Archive for Social Media

Stella Artois Makes Going Green Retro Hip

Le Hedge Fund (the video) pretty much sums up what I like so much about Stella Artois‘s new campaign – Recyclage De Luxe. It’s nifty and endearing. Most of all, it is a video made with a specific audience in mind, and succeeds in doing so.

How? With Le Hedge Fund and the newly-minted series of videos, Stella Artois does more than just make a corporate responsibility (CR) commitment. Here, The Belgian beer has come up with an ingenious way to communicate their actions in a way that not only produce understanding, but invoke admiration and identification by showing that CR and style can be impeccably compatible.

It may be difficult for any brand to pull off a series of charming and self-deprecating videos, but this is exactly what Stella Artois needed. For years, Stella Artois was marketed as as ‘reassuringly expensive’. This slightly high-brow approach had probably restricted the brand’s audience to a band of semi-connoisseurs around the world.

In creating Recyclage De Luxe, Stella Artois keeps its positioning intact while also appealing (with its irreverant humour) to jolly, witty beer drinkers who are big on merry occasions with their pals, be it over dinner or at a party. Additionally, most of them are likely to be heartened by the good deeds that Stella Artois is devoting itself to. The feel-good factor of these causes certainly works in accentuating the fuzzy warm feeling at gatherings.

Blending a CR message with subtle, irreverent and nostalgic humour, Stella Artois manages to convey much more than just Eco-friendly intentions. The potentially viral nature of the Recyclage De Luxe videos will tell many eager viewers about the brand’s roots and most importantly, impart Stella Artois with a charming, witty and smart personality that many will want to associate themselves with.

What should Twitter ask?

I’ve always regarded “What are you doing?” as mere placeholder text. Look at it this way: if you use Twitter long enough, you’d soon ignore the question’s existence altogether. You don’t even notice it’s there. Something like Seth Godin’s ‘Purple Cow’ analogy.

When it comes to prompts, I believe their primary role is to attract new users to Twitter. The prompt influences what their first tweet will be about. Twitter CEO Biz Stone would probably agree with me on this. (Initially, I thought Twitter was banal and pointless because I took “What are you doing?” at face value.)

Be it “What are you doing?” or “What’s happening”, I don’t feel that either question can justify itself based on the many ways Twitter is used. I feel that prompts like these can actually affect the type of information that flows on Twitter perhaps by subconsciously directing the user’s thought processes. Considering this, “What’s happening?” is disruptive and debilitates Twitter in more ways than one.

Firstly, the new question’s specificity makes it even more narrow and limiting than “What are you doing?”. If enough people are influenced and hence adhere to answering “What’s happening?” more and more often, the Twitterverse will be so much for the worse – being reduced to 5 million news organizations. People’s expectations and perceptions of Twitter will undergo a gradual mental shift, and you might be more likely to see Twitter as a news outlet more than anything else in the future. I don’t wish to see this sort of influence on a write-what-you-want platform. It seems to me insidious.

Secondly, I see the new question as an inadequate attempt to include the activity of linking Tweets to news stories and blog posts. The vagueness of “What’s happening?” seem to indicate classifying every linked-tweet under a single, universal category. Fort Hood is placed on the same cognitive level of importance as eating KFC chicken – the un-newsworthy but interesting/witty tweet will be marginalised gradually, moving Twitter towards being just another news aggregator like Digg. Contrary to the very idea of bringing people of different places and walks of life together via microblogging, we may see people drifting apart and communities separated just because they have a different take on “What’s happening?”.

Then again, the impact of the above may me reduced if users naturally begin to ignore the prompt altogether after say, maybe 100 tweets.

What should the prompt be then? I suggest something inclusive, catchy, and not even a question.

‘Go ahead’.

4 Reasons Why Customer Service Is Clumsy On Twitter

May I not help you?

It’s a customer service rep’s nightmare. Twitter. I can imagine this poor guy in front of his computer screen, blood pressure rising as the customer service Twitter feed that he is supposed to oversee updates itself as fast as his heart is beating. This is the problem that is probably going to shorten the lifespans of a lot of customer service reps whose companies have decided they want to ‘Go Twitter’.

But why is Twitter such a bad tool for customer service?

1. Twitter is Low-Bandwidth

A high-bandwidth medium, like the telephone, can convey the richness of an exchange between a customer service rep and the customer. Emails and help forums come a close second, with high capacity for textual explanation without the need to link to generalised help pages that leave the customer scouring for relevance.

Twitter is primitive: in the sense that everything is in a linear, simplified textual flow with no direct, one-step way to solve any technical problem more complex than ‘restarting the program’ or ‘going out and smell the roses’.

2. Twitter is Misunderstood by Companies

Some companies see Twitter as a quick fix to brand and relationship building – a magic pill on a magic bandwagon. Too often, they do not understand Twitter enough or plan strategically (as they would have in other things) because they think that they can just jump right in and then feel around only afterward. Without strategic planning prior to a commitment to social media, resources are not going to be optimised. You get 7 staff to deal with 17 tweets per minute, and suddenly a 30-minute call on hold actually sounds good to the customer.

3. Twitter is Misused by Customers

Increasingly, customers are thinking that Twitter is the Holy Grail for customer service. It is not. Just like how monorails are not the pinnacle of public transportation excellence. Some customers just cannot peel themselves away from the illusion that Twitter can provide a ‘one-on-one’ customer service experience. Others equate the ease of twittering to the ease of feedback for the company in question. Customers get complacent, unreasonable and irresponsible: those who have once bothered to Google now treat Twitter like Google and expect the same (if not higher) quality and promptness of response. Worse, Twitter’s 140 character limit encourages superfluous complaints that have not gone through much thought in the minds of the customers typing those tweets. It poses a real nightmare for reps: how to separate real concerns from the lazy ones.

4. Twitter is not made for Customer Service

In customer service offices around the world, elaborate and complex software programmes and sorting systems actively classify and categorise incoming customer service enquiries. Twitter? Enough said.

Convenience is bad rationale for a primordial way of conducting customer service through Twitter. It’s like jostling with thousands in a crowded room with the customer service rep trying too hard to stay alive in the middle to answer queries well. Good customer service is worth the salt that more traditional modes of communication can offer. Once again, it is wise to bear in mind that Social Media channels are not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, especially not when it comes to building good customer relations.