Why you better Cut the Crap: Service is the Old & New Gold.

Service is the new gold.

Service is the new gold. (credits: boomerang cards).

I agree. It’s been way too long since I pressed down another story here. Not without a reason though. I’ve been crazy busy visiting companies from about eight industries to perform in-depth interviews about their business and their future. It has been a wonderful experience so far. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I generated tons of insights from this qualitative market research period. I want to share my main insight today:
“Cut the crap and stop pushing it on to people. Be real, bring value, show respect and be helpful to every customer. In brief: stop screaming, start whispering.”

Service is the Old and New Gold.

Loads of consumers became disappointed in companies, products and services. As a result, corporations and organizations are sometimes seen as “evil”. I believe this is the result of what I call “the old marketing”. Most brands and organizations still rely on 20th century marketing principles: manufacture something against the lowest cost possible and consequently pay much money for advertising to create a positive image so that consumers buy your product. The only thing that matters is short-term profit, not a long-term sustainable contribution to society. I’ve always revolted against these types of companies. They are indeed “no good”. They don’t contribute to a positive society and consequently a better world. They do not “serve” their customers through good products, honest communication and real value.

Service is Gold.

Service is Gold.

That marketing-enforced image however has always been put in perspective by the customers themselves by sharing their experiences: word of mouth. And what’s even more, word of mouth has always been the most trusted source of product or service information. Unfortunately it had little to no big scale leverage so that “evil” corporations could live happily ever after. So, if one customer was dissatisfied by the service he told it to about 20 people and didn’t rely on the company in the future any more. But for the company, that was not really a problem. The customers that decided to leave were replaced by new customers who bought the marketing story.

I truly believe (and hope) the days of “high churn because we produce crap is solved by acquisition campaigns” are over as social peer-to-peer technologies became mainstream and leverage Word of Mouth on a huge scale.

What is Service? Think long-term reputation vs. short-term profit.

If one states that service is key, he needs to define what exactly is service. Based on my interviews, I’d say service is about small things, but things that can make someone’s day and stick in their memory. It’s about going the extra mile, about doing something you actually didn’t have to do. It’s about the goal to serve in order the make life (or businesses) easier and better. It’s the social aspect, it’s the human touch. It’s not about social media. Those only give large-scale opportunities to foster on this service behavior.

Research details

As stated above and in the introduction, the above isn’t just a gut feeling. It’s inspired by real-life (analog) talks with leading people within several industries. Below is a small overview of my data sample. Please allow me to just recycle one of the original research presentation slides. It’s important to realize that within this sample some of the companies were active on social media – which was the drive to act more service-wise – and others who were completely inactive on social but have always put the customer in the center of its existence.

Quali Research Data Sample

Quali Research Data Sample

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3 C’s of Social Media Marketing Automation. On Cool, Cute and Crap.

Twitter Status 6 achievement - empireavenue.com

Twitter Status 6 achievement - empireavenue.com

I recently received a “Twitter Status 6 achievement” on empireavenue.com.
It means I posted 750 tweets in my life. This merely indicates that I’ve been active on Twitter for a short period. During this short period however, I noticed a little annoying aspect of the social media phenomenon.

That little annoying aspect I want to talk about is what I call “the deployment of social media marketing automation tools” or even “twitter marketing automation”.

Social media has a human aspect

Social media doesn’t bear the word “social” in it just for fun. It’s all about engagement and connecting with people. As a result I recommend to listen before you define your social media strategy – and especially before you start automating. This will improve your overall social media campaign…

Oh wait! Stop thinking campaign-wise! It’s social, not campaigns. It’s people. It’s connecting. It’s engaging. It’s conversations. It’s for once and forever. It is marriage.

The Machine - painting as spotted in Museum of Modern Art Brussels.

The Machine - painting as spotted in Museum of Modern Art Brussels.

Social media’s machine aspect: automation

Let’s say social relates to human and let’s assume automation relates to machines. How can you then appropriately deploy automation within a social sphere? I believe the answer ought to be found in the 3 C’s of Social Media Marketing Automation.

The 3 C’s of Social Media Marketing Automation: Cool, Cute, Crap.

As I’ve been around and active in social media for about 750 tweets now, I’ve distilled some of the do’s and don’ts of social media automation.

It turned out however that it’s not that easy to define an automation aspect as “do” or “don’t”. Sometimes it can be used in a “good” way but it can easily glimpse into a “bad” one. That’s why I introduce a third class into this debate, the “consider wisely” category.

Bringing sexiness: category labels and infographics – Cool, Cute, Crap.

So to turn my entire theory / philosophy about social media marketing automation into a sex bomb, I’ve relabeled the categories into something more compelling (at least I believe, and please allow me to do so) and spice it up with an infographic.

The categories / labels are:

  • Cool (do): social media automation that’s recommended. A do. A Cool thing.
  • Cute (do with care): social media automation that might be beneficial. There’s the danger to glimpse into the don’t category.
  • Crap (don’t): absolute don’ts of social media marketing automation.

Cut the crap – what exactly is Cool, Cute or Crap?

Well, read the below overview or scroll down to the infographic below. Please realize that this is not an exact science and only a personal interpretation of what I’ve encountered. Of course, the list also doesn’t claim to be complete. I would highly appreciate your suggestions to include in this list – whether under Cool, Cute or Crap.

Infographic - 3 Cs

Infographic - 3Cs

  1. COOL
    • Multiple account management tools. If you need more than one account / profile / personality in the social realms, it might be cool to automate the management of the different personas. One could think of e.g. a professional and a private account or a consultant managing multiple company accounts, etc.
    • Multiple contributors to one account (professional environments).
    • Url shorteners. One of the key social aspects is to share things. Most of the time this includes sharing a link. It’s very cool to use Url shorteners. And it’s supercool to deploy personalized url shorteners…
    • Monitoring. It’s cool to monitor what people say about you or your themes. But please don’t push it.
  2. CRAP
    • Auto creation of users so to have a higher follower rate. There are tools who promise you a high amount of followers. In fact, the software creates fake people that follow you. Big fail.
    • Extensive retweet scheduling: automatically scream the same message over and over.
    • Bulk tweet sending. If you see a person able to tweet 10 messages in less than a minute than you know it’s automated, than you know it ain’t human.
    • Auto message to new followers “look forward to your tweets”. Yeah right, you follow over 20K people, as if you’re really interested in me.
    • Auto follow followers. It doesn’t make sense to follow somebody just merely because they follow you.
    • Picked keywords that are automatically (re)tweeted. This is very annoying. Yes it’s cool to monitor to stay informed but automatic re-spread of a message is crap.
    • Constant retweet of your marketing hero without any input. If I like those tweets, I will follow the source, your hero. After all it’s your hero who’s cool, not you.
    • Feed tweets from other sources that don’t have a 140 chars limit. Facebook has a 420 character limit, so if you push this to Twitter, your message is lost.
  3. CUTE:
    • Feed it from a different source. Linking your blog to other social networks is cool but tends to be cute when you don’t pay enough attention. It’s completely crap when you don’t pay any attention at all. Make sure you can modify your message for the different platforms’ characteristics.
    • Tweet scheduling can be very cute. Especially if you have a follower base in different time zones. But don’t spam it.
    • Automated tweeting when there’s a new comment on your blog is cute. But what about auto tweeting spammy a-like messages?
    • Social Media Monitoring and auto-follow anyone who mentions you without any interaction or further engagement. I personally had that experience with big brands as Adobe, Audi and RedBull. Of course I was flattered they followed me but without any engagement or interaction, it was only cute, not cool.

An infographic – that makes things sexy these days

Infographics are very hot these days. And yes, it makes facts and figures sexier to read. That’s probably why some even call it infoporn. OK, mine isn’t that sexy but it’ll be only by trying that I’ll make good once later, much later.

Infographic - 3 C's of Social Media Marketing Automation

Infographic - 3 C's of Social Media Marketing Automation

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