Don’t engage with consumers – enchant them

Marketers have got it all wrong when it comes to using social media. It’s not about engaging with consumers. It’s about enchanting them.

Lara O'Reilly

Dave Coplin, UK director of search at Microsoft, pushed the idea of “enchantment” at this year’s Great British Social Media festival, which was run by the IAB and Goviral. He explained that at Bing he’s the only “non marketing guy” in a group of marketers – which is why he’s probably best placed to talk on the subject.

His unblinkered, evangelist approach to social media is particularly apparent when it comes to talking about brands – including his own – attempting to measure the outcome of their activity on Facebook, Twitter et al.

He believes “social” is a human emotion, so trying to measure it is like trying to measure love. It’s tough to quantify, so brands shouldn’t “kill themselves” trying to write their end of year reviews.

“Love” also harks back to how brands should really be doing social. I “engage” with an ATM , but I “love” (well, kind of) the cashier who goes out of his way to point out that tomorrow’s direct debit could put me overdrawn, so maybe I should consider transferring some money from another account – even though that doesn’t give as much monetary value to the bank as a charge or credit card might.

Sentiments like “love” and “enchantment” should always be front of mind every time a brand looks to push out a message or interact with a fan on social media. Making the bold decision to veer slightly away from the corporate line, not constantly peddle product and just being human can pay dividends.

Take O2’s response to its disastrous 24 hours of network outage this week that saw hundreds of thousands of its customers unable to make calls or send texts.

Understandably, many affected customers turned to Twitter to vent their anger. O2 was there to listen to them and point them in the right direction for help, as any well-versed social media response team should.

But what made O2’s response enchanting was that it dared to be brave in order to quell some of the anger directed its way.

When greeted with a message like “@O2 Fuck you! Suck dick in hell!” from the seemingly delightful @grahamcummings7, most companies would just ignore it, or worse, ask the customer to refrain from using such language.

By replying with “Maybe later, got tweets to send right now”, O2 did something human. That response – along with many other witty exchanges – led to other Twitter users calling for O2’s social media team to get promotions. The exchange between the two users has at the time of writing been retweeted 260 times, favourited 111 times and has no doubt been seen by hundreds of thousands of people in the process.

It doesn’t cost anything to be human. It doesn’t even take much time, but the results can be magical.

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