What can brands get away with online?

What can brands get away with online?

Social media has become the first destination for customer complaints.  Why wait in a telephone queue, navigate through lots of automated menus and finally get through to someone at a call centre, when you can tell the brand (and anyone else who will listen) what you think of them online?

Generally social media complaining elicits a faster response from brands.  We probably think this is due to brands being really scared of us, but I suspect that, in reality, big brands are not that afraid of Chris and his 800 followers on Twitter.  Companies probably prefer to interact online for the same reasons we do – it’s fast, convenient and most issues are simple to resolve.

Brand personality in social

Where things become more difficult is training a social media team to be ‘on brand’ rather than ‘on bland’.  It’s essential to be polite, apologetic and courteous to customers but it’s also important to convey your true brand identity in your social media interaction.  And most social media teams end up being too much bland and not enough brand.

Doing it well

Some brands do a great job of representing the brand online.

Paddy Power, the bookmaker, has always played on its ‘cheeky Irish rascal’ brand and reflects this brilliantly online as well as in its advertising and wider marketing.  Here’s just the latest example:

Tesco Mobile is also quick to respond to criticisms of it wittily.  Take this example:

I’m not sure how ‘on message’ with the wider Tesco brand this kind of comment is, but it certainly suits a challenger mobile network operator that wants to overcome the perception that its only used by people with no alternative.

Finger lickin’ bad

Famously in February 2018 KFC ran out of chicken, closing two thirds of its UK stores.  Rather than hiding, or putting out bland apologies, the company proactively responded with full page adverts in national newspapers that re-arranged its famous initials into FCK, alongside a wholesome apology.  This brand personality was also reflected on social media:

More recently KFC again showed its marketing savvy asking customers to forget about its ‘Finger lickin’ good’ slogan during the Coronavirus pandemic, even going as far as blurring it out of its Twitter header:

By the way, if you want your mind blown about how on brand KFC is, go take a look at the people that @KFC follows on Twitter.

Careful but not cautious

Most brands could follow the motto ‘careful but not too cautious’ for interactions on social media.  Nobody wants to be today’s viral laughing stock but this should not rule out reflecting any personality at all online.

Most people realise that companies cannot get everything right every time but they also see straight through falseness.  A genuine and sincere apology is always appreciated, but when this also reflects a brand’s core values, it can go a very long way to turning a complainer into a fan.

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