Recently, I had the privilege to present at SMX Israel. With a few extra days to travel. I rented a car and did the “tourist” thing. While on the highway to Tel Aviv, I noticed what looked like pedestrian cars. Obviously typical, but what stood out was the bumper sticker that read in Hebrew “hows my driving”.
I began to think “how peculiar that a pedestrian car is asking that”. Then I started to think about how there are many things in life that we try to get feedback about. And then I dissected that though a bit more and realized feedback was missing in one of the most obvious places.
(And, yes, my mind works in a funny way… welcome to it!)
While Social Media continues to evolve at record breaking speeds, in many ways it can feel absolutely unmanageable.
- From a brand perspective, there are questions and complaints flying back and forth with limited resources to answer them. And in many cases, the community managers might not actually have the answers off hand, needing to track them down.
- From the user’s perspective, sometimes, it feels like the brands are not listening, or even if they are, they are not getting back to them fast enough.
And with this, there doesn’t always seem to be a gauge at how successful social engagement really is.
Holding Brands Accountable & Improving With Feedback
After I call customer service, often I am asked to engage in a customer satisfaction survey. They want to make sure my call was handled appropriately. Even after I attend a conference, or some kind of event, I am asked to give feedback, and rate my general experience. This is just to name a few areas of our daily life that feedback is built into the process. Think performance reviews at work.
And social media?
You may argue that Social is a different medium. And I will agree with you. Of course it is. It’s a medium that communicates marketing messages, brand values, company news, customer service, and more. This is why it’s all the more so important!
Think of it like this: When was the last time you read a blog post about someone who had a bad customer service phone call? How about the last time someone was venting to their entire social network that they had a poor experience?
I think I just proved my point. The reach on social is un-paramount, and to leave that to chance is insane!
But Where is the Social Feedback?
Sometimes, it seems as though feedback is a taboo topic in social media. Well, maybe not taboo, but for sure not discussed. Not a day goes by where I don’t hear users complaining about a brand’s engagement in my social streams. But rarely, if ever, do I hear about how well a brand is performing overall in that arena. It shouldn’t be that unless someone gets upset and writes about a poor experience that we hear about brand social interaction. At this juncture, in 2013, I expect more from social.
A Bad Experience Happened To Me
I recently had an experience like this. While overseas, I had some major technical difficulties with my phone. To the companies credit (I am leaving it’s name out of the post because it will turn negative in a second) the brand actively came to find me and attempted to solve my issue.
But this was not good enough by any far stretch of the imagination. Between their infrequent replies to me on Twitter, and ultimately vanishing, the issue never made any progress. Needless to say I was less than satisfied and kind of ticked off.
Who This Hurts The Most
Unfortunately, community managers feel the brunt of this (mad respect to Jen and Courtney, two of the best I know). But I think people tend to forget that there is a real human behind a twitter handle. My friend Jon Burg told me about a client of his where they worked on exactly this. They tried to, and successfully, humanized their social media presence. Believe it or not, it turns out that when he had his client signing tweets with their names, showing empathy and solving issues, people stopped yelling and started to look at them as a solution.
I love the idea and that he did this, but sadly, I think that is the minority. And I don’t think all brands are solving problems and being quite this helpful.
Starting To Measure
As someone who spends a lot of time on Social Media, I can comfortably say, I have NEVER been asked for feedback.
I can do no more than voice my opinion here, but I think brands need to start thinking more about ways to gather this valuable feedback. Whether it’s emailing the users and measuring the sentiment of the personal engagements, or sending out surveys and feedback questionnaires after they attempt to solve a problem. The point is brands need to create internal engagement metrics and hold themselves accountable. Gather data on how much value is being added through social. Dare I say, after the data is gathered, be transparent and publish it, like a report card. Show how your brand is improving and hold everyone internally accountable.
Now Your Turn – Am I Crazy?
Am I taking the social piece out of Social Media and making it too rigid and formal?
What do you think?