Why EE Needs a New Twitter Strategy

If you know Twitter, you know it’s where people go to complain. There’s something about the freedom of 140 characters that makes some people get out their soap box and start shouting to their network.  And to be fair most companies have adapted their strategies to accommodate this.  In the past I’ve had some great experiences on Twitter with @sluglettuce and more recently with @YodelOnline.  If you deal with a complaint well, companies have the power to transform discontented individuals into brand advocates… Everyone’s happy. So it drives me spare when big companies get it so utterly wrong.

My husband and I were both due mobile upgrades. He decides to stay with EE, and agrees to a mobile upgrade on Wednesday due for next-day-delivery.  Hubby is sulking a bit by Monday morning when there still hasn’t been a delivery attempt… But then goes into a rage on Monday evening when EE deactivate the SIM in his trusty BlackBerry. So not only did Hubby not have his upgrade, but EE had made it so his old phone was no more than a fancy alarm clock. So much for “Everything Everywhere” – he had nothing.

I naturally hit Twitter to voice  displeasure on Hubby’s behalf, and hope that EE would be able to do something, like possibly reactivate the SIM.

Everything Everywhere EE

What followed then was utter farce.

Understandably the EE team did not want to talk to me as I wasn’t the account holder.  However rather than directing me to a more appropriate platform to raise our issue the impersonal, robot-like interactions from EE kept doggedly on. My husband very briefly accessed Twitter (while at work) to give permission for EE to speak to me on his behalf, I then was passing a lot of information back and forth (including name, number, password, address, Twitter handle etc), to only then be told by the EE team that  they could only discuss the problem with me if my husband gave me third-party access to his Twitter account.  After nearly 24 hours of going back and forth, after jumping through all these hoops and explaining the issue three or four times,  I logged into my husband’s account as requested, and sent a DM.  The response :

Direct message from EE: "Please DM details of what you'd like help with"

I was back at square one after 24 hours of Twitter red tape.

I actually screamed.  At this point I gave up on trying to resolve the matter.

Now, the story doesn’t quite end there…  My husband’s phone eventually arrived, and he was wooed by the handset, so to some extent he’s a happy camper.  But the interactions I had with EE had left a bad taste in my mouth.  It simply was not acceptable.

By coincidence that same week Paul Sutton posted a blog about EE’s new advocacy group, and I ended up in a discussion about how EE are poor at active engagement…  Now if I’d been EE, at this point I would have got involved with this online conversation.  It was intelligent, proactive discussion after all, showing interest would have been really beneficial for the company.  But nothing.  EE did diddly-squat.

Certainly nothing public.

What happened however is that I received an email from the Senior PR Manager at EE.  One of the members of EE’s advocacy group had passed my details on.  To his credit he listened to my comments about the poor experiences on Twitter, and apologised for them (and the SIM deactivation) most strongly and promised that these would be discussed in detail with the customer support management team.

My interactions with @EE had seriously damaged my perception of the company.  I had been left feeling that EE had little interest in what I was saying.  On Twitter there was no way for me to understand who I was talking to, and clearly there was little handover between staff to ensure that ongoing customer interaction had any continuity.  EE simply seemed inept at dealing with customers.  So the email from EE’s PR department was welcome.  Great, I thought, proof EE were willing to engage and answer their critics.  At least on some level.

However I have to wonder whether the significance of having a wholly awful Twitter strategy has really computed to EE though… Nearly 70% of customers that leave companies for competitors do so because of a perceived indifference, and whilst I received a nice personalised email from the PR team, I can’t imagine that the majority of the customers that complain on Twitter do.  The central strategy needs to change otherwise EE will be left fighting a swelling fire of discontent.

Even after all of this, I’m not sure that my perception has hugely changed… Whether EE are scared to, or simply aren’t ready, clearly they are still not prepared to engage in public discussions – I told the PR team at EE that I was writing this blog and offered them the opportunity to phrase a response for publication.  And I’m still waiting for a reply…

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Google+: Are we riding the wave?

Google+ is everywhere.

Everyone wanted to be on it.  We grovelled for invitations, longingly staring at our inboxes with the impatience of children on Christmas Eve.  We read article after article, preparing ourselves for the new tools, familiarising our tongues with new terms and limbering up our profile writing skills.

So now that Google+ has hit 10 million users are we actually using it?  Apparently not.  According to Experian Hitwise the average user spends only 5 minutes using the new social network.

But why?  Google+ seems to have everything you could want from a social network.  You can divide your connection into private communication circles (a bit like Facebook groups), you can follow people you have never met in real life (like Twitter), you can video chat (like on Skype – and now Facebook), and businesses have be promised special company pages (once again like Facebook).  It even seems to encroach a bit on Flickr’s territory with a smattering of photo sharing, and just last week Google announced its release of some Foursquare-like badges earned from searching.

From the outside Google+ and its related tie-ups seem to be the full package.  With so much technology and integration it’s been purpose built to link up your offline experiences with your online life.

But I suspect that this is actually the problem…  How are you actually meant to use Google+?  Is it a professional platform or a personal one?

Technically if you use circles correctly if can be both, but I suspect Google may be trying to spread itself too thinly.  It’s not that the tools aren’t up to scratch – in fact, aside from an early bug or two they seem pretty stable – instead it’s that users just aren’t sure exactly how to approach the network.

I’ve seen many people flock to the site, scramble around create a few Circles, post the “Wow, isn’t Google+ really cool” first update, and then go quiet, slipping into the shadows of the social network watching and waiting to see how other people use it.

Some people thought that Google Wave was going to be huge, until is crashed spectacularly onto the shores of the social web and vanished… The positive for Google+ is that is seems to have found a foothold with it’s integration, but it needs its users to actually use its functions for it to really succeed and make a lasting impression.  And for that, only time will tell…

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Why Celebrity and Twitter sometimes shouldn’t mix

We all know that some ‘celebrities’ will do whatever is necessary for a prolonged bite of the fame cherry.  Fame, for some, is an addiction.

Whether they get it through a publicity stunt, a semi-nude photo shoot, or a scandalous relationship, doesn’t matter – as long as they get their next fix.  And there is something about a lot of these situations that comes across as just plain desperate…

Apparently the majority of us crave our 15 minutes of fame, and I certainly have no issue with that – but with the increasing popularity of social networking sites like Twitter, it makes it even easier for wannabe celebrities to keep being regurgitated unceremoniously into the public domain.

Last week Radio 4’s PM programme described the likes of Stephen Fry as the Dukes of their very own Twitter kingdoms and, if that’s the case, that makes Z-list celebrities such as Big Brother contestant Kenneth Tong, the bed bugs of the kingdom – completely unthought-of until they bite you.

I’m all for freedom of speech and ease of communication, but like oil and water Tong and Twitter should never have been allowed to mix.

In a stream of recent twitter updates Tong successfully caused online chaos by apparently promoting the benefits of anorexia.   Unsurprisingly after the flurry of hate-tweets he received, and the threat of legal action Tong retracted his Tweets, labelling the whole saga as a hoax and an experiment to test the power of the internet.

Idiot.

Personally, I don’t believe that for one minute.  I think this is an example of a hideously tasteless and inappropriate PR stunt.  Unfortunately for this fame-addict he chose to abuse one of the most powerful communication tools currently available in an attempt to get his high.

Getting yourself labelled the “Most Hated Man In Britain” and getting a few interviews with broadsheet journalists is certainly not worth toying with people’s lives.

 

 
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Social Media: A Pantomime – Oh yes it is!


Pantomimes are a crucial part of the festive season – for me, nothing rounds the year quite like sitting in a darkened room for 2 hours heckling at minor celebrities.

A few years ago Twitter hosted it’s first pantomime – but this blog isn’t about how well pantos translate on to the internet (Oh no it isn’t!). Instead I look at just some basic rules that Social Media campaigners can learn from the success of festive theatre.

Don’t forget the audience

Whether this is taking the mickey out of the town mayor or referencing popular television, the most successful pantomimes are the ones that draw on the audience’s shared experiences.  It is this sense of community that a social media campaign needs to embrace.  Don’t forget who you are targeting, make sure your campaign is going to reach the right people and is going to keep them engaged.

Ad-libbing

One of the real gems of social media is the ability to develop conversations – so even in a constructed campaign be prepared to go “off-script.”  Keep a cool head, remember who you’re targeting and what you’re trying to achieve and go with the flow.  As long as you keep in-character and on-brand you shouldn’t have too many problems.

“He’s behind you!”

Engage with your audience.  If you want them to respond to your message in a certain way whether this is a Re-Tweet on Twitter, or to pick up the phone and make a donation to charity, make sure they know what is expected of them.  A successful pantomime encourages interaction and the audience are queued as to when they are expected to get involved.

The Show Must Go On

The internet isn’t nine to five and so neither is your social media presence.  You should be prepared to deal with your audience outside of office hours.

Making it all match

Whatever your vision make sure you stay onbrand otherwise your audience will notice.  Whether you consider your social media to simply be the props and stage dressing for your marketing stategy, or whether it’s the main show, if it doesn’t fit with the rest of your image it’ll stick out like a sore thumb.

Give something back

Whether you run competitons for your followers and fans, or simply aim to give them extra knowledge and insight, you should always aim to give your audience something extra – and hopefully soon they’ll be jumping out of their seats to catch these tasty tit-bits.

Who’s Who

Going to the theatre is all about suspending your sense of reality, but as adults we know that Daisy the Cow probably doesn’t spend the other 11 months of the year grazing on buttercups.  We like to know just that bit more about what goes on behind the veil of theatre, and so we buy a programme to find out more about the people we’re really watching.  With social media it’s the same – you should always ensure that you’re transparent, – never pretend to be someone or something you’re not.

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The Superheroes of Social Media

Before I start this blog I would like to apologise for it’s geekiness.  It began one evening, over a bottle of wine as I attempted to explain to a techno-phobic friend the differences between the social media tools… and all I can say, is that the metaphors took over.

Like a shockwave the impact of social media has rippled through the world of communications, marketing and PR.  In the last 18 months social media has become a real hero of communication…

Introducing the Social Media Super Heroes

Twitter is… Batman

Although powerful on its own, like The Caped Crusader, Twitter jumps to a completely different level when you add a few gadgets into the mix.  Hootesuite and Tweetdeck are to Twitter what the Batmobile and Batcave are to Batman – whilst fully functional sans-equipment, with a little helping hand from the contents of their utility belts they are both able to monitor situations, and extend their reach.

Brand monitoring is a major part of the Twitter experience, and when used affectively companies can target dissatisfied customers swiftly.  Affective brand monitoring with relevant notifications and pro-active use means that any negative situation can be quickly identified and dealt with – rather like a certain Batsignal…

Facebook is… Professor X

Professor Charles Xavier surrounds himself with webs of people – his Facebook list would be an interesting read.  But like Facebook, his communication methods are subtle – unlike Twitter where often to be heard, you need to continuously broadcast of messages, Facebook requires a more gentle approach.

Persuading a customer to share content on Facebook requires a greater sense of trust, and like the telepathy that Professor X uses, often a greater understanding of the customer.

FourSquare is… Mr Fantastic

Mr Fantastic?  If becoming stretchy is fantastic, I think I’d rather stay completely unremarkable.  As superpowers go Reed Richards really got the short straw.  To be honest, stretchiness is pretty socially awkward… rather like delving into your bag to Check In on a night out.

So much potential.  So far to go.

I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise for this completely whimsical and fairly useless blog.

But I look forward to hearing if anyone else has any more social media superheroes up their sleeves.

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