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Stand Out Social Marketing
6 Keys to Rise Above the Noise, Differentiate Your Brand, and Build an Outstanding Online Presence
By Mike Lewis
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Stand out experiences have the power to change brand perception, drive customer loyalty, increase revenue, and build deep relationships.
When I travel, I do whatever I can to get home as early as possible. That means cobbling together flight itineraries that get me home quickly. Logging hundreds of thousands of miles split between several carriers isn't ideal, and if you traveled as frequently as I do, you would think that, at some point, I would have picked an airline and stuck with it. Today I have, but it wasn't until I was wowed by a stand out approach to customer service just a couple of years ago.
It was February 2010, and I was off to Tampa, Florida to speak at Jason Keath's Social Fresh Conference. On this particular occasion, I flew Delta Airlines and arrived at Tampa early the morning of February 8. I delivered the session, spent some time networking, and hurried back to the airport to catch the evening flight home.
On the way to the airport I checked my flight status and, lo and behold, I discovered that I was headed to the airport on the wrong day. My flight was scheduled to depart Tampa at the same time the following day. As you can imagine, I panicked and did what anyone would: I called Delta to sort this mess out. The Delta representative I spoke to told me he could help but that I would have to stay on the phone with him for about 30 minutes, due to a computer system issue. I thought nothing of it, and we made small talk as he maneuvered through the painstaking process of rebooking my flight.
After some small talk and banter—Success! I was booked on that night's flight and made it to the gate just as the doors of the plane were closing. The flight attendant had just jumped on the P.A. and told us to stow our electronic devices as I sent out a tweet:
On @delta flight leaving Tampa ... Can't wait to get home. Side note, @delta cust srv rocks ... Said it before & continue to be impressed.
I arrived home a couple of hours later and was greeted at the front door by a very excited two-year-old boy who's always happy when Dad makes it home on time.
I thought nothing of the tweet I had sent, until the next morning, when I checked Twitter and found a response from @DeltaBlog:
Thanks for your comment. We hope you had a great trip home to that new baby!
"To that new baby," I thought. "How the heck did they know that?"
Let me explain what I thought had happened before I let you in on the reality. During that conversation with Delta Customer Service I thought they had strategically collected and recorded information on me in their customer relationship management (CRM) system. The data collected during our conversation allowed Delta to build out a broad and deep customer profile on me. I assumed that my tweet triggered an alert, letting Delta know I had made a comment. Someone on the social media team saw the comment, pulled up my profile, and replied with a personalized message that was based on the details in my profile. "Amazing," I thought.
It was such a stand out experience for me that I immediately contacted Delta to understand what happened behind the scenes. That's when Delta's Social Media Manager, Rachael Rensink, shed some light on what actually happened. She reminded me that the day I was traveling back to Boston was also the day of one of the worst blizzards to hit the Washington, D.C., area. It dumped several feet of snow in the region and caused significant travel delays across the country. Rachael, who was monitoring Twitter that day, was inundated with negative tweets from weary travelers and was doing her best to resolve as many issues as possible. My tweet represented the lone piece of positive sentiment in a sea of negativity. When she saw it, she clicked through to my profile, went to my blog, learned about my background, and concluded that I must be hurrying home to see my son. She had singled me out and responded accordingly.
Delta's approach was stand out. Rachael did not simply respond to my tweet with a canned response; she paid attention and went the extra mile to personalize the interaction. This was a rare "customer wow moment" and a stand out example of a brand "paying attention." For the first time in years of flying, I was able to connect with an airline carrier on a one-to-one basis, and in a way that didn't involve sitting on hold for 45 minutes until someone had time for me. This time they reached out to me in a direct, simple, meaningful, and personalized way. This immediately humanized the brand's image, made Delta more than a faceless company, and created real brand loyalty in a customer. Since this experience Delta has remained my carrier of choice.
Social media offers the opportunity to create unique experiences like this, which lead to lasting connections. This is why using social media to stand out is so important. It offers brands the ability to create relationships and create a lifetime of loyalty.
A STAND OUT CHALLENGE
Standing out is the biggest challenge marketers will face in 2013. At its core, standing out is about a brand's ability to forge a distinctive strategy in social media. For the purposes of providing background, Wikipedia defines differentiation as the following:
In economics and marketing, product differentiation (also known simply as "differentiation") is the process of distinguishing a product or offering from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market. This involves differentiating it from competitors' products as well as a firm's own product offerings. The concept was proposed by Edward Chamberlin in his 1933 Theory of Monopolistic Competition.
For businesses, differentiation can be a source of competitive advantage. Marketing or product differentiation is the process of describing the differences between products or services, or the resulting list of differences. This is done in order to demonstrate the unique aspects of a firm's product and to create a sense of value. Marketing textbooks are firm on the point that any differentiation must be valued by buyers. The term "unique selling proposition" refers to advertising to communicate a product's differentiation.
The objective of differentiation is to build a market position that potential customers see as unique. On social media, differences in brands are usually minor; they represent a difference in message or theme of a channel. To be effective, differentiation needs to be holistic. It accounts not only for your presence but your interactions as well as your back-end management. The goal to truly be different impacts every aspect of your strategy and approach.
HOW DELTA STOOD OUT
Stand out by paying attention: Delta didn't just listen to what I was saying; they paid attention to my situation holistically. It would have been just as easy to say "Thanks for the tweet!" Instead, they went the extra mile to personalize the interaction.
Stand out interactions: They were quick to respond and did so without using a canned response. The interaction was personalized to my unique situation.
Humanized brand: Because their response wasn't a canned or automated "thanks!" it humanized their image for me. With one tweet, they went from a large, faceless company to a person who connected with me.
Stand out management: Rachael did not have to wait a week to get approval to reach out to me or have to wait for direction to get out the right response. She acted immediately on behalf of the brand.
Excerpted from Stand Out Social Marketing by Mike Lewis. Copyright © 2013 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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