Social media is usually a boon to businesses because it offers the ability to spread brand awareness amongst targeted audience in a fast and cost-effective manner. But, this free-to-access, open and unrestricted form of digital media could also turn into a curse by causing businesses to suffer from potential social media disasters as could be seen in case of a number of brands with social media presence on numerous occasions before.
While there are stories of brands (e.g. Greggs, Burger King etc.) that went ahead and turned horrendous social media slips into something good, there are also stories of brands (e.g. J P Morgan, British Gas, British Airways etc.) that were not able to assess the social media crisis situation well enough so as to take the required steps to prevent the crisis from damaging their brands further.
In case of any social media disaster, what counts the most is the calibre and experience of the team that is managing the crisis. Equally important is the set of procedures that the team has put in place to deal with such crisis. Please note that social media slips are bound to happen because we all know that ‘To err is human’. Hence, you should draw a well thought-out crisis management plan in advance with the help of a team of social media professionals to be able to cope up with any social media backlash as a sensible business. In this context, Winston Bao Lord (president of Venga) rightly says, “I think you can’t play out every scenario because you just don’t know, but you can plan out certain buckets to be prepared. In every industry you can always identify potential PR disasters.”
Severity of any social media backlash is something that social media professionals must ponder upon while dealing with any social media disaster. A brand might find itself at the centre of either a very simple social media fail such as posting of any harmless link to funny video or a personal message on business accounts, or a very horrendous social media tornado, such as inappropriate opinion, insensitive statement, early release, false reward and hacking, that could seriously put the brand image to jeopardy. While the first type of social media fail is less severe and easy to rectify, the latter type is extremely severe and very hard to fix. Hence, you have a strong reason to deploy a team of extremely good social media professionals who could help your brand recover from any social media mishap smoothly.
Now, we shall discuss below two social media PR disasters that happened with two specific brands recently, and you would be surprised to see how one brand tried to defend the crisis in such a way that failed to placate many outraged people on social media while the other brand happened to snatch triumph from the jaws of its social media slip.
Social Media Disaster: Times Of India Daily Newspaper (#IStandWithDeepikaPadukone)
On 14th September, 2014, Times Of India tweeted a picture of a leading bollywood actress, named Deepika Padukone, that was linked to a online photo gallery with the caption saying “OMG: Deepika Padukone’s cleavage show”.
Supposedly India’s ‘LEADING’ newspaper and this is ‘NEWS’!!?? pic.twitter.com/D3wiVVXuyM
— Finding Fanny (@deepikapadukone) September 14, 2014
This tweet from so-called responsible Indian daily got Deepika Padukone up in arms against the post and she responded to the national daily newspaper saying “YES! I am a Woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??”
YES!I am a Woman.I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!?? — Finding Fanny (@deepikapadukone) September 14, 2014
In order to tackle the situation, Times of India tweeted to enraged Deepika saying “It’s a compliment! You look so great that we want to make sure everyone knew! :)”
Times of India’s one-tweet response to Deepika’s outrage did nothing but add to the anger of social media followers and supporters of Deepika Padukone. In response to Times of India’s reply to Deepika, @sidmallya said “And the @TimesofIndia response may just have to go down as one of the most idiotic, shambolic and stupid responses of all time. Bravo”
And the @TimesofIndia response may just have to go down as one of the most idiotic, shambollic and stupid responses of all time. Bravo
— Sid (@sidmallya) September 14, 2014
If we take a look at the whole incident which attracted more than 25000 tweets from the fans and supporters of Deepika Padukone against Times of India over a period of just two days, we will see that Times of India hardly did anything worthwhile to placate the angry social media mob. Twitter was still trending with tweets from the supporters and fans of Deepika Padukone expressing their outrage against the daily newspaper with hashtag #IStandWithDeepikaPadukone even two days after the social media crisis broke out. Let us have a look at some of those tweets below:
Appalled….shocked and disgusted at the level of disrespect shown..Deepika or any women in the world cannot and should not stand for this!! — Karan Johar (@karanjohar) September 14, 2014
Complimenting a lady is a grace reserved for gentlemen! I stand on a tall tall chair and applaud you @deepikapadukone
— Boman Irani (@bomanirani) September 15, 2014
It is the high camera angle not a low neckline. What is low is the standard of journalism. Downright SICK!!! @deepikapadukone
— Anubhav Sinha (@anubhavsinha) September 14, 2014
The credibility of social media team of this renowned daily is definitely questionable. The team seemed to sit and watch the whole event unfolding without making any reasonable attempts to manage the social media PR crisis. There are some very serious questions to mull over in this case.
- Did the social media team assess the crisis in terms of volume of comments and potential impact?
- Did the team have sufficient number of people to respond to the deluge of negative comments?
- Did the team have any action plan about how such comments need be dealt with by the deployed members of staff (if any)?
- Did they have any idea that maximum responses to comments could show their caring attitude towards the audience which, in turn, could calm the angry audience down?
- Did the public face of Times of India consider addressing the masses about the issue via its newspaper or social media accounts?
- Did they provide frequent updates on how the issue was being dealt with? Did they consider pausing their regular updates until the issue was sorted out?
If social media team at Times of India had worked out a concrete social media PR crisis management plan in advance, it could have dealt with the situation in much better way.
What social media fans and supporters expect in such PR disaster situation is that the brand facing the social media crisis takes the ownership of the issue and fixes it. In this context, Winston Bao Lord (President of Venga) says “It’s coming clean and ponying up to anything you might be responsible for”. So, could the solution be a sincere apology from Times Of India to Deepika Padukone and the masses whose sentiments were hurt due to inappropriate statement? Probably yes. Just a casual response from Times Of India was probably not the adequate solution to handle the crisis.
Social Media Disaster: Greggs (#FixGreggs)
Greggs is the largest bakery chain with over 1600 outlets in the UK and was caught by a social media storm recently. Briefly speaking, Google image search results started showcasing an unofficial image of Greggs logo which was offensive to both Greggs and its patrons.
The Twitter account of Greggs was soon flooded with a number of messages about the issue. Greggs social media team quickly responded to those tweets and ran a campaign directed at Google with hashtag #FixGreggs.
— Greggs (@GreggstheBakers) August 19, 2014
Google soon yielded to the request of Greggs and its patrons by removing the offensive image from its search results. Look at the tweet below to get an idea as to how you could humanize your brand on social media.
— Google UK (@GoogleUK) August 19, 2014
Owing to this successful campaign of Greggs, there was a lot of positive sentiment associated with the brand in the end. Look at #FixGreggs to discover the positivity in the comments of Twitter users.
So, what exactly did the Greggs social media team do right to get a grip of the situation and turn it in their favour eventually?
Quick Response After The Complete Assessment Of Social Media PR Crisis
Imagine a situation in which you are with some of your critics who stop at nothing to criticize various aspects of your work. How awkward would it be if you responded to them 30 minutes after they were done with criticising? Your 30 minute silence would go against you. Greggs team understood the significance of addressing the issue in timely manner and responded to the comments promptly after assessing the landscape of social media crisis properly. The assessment includes a quick review of how sensitive the overall situation is and if the situation needs to be dealt with humour or sincerity.
Being Human Is Important
Yes, you have a brand image and whatever you write about on social media should reflect your brand values. But, you have to recognise the fact that you are dealing with unpredictable humans on social media platforms. Hence, your brand messages/posts/updates need be blended with human touch. Vouching for a human-like response, Scott Gerber (founder of Young Entrepreneur Council) says “At the end of the day, it’s about being brutally honest and humanizing the brand whenever possible.” This is exactly what Greggs social media team did to tackle the PR disaster. The team responded to tweets of people in the voice of a person as opposed to that of a business, and it was really effective in taking control of the overall situation.
In such type of situation, even if the brand has to resort to humour, self-depreciation and humility to deal with crisis effectively, it should do so without hesitation.
Let The Brand Ambassadors Vouch For You
Alright, you have messed up today. But, you must have done quite a lot of good things in the past on your business accounts because of which so many people chose to be your fans and followers. In case of any PR disaster, you should lean on the group of such brand ambassadors, comprising of social media fans and followers, who could vouch for you and help you recover from the PR crisis quickly.
Even Scott Gerber (founder of Young Entrepreneur Council) opines the aforementioned piece of thought and asserts that “The key to stopping a PR disaster in the social media world is building an incredible brand ambassador network by doing very well for your customers over a long period of time. If something happens, you have a network of people who know that that’s not you.” So, prepare a list of influencers who you could lean on when such crisis breaks out.
To sum it all up, any brand that is faced with such PR crisis should assess the entire situation fast, respond quickly to comments, add human touch to every conversation and let the influencers along with brand ambassadors speak up for the brand. What’s important is the smooth execution of everything that has been mentioned before. Who could execute it all smoothly? It is the people you have hired to manage your social media channels. So, pick up only the competent ones to do social media marketing for your brand.
BPO Industry and Its Recent Developments
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is not something which anyone (across the globe) would be unaware of these days. When a consumer makes a local call to order any product in the UK or the USA, he/she will probably expect someone from India or Philippines to pick up the call and process his/her order. This is what you call BPO era in which companies outsource their non-core administrative/back-office processes to call centres based in other countries with primary intention to cut down on cost and maximize profitability.
But, the BPO industry has evolved over a period of time. Not only are repetitive or non-core back-end processes (requiring low degree of skill or knowledge) outsourced, but processes (requiring high degree of skilled knowledge and expertise) are also outsourced to offshore call centres these days. While the prior type of outsourcing would fall under the umbrella of BPO, the latter type would be termed as KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing). An example of KPO vendor could be a company handling payroll/accounting department on behalf of another organisation.
Rising Competition For Market Share: A Great Challenge For BPO/KPO Vendors
While India and Philippines are often heard of as key outsourcing destinations, there are other countries (e.g. Malaysia, China, Egypt, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Columbia, Poland, Ireland and many more) that have emerged as favourite destinations for outsourcing lately. This trend shows that BPO vendors are mushrooming all over the world, thereby giving rise to intense competition for market share.
“According to Nasscom, in the last five years, India has lost about 10 per cent market share to the rest of the world in the world BPO space, most of which is in the voice contract segment.”
Now, the question arises as to what a BPO/KPO vendor should do to increase its market share and outdo its competitors in the industry. Is there a way for a BPO/KPO vendor to gain competitive advantage over its rivals? Indeed, there is.
Content Marketing: A Panacea For BPO/KPO Vendors That Are Looking To Grow Among Stiff Competition
‘Content Marketing’ is what a BPO/KPO service provider should engage in so as to outdo its competition.
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”- says Content Marketing Institute (CMI).
The purpose of content marketing is to communicate with customers and prospects without pitching any product to them. By way of content marketing, organisations educate their prospective buyers with an intention to position themselves as leaders in their respective fields. Once an organisation has established itself as a leader in a specific area via its content marketing efforts, it starts getting rewarded with business from its engaged group of target audience or prospective buyers or followers.
“If you look at big brands (e.g. Accenture, WNS Global Services, HCL BPO and Convergys) in the BPO industry, you will realize that they all have robust content marketing strategy in place that caters to a number of their purposes ranging from ‘brand awareness’ to ‘ lead conversion & nurturing’ to ‘customer conversion’ to ‘customer service’ to ‘retention’ to ‘up-selling’.”
Various types of content, e.g. Articles, Blogs, Brochures, Case Studies, Podcasts, Videos, Webinars and Whitepapers, are produced by such call centres to engage with their target audience as they firmly believe in the power of thought leadership and content marketing. Hence, production of valuable, relevant and consistent content should be central to the online marketing strategy of your organisation if you are running a call centre that is looking to grow.
Now, you must be wondering what you will need to do in order to implement a robust content marketing strategy for your call centre. Well, you will need to devise a robust content marketing strategy before you can implement it.
In order to work out the most appropriate content marketing strategy for your organisation, you will need to work through the following 7 stages:
Planning is the first and foremost activity that your organisation should engage in. As no organisation would want to waste its limited resources, what you need to do is lay out a concrete plan for creation of valuable and targeted content for your business entity. Please make sure that pieces of content created or produced by your organisation help it achieve its business objectives in broader sense.
“It is imperative that content marketing plan fits in well with business goals of your entity as engaging in creation of content without any purpose would result in nothing but loss.”
The best starting point for you would be to think about a mission statement or work out a business case that clearly explains the purpose for which content is going to be created.
Let’s say that you have jotted down the purpose of your content marketing as ‘generation of new leads’. Now, you will devise such content strategy that aims at achieving the aforementioned goal.
“Not only should the content strategy take into consideration ‘why’ factor of content creation, but also ‘what’ and ‘how’ factors.”
If you are a call center that is looking to grow its client base, you would probably need to do some brainstorming on what pieces of content your prospective clients would be most interested in. Touching on the challenges and needs of your target audience might be a good starting point.
From in-depth research and previous experience with international call centres, following motivations for ‘outsourcing’ were discovered. BPO/KPO vendors could produce content around the following list of outsourcing motivations in order to generate leads:
- Greater process efficiency and effectiveness
- Capitalizing on disruptive technologies such as mobile, social and analytics
- Competitive advantage over rivals through outsourcing
- Driving innovation
- Changing the mix of skills, expertise and capabilities
- Expansion into new regions
- Integration of supply chain
- Anticipating/responding to technology and market shifts
- Enabling predictive modeling using customer data analytics
- Disaster recovery
After you have answered ‘why’ and ‘what’ factors, you need to decide on ‘how’ the desired content is going to be published. The options would include whitepapers, case studies, blog articles, podcasts, videos, brochures etc. Hence, strategic combination of all the available options would conclude the ‘how’ factor of your content strategy.
The second stage is related to understanding the audience who will consume your content.
“Tailoring your content to suit the taste of your target audience is very important as it helps engage with them better. After all, engaged audience is what your call centre needs in order to prosper and generate new leads.”
So, how are you going to understand your audience? Well, you need to create persona of your target audience who you will be creating content for. Below given is an example of ‘Persona’ which was created for an international BPO firm as part of its content marketing plan until not too long ago:
Using a properly defined persona (as has been explained above), you would always remain focused and create valuable content for your target market in a consistent manner.
Storytelling is what you are supposed to engage in next. Planned content needs to be drafted in the form of stories.
The stories should not appear like sales pitches. Rather, such stories should reveal the big ideas that you represent, or the distinguishing experiences that you create.
“The stories, which you tell about your brand, should be properly structured and drafted with a view to building long-lasting relationships with your customers/prospects/target audience.”
You could resort to Brand Hero’s Journey Chart (given below) to spell out stories about your company’s brand/call centre.
As you have some nicely-drafted stories ready to be shared with your target market, you need to move a step further and work out a robust channel strategy. Please note that selection of distribution channels would depend on the content strategy that you had worked through in the very first stage of planning.
“As a call centre that is looking to grow its clientele, you should ideally try to integrate all the available digital marketing channels to produce the best result, i.e. generation of new leads in bulk.”
If you have not optimized your website for major search engines (such as Google, Bing and Yahoo), you should resort to search engine optimization (SEO) techniques (both on page and off page) to get your website ranking up the order on search engines in an organic manner.
As stated by Digital Marketing Institute (Ireland), SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results.
Although SEO process takes long period of time to produce visible results, yet it will be wise on your part to invest into it as such investment will reap tangible financial benefits for your organization after your website starts ranking against certain highly searched and relevant keywords.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is another way to gain access to your target audience on search engines. Unlike SEO, you have to pay for being visible on search engines, in case you choose to go ahead with SEM.
It could be said to be one of the very cost-effective methods of advertisement as advertiser has to pay on pay-per-click basis, meaning you (as an advertiser) will only pay when someone has clicked on your ad and landed on your chosen landing page as a result of the interaction/click. But, if it is not executed properly, this cost-effective method might turn into a very costly affair for your organization.
“Everything from ‘keywords’ to ‘ad groups’ to ‘engaging ad copies’ to ‘strong call-to-action’ to ‘landing pages’ to ‘budgeting’ to ‘bidding’ to ‘scheduling’ has to be thought through in order for a PPC campaign to work in favor of your BPO/KPO organization in an effective manner.”
You could also exploit contextual targeting and re-targeting options provided by a number of websites in order to generate new leads. While Google Adwords Contextual Targeting, Clicksor, Pulsepoint, InfoLinks, SiteScout, Bidvertiser are examples of those websites that provide contextual targeting options, Adroll, Google Adwords Remarketing, Chango, Criteo, Bizo, Retargeter, Rocket Fuel are examples of re-targeting websites. Please note that payments for contextual targeting and re-targeting options might be based on CPC (cost-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) or CPA (cost-per-acquisition).
In addition to the above-mentioned options, you could use Whitepaper Syndication Service Organizations, such as Netline Corp., CMP Technology, CNET Network Business, Find White Papers, IDG Connect etc., to promote whitepapers with a view to generating new leads.
If you are part of B2B world, you must be aware of the fact that every lead does not convert into sale in the very first instance.
“According to Hubspot, leads need be nurtured consistently as nurtured leads have 23% shorter sales cycle.”
Hence, an email lead nurturing strategy is a must for organizations to nurture their leads and keep them moving up in the sales pipeline with various relevant and valuable pieces of information. Have a look at the below-given email lead nurturing flow-chart that was designed for an international BPO lately:
To keep track of which lead stands where in the sales pipeline, you should use any good CRM software such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics or SugarCRM. A CRM system makes your job very simpler by helping you organize, track and manage information about all of your customers/prospects/leads.
By integrating CRM software with a feature rich third-party electronic mail delivery and management system such as MailChimp or AWeber, you can deliver right messages to the leads at the right time. Consistent delivery of relevant and valuable pieces of content via email would result in more and more leads moving into sales funnel, thereby increasing the overall clientele and revenue of the organization.
Once you have worked out content strategy, persona of target audience and channel strategy, you need to bring everything together and make it work for your organization. This stage of content marketing requires you to operationalize everything you have done before.
Please follow the chart below to find out four phases of content marketing process:
In order to deliver on these phases, you need to ponder upon and choose your content marketing team very carefully as the right team would take your content marketing plan into the right direction.
Although your content marketing team would have a basic editorial calendar to follow for publishing content, you might want to make use of content production tools (e.g. Compendium, Contently, DivvyHQ, InboundWriter etc.) to turn your BPO/KPO into a publishing machine.
After you have a streamlined process for content marketing in place, you need to go out and share your content with your audience/customers via various social media channels.
Share your content like a leader in your industry with all the people you are connected to across all the aforementioned social media platforms.
After you are done with sharing, you should be ready to listen to and respond to the conversations around your content in an appropriate manner so as to create engaged community of relevant people on your chosen social media platforms.
Although ‘Measurement’ has been mentioned as the last stage of content marketing journey in this article, yet it should be an on-going process for your organization. If you learn from your mistakes quickly, you will be able to succeed fast. Nevertheless, measurement is not as easy as it seems.
“According to Content Marketing Institute, 33% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers find their inability to measure as a significant challenge in their content marketing journey.”
Using the available measurement tools, you can measure just about anything. But, the question is if you actually need to measure every parameter/criterion. The simple answer is a big ‘NO’.
“Measuring everything would not only consume your precious time and resources, but it would also confuse you to a great degree.”
Usually, content marketers use whitepapers for lead generation purposes. But, they are hardly able to measure anything beyond number of downloads. Below given is a list of key performance indicators that such content marketers should try to measure with the measurement tools they have access to:
Unique Visits – This is measured to find out how many individuals have viewed your content within a given period of type (generally, it is a 30-day window). It is a good indicator of your content’s reach.
Geography – This is measured to find out where exactly (in terms of geographical boundaries) people are engaging more with your content. This information enables you to allocate your budget on the basis of where your targeted and engaged audience is based.
Mobile Readership – This is to be measured with a view to optimizing content for mobile platforms. If more than half of your readers access your content using a tablet or mobile, you need to invest into responsive designs that optimize your content according to the device accessing it.
Bounce Rate – Bounce rate is a measure of how engaged your audience is with your published content. Keep a close eye on this metric in order to produce more and more engaging content.
Time-Spent – This metric needs to be measured for the same purpose as bounce rate.
Page Views – Co-relation between unique visitors and page views should be given due importance, and hence measured to understand the engagement level of your audience with regards to various pieces of published content.
Comments – Keeping an eye on comments (in relation to your content) on social media platforms can give you ideas about attitudes and pain-points of your customers and prospects. This will help you produce more customized and meaningful future content for your audience.
Social Sharing – This metric needs to be measured to find out how popular your content is amongst your readers. If your readers like your content, they will share it with others on social media platforms, thereby helping you reach more number of people who might be your prospects going forward.
Conclusion: A Sound Content Marketing Strategy Is A Must For BPO/KPO Vendors
Long and short of everything (mentioned above) is that you (as a BPO/KPO vendor) need to devise and implement a robust content marketing strategy for developing your business, increasing your market share and gaining competitive advantage in this fast evolving digital era.
In the end, it is hoped that you would benefit from the aforementioned content and succeed as a leader in your industry after implementation of a sound content marketing plan.
Facebook..Does it need any introduction in today’s digital era? I guess not. A social networking platform with more than 1.23 billion registered users must be already well-known across the world.
Because of its whopping number of registered users (i.e. almost one fifth of the world population), Facebook has become a social media platform that is central to the marketing strategy of almost every business across the globe.
Unlike traditional means of advertisement such as Television, Radio, Newspaper etc., Facebook has turned out to be a very cost-effective means of reaching target audience. It is a platform using which many businesses and brands have been able to create enormous brand awareness amongst their target audience that, in turn, has resulted in increased market share for such businesses.
While a large number of businesses adore Facebook for great business results, few B2C businesses condemn Facebook for not being able to reap any benefit for them. The question which such few businesses need to consider is if they have made use of available Web Apps on Facebook to add more utility to their Facebook page for their fans. Simply put, businesses or anyone trying to promote ideas, products and services need to customize their Facebook page using Apps to make it more engaging for their fans.
This article would run you though some free Facebook Apps which you can incorporate into your Facebook page to make it more meaningful and interesting for your fans.
Youtube is the most popular video site on the internet. Hence, many entrepreneurs or businesses make use of Youtube to reach out to their target audience to promote their ideas or products or services. Imagine what would happen if your Facebook fans could watch all of your Youtube videos on Facebook itself? Obviously, the multiplying effect would take place. The Facebook fans would engage with your brand more by being able to like, share and comment on your Youtube videos.
Youtube Tab App would let you do exactly the same. Using this app, you can integrate your Youtube page into your Facebook fan page, thereby allowing your Facebook fans to better engage with your brand. After installing this easy-to-use app on your Facebook page, you could customize it to meet the specific needs of your brand.
Used by more than a million users, Static HTML iFrame App provides you with the ability to create customized iFrame tabs on your Facebook page for free. With the help of HTML experts, you can create your unique tab to provide your fans or potential clients a great deal of experience in relation to your brand on Facebook.
This free App lets you create a tab on your Facebook page for a Twitter account (related to your brand). You can choose to show only selected tweets to your Facebook fans by applying hashtag or search term filter. It also gives an opportunity for your Facebook fans to be your followers on Twitter, thereby expanding your reach in the Twitter world.
You can incorporate another free app called Instagram Tab into your Facebook page to display gallery view of your Instagram content. Using this easy-to-use app, you can show either all of the photos using individual username of any Instagram account or selected photos using any specific Hashtag. Like ‘Tweet Feed For Pages’ App, ‘Instagram Tab’ App also gives your fans a chance to be your followers on your brand’s Instagram account.
Are you trying to gain followers on the Pinterest account for your brand? How about introducing your Facebook fans to your pins and pin boards on your brand’s Pinterest account via Facebook itself? Do you reckon it would help? Many businesses say that it would. In fact, most of the businesses have availed themselves of this free App that helped them increase their number of followers on Pinterest and enhance level of engagement with their fans on Facebook simultaneously. Installation of this app is absolutely free and easy.