As companies all over the world struggle to figure out how to use social media, one Rochester retailer gets it right and scores a customer service bull's eye
Saturday's cold weather seemed like a perfect opportunity to make a big pot of chili con carne for the family. My wife Lydia agreed and made a quick run to our local Wegmans to pick up supplies for the meal.
One of my jobs was to brown the ground beef, which Lydia had picked up on the aforementioned shopping run. We had 6.7 pounds of 90% lean ground beef from Wegmans. (We were making two batches and we've got two teen boys if you're wondering about the volume!)
When I was done cooking the meat we both were stunned to see how much liquid had cooked off. We'd never noticed that much before. Honestly, we don't buy much ground beef from Wegmans, so we thought it might be an issue with their quality. I snapped a quick pic with my iPhone and posted it to Twitter with the following comment:
Here's the picture that I attached to my tweet:
Within a few moments I received a response from Wegmans, even though my tweet was not directed to them. I knew from my Twitter use that Wegmans monitors their name in tweets and interacts with people that talk about them. For example, last week someone mentioned that they were going to Wegmans for a quick lunch. Wegmans tweeted after lunch asking them what they had and how they liked it.
Here's the direct message they sent in response:
My wife and I were blown away! An almost immediate response, right in our kitchen, from the retailer. When we first saw the liquid we felt like something was wrong and immediately assumed Wegmans was at fault. Within seconds of posting the pic and comment we got recognition and a promise to get more info. We were impressed and I was able to immediately shift my feelings from mistrust to guarded trust.
Even though the response made us feel better we were still a little skeptical. Maybe it was an automated response. Maybe they're just trying to get us to not publicly complain. Maybe they won't get back to us.
Sunday went by without any info, but I expected that. It was the weekend after all. Monday morning I received the following:
Wegmans had an answer and wanted a better way to contact me. They also started following me so that I could send my email addy via direct message and avoid having to publish it to the whole Twitter community. My direct message response:
Within a few minutes I had a personal email assuring us they did not modify the meat, explaining that our experience with the meat was normal and why and how to best work with ground beef.
You can download a PDF copy of the email response Wegmans sent by clicking here.
I was sold. Not only had Wegmans convinced me that their product was fine, they improved their brand's value in my mind with the amazing way they dealt with this issue.
Kudos to Wegmans for their use of social media—they really get it!
They never hit me with 'special offers' via Twitter. Something that lots of companies do, including Kodak and JetBlue, and which I find tiresome
They engage anyone who mentions them. They do it in a friendly and even playful way that engenders social media users to them
They keep a close eye out for potential problems and respond quickly, as in my experience
They keep their word and follow through, working to resolve the issue
Great job, Wegmans! I've always been a fan, but you really hit the ball out of the park with social media.
I meet with my local competitors as often as possible. Rochester is a small community and it's nice to get to know the people working in our industry. Recently, I met with two different competitors and was struck by the difference in each of their approach to online marketing.
I won't get into all the details here, but the point that struck me is this: One agency was throwing all its resources and energy behind social media. Everything in their view was about leveraging the communities of Twitter, FaceBook and the like. The other agency, although social media savvy, viewed social media as just one tool in the marketer's toolbox.
Anyone that follows me on Twitter (@mikegastin) or works with our firm knows that I align closely with the latter. Social media and SEO are tools. They're important and can be useful in a greater strategy, but at the end of the day, they can't carry your company's marketing needs on their own. In fact, I don't believe any one tactic is enough, traditional or digital.
How about you? Have you dumped collateral, direct mail and print ads all in favor of on line marketing? If so, do you have metrics to show how it's worked out? Or, have you decided to keep some of your traditional marketing efforts and mix them with on line marketing? I'd love to hear about your experiences, so please leave a comment!
Marketing pros, entrepreneurs and executives—win Jeff Hayzlett's best-selling book on business: The Mirror Test. Enter early, enter often!
We're giving away a free copy of Jeff Hayzlett's new book, The Mirror Test! All you have to do is email us with your contact info of choice—phone number, email addy, Twitter handle—and you're entered into the drawing. And don't sweat sending us an email, as we're anti-spam. You'll not receive anything from us other than info on the drawing. Okay?
Jeff Hayzlett is a larger-than-life marketing expert, who until recently was the Chief Marketing Officer for Kodak. Word on the street is he's moved on for a television show. Only time will tell. Until then, give us your info and get in on the chance to win Jeff's book.
We'll be announcing the winner early next week, so enter now!
Business people who have figured out Twitter’s power know that it’s an amazing tool for intelligence gathering, trend spotting, networking and business development. Its usefulness is easily under-realized and if you think Twitter is mainly for chatting, think again.
Let’s say you need to find an expert on solar energy for an article you’re working on. You can search people’s bios on Twitter using Google. You would construct a search string to look for bios that contain solar energy. Within a few seconds you’d have a list of people from all over the world that have something to do with solar energy. Then, it’s just a matter of following the ones that look promising and reaching out to them via Twitter. Within an hour you could be on the phone with an expert getting the info you need.
In addition, by searching for solar energy trends on Twitter you will find all kinds of discussions, news stories, articles and published research, which would be valuable to your article. You could use Google and search for relevant web sites, but Twitter provides you with real-time conversations—not just indexed content. That’s powerful.
Twitter & Journalism
This kind of power and time relevancy makes Twitter a must-use tool for journalists and publications. It’s like having your very own police scanner except you can tune-in to any topic you’re interested in.
Remember when a reporter had to move heaven and earth to ‘get the scoop’ on a story? Or how hard they had to work to find and cultivate sources? All these things can be done so easily using Twitter that it’s a no-brainer. Savvy journalists use it to follow important people, trendsetters and insiders, find experts, watch trending topics and get the jump on their competition.
I was poking around over the weekend to find local journalists using Twitter because I wanted to start cultivating relationships with the local press, something every small business owner needs to do. What I found amazed me.
I started at the RBJ. There’s nothing on their web site about Twitter. I had to really dig around the net to find their main account which is a feed of stories. Okay, but I want to connect with reporters, not receive a feed of headlines.
I searched Twitter to find ‘rochester business journal’ or ‘rbj’ in users’ bios and found one relevant hit: editor and vice president Paul Ericson. Wow! A guy at the top, this is a good sign, I thought. When I clicked through to his Twitter page I found that he had only one tweet and it was from January of this year. He had two followers and followed two users, one being his employer. That’s it. One staffer with a four-month old tweet. Not savvy.
The Democrat & Chronicle has fully embraced Twitter. They’ve even got a page on their web site that lists everyone on their staff with a Twitter account. It’s quite impressive. After following some of their reporters and staff, it’s clear that they use it actively. I’m amazed at how well they engage the community. That has to pay dividends for a business that makes its living reporting local news.
I’m no print media expert. But, I’ve been involved in business development, networking and research for decades. It seems obvious that if your job involves connecting with people, finding information and developing content, like a newspaper must do every day, you need to be using tools like Twitter. If you’re not you can expect to be left behind. It’s that simple.
An employee told me about an article he saw in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle about a local competitor that's embraced social media. So, I went to check it out.
I tried to find the article on the D&C's website first, but no dice. The link was broken. I could find the headline through a simple Google search, but every time I hit the D&C site I got an error message.
Okay, that's not my competitor's fault. So, I figured I'd head over to their website to see what they've been doing with social media. I was really interested because I'm working hard to learn how to leverage social media for my company and my clients. I thought I might learn a thing to two.
Wow, what a surprise!
The site is the same one they've had since the early 2000's—same design, same content and all the copy is actually gif files. No text, which means it's not Google freindly. Even more surprisingly, there's no blog, no rss feed, no place for visitors to leave public comments. All I could find was a tiny Facebook icon at the bottom each page. Where's the social media?
I jumped over to their FB fan page. It had a couple contests to increase the number of Facebook fans and there were a couple of picture albums. That's it. Again, where's the social media?
Look, we aren't social media experts here at BWC. We're learning, just like everyone else. We are expert problem solvers, we know communication design like nobody's business and we know marketing. Social media is new, growing and it's exciting. We're using it, just like millions of people do every day. But, we're not selling ourselves as experts. Not yet.
Maybe my competitor's website is suffering from the same problem that the cobbler's children suffer from—papa's so busy making shoes for everyone else that the kids go barefoot. I'd like to believe that's the case. But, often there's too much sizzle in our industry and not enough substance.
We're good at image and look. We know how to get attention, to promote and to get noticed. That's what our clients pay us to do! But, I think we as an industry suffer at times because of it. It's too easy to promote yourself as something you're not and when that happens it's the clients that suffer.
Here's a tip, and it applies to every sort of marketing expert you'll meet, including social media types: Ask them how they will measurably achieve your goals, like driving revenues, increasing memberships or growing donations.
Creating buzz, adding followers, encouraging conversations and all the rest are useless unless you can tie them to your goals. If a person can show you how they will deliver on your goals, you've got a bona fide expert. Hire them.