If you manage a brand’s social media community long enough, you’ll start to see patterns emerge.
After making the switch from journalism to social media management on the agency side, it became evident within weeks that there were five common types of social media community members.
Sure, there are always anomalies and exceptions to the rule, and you should always be prepared for the unknown. But here they are, the five archetypes who post on brand pages (and how best to engage them).
The discount/coupon seeker
I was hours into my new position as social media manager when I saw that post from someone who was a fan of the brand I manage. It was that simple. A word and an exclamation point. But in that simple post was one of the most common things I see across brands. The people who “like” your Facebook page and follow your brand on Twitter want something.
As a colleague wisely reminded me, this is permission marketing. By “liking” the page, they’re essentially giving that brand permission to present content to them. Therein lies a responsibility to make your content relevant and worthwhile. It also means that these fans (with some exception) want something in return for granting that permission—discounts, coupons, or some insider information about your product.
You’re wise to give them what they want—within reason, of course. However, when it becomes cost-prohibitive to offer such incentives, we try to respond with something along the lines of, “Thanks for posting to the page … we offer promotions from time to time, so stay tuned.”
The end game is to go beyond coupon clamoring in the social space and facilitate a living, breathing community that feeds off itself. Community members share with one another and continue to like, follow, and interact with your brand, because it serves as a sort of badge—your brand represents a lifestyle to which they aspire.
The “I love your product” evangelizer
Nearly as common as the value seekers on your page are brand advocates. When people allow your brand to present content to them and then say they love you, you had better be scrambling to tell them you love them back.
Brand advocates and enthusiasts can easily be taken for granted, because it’s not as urgent to respond to them as someone who is telling you how much your brand sucks (and we’ll get to those folks). But those people should be acknowledged in voice and on message in whatever way your company/client has predetermined.
Listen closely to these fans. Some of your best insights will come from people who say how much they love your brand and suggest how you can make it even better.
The “I hate your product” evangelizer
Rarely (if ever) will a person who doesn’t interact with your brand post on your page telling you that they don’t use your product or service. When someone has a beef with your brand, it’s usually based on a negative experience.
You begin to see the triggers that spark people to tell you how much they hate your brand. One brand I work with tweaked a recipe for one of its most familiar products. The majority of the public didn’t notice or else enjoyed the change (not enough to post on the page, however).
Those who didn’t like the new recipe—yowzas! Their passion was mighty; their posts came often and were fierce. The company’s research showed that the change was positively received as a whole, but an outsider would never know it by looking at the organization’s Facebook page.
It’s important to keep in mind how the firestorm of a vocal minority on Facebook and Twitter can snowball and blow a situation entirely out of proportion.
I’m sure these stats exist somewhere, but it seems people are much more likely to chime in on your page when something’s gone wrong than they are when things go as planned. I’ve learned that the sooner you can respond to these types of posts, the more appreciative the person(s) who posted. Many people who post are simply surprised to get a response at all, and knowing that someone is listening is often all the relief they need.
This should go without saying, but brands that live in social spaces must have explicit plans for elevating serious customer service issues. They should also have plans for monitoring so that these situations can be immediately addressed.
A basic rule of customer service applies: Never fight negativity with negativity.
The legitimate question asker
Some people who visit your brand have legitimate questions that need answering. These are opportunities for your brand to showcase itself as a thought leader in your field.
Address these fans quickly, in voice and on message, and you have a chance to convert passive fans into brand advocates.
The crazy person
Some people who post to your brand’s page will make absolutely no sense. They will attempt to rally your fan base to boycott the brand because your commercial aired during a rerun of pre-Kirstie Alley “Cheers.”
They’ll tell you how your brand should stop selling its product because it reminds them of their long-departed cockatoo. They’ll tell you things about their digestive experiences (if your brand happens to be a food product).
You and your co-workers will have a fantastic time ridiculing them and taking screen grabs. The phrase, “You’ll never believe what someone just posted,” will bandy about from cubicle to cubicle.
And when the ballyhoo subsides, you’re faced with decisions.
Do I legitimize this with a response?
Do I delete it and risk a crazy person’s ire?
Do I ignore it and risk some clever blogger’s seeing it and turning it into a post that goes viral?
All of these are legitimate options. I can’t tell you what to do here—that’s between you, your brand, and your crazy person.
But I can tell you to have fun while the ballyhoo lasts (and please forward it to me).