Gregg Tilston’s Case for Social

January 30, 2014 Jonathan Paul

Flight Centre

These days, social media is a must for most brands. Why? Well, it’s better to let an expert answer that question… and a few others about this increasingly important business tool. Gregg Tilston, Global Social Media Leader for the Flight Centre Travel Group will be making “The Case for Social” at Dx3 2014, but we got him to give us a little preview of what he’ll be sharing at the event with a little Q&A.

Gregg Tilston is Global Social Media Leader at Flight Centre Travel Group.

Why should social matter to brands?

Mostly because customers are on social media and talking about brands whether they like it or not. So, it’s better to be part of the conversation than to pretend it’s not happening. It blows my mind that some brands aren’t listening and engaging. It’s too easy.

What’s it like to manage social globally for Flight Centre and its brands?

Every day is fun and a challenge, thanks to various brands’ audience and, being a global company, what works for one brand or region may not work for another. We’ve consolidated on technology but the tactics can vary.

What do brands need to keep in mind when engaging on social platforms?

First, is to set KPIs that are realistic and grow with them. Build community, engage, then activate. To do this I believe it’s important to pick the channels where your customers are and the channels that will deliver on the desired business outcomes. From an engagement perspective, I’d say have fun, show personality and never try to end a conversation.

 ”Jumping into social media and only doing it every so often will most likely fail.”

Are there situations where social media can be a bad thing?

Short of not being part of the conversation, jumping into social media and only doing it every so often will most likely fail. To build on that, expecting short term results from “free” social media will probably not work either. This will in turn leave a bad taste in the mouths of stakeholders, many of whom may not understand social media in the first place.

When is it appropriate for brands to use social?

We encourage the team to engage any relevant brand mentions. What I mean by that is if someone tweets “Meet me at the coffee shop beside the Flight Centre,” then obviously we won’t respond, but any other mentions should be engaged, good, bad or ugly. Funny quick example: I remember one particular tweet Flight Centre received said, “Hey Flight Centre, (insert expletive) you.” We replied back with something like “Hey ___, sorry you’re upset. Can we help you out?” The person came back with “Ah, sorry, my bad. I just thought your shop was open an hour later than it was.”

“The biggest way brands get it wrong is when they go quiet during a crisis.”

What are some ways that brands are getting social media right?

There are brands that are building internal, global customer service teams by activating employees who are keen to represent the brand on social media. They’ve set up training programs that ensure the employees are equipped with the right tools and messaging before engaging the community.

What are some ways that brands are getting social media wrong?

Probably the biggest way brands get it wrong is when they go quiet during a crisis. Companies need to ensure they have internal and external policies in place and a crisis comms plan in place in case a situation starts.

What’s new in social that’s worth keeping an eye on?

Aside from the ever changing landscape, it would have to be the ever changing landscape. Seriously though, it’s interesting to see how some brands are marketing on emerging channels like Snapchat and Vine with short, engaging pieces of content, content that the community wants to share. The landscape is constantly changing, but the fundamentals are still the same.

How would you like to businesses evolve the way they use social media?

I see brands who are doing great leveraging social media in different ways through various aspects of their business (for example – Marketing or Customer Service or community), but not enough across the organization. It’s an interesting question as I just wrote a blog post on this a couple weeks back. There are many brands doing well with social media in various areas of the business – customer service, marketing, sales, etc. In many cases social media has been run as a side business within a specific area of an organization. What I’d like to see this coming year is integration of social media across the organization.

Learn more about Gregg Tilston’s 5 Things Session at Dx3 2014.

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