Why we need to think out of the box

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 7.02.00 PMI currently work in social media and was a community manager for 2 years. I’m also in an agency meaning that the social media and community management work is done on request of clients.

There is no end to websites capturing cool moments of Community Management. Think CM Hall of Fame (French) or even this article I read today (also in French). Of course Twitter and social media in general are always quick to pick up on and point at the fails of community management, whilst companies themselves don’t miss an occasion to document how far they can take awesome customer service, enter KLM

We need to continue to challenge the status quo and think outside the box more! Especially with our clients, or even with internal stakeholders and colleagues. People are still plagued by the fear of social media, “what if something goes wrong”? “What if this makes us look stupid?”

I would argue that the minute you join a social network as a company, there is an inherent risk. A risk that you will be swamped by hate messages, a risk you will post something that’s a bit stupid, a risk that your blatant call for likes is so bad it’s picked up by Condescending Corporate Brand Page.

But when we’re talking standing out from the rest, making your brand fun and engaging, becoming down to earth with your customers, how much risk is there really?

As community managers we become the gatekeepers of the brand. Yes, it is our responsibility to ensure that customers are happy, needs are addressed and questions answered. It’s also our responsibility to ensure we are giving the brand the correct presence online.

But sometimes, we can get stuck in the day to day routine. So stuck that we lose our creativity, that we wonder “But what if…. this made us look bad”? The questions creep up on us and before we’ve realised it, we’ve become the community managers who don’t take risks.

Not so long ago, I saw someone share an article saying “this isn’t really the tone of voice, but good creativity”. And this is precisely where I think we need to think out of the box!

What is wrong with it not being in the right tone of voice? If the customer reaches out to you speaking… pirate, how risky is it for you to reply in pirate? Really, think about it.

Could it be that bad for you to reply in pirate or would it on the contrary give you more visibility? Would it perhaps give you credibility for being someone able to communicate with your fans, someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously? Someone who understand who’s speaking to them and is ready to step outside their comfort zone?

Similarly, what about hopping on the bandwagon of current news? Ok, perhaps recreating Kim Kardashian’s latest picture is a bit too extreme for some, I’ll give you that. But do you remember Serge the Llama?

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 7.00.00 PM

Serge the Llama was taken from a circus on a joyride by a bunch of young people in Bordeaux. Pictures of him on the internet went viral and suddenly brands were hopping on the bandwagon and using it to their advantage. Take this example from Air France.

Before you say to yourself “Oh no, this isn’t my brand. My brand couldn’t do this”, ask yourself – what if it could? How would you use Serge the Llama to tell your brand’s story?

It doesn’t always have to be ridiculous or taken to the extreme. Air France’s use of Serge remains classy, true to the brand, yet adds a touch of humour knowing the current news of Serge’s abduction. So why can other brands not do this too?

I say let’s start by challenging ourselves and our teams, and then let’s challenge our clients. Let’s think outside the box, keep our replies fun and topical, and keep bringing creativity to the table.

 

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