This blog post is written based on Paul M. Rand’s “Highly Recommended” book.
Recommendation – the highest honour a brand can receive from their customers. Being recommended is no easy feat; a brand often has to be flawless in all areas: customer service, product quality, and after-sales services in order to become recommended.
Recommendation used to mean telling your friends and relatives about a positive experience you had with a brand’s service or product. But with the rise of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.), everyone suddenly gains the ability to let their thoughts percolate through the Internet, and into the eyes and ears of millions across the world.
In this book, Highly Recommended, Paul M. Rand shared with us 5 lessons on how to live a recommended life as an individual, but let’s see how we can let our brand live a recommended life on social media!
Lesson 1: Develop a clear and purposeful story of how you want people to talk about you.
Start with the end in mind. This requires careful planning of your business objectives and goals before embarking on your social media journey.
Do you want your customers to recommend you on your customer service (like Zappos), quality and lifestyle (like Apple), or simply being fun and creative (like Oreo)? Furthermore, by envisioning a goal for your company, it helps to make and sticking to decision easier. You will most likely choose the decision that leads to your ultimate objective.
Take Debbie does cake, for example, Debbie wants to be recommended for making cakes that look like anything but cakes.
Some bakers may want their cakes to be recommended for their taste or mouth-water ingredients, but not Debbie. She takes pride in knowing her cakes were on display for hours before anyone realizes it’s edible. (Read more here: Buzzfeed)
If she wasn’t sure of what she wants, she might have wavered after receiving any negative comments from people.
P.S. Looks like I just recommended her for her amazingly weird cakes too.
Lesson 2: Live your brand
Now that you have set up the end goal for your brand, it’s time to live up to it!
If you own a small business like Debbie, it’s easy to live up to your brand; you simply have to uphold it and be accountable to yourself. However, what happens when you are a huge brand like Zappos?
You would most likely need to setup tools, mantra, and rewards system to guide, educate, and reward your employees to live and breathe your brand.
Take Zappos for example, how do they make sure that all their employees live up to their promise of excellent customer services?
Zappos ensures all their employees receive a minimum of four weeks of training on making customers happy. They also maintain a 24/7 warehouse that eats into their revenue to ensure quick deliveries. There are also 10 core values that encourage and enforce excellent customer services.
Have you read about those legendary customer service stories by Nordstrom? Well, Zappos has their own stories too. These help to serve as reminders and a level of service Zappos hope their staffs can achieve.
So start planning a way to remind your staffs to live up to your brand, and not forgetting a reward system to reward them for achieving it!
Lesson 3: Be human, be transparent, and live up to mistakes quickly
Humans run brands, and they inevitably make mistakes. Generally, consumers on most occasions are able to forgive and forget if a brand is willing to admit and apologize sincerely for their mistakes.
David Ogilvy once said the perfect quote to sum this up
The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife.
Well, I bet you know what happens when you try to lie to your wife, and she inevitably finds out about it.
Some simple and quick tips you may use if such PR disaster were to happen.
- Take down the offending post immediately
- Make an apology post that acknowledges the mistakes with no bullshit to try to smooth things over.
- Monitor your brand’s social media mention for the next few days, and try to communicate with fans who have failed to see your apology or are still infuriated at your post.
FedEx did a great job here.
Lesson 4: Stay Engaging and Interesting
You know what’s boring? Someone who thinks they are the most interesting person in the world and talks incessantly about themselves. Familiar? This is what brands have been doing throughout the years with advertising.
Unfortunately, this dynamic hasn’t changed much for most brands even when communications are clearly shifting from pushing to pulling. Brands are still constantly blabbering on about their products on social media, without any form of feedback channels or engagement.
So how should your brand stay engaging and interesting?
- Find out what your followers have in common other than liking your brand. Facebook provides a utility, Audience Insight (under Ads Manager), which allows you to understand your fans better by finding out what other pages they have liked.
- Vary the type of content you post on Facebook. Here is a list of examples from Social Media Examiner
- Social media focuses a lot on personal interaction, which is why your job doesn’t end after posting. Always try to reply to each comment that your fans have posted to show that you value their interaction!
One rule of thumb would be the 20/80 ratio - 20% of sales-related posts and 80% of entertaining and useful bits.
Lesson 5: Regularly evaluate and evolve - but stay true to your core.
Consumers are fickle minded, and you will never know which social media platform they might flock to next. It’s therefore important for brands to constantly keep themselves updated on technology and social media trends.
Lastly, by staying consistent with your end goal, and ensuring that your fans receive the same treatment and promise across social media, you will be rewarded with their unwavering loyalty.
I hope you enjoyed these lessons as much as I do, and go live a recommended live!