I love Facebook from its beginning and knew that one exciting change in communications is about to take place soon. I knew that the budget used for print and OOH advertising will slowly but steadily shift to digital marketing and social media.
With these thoughts on my mind back in 2009 when I started my job in Daimler Middle East and Levant, I realised the need to plan and establish the brand’s social media presence in the Middle East for the first time.
Mercedes-Benz was one of the first automotive brands on these markets to start professionally and aggressively build its presence in social media in 13 markets in the region. Today it is not news to have a presence in Facebook, but back then it was still innovative to spend big budgets in social media. I am really happy to be part of the team, as well as its main drive force in this process in the first 2.5 years. In the beginning we were trying to reach 10,000 fans. I believed, that we can go even more, much more. We worked daily in this direction – organised contests, asked questions, communicated the brands’ values, spoke with the customers with positive voice and respect. We answered all their questions. Of course the brand’s presence in the social media does not limit with Facebook marketing, but today this is the topic of this blog. (We used many other social media channels – Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.)
Today and 7 years later, the Facebook page of Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars in the Middle East has over 1,700,000 followers. But it is not the number of fans, what is important but the engagement rate. The engagement rate is a number that you can calculate with a formula (I love mathematics), and all social media marketing specialists or experts should know this formula. In order to have very good engagement rate and to maintain it for a longer time, it is not enough to publish informing posts daily. You should also consider what will happen once your post. Only part of the actions taken by any professional social media marketing expert in order to achieve very good engagement rate in Facebook should be:
ACTIONS FOR A GOOD ENGAGEMENT RATE
- To plan and establish long-term strategy in the social media, as well as short term one
- To communicate daily with the customers, but not too often
- To publish quality content and use high quality and professional photography
- To communicate in language, that most clients understand. If necessary the communication should be in two languages
- To have consistency in the content, style, voice, as well as the frequency of the posts
- The communication should be in line with the brand’s CI
- The photography in Facebook should be professional, all the photos should be with rights for usage on the social media. When there are people in the photos (specially when there are kids) permission is required before the same are published.
- There are specifics in the communication on these markets that should be taken into a consideration. Because the customer is important
- In the social media the brand communicates with its customers. This should not be only one way communication. The customer should be able to respond, share, answer, like, or dislike. The brand should react professionally in any situation – like or answer and always keep the good voice in the communication
- Sometimes the customers are not happy, specially in the Middle East, where you deal with the most demanding customers in the whole world. I worked for 5 years with these customers and this was my life school for best customer satisfaction. Working with locals from the Middle East will teach you how to react professionally on every situation you will face with customers in the future. All comments are important, as well as all their opinions. If they complain for something this should be taken into a consideration, otherwise this problem could get bigger. I have one example to share. One regular customer which is always purchasing the new G-Class, with the highest engine and specifications, was not happy from the information received by a sales man the showroom. He expressed this in the Facebook page. I took this case, called the colleague and investigated what does actually the customer need. It was really important, because he was also a Brand Ambassador. Once I knew what he needed, I sourced out the information and sent it to him. The customer, at the beginning really angry, was happy and now I have a recommendation from him
- It is not recommended to delete negative comments on the Facebook page. This is not the way to deal with the situation. All remarks and negative comments coming from real customers should be taken into consideration and answered professionally
- The trolls will troll: they are everywhere and the more popular the brand is, the more trolls. They are very easy to be recognized – their profile is with fake photo and name and was created few days ago. They do not have many friends in their list. There are also haters – they could have a real name and photograph, but are not customers and post only negative comments usually with some personal reason behind. In these cases you can either report them to Facebook, or use the option given by Facebook – Block
- I advise you to answer to all customers as soon as possible (from minutes, to the end of the working day). If there are questions in the weekend, one dedicated person should answer them properly (could be from your digital agency)
- You should follow what is the competition doing, what is the engagement rate too. Follow, but never copy. If you want the people to notice you, be different and innovative
Today Mercedes-Benz is one of the most likeable brands in social media and I am really content that I have my own part for this success not only on one, but on 13 markets.
Photo credits: Media center, Mercedes-Benz
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING FOR A NEW SHOPPING MALL – WHAT IS DIFFERENT?
One more different example from my practice is from 2014 and the beginning of 2015. I was appointed as a Marketing Manager of one of the biggest shopping malls in Bulgaria in the most critical for its management period – it’s opening. Or to be more specific – 66 days before its official opening. What was the unique of managing the social media marketing for a shopping mall compared to other brands?
- Just for two months we managed to increase the Facebook followers from 3,000 to more than 40,000
- The engagement rate before, during and few months after the opening was very high: lots of followers commented, asked questions, shared content and showed interest
- Few people were taking care of the social media during the opening period
- The interest in the opening was huge, the peak was just before the opening, as well as the first months after. Just for the first 4 days the shopping mall was visited by more than 400,000 people. All of them with their questions, comments, likes or dislikes. Many of the impressions were shared also on the Facebook page and this was expected
- All comments were taken into a consideration, including the negative, and all the answers from the brand were polite and professional
- To take care of the social media marketing and the Facebook page of one new shopping mall just starting its brand building, but at the same time promoting equally all its more than 200 tenants, is not only a challenge. It is also one complex activity, totally different from managing the typical social media marketing for only one brand.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?
- You have to build a new brand and its identity, while at the same time promoting 200 other brands, all of them with their own CI and requirements for brand communication
- While preparing the weekly social media plan and schedule all posts, it is really vital to have up to date information for all news and promotions coming from the tenants. This information should be collected by the marketing team proactively and constantly
- The shopping mall has more than 200 tenants, all of them presenting different and more than one brands. The news and events coming from all of them are numerous on a daily basis (do not forget, this is one of the biggest shopping malls in Bulgaria). This is why there should be one constant balancing between the need to promote each tenant and on the other hand not to publish 10-20 posts daily and lose your followers. This is a challenge and for this reason managing the Facebook page of one big shopping mall is totally different from managing the social media for only one brand
- Once the shopping mall opened, each week we had one or two new tenants, opening for business. It is really important this new opening to be reflected with a special post on the Shopping Mall web site on the same day, and not later. For this reason we took 2-3 professional photographs of each new shop or restaurant and shared them on the Facebook page
- Another important element is the team motivation. The stress when opening one of the biggest shopping malls in Bulgaria with more than 200 tenants for only 66 days from marketing point of view and not only is enormous. To motivate your team, the digital agency in this critical moment is very important. You should require a lot, but at the same time laugh together and show, that you appreciate all the efforts.
Photo credits: Margarit Ralev
These are only two examples from my practice, which I thought are different and interesting to share.
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