In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel says to Clementine “constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating”. First of all, I recommend you watch that film. It’s incredible and speaks on many levels about human interaction. Secondly, I recommend that when creating content calendars as a social media manager that you keep that line in mind.
As helpful as such things are and as hard as it will be for social managers to read, social networks are not as successful as they are because of content calendars, automated software or branded accounts. These things can be great when used properly but they’ll never beat the original love and success of human interaction. Ten years ago when teenagers (including myself) swarmed to Myspace, they didn’t care about their personal brand or anything of the kind- well, until ‘Myspace Popular’ was actually a term used to describe some emo kids. They cared about talking to their friends, making new friends and connecting with the bands they loved. Human interaction and communication were Myspace’s keys to success.
Speaking now as somebody who was around and obsessed with the first social networks, it’s frustrating to see ‘branded’ social media accounts settle for automated DMs when there’s a real opportunity to connect with people. Automated DM’s will do nothing for your brand but put people off it. Replying to negative comments with “Thank you for your comment, we’re sorry you had this experience” doesn’t provide the customer with reassurance or hope, it tells them that you don’t care. It’s the internet equivalent to “thank you for holding, your call is very important to us”- it’s insincere and frustrating.
The people who get in touch with brands on social networks are regular people. They’re your family members, your neighbours, your friends. There’s no reason to speak to them as if they’re a sub-set of human designed entirely to interact with brands. There’s no reason for robotic responses and it seems that a lot of brands have really missed a massive, vital opportunity by not taking their social networking seriously.
By this I mean that it seems that a lot recognise the need for a social account and recognise that they must be updated regularly but past that, they’re largely undervalued. This is concerning because we are now in a world of constant, easy communication. We have broken down countless barriers, we are more connected than we’ve ever been which means brands are more connected to consumers than they’ve ever been and what better way to not only understand their needs but also define yourself as a reputable, customer-friendly brand than through speaking directly, informally with customers?
Joel’s words in Eternal Sunshine were striking because they made a point that Clementine was hesitant to accept – there’s no value in constant conversation and limiting your words to when you feel you have something worthwhile to say is no bad thing. Similarly, there is no consumer value in reading posts saying ‘happy Friday!’. Obviously, with Facebook especially, there is an algorithm to battle with but this is an opportunity for a challenge- not for lazy, automated, everybody-else-does-it posts.
Instead of robotic responses, reply to your customers as if they were asking you face to face. Instead of sending automated DM’s, have a look at your follower’s tweets and see if there’s anything you can respond to. Maybe a mention of a film or a TV show. Something neutral, of course but also something interesting and unrelated to your brand. This is a better approach to customer interaction and will ensure you’re remembered as a brand in a good light. This will be very time-consuming but it’s time well spent. If you take your social media accounts seriously (As I’m sure I’ve covered that you should), the time will be of little consequence to you compared to the interest it’ll return.
Also, trust me, if you haven’t watched the film do so now!