When someone tweets about an error on your website or some other problem, do you reply and suggest they direct message you? Or tell them to call your toll-free number? Or, do you just fix it and let them know? All of those response are fine, but the clever folks at Porchlight Books gave me a master class in social media Jiu Jitsu. Porchlight is a book seller that specializes in bulk orders and other author-focused services.
The Great Unknown
The story begins when I checked my Porchlight listing for Friction. I was both perplexed and amused to see that my book was written by “Roger Dooley, Unknown Author.”
My assumption was that someone inadvertently added a blank second author field, triggering the “unknown author” label because it was empty. But, I never let cold logic get in the way of a little fun. I decided to tweak Porchlight on Twitter:
Does Your Brand Have Personality?
I was expecting a simple, “Ooops, sorry Roger, we’ll fix that” reply. What I got was much, much better.
Porchlight replied and included an image [Emphasis added]:
For just long enough to do a screen grab, they changed “Unknown Author” to “Best Author Ever.” (When I checked the live listing, sadly for me, they had merely removed the “Unknown Author” text.)
This clever way to address a small problem took a minute or two longer than merely making a correction. But, it also helped show off something lots of companies want but can’t get, a likable brand personality.
I can’t see the impressions for Porchlight’s tweet, but my original tweet has been seen more than 1600 times and generated 67 interactions. I temporarily pinned the thread to my Twitter profile, which no doubt will generate additional exposure for their brand.
I also shared the “unknown author” image in a private Facebook group for non-fiction authors, a peer group that I knew would get a chuckle out of it. Later, I shared the clever response. These writers are a key customer group for Porchlight. Conferences and corporations often buy books when they engage a keynote speaker or workshop leader, and the author/presenter usually suggests a preferred source for those books. While my post in this group was likely viewed by fewer than a hundred people, just about every one was a potential customer or influencer.
The humorous tweet created much more positive brand exposure than one merely confirming the correction.
Who’s Handling Your Social Interactions?
Most of the responses I get on my infrequent brand interactions on Twitter are generic and even formulaic. These might be outsourced to an offshore call center, or perhaps handled by a chatbot. It can be hard to tell the difference. Often, it seems that customer service staff are following a script and blasting out stored messages.
Having at least some interactions handled by creative people with a sense of humor can pay dividends. Clever, empathetic responses show the brand has a personality and can defuse potentially volatile situations.
If the number of your company’s social interactions is large, funnel the most important to your top people. These could be interactions with your most valuable customers, or for those with a larger social media footprint.
Above all, don’t sound robotic. Your customers (and your potential customers) will appreciate and remember personalized and empathetic responses.