Last week, my family and I flew to one of our favorite vacation resorts in Texas. During our layover I looked at the resort’s Twitter page and noticed that the resort’s marketing director took great care to interact with a local news anchor who was a guest. I presumed I could do the same.
I tweeted a question about the activities available for kids that night. No response. In fact I didn’t get any response until two days after I’d tweeted. She asked me what had done the night I tweeted, completely oblivious to the fact that I wanted her to give me information to enhance my experience. She wanted a testimonial when she had completely failed me when I asked for something from her. What a disappointment.
It reminded me of another story…..
Let Shankman eat steak
The story of Peter Shankman’s airport steak is now legendary. Shankman (who is a pretty big deal) tweeted to Morton’s Steakhouse that he could really go for a steak, and upon his arrival was greeted by a representative of Morton’s brandishing the steak of legend.
Beyond the publicity that Morton’s received from Shankman’s recounting of the event, there really isn’t any lesson to be gleaned. Could you or I get a steak at the airport from Morton’s? Likely not. So, what exactly is the social promise that Morton’s keeps? How does Morton’s social presence add value to their customers? I don’t suggest that there is no value, but Peter Shankman’s experience is not indicative of Morton’s social interaction, which is quite sparse so far as their interaction with other users.
Does extraordinary social listening in one singular instance make a company extraordinary in the social space?
Life’s a beach
Back to my resort experience, occupancy was at a seasonal low. The staff at the resort looked decidedly bored as we walked through the empty hotel. Yet it took two days for a social response. Most people probably would have checked in and checked out of the resort in the time that they took to respond. Yet the impression that they gave by engaging the local reporter was one of real-time social responsiveness. The reality was that one gatekeeper is the entirety of the resort’s social presence. Without her, there was no social response. There were probably two dozen people who could have been easily trained to respond to social media inquiries and weren’t.
What value did the resort’s social presence have to me? As it turns out very little. For me, social was an easy way to try and get the lowdown on my visit, but social media channels were the least effective means to contact the resort.
By putting their best face forward for a local reporter, they created a brand promise that they couldn’t keep. Unlike the Morton’s example, the resources necessary for the resort to manage real-time social channels are evident and available for the cost of a little training.
One other little thing….
I should probably mention that the only other sizable contingent in the resort was a tech conference, complete with their own hashtag and social conversations. What a missed opportunity for the resort not to interject themselves into the conversations from this conference.
Here’s my big question: would the resort be better served not to have a Twitter account at all? My feeling is yes. If you’re not resourced to engage your customers in social media or you provide once-in-a-blue-moon exceptional service to influential people, customers will have an unreasonable expectation of service and be disappointed more often than not.
What do you think? Do businesses get a pass just for showing up in social media, or do customers expect participation from socially-accessible businesses?