Engaging with customers on social media is like learning to ride a bike, though sometimes it feels more like learning to ride a bike off the back of an airplane to parachute into the mouth of a dormant volcano. Even if you're a daredevil, you could probably use a little instruction. And there's no better way to learn than by watching the masters, otherwise known as the telco socialstars.
In the world of social media, telcos start off at a disadvantage. Being in the business of communication, they're expected to be flawless and instantly responsive. Plus, people get pretty touchy when their wifi goes out. But we've found a few telcos that really know what they're doing. Here are five ways telcos use social media to exceed the expectations of their customers.
Provide relevant info like TracFone
TracFone is America's #1 prepaid wireless provider, with more than 19 million subscribers. That's a lot of customers and also a lot of opportunities for inspiring communication on social media. The company uses Twitter to provide relevant information to their customers that is not always directly connected to sales or the latest product offerings.
Using a hashtag to provide information that's actually useful helps create a sense of community. Tracfone doesn't only use social to promote its products, but actively supports its customers by showing them new ways their phone can make their lives easier. This selfless self-promotion is appreciated.
Main benefit for the brand: When your social stream provides information customers can actually use, they'll come back to read your latest post. In the best-case scenario, you social media becomes one of the customer's regular internet stops.
Go multi-media like T-Mobile
Digital content is like a stock portfolio; the more diverse the better. Videos are popular and easily shareable on Facebook, and just because Twitter limits you to 140 characters doesn't mean text is all you can post. T-Mobile always seems to be creating fun videos that are timely, relevant and right on the mark.
Suit up. #Santacon is coming to town. Posted by T-Mobile on Saturday, December 12, 2015
First of all, this is fun to watch. It sparks emotions from joy to nostalgia the customer in turn associates with the brand. Videos like this are perfect for social media. And video is only one of the company's digital streams. From Twitter to Facebook, Youtube to Google+, online chat to their blog, T-Mobile is on top of it everywhere.
Main benefit for the brand: Diversifying your content in different media and across digital channels will appeal to a wider audience and make it easier for your messages to be shared on the channels your customers prefer.
Be just a little racy like Virgin Mobile
With a Twitter bio that says "You can't believe we just said that," Virgin Mobile makes it clear from the get-go that they're a little different from your average telco. Stiff and scripted it ain't. This funny video they posted for Thanksgiving is typical of what they do on social media: humorous, timely engagement with content that's both relevant and unexpected.
All great jokes involve a little risk, especially when you're representing an international company and tweeting to thousands of customers. But when customers can't believe you just said that, they're liable to love you for it, as long as you aren't being offensive.
Main benefit for the brand: Humor is disarming and charming. Using humor humanizes the brand and can create an instant rapport with customers.
Let customers inside like BullsEye Telecom
Bullseye Telecom is an American company that is particularly active on Facebook, regularly posting interesting third-party content as well as updates and company-related information. But they really shine by personalizing their team.
While this might not seem like a completely groundbreaking move, it goes a long way toward creating a welcoming corporate environment in which employees are encouraged to make real relationships with customers. It all starts with a face and a name. After all, social media is meant to be personal.
Main benefit for the brand: By using real names and faces, both your customers and your employees feel more connected to one another. The employee knows it's actually him representing the brand to the public, and the customer knows to whom she is speaking.
Activate your community like giffgaff
One good way to judge social media success is by how active your customers are there. Even if they're mostly complaining, the fact that customers are contacting you via social media is a good thing. Gifgaff takes this way of thinking to another level entirely. A very unique UK telco run by its members for its members, Giffgaff has pioneered a new way for telcos to do business. No customer service staff, no company avatars, just customers helping customers. That's pretty cool.
Ironically, what's great about this example is what's wrong with it: run-on sentences, improper capitalization — in other words, it's real. Customers will always trust each other before they trust ads or company messages. Not every telco can follow Giffgaff's lead, but they can make an effort to match the customer's tone. If you've ever felt alienated after you dropped a quick note to a company and received a formalized, formulaic response, you've felt how uninspiring the corporate voice can be. Encourage your customers to help each other, and when that's not possible, help without being patronizing or too formal.
Main benefit for the brand: An active community will help themselves. Plus, a response that's more formal than the customer query feels heavy-handed. Matching the customer's tone lets them know you're on the same page.
Common Theme: Be real
If there's a shared theme in all of the above examples, it's about developing a deeper consideration for your customers. The most successful telcos think about how their actions affect their customers, and not only with sales and new products. Social media and customer service are the main contact points between you and your customers, and might be even more important than how you treat them when they come into your store — if you even have a store.
Brand Embassy sweetens those relationships by telling you more about your customers. Your care agents will have the information they need to provide instantly personalized service based on the customer's background, interests and previous requests. Your customers get a real experience they will love you for. It's that simple.