June 28, 2012

Your social media plan needs to shut up and start listening

http://chrisabraham.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/20120531-crmbpiya7x7bam93ci7un1p72s.jpgChris AbrahamI know you. You’re spending all of your social media marketing budget on promoting your brand, products, and services; that’s fine except you’ve either forgotten — or never knew — that social media is a two-way street. It is.

And, something you also didn’t know: social media is two-thirds defense and monitoring — listening — and only one-third promotion and publicity — speaking. Most marketing folks not only don’t get PR but they revile it; sadly, this is what social media is, no matter what you call it: public relations, all aspects of it: publicity, of course, but also crisis management!

A social media crisis almost always begins as a customer support call and generally escalates slowly and then exponentially, generally because a customer doesn’t feel heard, doesn’t feel responded to, doesn’t feel appreciate, or doesn’t feel respected. And the truth generally has nothing to do with any of those things (at first) though both sides can easily become very heated.

The truth most often has more to do with “not hearing the knock at the door,” “not hearing the phone ring,” — not noticing they’re there. And that Mr. Nobody, that real nowhere man, need not be a sniping, paranoid, lonely, nebbish, either. That person may very well be Chris-Frigging-Brogen himself!

Yesterday morning, Chris Brogan reported his terrible experience with NMTW Community Credit Union. Though now resolved, let me summarize: Chris lost track of an account at NMTW, one of his many bank accounts, which had drained and been empty or negative for only a couple weeks. NMTW automatically closes account after 15 days. Chris was a 20-year veteran of this bank and reached out via the info@ email and then took to Facebook.

You lost a 20-year member today. I emailed your info@ email address to forward the reason why to your president. Wishing you better in the future.

Long and short of it, he received a form mail:

NMTW takes pride in its member service and we strive to add value to everyone’s day. We regret that in your situation we were unable to assist you any further at the time of your branch visit. NMTW would like to thank you for bringing this to our attention and in doing so will prevent similar events in the future.

At first, Chris sent an email to the company using the only email he could find; then he reached out, gently, using the only other point of contact he had with his favorite community credit union, NMTW, because it mattered to him. Finally, a response! But not a response to his terse Facebook wall post, a copy-and-paste form response (rule one, never copy-and-paste responses, ever).

I didn’t ask Chris but I bet you he was pretty bemused by everything up to this point, though indignation has probably been building. What got him was the fact that the Facebook response was out of sync with what Chris wrote on Facebook — was completely deaf to his comment — but that he was shut down. That his comment reached a dead end.

What Chris expected — demanded — (and what I demand as well) is that Chris’ and my ping via email, form, Facebook, or Twitter actually goes somewhere. And, in this case, Chris was completely explicit as to where, “forward the reason why to your president.” He expected, rightly, that there was a direct path — a stovepipe — that runs from the social media dashboard that NMTW uses in their Social Media Command Center directly all the way up to El Presidente. Rightfully so.

Everyone who consumes social media expects that. We have been trained to. We don’t expect that when we call an 800 customer support line, but we do expect satisfaction when there — or can be — witnesses. On a phone, tarring-and-feathering and stocks in the village square aren’t even worth it, but on Facebook and Twitter, there’s nothing to lose. Every altercation can be a bona fide “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” moment!

So, if you’re going to dance with devil — with social media, naked and covered with tar and feather in stocks at the very center of the village square, you had better spend at least two-thirds of your time, resources, and respect making sure you’re not missing very important conversations — listening — while you’re spending way too much of your time pitching, selling, marketing, promoting, hawking — speaking — like some itinerant peddler.

You’re better than that. Right?

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Chris Abraham is a partner in Socialmedia.biz. Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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