Social media has the potential to reach millions of people. This is a “traditional” marketers dream. The potential for massive audience, all in one place, ready to listen to your message. The traditional marketer shouts from the rooftops about how good their product or service is, expecting their audience to respond and come flocking. The trouble is, despite the huge reach, social media is turning the world into a corner shop.
In days gone by, the lesser spotted human being shopped at local establishments, close to his / her habitat. Whole communities were built around these shops, and everybody knew everybody else. In this environment, customer care mattered. If Mr Smith’s grocery produced dodgy sausages one day for Mrs Green and did nothing about it, Mrs Green would tell the neighbours. “You’ll never guess, Smith’s Butchers gave me a dodgy batch of bangers the other day. I wouldn’t have fed ’em to my dog! And what’s worse, he wouldn’t give me a refund. He told me to clear off!” And the whole community would know. Mr Smith’s business would be in instant jeopardy.
Social media is bringing that “corner shop mentality” to the world. Mrs Green can now say the same thing on Facebook, not only to her neighbours, but to her 300 friends she has on the site. Suddenly, it matters that you care for your customers, as they have a wide reaching voice. Big brands whose customer care used to consist of a call centre and unhelpful staff are now exposed to the poison of a single tweet – customers can share their bad experiences with the masses.
But herein lies the opportunity. For the savvy company, social media offers new avenues of customer care. Customer tweets an issue? Respond and offer support. Customers running into issues using your product? Produce a YouTube video explaining how to do it. The possibilities to connect with your customers and develop meaningful relationships are endless.
Balfour Beatty have epitomised this mentality. They use their social media channels to care for their clients and the stakeholders in their business. Here are 5 reasons we love Balfour Beatty’s social media strategy:-
1 They are on Pinterest
Pinterest is an aspirational social network. Want to make a list of the places you want to travel, clothes you want to buy, books you want to read? Pinterest is your site. It is also visually stunning. You have the ability to post images to the network that really capture the essence of your personality. As a construction company, Balfour Beatty are always working on exciting and innovative projects. Pinterest provides a highly visual and aesthetic platform to showcase their work.
2 They respond to customers on Twitter – even if its a complaint
Twitter is open season for complainers. Cycling home, I once received a few choice swear words from a bus driver who was hell bent on seeing if he could knock me off my bike. He didn’t succeed, but I took to twitter to let the company know I was less than happy with his behaviour. Great companies respond. They offer their employees the power to respond and interact, and everyone has the company values at heart. Balfour Beatty respond. The good, the bad and the ugly all gets attention. Naturally, if they receive great press, it receives a retweet. Unnaturally, if a customer or stakeholder complains, Balfour Beatty deal with the issue publicly. I’ve even seen the CEO respond to someone who had a leaky toilet. Talk about impressive.
3 Their YouTube channel is alive with the sound of music
Video is a great way to engage with your stakeholders. Balfour Beatty do this brilliantly. Want to know more about a project they are undertaking? They have a video on YouTube. Want to know what it would be like to work for Balfour Beatty? There is a video on YouTube. This type of content is always a winner, and Balfour Beatty’s videos are informative and varied. They even have a cycle safety video.
4 Pictures galore on Facebook
Facebook limits the audience for businesses until they pay for the privilege. The best content to share on Facebook is a combination of images and words. Images take up valuable online real estate and capture the attention of your audience. Balfour Beatty’s Facebook page is awash with images. These are pictures of their latest projects, associated blog posts and people who work in their business. Such images give a flavour of the company and allow people interested in Balfour Beatty to get a sense of personality.
5 A wide variety of employees contribute to their blog
Online activities for a company can be likened to the wheel of an old stagecoach. Social media platforms are the spokes – they provide the peripheral outreach activities. The company’s website – an in particular the blog – is represented by the hub. All social media activity should aim to bring people back to the content that resides on your blog. The best businesses allow a wide variety of employees to have a voice on the company blog, allowing external stakeholders to gain insight into all facets of the business.
Social media is the new way of communication. Rather than an entity to be viewed with caution, we should look at social media as merely an avenue for communication. The same rules apply here as those applicable to real communication. In order to win customer’s hearts, a company has to be engaging, empathetic, interesting, caring, funny, relevant and on the ball. Balfour Beatty are hitting these marks with aplomb.