Social Brands 100 Q&A: Muddy Boots

Muddy Boots Real Foods is a beef burger brand owned by self-confessed ‘countrypreneurs’ Miranda and Roland Ballard.  Stocked by a growing number of UK supermarkets and sold online, the owners put a very personal stamp on their brand. Miranda talked to us about the Muddy Boots approach to social and the fine line that can be tread between the individual and brand voice.

Ranking: 53

Panel Score: 79
Data Score: 113
Social Brand Score: 192

1. What do you think makes yours a social brand?

Roland might say it’s because I talk too much…and I’d agree! I don’t think it’s just me that’s chatty, I hope it’s our brand. We’re open and honest and love to have conversations with anyone that wants to talk to us.

We’re selling beef so it’s one of the most important lines in the food industry to be able to guarantee top quality, ethical farming, and fair business. If our shoppers know that we’re social, they’ll feel happy to talk to us and these conversations are either wonderful compliments or ways to help us improve our company.

2. Can you tell us a little about how social fits into your communications mix?

I would say it’s half of our communications and networking. Facebook, Twitter and our Youtube Channel are the best lines for us so far. As well as daily updates and direct conversations with other users, we also post our press releases and ‘Moosletters’ to them as well.

I said in a talk recently that I thought social networks were like a giant global pinboard on which you pin your business card. It’s as vital for our communications that people can find us as much as we can introduce ourselves to great PR and food industry contacts.

3. What are you most proud of achieving in social media over the last year?

I posted an invitation on Facebook and Twitter for anyone to give us a quote about our burgers and we’ve now chosen four to be printed on testimonial stickers that have just gone onto the front of our Waitrose and Budgens packaging. We thought that having customer testimonials was a bit classier than celebrity testimonials and we really hope that the shoppers will like the idea too. Social networking made this idea happen so easily – it was literally an idea that we had sitting at home one weekend and I just posted it and people replied!

4. What’s changed for you over the last year in social media?

We’ve definitely noticed more people contacting us for the first time than we’ve ever had before. In fact, about an 80% increase in first contacts and (wonderfully) all 80% saying that they’d bought our burgers and they liked them – phew! It’s a great way for us to try and work out how and where our brand is going. We’ll often ask them from which store they bought our burgers and then it’s lovely to be able to picture customers all over the country.

5. What do you see changing over the next 12 months?

I’ve no idea what will happen to social networking. I think Twitter will move more towards business communications and Facebook towards personal but I’m afraid I’m absolutely no help with predicting this as I seem to change my mind daily too. I do believe that augmented reality is the future of technical communications and the first brand or provider to really nail this association with social networking is going to fly.

6. Any last thoughts?

I think it’s important for brands to be social as their brand, and not blur the line between themselves/their opinions and their brands. I’m sorry to be horribly sexist here but I’ve found that it’s often the girls that cross over these lines and I’m starting to understand how important it is for the brand’s followers not to be confused by this. Just one of my ponderings and something I try really hard to keep in mind. It’s a wonderful drug for the ego but only by invitation from oneself, not usually from the demand of others.

Social Brands 100 Case Study: Schuh

Schuh: Maintaining the human touch
This article originally appeared in the Social Brands 100.

Ranking: 40

Panel Score: 71
Data Score: 129
Social Brand Score: 200

  • No. 1 brand for responses to user posts on Facebook
  • No. 2 Retail brand

Chatting about holiday plans and crushes; all in a day’s work for the team at fashion footwear retailer Schuh.  Their aim is to give people something to laugh about and ‘a good chinwag’ according to Schuh’s Jen Rankine.  “Last time we checked, we are human and we don’t try to be anything but that; our customers would see right through it,” she says.

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Social Brands 100 Q&A: Wonga

Online lender Wonga was the top ranked Financial Services brand in this year’s Social Brands 100.  We spoke to Head of Customer Marketing, Gillian Wilson about their approach, which for them means being there for customers night and day.

Ranking: 41

Panel Score: 61
Data Score: 138
Social Brand Score: 199


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'Marketing and Customer Service are on a collision course'

There is a growing list of reputational nightmares stemming from poor customer service in the age of social media. We all remember the Dell Hell, some of us might remember Capri Sun and more recently the Maytag/Bosch incident. This is prompting many to rethink the traditional organisational divide between marketing/PR and operations. Some brands have embraced this fact (see the Giffgaff or Zappos of this world), but many are still struggling to find solutions to the challenge.

Interesting discussions are currently going on at the Conversational Commerce Conference in San Francisco (#C32011 on Twitter) which poses the question whether marketing and customer service are on a collision course. On the agenda are topics such as the place of marketing and support, ROI and metrics, the issue of control, the multiplicity of platforms, the real-time effect and impact of customer comments on search results.

While all these issues are important, the first thing for brands to realise is that the divide between a marketing and customer service department no longer makes sense in the social age. Traditionally, the marketing effort has been about building and selling the image of a brand experience. Customer service has always been one of these experiences, but the difference today is that consumers have the power to broadcast the nature of their experience worldwide, virtually in real-time. Pete Blackshaw, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategic Services, NM Incite, is the author of a book entitled: ‘Satisfied Customers tell Three Friends, Angry Customers tell 3,000’. He was a panellist at the Conference’s round table discussion ‘Where Does Support End and Marketing Begin – and Vice Versa?’ and was quoted saying that ‘customer service is THE number 1 driver of organisational external communications’ (via @YourCustomers). He then advocated closing the divide and presented a ‘checklist’ to help brands do just that (via @localseoguide).

This shows that to be successful in today’s social media landscape, new questions need to be asked and brands need to rethink many of their traditional assumptions. A brand’s answers to these questions will then inform what course their marketing and customer service efforts will take. One thing is certain though, both need to be heading in the same direction, because social media means that it is no longer enough to communicate a great brand experience, one has to be delivered too, every time, to everyone.

Customer service gone social

I spoke with Charlotte McEleny from NMA at the beginning of the week about how social media is shaking up customer service, and how the power is back with the consumer. Staying on the phone for 10 minutes just doesn’t cut it when we have the immediacy of social media at our finger tips, and why should it? I certainly want the brand to know how I am feeling straight after my interaction with them. The Institute of Customer Service show that 14% of people expect to be able to interact with brands through Facebook, and this increases to 21% for people aged 18-24, so it is surprising to see brands neglecting such valuable streams for feedback.

I had this experience a couple of weeks ago. I had a bad experience in store, and upon walking out, directed an angry tweet at not only the brand, but my followers, and the followers of the people who agreed with me. In my opinion, this is much more efficient than a phone call. It completely changes the traditional motto that a happy customer will tell one person, and an unhappy one will tell ten, as we now have the power to tell as many people as we like! Take a look at this blog post showing what happened when @Topshop_tweets spoke, but didn’t listen.

In essence, social media has come in and shaken up everything that used to be accepted about customer service, and brands really need to sit up and take notice. The benefits of interacting with customers through social media channels are becoming more apparent, and are quickly becoming a necessity for businesses who need to be where their customers are, happy or not.

Social media may seem daunting to brands that are only prepared to dip their toes in, as it is  so vast. When faced with a bad reputation and complaining customers, they don’t know where to start. When stumbling upon bad feedback in forums, representatives can’t or don’t know how to conduct themselves, and the issue escalates.

Well, the best way to handle any bad feedback, and to ensure that your reputation remains intact, is to be honest and genuine in this space. Make sure that you are replying to customers who are interacting with you, and you will see good feedback. Brands such as @ASOS do this well, and have a separate @ASOS_HereToHelp profile to help with order issues or queries. Not only are responses quick, but the brand has personality, and so customers want to interact with them.

This is a great example of how brands should:
Be Accessible
Understand consumers