How brands can use social media influencers to deliver excellent customer service
While browsing through magazines in a newsagent recently, I discovered an interesting new title: Oh My Vlog! Magazine. Aimed at a young teen audience, the publication follows the lives of famous YouTubers and other (in its own words) ‘web celebs’. A quick Google search showed that my confused reaction to the magazine’s existence was mirrored by others, but clearly the new generation has a growing appetite for social media influencers and what they have to say.
This emerging trend for social media celebrities provides a great chance for brands to engage in a more authentic, attention-grabbing way with customers. As they share experiences on a personal level, influencers can encourage fans to embark on the same modern customer journey. This is a great way for brands to deliver excellent customer service.
Because new ground is being broken, it could be hard to know where to start when engaging social media influencers. Here are three approaches to take into consideration:
- Influencer product review and Q&A
When a new product or service is launching, brands are often deluged with questions as people clamour for extra information. Rather than creating an ‘FAQ’ document, brands can share an early sample with a social media influencer, who can then test out the product and encourage people to ask them questions about it.
For example, using Facebook an influencer could run a video about a new click & collect service from a retailer, and then respond to user comments the next day, with the retailer then running a marketing campaign based on the results. A tour operator, meanwhile, could send an influencer on a cruise ship and get them to answer questions using video clips posted from different areas such as the engine room, where the captain stands or on some rigging. Answering commonly asked questions in a visually interesting format is likely to be more appealing to the new generation, which wants information delivered in a fast, easy and efficient manner, to be provided with customer service on the go.
- Influencer takeovers
Allowing a social media influencer to take control of a Twitter or Facebook account for a day will help amplify the brand message to the new generation, using what is hopefully a positive persuasive manner. Younger influencers and their fans are especially fond of meet and greet events: retailers in particular are taking advantage of this opportunity by engaging with Instagram fashion vloggers for a meet and greet social media takeover session in one of their stores.
Famous Instagrammers can even be tasked with capturing attractive and insightful pictures of products and events; brands just have to work to identify which platform would be most appropriate for the situation.
- Sharing knowledge with ‘Super fans’
‘Super fans’ understand the speed at which customer service is required because they are a customer themselves, but have the advantage of seeing products early and getting the inside track on knowledge and trends before any other fan does. Brands can capitalise on the opportunity to promote being “fast and efficient” – moving at customer speed through the support of influencers.
People who are already vocal about a brand online should be seeded with extra pieces of information, so that they can build their reputation as an authority. This will help to make fans aware of new products and services before they are formally announced, helping the brand to gauge potential consumer reactions and made adjustments during this ‘soft launch’ period. Sony, for example, built an online forum in which its biggest supporters were able to provide support and solve problems. This is a great way to put the passion of your most vocal supporters to good use, and as they will be getting information and samples before anybody else, it will have a side effect of keeping the brand popular with those people in the long term.
It is also worth asking whether anybody internally has engaged with an influencer before. There could well already be valuable information held within the business, from lists of influencers to target, to anecdotes from colleagues about their previous experiences. Combining this internal knowledge with tactics used by others will help brands to make informed choices as they put plans together for their own social media influencer engagement programmes.