How Ecycler Used Social Media to Enhance Its Business

Ecycler.com is an internet age version of cash for cans concept. Through this website, people who wanted to discard their belongings could do so by posting it to the website. ‘Collectors’ would then arrange to pick it up or get the discarded belongings shipped. Basically the soul of the business here was communication between collectors and discarders.

The challenge for the company was to proactively create awareness and start a conversation between collectors and discarders. Also, they wanted to find new people who wanted to discard their goods, collectors as well as partner organisations to take part in it.

To do this, first the company started out with traditional model of cold calling, but this did not prove very fruitful. Whenever the sales force from Ecycler called, people were either busy or uninterested. So a lot of opportunity cost was lost.

Gradually, owners Laurent and Robertson started using social media to their advantage. The first objective was acquisition. They started identifying potential recycling enthusiast to partner with by observing Twitter activities, retweeting and then holding conversation through business messages.

ecycler

Another interesting innovation which got them a lot of business was the use of Twitter API to tweet the whereabouts of new discarders’ location and types of items they collected, which made it easier for discarders to get in touch with them, so Ecycler’s job was half done!

Another cool thing they did was to search prominent bloggers in green space and engage them on Twitter. After this, bloggers came to know about Ecycler.com and started writing about them.

A very interesting tip can be picked from their Facebook page and YouTube engagement. Every post and update had a picture or a video which would interest recycling enthusiasts like a post on US Bottle bill.

By properly leveraging their social media channels, Ecycler enhanced its business as well as won several accolades. The company won finalist in a small business road to success challenge from Fairfield Inn suites and won the grand prize by exceeding its target by 151 new discarders and 623 collectors .

Today the company has 8,200 followers, 9,568 Facebook: fans, 73 YouTube videos and a blog. On average, the company lands one meeting per week with potential partners, collectors or discarders through Twitter.

I personally feel if the “social” aspect of social media is understood and used smartly, it can give the business an added push. If all the channels work on the set strategy and you know what you are tweeting about, you are good to go!

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Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.