3 Other Uses of Social Media

Snapchat is four, Instagram is six this year, Twitter is ten, and Facebook is twelve. As the social media platforms grow up and head into their teen age years how do they actually get used?

For Social Media Day I’m profiling three uses of social media for companies that you might not have thought of.

Real Time Marketing

Since Oreo won the internet when the lights went out on the Superbowl, companies have tried to use social media in real time – most often around big events. A London Fashion Week Topshop, the only high street brand on the runway, analysed twitter chat on the event and translated it to recommendations on billboards outside their stores in six cities across the UK.  There was a measurable impact on sales and more than 3 million people interacted on the hashtag #LiveTrends.

Pulling off a successful Real Time Marketing Campaign is a combination of having the right tools in place to analyse social media, the right people in the room to create a great response, and the authority to publish quickly. (The last is critical, if every post needs a legal review and three person sign off, then RTM is not for you.)


Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 16.09.12Social Media can provide customer service platforms. In the Netherlands most customers use at least one social media platform, so many of the larger companies here provide customer service via, at minimum, Facebook at Twitter. The gold standard of service on social media has to be KLM, their teams are so good at it that they put their response time into their twitter header, they aim to keep it below 20 minutes.

It takes significant training, good tools, and a sizeable team to run this, 150 social media agents around the world provide global coverage and respond to around 70,000 queries each week (source; KLM).

Crisis Management

Oddly enough it’s often a crisis that propels companies into using social media, requiring a cultural change to a more open model of communication that’s challenging for communication teams.

Social media also turns out to be a good medium to communicate in a crisis.

  • Mass reach, even people not on a platform can read your notes
  • Possible for individual questions/comments
  • It’s increasingly expected as people get their news from social media
  • Easy to update

Crises are by nature unexpected, but companies that plan on how to manage a crisis, and keep their social media team involved, are more able to respond appropriately. Examples could include a product recall, a supply fault, death of an executive, a case of fraud coming to light, or an airline emergency.  There’s lots of advice out there for managing a crisis in social media, in all of them preparation and speed are key.

In rare cases the way a company responds can improve the company’s reputation, two examples from very different industries.

O2, a British telecom company. During a rather long outage the community manager responded on twitter to every question or comment, even the angry and abusive ones, with personality and humour.

DiGiorno, in a now famous mistake DiGiorno responded to the #WhyIStayed hashtag with the comment “Because you had pizza”. Seems innocuous, except that the hashtag was being used to raise awareness of domestic violence. So their tweet did not go down well. However they quickly deleted the tweet, issued a simple public apology. And then apologised to every individual tweet who called them out. For weeks.

For crisis communication on social media to work, you need the social media experts involved in creating your crisis plan, and a team to execute the plan. You may also need to temporarily increase the size of your social team – during one crisis that I worked through we had 30,000 messages each day.

For all three of these social media strategies you need social listening tools, analysts and experts, and the authority to run with the strategy. Dial up your social media efforts. Happy Social Media Day.

Image: The Social Media Marketing Mix  |  Alan O’Rourke  |  CC BY 2.0

Twits on Twitter

Earlier this week I was looking for a way to contact RTL (a TV broadcasting company in the Netherlands) and tell them that their online television guide wasn’t showing the info for all channels – a very distressing proposition for me, as it will result in the phenomenon knowen as “random viewing” where I end up channel grazing for hours.

I couldn’t find an appropriate email address on the site so I turned to twitter,  that fab new tool that companies the world over are embracing to use for the customer contact. It seems that a lot of other people thought that RTL would be the company, and have tweeted questions and comments with @RTL in the tweets, instead it’s someone in fukuoka, with a locked account so I don’t know how active he/she is.

There are loads of tools out there to monitor tweets, so I wondered if perhaps RTL was picking up on these questions and responding somehow. Further digging revealed the offical RTL Netherlands twitter account @RTLNL, with zero tweets.

Lots has been said about how companies should set up their twitter accounts, how they should be used, how it’s vitally important to staff them etc, so I won’t go into what RTL could improve. In any case someone managed to get in contact with them – because the programme data is back today.

But I’d like to point out that users could also help by checking that the account they’re sending comments to is one that will provide an answer. In this case @RTL is a random person in Japan who’s getting messages in languages he can’t read.

To increase the chances of the company helping you via twitter check;

  • does the company have a twitter account?
  • are they actively using their account?
  • if the company has more than one account, which one is relevant for your question?