they were listening.  They heard, they responded, and I was happy.  This is great social media in action right?

MDL Tweet 3

This brings me to my point.  As the social engagement use case continues to grow in importance, and the amount of folks figure out how to leverage social to get their way, the need to dissect the workflow becomes critical.

In many of my recent discussions around social engagement, I have learned from a variety of customers that this use case (the social call center) is one that often struggles.  Let’s take a moment to examine this.

3 Reasons Why the Social Engagement Use Case Struggles

Workflow isn’t Tight

There is no question that when dealing with an engagement feature, the ability to triage a tweet to the right person in a timely manner is critical.  It seems like a no-brainer.  If I learn someone is talking about my business and I want to respond, I want to make sure that all the right checks and balances are maintained and more importantly that I have someone with both the skill and knowledge to engage.  You get the response wrong and you have a crisis on your hands.

The Culture of When

One of the hottest topics in social centers around the culture of when to engage.  There is much debate about consumers being accepting of having companies contact them.  For example, when is “big brother” peering too closely into conversation?  No one has really been able to figure out where the line lies exactly, but this cultural issue is something that must be addressed in your quest to be an expert at social engagement.  I would say this that is a topic for further discussion, but needless to say, every social media leader is juggling their gut when it comes to engaging their consumers (beyond when they ask).

The Front End of Engagement

I save the point I really want to talk about for last.  One of the great unspoken needs in my meetings around social engagement is the so called front end, or sorting of data.  In fact, one prospective client told us they had to shut down their social engagement program, because their system was so inaccurate that they had to manually sort through even more data and thus hurt their ability to respond.    This suggests that while most pushers are figuring out the process of pushing content out, they again forget the importance of being able to accurately listen to any potential social data worth engaging with.

Why Should You Think About This?

When it comes to engagement there is a certain part of the workflow that must be nailed; the ability to listen and accurately identify the relevant content that pertains to your interests.  What do I mean?  Simply put, being able to easily and accurately pull the right conversations about your brand is an imperative worth working on.  You can simply keep following a stream of tweets on your brand with your  eye on things one at a time.  If you want to involve your social listening program to include proactive engagement versus reactive then you need control of how you listen.  I would argue that all current cases where you are catching negatives on your brand is really good reacting.  What about when someone states that they have a need.  This person is giving you valuable information about their state of mind around particular topic at a particular moment.  If you could accurately hear them and then put them into an engagement workflow, you will  be able to create momentum for your brand rather than simply keeping them happy.  Yes, people aren’t ready  for this, but you will need to be able to have a type of pinpoint accuracy in understanding them as social engagement evolves.

What Do You Need to Succeed Now?

Broaden Your Thinking

People are very focused on what they know.  Engagement is so much more because it is a concept.  If you can accurately find information about what you want to listen for, why can’t you stretch the use case beyond its means?  I mentioned social selling.  People are talking about how many consumers think it’s creepy, but is it?  If you were walking into a restaurant, wouldn’t you want to get a coupon every time if you engaged with that company?  Rather than search for those offers online, wouldn’t it be nice to say, hit me with your best shot and have them do it.  Broadening your thinking is as much about pushing a program like that out as it is about deciding whether it is worthy.  Think of it as the Domino’s delivery challenge circa 2013.  They used to claim that your pizza would get delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free. Why not pull consumers towards your listening program by pushing a new way to get them to engage with you in the social selling game?

Accuracy Matters

When thinking about how you sort your social data for engagement, your listening system’s accuracy is critical.  If the system can give you workflow, but you don’t trust the accuracy of how you are capturing that data, you have a broken process. Think about it.  There are really two parts to engagement; sorting and responding.  Sure there is a lot of workflow in between, but you gotta hear it to be able to engage.  As social data climbs, you need to be able to handle and pinpoint which conversations matter.  A good analogy would be that episode from I Love Lucy where they are working on the chocolate line.  They are told not to let any chocolates get by them.  But as the conveyer belt moves more quickly they can’t keep up.  This is what having an inaccurate listening system can do for you.  The odds of one getting past you are going to climb as the volume goes up.

While people are not culturally ready to be engaged in all places at all times, now is the time to think about the entire picture when building your engagement program. The front end is a key part of success and needs greater visibility.  You aren’t talking about it enough.  How do I know?  Because I have that conversation at least 10 times per week now.  And every time I ask them how they will think about that part, they can’t answer because their mouth is full of chocolates. Like Lucy, they can’t keep up with the speed at which they have to do their job.


About the Author

Malcolm De Leo

Malcolm, Chief Evangelist at NetBase Solutions, Inc.,  is a subject matter expert in the area of applying social media in an effort to build the marketplace for this powerful new consumer data source. Previously, Malcolm was the Global Vice President of Innovation at Daymon Worldwide and prior to that Malcolm spent 10 years at the Clorox Company managing partnerships with technology companies, developing innovation processes and building new innovation infrastructure.