The next few blog entries will cover the issue of reaching or creating communities using email marketing and social media. Social media must be used to maintain an ongoing, open dialogue with your community, as the following examples show.
In late December 2009, Eurostar learned something about the ubiquity and the growing power of social media, especially when ignored. December 18, severe wintry weather in both France and Britain caused equipment failures.In spite of efforts to remedy the situation, more than 2,000 people ended up trapped in the Channel Tunnel, with some stuck on trains for up to 16 hours. Beyond the physical challenges and discomfort, however, people complained mostly of the lack of information. Eurostar failed to provide updates in any form, on the trains, on their website, or on the social media channels. While Eurostar was failing to communicate, passengers on Twitter were taking control of the information space. One particularly striking tweet read: ‘Shocked at how unprepared and uncommunicative Eurostar was. Eurostar failed to communicate with passengers and social media told the truth and got it to mainstream media fast’ posted at@coletteballou, the Twitter page of a leading French PR agent and twee who was inside one of the trains.
Eurostar are to be congratulated on their use of social media as a crisis management tool. But also, in this sort of situation, companies need to be fast, honest and upfront; ‘virtual’ silence is considered an evasive move that may well damage the brand reputation in the long term.
In contrast, when Mathon, a company that produces kitchen equipment, wanted to grow its Facebook community, they used a friendly email that encouraged all their contacts to become ‘fans’. In the 48 hours following the email campaign, they acquired 10,000 new followers on their page, as well as 2,000 comments from individuals thanking the company for reaching out to them. Yoann le Berrigaud, Commercial Director, explained that it was Mathon’s goal to ‘organize a community around your brand’ and ‘to set up a community and dialogue with our fans. This is essential for engagement and brand loyalty’. Once a social community is alive and thriving, people love to share their content; on Mathon’s site and Facebook page, for example, people share recipes, pictures of cakes or other masterpieces, cooking advice, or innovative ideas for using, fixing and cleaning kitchen equipment.
By being well-embedded in social media and sustaining a two-way dialogue with its community, a company creates a virtual basis that makes them more resilient in case problems do arise.
Written by Esther with the material from the forthcoming book of John Sadowsky
Link to Mathon interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTIvYScBDbc