Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Brand Advocates can help tell your story

Copyright 2014 Y'all Connect -- reprinted with permission.
I've followed Ramon DeLeon on Twitter for some time now (as you should @Ramon_DeLeon) because of his lengthy career as a social media expert and prior experience with Domino's in Chicago. I was lucky enough to sit in on one of Ramon's discussions at the Y'all Connect Social Media Conference in Birmingham and learn more about developing brand advocates.

DeLeon helped pioneer e-commerce for Domino's in 1998 as one of the first to sell online for pizza. In 2013, over 70% of their sales are now online. But he started simply as just an employee at Domino's without much sense to even wear the required belt to work on his first day. He was almost fired but struck a deal that since he had shown up early that if he got back with the belt by the time work started, they couldn't fire him. They agreed. He went on to become a major franchisee for Domino's.

Ramon told us his story because of one reason: If you empower your employees they in turn empower your brand. They in turn can make a difference in the lives of customers who in turn can empower your brand.DeLeon said he often gets one question: "What if we invest in our people and they leave?" and he always answers with a more important question, "What if we don't and they stay?"

Brand advocacy starts with proper training of employees. Help them learn that it is about friendship first and then second, customers.

"To deliver the great customer experience you need to engage your team members," DeLeon said. "Identify behaviors of your team that fuel your desired customer experience."

For example, if one of your employees loves to take pictures with her cell phone during work. Don't chastise her, but train her on taking photos that are useful for the brand's social media page.

"Empowered team members are more customer focused," DeLeon said.

The more customer focus in the physical store, the better quality comments on social media from customers.

Moving online, with social media, determining who can become a brand advocate is not easy. If you focus only on metrics then you can fail as the big picture of a person is more than their follower count.

"You never know who can be a brand advocate," DeLeon said. "We wouldn't be in business without our customers."

(Courtesy of http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2012/07/what-is-a-brand-advocate.html)
DeLeon said that pizzerias should engage customer generated content. Share those photos that people take in your store. Take photos of customers in the store. Reward them for their Instagram pics of your yummy pizza. Today we are in a society where anyone can build an audience and affect change, advocate brands, build relationships and make a difference online, DeLeon noted.

A great example of a response was when someone tweeted that she didn't receive her order from one of DeLeon's stores. Instead of just saying how they would fix it (which they did say), they went a step further and made a personalized video to her explaining the mistake and apologizing. The video ended up going viral due to its uniqueness in 2009.

"If you are only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people," DeLeon said.

DeLeon noted that while sometimes there will be social media failures, learn from them and don't just give up on the platform or your employees. He left us with one last thought at his seminar that I think sums up exactly what should customer service and social media be: "Be awesome and let your people be awesome."

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