The dangers of brands over-responding on Twitter

Share Button

One of my favourite podcasts is Listen to Lucy from the FT’s Lucy Kellaway and this week she has a great piece addressing how brands are responding on Twitter. Specifically how Starbucks responds to some Tweets about the brand. The piece is, like all her podcasts, humourous but with a serious message. And in this case I think its a message many brand would benefit from taking on board – how to respond to people on Twitter, or indeed how not to.

The case she discusses is of UK satirist, Armando Iannucci and a Tweet he made about Starbucks and the hygiene of their stores. She remarks on how the Starbucks UK MD is responding to this and similar Tweets about the brand and the regularity at which he is doing this.

Whilst I think that there is a real benefit of engaging with customers online in this way and it is important for brands to put in place a clear and thorough process for reacting and responding to mentions of their brand online. But, as we spend much of our time telling clients, the key is not to feel that every mention needs to be responded to. In fact in most cases mentions of your brand online do not merit a response.

Kellaway makes this point succinctly. The Starbuck UK MD, she says, should have other things to worry about than one message about the hygiene of his stores. Indeed, as she says, he should probably be more worried about the fact that he only finds out about this from a Tweet and not from his own staff.

There is a real danger with social media. Because it is easy to find mentions of your brand online there is a temptation to think that you need to respond to them. Kellaway’s point, and one that brands should take into account when planning their social media strategies, is that overall business strategy should not be driven by what is said on Twitter. In fact you should not build a process of reacting and responding that treat messages in social media in a different way from through other mediums.

The best approaches to customer service are not to have a special social media route to get your problems dealt with, but to feed social media into your existing channels. If you have a customer care team, it is they who should deal with mentions in social media (where they need to be dealt with). Social media mentions should not be elevated to a special level that received particular attention over and above how you deal with your other customers and their issues, comments and suggestions. You should integrate social media into your business not treat it as a special case.

You can Listen to Lucy on here

Share Button
10 Responses
  • Letsgosocial.nl » Blog Archive » Waarschuwing: je kunt ook téveel reageren op Twitter
    Sep 10, 2010

    [...] filialen. Starbucks liet zich verleiden daar een conversatie van te maken. Onhandig, lezen we op Freshnetworks. Het leert dat het niet nodig of wenselijk is om op elke mention van je merk te reageren. Veel [...]

    Letsgosocial.nl » Blog Archive » Waarschuwing: je kunt ook téveel reageren op Twitter Sep 10, 2010
    Reply
  • Two Views on Twitter as a Customer Service Tool « Meanwhile Back at the Ranch
    Sep 10, 2010

    [...] Matt Rhoads of Fresh Networks counsels not to be too reactive to customer complaints via Twitter, citing an example from the UK of a Starbucks marketing director responding to a tweet about the lack of hygiene at one of its stores. Rhoads’ point is that the response should have come from customer service and not the marketing department. [...]

    Two Views on Twitter as a Customer Service Tool « Meanwhile Back at the Ranch Sep 10, 2010
    Reply
  • Sep 10, 2010

    I totally agree with that – knowing how to cut through the noise, and learning which mentions need responding to, is a key skill.

    And if you have good customer service channels, they ought to be the ones to respond. The immediacy of social media makes it seem as if we need to jump in right away, but that may not be the best course of action.

    Great points, thanks!

    Derek Sep 10, 2010
    Reply
  • Lilian
    Sep 11, 2010

    Thanks for this article. I think we should be less focused on the social media hype and get a broader view with specific roles.

    It’s still important to be there and to respond. However, like in any other activities, setting priorities and clear directions are crucial.

    Lilian Sep 11, 2010
    Reply
  • Sep 12, 2010

    I never thought about that in these terms, but it makes perfect sense.
    It is true that mentions in social media are usually dealt with very swiftly by “involved” brands, this probably encourages the whole phenomena of ranting at brands in social media.
    It should be just another way for customers to get in touch with the human side of the brand.
    Thanks for the heads up!

    Gabriele Maidecchi Sep 12, 2010
    Reply
  • Howie at Sky Pulse Media
    Sep 12, 2010

    I agree with your post. Twitter is the most real time enabler. For big brands it is ridiculous to use Twitter as a customer service response. I am not saying don’t do it, but it just means your normal customer service sucks. Take Comcast. Comcast doesn’t care. If they did they wouldn’t let the 99% of their customers who don’t use Twitter rot on hold.

    For a small business this stuff is easy to manage. But for a big company I would use Twitter more for adding value to the relationship. Since 95% of non-directly addressed tweets are never seen it is really hard to say ‘follow us for specials or promotions’ since most Tweets will not get seen. But you can use it to engage and share in a fashion that increases loyalty and makes engagement more fun or rewarding.

    All major brands though should be aggregating mentions and information (and of their competitors) for insight, intelligence, and even R&D.

    Howie at Sky Pulse Media Sep 12, 2010
    Reply
  • Andrew McFarland
    Sep 12, 2010

    Couldn’t agree more. I’ve got a blog post schedule for early October on just this topic… Twitter and others can be used for Customer Service, but they aren’t a cure for all that ails you!

    Sneak peak here: http://bit.ly/bpLj3j

    Andrew McFarland Sep 12, 2010
    Reply
  • Sep 13, 2010

    Sorry Matt, but I am going to disagree with you. I actually think that in this particular case, hygiene of a branch is incredibly important, and I would actively encourage the MD to be dealing with it. Now of course, I dont expect him to go and do the cleaning up, or arrange for it to be done, but I do expect a response from him.

    To me, there is nothing more important for a CEO of a corporation to deal with the public. That surely is part and parcel of their job. Does it mean, that I suddenly think because he is replying to me, that suddenly no one is at the helm of the business steering it correctly.. no of course not.

    I therefore would actively encourage all senior peeps as well as CEO’s to actively listen and engage with peeps. Firstly it would help them keep their ear to the ground, would help them to hear what people are really saying and thinking of their brand, and finally allows them to show us that they are human.

    Mark

    Mark Shaw Sep 13, 2010
    Reply
  • Digital Complaints and How Brands Can Deal With Them | The Social Nexus
    Oct 14, 2010

    [...] of these social channels is a good idea remains to be seen. Sometime ago @mattrhodes wrote a blog post @ FreshNetworks on the dangers of brands over responding on Twitter, citing a podcast example from [...]

    Digital Complaints and How Brands Can Deal With Them | The Social Nexus Oct 14, 2010
    Reply
  • letsgotwitter.nl blog » Blog Archive » Waarschuwing: je kunt ook téveel reageren op Twitter
    Jun 14, 2011

    [...] filialen. Starbucks liet zich verleiden daar een conversatie van te maken. Onhandig, lezen we op Freshnetworks. Het leert dat het niet nodig of wenselijk is om op elke mention van je merk te reageren. Veel [...]

    letsgotwitter.nl blog » Blog Archive » Waarschuwing: je kunt ook téveel reageren op Twitter Jun 14, 2011
    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *