Social Media Needs Local Activation!

The following post is part of the Mindjumpers Network series. Mindjumpers Network is a global network of local country community managers enabling international companies to execute and maintain brand communities in a structured, quality assured and cost effective way across markets with the aim of creating effect and value. This post is written by Fredrik Olimb, Local Community Manager from Norway and part of Mindjumpers Network. Fredrik studies PR and Communication at BI Norwegian Business School in Oslo, Norway. 


 

In this blog post, I want to highlight some of the benefits of local community management, and why I believe it is necessary for a global company to outsource one of its most visible properties (next to the product) – its communication. My experience comes from personal observation as a Local Community Manager for one of Mindjumpers Network’s clients, Ben & Jerry’s Nordic, as well as from my several years of interest in the field of PR and communication.

 

Atmosphere and timing

I am Norwegian in every sense of the word. I like to go cross-country skiing, I eat goat cheese and I celebrate with pride every year the 17th of May to commemorate the day we signed our constitution. I am also shy in public places, restrain myself from bragging and I am never satisfied with the weather (which is extremely typical for Norwegians). These are all labels of our citizens, and we accept it as parts of our culture. For a foreigner, be it a person or company, they might comprehend this without really understanding its essence. This is important. For most global companies, it will not be possible to have local offices in every country in which they are represented. It does not make financial sense. And this is where it gets difficult. How do you communicate with those citizens, when you are unaware of the ever-changing atmosphere?

The Nordic countries are not one and the same; they are Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland – similar geographically and in the quality of life – but four different countries nonetheless. This is where I, and other Local Community Managers from these countries come into the picture. We might not have a diploma in Political Science, but we have lived and breathed amongst the consumers we try to reach. We have the opportunity to observe the spirit of the people, everyday, through personal impressions, social media, news and media – essential when managing a community on a local level.

 

Why dissatisfied customers leave

The first manager I ever worked for once told me: “99 out of 100 dissatisfied customers give you a piece of their mind, while one out of 100 happy customers give you praise”. I’ve always kept that in mind, especially after I began studying PR. Consider the critical timeframe from when a displeased customer expresses his or her anger to when that customer loses interest in a product. Time is of the essence – and to every customer their issue matters the most. As Erika Andersen writes in an article for Forbes; people really hate bad customer service. What would happen to a customer of your brand if he or she 1) was ignored, 2) got a displeasing answer without follow-up, or 3) received help in English or crudely translated local language? You would have an unsatisfied customer who probably could speak negatively about you amongst his or her community of friends, which further could result into not only loosing one customer, but also many.

Through local community management, we are able to meet the customers in the right tone of voice at the core of their problems – if there are any. I personally believe that this is the customer communication of modern age. Customers do no longer need to drive to the brands’ offices or stores, neither waiting in line on the phone to get the customer service they need. People should be able to express their concern where they are present and where they have a big part of their social life, such as on Facebook.

 

Why all markets are unique – and why you should be aware of it

As a Local Community Manager in Norway, I take pride in knowing my recipients. After all, I am one of them. I know how we react to different approaches at different times. Of course, me being Norwegian, I have to believe that the Norwegian population exists of unique individuals and differs from citizens in other countries – and I genuinely believe this to be the case. The good, old national pride that a Local Community Managers possesses is a resource that an International brand benefits greatly from. What make Norwegians different from others? Probably nothing you could put in a strategic analysis.

But what I can reveal from experience is that as a small nation, we often react as one collective spirit. We laugh together through times of celebration, and we cry together through times of sorrow. Consumer communication can be a ticking time bomb if you’re not aware of local social behaviour and culture. To be aware, you need to be present. As a Local Community Manager, I assure that the brand shares the joy of the Norwegian people when we celebrate, just as I assure to keep the brand on a tighter leash when our nation goes through hardship.

 

Local community management to me is about three key points; knowing, caring, talking – in that order. Know whom your customers are and what they are feeling, care about their satisfaction, not just sales numbers, and talk to them on a personal level. This is how local community management can create business revenue – on a local as well as international level.

 

 

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.