Almost everybody (and their dog) would have a social media presence, be it on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Flickr, LinkedIn, or blogs and forums. In a world where consumer online profiles are ubiquitous, it makes sense for companies to leverage on social media to reach their customers.
The challenge, as Jane Perry, GM of BBDO Proximity Shop pointed out, is that consumers do not want to be sold to. Instead, they prefer companies to meet understand their needs, interact with them on their level, and provide additional value that is unique to new media. Social media channels should thus serve as platforms for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) akin to a trusty old corner store rather than a hyper-efficient but cold and unfeeling megastore.
Sharing at the recent Asia Fashion Summit, Jane highlighted that social strategy can be represented by the mnemonic acronym TRIGER, ie:
Truth - Understanding current online users and their needs
Recruitment - Finding and connecting with people who care about you
Interaction - Real time engagement with the community
Give value - Provide on-going brand relevant experiences
Enrich - Reward community's loyalty and commitment to you
Return - Capture learnings, extract insights, and inject them into the next marketing campaign
To flesh out these examples, Jane shared several case studies (with pretty amusing and enlightening videos) that illustrated each point:
1) Truth - Woolmark Company's fully integrated social media campaign, centred on the theme of "feeling connected with wool" and We ♥ Wool. The campaign was created based on customer feedback and emphasised the softness of Merino wool and how comfortable it felt next to the skin. It helped to significantly raise the number of "Likes" for the Woolmark Facebook page, increased overall sales, and grew the number of hits on its website.
2) Recruitment - KLM's Surprise campaign where customers are "surprised" with gifts that are tailor made to their profiles on social media. These customers are identified from what they have tweeted or updated on Foursquare about taking a flight on KLM.
3) Interaction - Volkswagen China's "People's Car Project" whereby social media platforms and channels are used to encourage crowdsourced designs of a new "dream" car. Extensive inputs were taken from the public through social media channels like Weibo, QQ, and many others.
4) Give Value - Domino Pizza's refreshingly candid and honest advertising campaign (The Pizza Turnaround) whereby they took the feedback of their harshest critics and acted on them. The climax of the campaign occurred when Domino staff delivered their newly improved pizzas to the homes of customers who complained the loudest, and filmed their surprising positive reactions on Youtube.
5) Enrich - Best Buy and their geeks in blue shirts form what's called the "Twelpforce" who provide expert technical advice on Twitter. The objective is to provide the fastest and best answers to customer's query on customer service issues.
6) Return - Burger King's "Whopper Sacrifice", a notorious campaign which encouraged people to delete 10 of their Facebook friends to receive a free Whopper. While the campaign did create waves, it also generated some controversy as seen in this post. Lessons from the campaign were incorporated into the next campaign which Burger King did.
In concluding, Jane shared that social media changes the way we develop content and the way we sell. However, it still rides on the same psychological, social and cultural norms of humanity - 30 million years of human behaviour doesn't change after 20 years of the Internet.
For retail and service businesses to ride on this space, they must first ignite the conversations amongst their stakeholders, followed by listening, responding and finally converting online communities to customers.