Last updated: Fit for engagement: Emotional rescue, Part 1—How can you make people care?

Fit for engagement: Emotional rescue, Part 1—How can you make people care?


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Too many enterprises mess up their social strategy because they don’t present a human face. How can you make people care?

It’s easy to bandy around terms like “customer engagement” without having a solution for your business that actually works. There’s no way the company twitter account or Facebook page, foisted on some poor intern who is expected to work miracles with neither guidance nor autonomy, will ever be effective. Having a clever strategy isn’t the same as having one that resonates with your audience and builds your brand. You have to make connections.

So what do you do? For many enterprise companies, if they are not under the control of a Steve Jobs, then they are under the control of a brand custodian, and that sort of operation can be a very hard thing to humanise. Owned by shareholders and run by committees, a lack of confidence can creep in to what a brand stands for. It risks becoming anaemic, faceless, bland.

Many enterprises mess up #SocialStrategy and #CRM because they don’t present a human face. How can you make people care? 

At the other end of the scale, if you are more tyrant than oligarch, chances are it’s your own singular vision that keeps things on track, informing the tone and style of your messaging. But if you have an off day or you get too busy with other tasks, you risk being misunderstood. And when that happens, things can go south pretty quickly.

The recent “Are you beach body ready?” campaign by Protein World is a good example of this. The messaging – designed to be aspirational and show a body at its best – fell flat. It was badly received by commuters, who were quick to complain, resulting in the posters being pulled from the London Underground, and the Advertising Standards Authority receiving a petition with over 60,000 signatures.

What happened next surprised me. Rather than slowly disappear amidst the waves of protest, Protein World took a robust approach. It used the hashtag #getagrip to fight back, saying it was “here to motivate, not commiserate” – and it picked up supporters. Getting stuck into the discussion paid off. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the furore, it says that sales have jumped considerably.

Far better though would be for them to have got it right in the first place. It takes more than inspiration alone to get to the top. It’s never easy, but the trick is to walk the line of authenticity, to remain focused on what your customers need and deliver it to them simply and effectively before you start adding bells and whistles.

Part two will be published on Aug. 7—subscribe here so you don’t miss out.

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