February 25, 2015 ↘︎

Why you need to define your purpose before you tackle social.

You’ve been thinking you need a dedicated social channel for customer service. Have you defined your social purpose?

Some months ago a few of us content types at the db office had a debate about whether or not having a second customer-service-dedicated social media platform was a wise idea for companies to adopt. It was divided 50/50 with each side having their own valid reasons for thinking it was a good or not so good idea (I won’t say bad).

Reignited by this article on Conversocial by Andrey Grigoryev the debate continued and led me to do some more digging around for answers to the question.

Why do you need multiple social accounts?

Hands up I admit it, I’m a downer. I’m skeptical about additional Twitter/Facebook/other social platforms being used for dedicated customer service, separate from the main marketing page.

I’m not really convinced of the benefits of multiple accounts. I’m yet to understand the logic behind Bupa having at least 14 Twitter accounts – sure they’re a mega corporate identity, and admittedly they’re worldwide so they have geo-located accounts, but fourteen?!? Is this not a logistical nightmare for their marketing team?

A case of less is more.

As a follower of a brand, I would find it confusing to come across so many accounts linked to a brand. Which one of the accounts do I follow? Do I need to follow all of them?
I’m not really sure I need (or want) to have the tweets of all 14 accounts in my feed. Even 4 or 5 seems a bit excessive.

As a brand on social, to reinforce the connection your followers have with your brand, you need to provide value and reason for them to remain loyal to you; this is going to be pretty tricky if you’ve got numerous accounts.

Multiple channels = multiple messages.

If you do adopt a 2nd channel, you need to think about how you are going to achieve a consistent message. With such dispersed channels (as in the case of Bupa) you risk diffusing your audience. And you could, in effect, segregate your ‘community’, which let’s face it is not very social.

For brands, there is a constant fear of negative messages from angry customers being visible on marketing channels. And to be fair, the rapid uprise and pressure to adopt social media doesn’t make it easy for companies. One solution brands have found is the creation of separate channels – one for marketing messages and another dedicated to customer service. Sounds like a great idea doesn’t it?

Just as brands can’t be there to defend themselves at every backyard BBQ or supermarket-aisle-whinge-session, it is almost impossible to segregate conversations on social media into ‘customer service’ and ‘brand advocacy’. This is social. It’s community. On or offline, people will say what they want, where and when they chose, and social is one of the tools they now have to do this. Brands that create multiple channels have multiple touch-points, which means more places for people to vent their frustrations and ultimately, more places that need to be monitored.

Be realistic about your resources.

Econsultancy published a report last year that claimed 30% of top brands have dedicated Twitter feeds for customer service.

This is all fine and well for large brands, like Tesco or AMEX who have the resources. Are you able to allocate enough resources to ensure that queries made on your social platforms are actually responded to in under 2 hours, and the pages are monitored close to 24/7?

You might think that dedicated customer service pages require monitoring and responding to, respectively. And you might think that your social manager could simultaneously manage customer enquiries AND oversee the main marketing page for your brand. Well yes, and no. Mostly I think no.
Trying to be in all places with no set plan and no defined strategy can see you land flat on your face. You need to ask ‘What is the primary purpose for my brand being on social media?’

Then there’s your KPIs.

Although I didn’t wholeheartedly agree with his 5 reasons for having a 2nd account, Grigoryev did manage to get me to question my stance with his final point about ‘analytics and reporting’, and the different success metrics of marketing as versus customer service;

‘Separate accounts make it easier to track and report on the performance of each team without dilution from the activity of the other.’

I had not considered the importance of separating the success metrics. On reflection, it seems that having distinct accounts would be in the best interest of many companies, especially those that have to allocate resources to different areas.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

It is a very difficult question to answer. There are so many things to consider and it is a set of questions companies have to ask themselves…

  1. Do I have resources to manage multiple accounts?
  2. What are my reasons for wanting to separate them?
  3. Will the brand benefit from separating marketing messages and customer service enquiries?
  4. Will the audience be confused and disengaged or diffused, as a result?

Freedom of choice.

My reservations haven’t gone completely but my blinkers have been removed and I think my fellow db’ers have started to think a little differently too. I guess when it comes down to it it’s a decision that you will have to assess for your brand, and it will be different for each brand. Because it isn’t a case of ‘one-size fits all’, it really depends on your brand’s purpose for using social. You need to reflect on your brand’s primary purpose, and how social can be used to compliment it, this will determine the most suitable focus for your social account.

Whatever your reasons for deciding to adopt a dedicated-customer-service social media platform the simple fact is, it is a choice, your choice. And it may work, or it may not, but ultimately you can change your mind and dissolve them into one until a better time.

But if you are considering it, do your research, ask the questions. And embark on it with gusto and it might just come up trumps.

The content and advice contained in this post may be out of date. Last updated on February 25, 2015.
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