“Socializing” with Customers

More than 3 billion people worldwide use social media, making it an obvious platform for companies seeking to engage consumers, amplify product mes­sages, discover trends and influencers, build brand awareness, and take action on customer requests and recommendations. More than 80 million busi­nesses have Facebook brand pages, enabling users to interact with the brand through blogs, comment pages, contests, and offerings on the brand page.

The “like” button gives users a chance to share with their social network their feelings about content they are viewing and websites they are visiting. With like buttons on many millions of websites, Facebook can track user behavior on other sites and then sell this information to marketers. Facebook also sells display ads to firms that appear on users’ home pages and most other pages in the Facebook interface such as photos and apps. Twitter features such as “promoted tweets” and “promoted trends” enable advertisers to have their tweets displayed more prominently when Twitter users search for certain keywords.

Mack Trucks, a leading U.S. truck manufacturer, used a social marketing campaign to attract custom­ers, drivers, and dealers when it launched its new Anthem model. Mack had traditionally used print ads in trucking publications, brochures, and industry trade shows as its primary marketing channels when rolling out a new product. However, these channels did not enable Mack to tailor and deliver different messages for different customers. For example, a manager of a large fleet might be most interested in fuel efficiency, while an owner-operator might be more attracted to design style. Mack’s marketing team continued to use traditional channels for broad awareness and relied on social marketing to focus on segmentation and metrics.

Starting in July 2017 Mack launched a series of biweekly YouTube videos to build excitement for the Anthem model, followed by a live stream of the Anthem unveiling on YouTube and Facebook in September of that year. Mack netted 7,000 email ad­dresses from the teaser campaign, with 3,700 people viewing the live stream of the launch event. These are considered significant numbers for a product costing over U.S. $100,000. Mack’s marketing team also launched a comprehensive social media cam­paign directing the company’s 174,000 Facebook followers, 24,000 Twitter followers, 15,000 LinkedIn followers, 15,000 YouTube subscribers, and other so­cial communities to photos, videos, text summaries, and other content describing every aspect of the new Anthem line. These activities were credited with at­tracting more than 40,000 new social followers to the Mack brand.

Mack uses Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service and Oracle Social Cloud to link social activity to 175,000 profiles in its Oracle Eloqua database of cus­tomers and prospects. The digital marketing team thus knows if a person in the database clicked on a Facebook post to view an Anthem-related video or looked for other information on the company’s web­site. Compelling personalized content helps engage prospects and move them further along the sales pro­cess until they ask to talk to a Mack dealer. At that point, the prospect is considered a qualified lead. Oracle Social Cloud alerts team members when the Mack Anthem is mentioned on various social sites, and they can respond where appropriate.

Mack also enlisted celebrity influencers for the Anthem campaign. Country music artist Steve Moakler recorded a road song called Born Ready for the Anthem launch and dedicated it to drivers. More than 55,000 people viewed Moakler’s performance on YouTube. The marketing team also produced a YouTube video with the Oakland Raiders’ Khalil Mack called What Makes a Mack, and it attracted over 75,000 viewers. Mack is developing a broad-based influence program identifying customers and driv­ers who will be among the first to view new products and serve as active advocates on social media.

More than 9,300 people opted into some aspect of the Mack Anthem campaign, generating about 1,700 qualified leads. The Anthem landing page has attracted over 146,000 visitors, who can watch the Moakler video and obtain information on every aspect of the new truck line. Mack’s senior manage­ment is very pleased with the results and the detail and precision of digital marketing information. Vice President of Marketing John Walsh can see what hap­pens with every dollar Mack spends.

An estimated 90 percent of customers are influ­enced by online reviews, and nearly half of U.S. social media users actively seek customer service through social media. As a result, marketing is now placing much more emphasis on customer satisfac­tion and service. Social media monitoring helps mar­keters and business owners understand more about buyers’ likes, dislikes, and complaints concerning products, additional products or product modifica­tions customers want, and how people are talking about a brand (positive or negative sentiment).

Prompted by customer social media comments about meats other than roast beef, fast-food sandwich restaurant chain Arby’s launched a “Meat Mountain” campaign poster showing various meats other than roast beef. Arby’s customers mistakenly thought the poster displayed a new sandwich and, through social media, indicated they were anxious to try it. Arby’s then responded with a new $10 Meat Mountain sandwich.

Social media campaigns can be tricky to orches­trate, and the results are not always predictable. When social followers of Donald Trump called for boycotting Nordstrom for dropping Ivanka Trump’s clothing line from its stores, Nordstrom’s stock price rose, and the company outperformed many of its retail industry rivals in the months that followed. Nordstrom customers remained loyal to the brand. Previous Trump tweets calling out other brands such as Lockheed Martin had hurt stock share prices. In September 2016, San Antonio-based Miracle Mattress provoked angry social media backlash when it posted a Facebook video advertising a “Twin Tbwers Sale.” The video encouraged customers to “remember 9/11” and “get any size mattress for a twin price.” Miracle Mattress removed the video from its Facebook time­line, and owner Mike Bonanno posted an apology letter.

Source: Laudon Kenneth C., Laudon Jane Price (2020), Management Information Systems: Managing the Digital Firm, Pearson; 16th edition.

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