How EE can avoid a social media mistake

EE social media mistakeMy blog post about Peter Fitchett caused me to look at EE’s use of social media. My conclusion is that EE is getting it badly wrong on social media. Let’s try to help them get it right.

My blog about Peter Fitchett is a story evolving in real time, and I have followed developments with interest. As this morning wore on, the lack of anything from EE on Peter’s feed caused me to go look at EE’s Facebook feed and what I found fascinated and horrified me in equal measure.

EE has over 590,000 Likes on Facebook. The EE marketing team is probably pretty pleased about that.  590,000 Likes – we’ve cracked it! Judging by the image they’ve used for the Facebook page cover, reproduced above, accumulating Likes is important to them. It’s even more evidence that they don’t get it.

As you read down the EE Facebook page, almost every comment ranges from negative to hostile. Not one of these comments is answered as far as I could see. There are scores of people urging readers not to go with EE – all unanswered. There are scores of complaints about customer service – all unanswered. There are many comments using colourful language to describe EE – all unanswered. EE has established this page as part of its marketing effort and the message coming off the page is “don’t touch this company with a barge pole”.

EE has missed an important point. Social is about dialogue and engagement. It is not just another way to advertise.

EE has established a Facebook page, and uses it to promote and advertise its products. Full stop. However, the true purpose of a Facebook page is to engage with customers. Look at how Southwest Airlines in the US does it – with, by the way, nearly four million likes. Closer to home look at Chiltern Railways does it on Facebook and Twitter. Engagement leads to problem resolution, and then often to increased customer loyalty and revenue. Engaged customers will even promote your cause to unhappy ones if you really get it right.

Simply posting promotions on Facebook and using them to gain likes is pointless. A billion Likes with no engagement will not raise a penny in revenue. You’re just asking people to pretend to be your friend on the basis that they might win a prize.

Using Facebook simply to post promotions like this is taking a powerful new tool for two way customer communication and then ignoring its capability and using it to do good old advertising. Worse still, the world can see that you have unhappy customers talking back to you, and you are ignoring them.

The sad thing about all this is that it may be that there are only fifty unhappy EE customers, and that there are millions of happy ones. However, the unhappy ones have commented on Facebook, and their comments have gone unanswered. Social amplifies comment and so the impression left is of a deeply unhappy and ignored customer base. Dealing with those comments in a positive fashion would have nipped this in the bud.

EE is big enough and has resource enough to employ a full time team to monitor and respond to Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media feed that it wishes. These feeds could be a source of customer engagement, problem resolution, and increased revenue for EE. Instead, the Facebook page is a great big poster for EE’s lack of interest in its customers.

My advice to EE? This is all easily fixed:

  • Get a social media monitoring tool in place today.
  • Employ or re-assign as many heads as necessary to answer every social media comment about EE in a timely fashion.
  • Take the customer complaints and criticisms on the chin and deal with them. Some will be valid, some not. Address each one, sort out the real problems from the trolls, and resolve the problems. Gently but firmly deal with the trolls.
  • Start to treat Facebook, Twitter, and other social media as vehicles for two-way engagement with your audience, and not as newer cheaper billboards.
  • Realise that 590,000 Likes means nothing to anyone other than teenagers trying to appear popular.