When you’re connecting with your friends and relatives on Facebook or other social media, do you think of it as marketing? I don’t. I’m not certain what I call it but if marketing is the communication of a product’s value I’m definitely not trying to convey my value as a person to others. Not consciously anyway.
Why I’m asking the question is our old friend “social media marketing.” There was another study released a week or so ago, this one by the good folks at NM Incite (which is a joint venture between Nielsen and McKinsey so they ought to know!). It covered customer service via social media and found (as summarized in this article) that:
The majority of Twitter and Facebook users — 83% and 71%, respectively — expect a response from a brand within the same day of posting. Some 71% of consumers who experience a quick and effective response are more likely to recommend that brand to others, compared with 19% who do not receive any response… The biggest issue: 36% report having problems solved quickly and effectively, while only 14% report that the company responds quickly but does not resolve the issue, and 10% report never receiving a response at all.
That data is presented in the context of a positive experience leading to positive posts which can be shared across other social spheres. In other words, marketing. What I find interesting is that this information along with some additional thinking on social, is more about serving the brand’s own needs than those of the audience. As I postulated at the top, while I’m very happy to help out my connections in any way I can I’m not monitoring social media with a marketing mindset. Unless and until brands can approach social as we non-digital, non-corporate entities do (read that as humans), brands will always be seen much as we do a social connection we made at a party many years ago and with whom we have little or no bond. Those connections are kind of creepy and I, for one, always wonder why I even have them. A lot of folks “unfriend”, hide or block those people and you might not even know it if you are the one blocked. Ouch, especially if you’re a brand.
If we’re going to use social media to connect with consumers, I can’t think of a better reason to do so than customer service. Yes, that can be a gateway to shared, positive experiences, just as it can precipitate a storm of bad comments if done badly. It’s not something I’d approach with a marketing mindset if you’re trying to humanize the brand. Unless, of course, all of your real friends use their accounts mostly to sell you insurance, real-estate, or used cars. Then you just might need a few new friends!