When Social Media Specials Break a Brand Experience

foursquare.jpg

Recently, my wife, my dad and I visited an ice cream shop on the Riverwalk.  As I checked in on Foursquare, the location based service, it notified me that there was a special at the location.  I was pleasantly surprised.  According to my BlackBerry, it said “While you’re in the hood, you should hit up the scoop shop! Check in and get 3 scoops for $3! Show that you’re mayor and and get an extra scoop on us!”  I showed my wife and dad the offer and explained how Foursquare worked.  I presented the offer, but the gentleman behind the counter told me he was unfamiliar with special and he’d have no way of ringing this up.  At this point, I’d experienced a brand disconnect and looked foolish.  It was not the fault of the employee, there merely had been a break down in the system.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time I had experienced a promotion through social media that had not been communicated to the person working the register.  To alleviate this, may I suggest that if you’re looking to do a special offer presented via social media, that you consider the following:
  • Allow the folks working the register to offer their ideas for special offers.  Then, they’ll feel that they’re part of the bigger picture and will learn that there are special offers being promoted.  They may also have additional insight on what the customer wants since they’re on the front lines.
  • Don’t be afraid to make special offers for social media, just measure the results.
  • Communicate the offer to all members of your team. A small flyer behind the counter can help. Include screenshots, if it helps, and train the staff how to ring up the offer so that it is tallied as such for review of the metrics later.
  • Try new platforms and different offerings.
  • Repeat
Here’s hoping that the ice cream shop on the Riverwalk gets the scoop on this post so future visitors can be surprised and delighted not only by their ice cream, but also their progressive offerings.

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7 Responses to When Social Media Specials Break a Brand Experience

  1. Kenji Onozawa May 26, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    Nice post, Nan. Agreed – when a brand doesn’t do a good job of fulfilling it’s promises, it definitely creates a level of distrust in their relationship with their customers. At one time, this may not have made a huge impact, but now, given that just about anyone can broadcast their thoughts, opinions, and experiences to the world, what may seem like a minor communication break down can potentially turn into a much bigger problem.

    It’s amazing how often situations like this could have been avoided with just a quick email or phone call between the decision-makers and gatekeepers. Given all the ways we have to communicate, it’s still baffling how bad we can be at it.

  2. Jeff Reckseidler May 26, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    I’d definitely focus as much as possible to have your social promo’s focus on an online offer with corresponding promo code that can be validated with no human error allowed.

    Banana Republic sent one via Twitter today:
    Today’s your lucky day! Get 30% off all reg-priced items + Free Shipping on $100, today only! Enter code ONEDAY30. http://cot.ag/93nCPs

    As LBS takes shape through Foursquare, etc. the fulfillment component needs to be communicated and part of the social business design chain – so I agree – if you have an offer make sure your team knows about it and can speak to it / fulfill it otherwise you kill the deal and maybe even future business from that customer!

    Jeff Reckseidler
    http://tw-labs.com

  3. Shari Biediger May 26, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    I had a similar experience on National Bagel Day at Einstein Bagels last month. I got notice via FB they were honoring the event by giving away free bagels, so I popped in with the knowledge of this special offer and met with a confused clerk: “National Bagel Day? Really?” She comp’d my bagel, but missed the opportunity to build a relationship. Glad that corporate recognizes the value of participating in social media, disappointed they don’t have it fully integrated into their processes.

  4. Andrew Weir May 29, 2010 at 10:11 am #

    This type of disconnect happens all the time.
    Even the big guys get it wrong: http://tiny.cc/eih0b
    Good tips.

  5. Alan Weinkrantz June 4, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    I had the same experience at a Starbucks!

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