Has your online presence created a community or an audience?
While everyone was pointing out that the social media platforms are not the place to sort out a corporate war, and rightly so, I was more intrigued by the response from the public and how the support for @RBJacobs (the ‘person’ who is FNB) completely overshadowed that of @StandardBankGrp (the faceless brand).
Banking service aside, which was the topic of the majority of the comments thrown out by the public, there was one defining point about the two brands, who are almost neck and neck in followers. Team @RBJacobs was talking and team @StandardBankGrp was nowhere to be seen.
Submerging myself into understanding the psychology behind social media, and especially how we as South Africans use the platform, I’ve waited patiently for an example like this. Social Media is like the rubik’s cube: it doesn’t come with a set of instructions because it’s pretty simple to understand the outcome, but you have to be smart and patient to play the game and win.
The key to a successful brand presence is understanding how to create the crowd that you are interacting with. Yes, you hold the power to determine whether you are gathering an audience or creating a community.
Followers are merely crowds. There is always an argument about the number of followers and if a large or small crowd matter and the reality is that it’s merely a number until that crowd begins to emerge as either passive bystanders or active engagers.
In the banking war, the crowds are of equal size but one rallied around as a community and the other stood by as part of an audience. Once again, banking service and politics aside, ‘team @RBJacobs’ watched their friend in the community be attacked and did what any community would do: they rallied around, did their bit and stood by their community member, while somewhere out there the Standard Bank audience stood by and watched, without even an applause at the end.
With a platform that allows for freedom of speech and the false safety of having your say in the hope that your supporters will rally around you, it is wise to understand how to create a supportive community versus an audience who will merely stand by and watch you take a beating.
- Understand that social media is all about personal interaction and that if customers wanted the old way of service, they would not be following you online.
- Move away from the ‘customer service call centre’ that you know infuriates the majority of customers and create the ‘person’ who the client can speak to.
- Even if you represent your company as the brand it is, speak to the crowd as ‘I’, a trusted and reliable person behind the brand.
- If more than one person is tweeting then have your initials at the end of the Tweet to create that personal relationship.
- Leave your other forms of media to do the job of selling your service offering and be there for your clients who need you online.
- Be a persona! Have personality!
- Don’t take on the fearful stigma of your Twitter feed becoming a frenzy of unsatisfied customers and see the opportunity to create a fresh perspective of your brand.
- Engage! Chat to the crowd and don’t only say ‘Please DM me your complaint/query’.
- Don’t retweet a compliment and hide a complaint; pick a tactic and stick to it because your people are watching.
- Be helpful and informative by sharing useful information about your industry and support individuals before they even ask. I became a follower of RBJacobs because he answered an online banking query I had for another bank. (Note how we call @RBJacobs ‘he’ and @StandardBankgrp ‘they’).
- Be a high-standing member of the community you have created and someone (as a brand) who followers are proud to stand by and support.
- Master the art of selling your brand on the good old-fashioned qualities of how the business was born. I’m sure the words ‘personal’ and ‘service’ are key.