How to Survive the Social Care High Season: 5 Great Inspo-Worthy Campaigns

Ah, the holiday season is upon us. We’ve reached the magical time for pumpkin pies, family, nostalgia, and—for those of us working in social—looming dread. It’s that time of year when you find yourself waking up in a cold sweat and sprinting to your social inbox to make sure the millions of awful customer complaints and threats were just a dream—spoiler alert: they were just a dream. As a community manager, I know all too well that the holidays can be bittersweet. Any attempt to enjoy them can be ruined in a heartbeat by an upset Tweeter on a warpath (ask me how I know).

After a few years of community management, I’ve learned that it’s best to enter the holiday season prepared. Address the harsh reality first: this season is going to be a stressful one. It’s hard to enjoy all of that turkey knowing how busy you’re going to be in a few hours. After all, we know from last year that people tweet about Black Friday five times more than Cyber Monday. But if you can arm yourself with social care best practices and a shot of inspiration, you’ll begin to see the holidays as less of a challenge and more of an opportunity. If there’s one thing I know about community managers, it’s that we are a tough bunch. I believe we can do more than merely survive this season – we can shine during it, armed with the the right frame of mind.

To get us into that frame of mind, let’s explore some recent, inspiring examples of social care. Here are five brands that transform simple social interactions into surprise and delight moments to build powerful brand loyalty.

Customer Care Planning: The Ritz-Carlton Story

The Ritz-Carlton social team spends as much time engaging with consumers as they do forming content. In fact, they view customer service as a part of their branding and equip their employees with responses and tips before a complaint even happens. Due to this focus on a social care plan, employees are empowered to surprise and delight customers when a problem actually does come up, resulting in viral moments like Joshie the Giraffe.

Your takeaway: Take a cue from Ritz-Carlton and plan ahead for any questions that may come up during times of high social chatter. Have a FAQ sheet handy with relevant information you may need for response. The more you anticipate ahead of time, the quicker your responses will be.

Rewarding Loyal Customers: Zappos’ #ZapWow Campaign & Mastercard’s “Priceless Surprise”

Surprise and delight moments shouldn’t be limited to customers with bad experiences. Sending an unexpected gift to a loyal customer can sometimes feel more genuine. The Zappos team uses social insights to research customer wish lists. They then go the extra mile to send a gift along with a handwritten note, tying it all together with the the shareable hashtag #ZapWow.

Similar to Zappos, Mastercard loves to surprise and delight customers when they least expect it. Using their campaign “Priceless Surprise”, they turn to social media to give special gifts to their fans. Spontaneous prizes have included meeting Justin Timberlake, VIP tickets to the Grammy Awards and a trip to the World Series.

Your takeaway: During the holiday service season, it’s easy to focus and dwell on the negative chatter. Don’t forget to engage with the champions of your brand. It will not only make you feel better (a community manager can only take so much abuse), but it will also do more to build affinity for your brand.

Seizing Opportunity: A Brooks Brothers Special Delivery

A simple Tweet can open up a whirlwind of opportunity. Brooks Brothers came across a Tweet by ESPN Analyst Taylor Twellman asking for help finding a pair of shoes for his friend Alexi Lalas. The Brooks Brothers social team jumped on the opportunity and researched to find out which store and city the two friends were shopping in. That same day, they delivered new shoes to Twellman’s hotel with a note suggesting that he gift them to Alexi. The result? A 76% increase in retweets and over 2 million potential social impressions.

Your takeaway: Going above and beyond can really pay off. When you deliver for a customer and create a shareable social moment, be sure to track the results. It can encourage employer buy-in and if you’re able to justify it with the right numbers, you just may find yourself with a surprise-and-delight budget to work with next quarter.

Mall of America’s “Twizzard”

Holiday shopping can be overwhelming. Holiday shopping in a mall can be even worse. Mall of America knows this, and wanted to create an in-mall activation that blurred the lines between the digital and physical experience by encouraging guests and fans to Tweet their way to an exciting moment: an indoor snowstorm. Over 44 million timelines used the hashtag #Twizzard which was tracked by an on-site digital thermometer. Once the hashtag was used enough, the very first Twitter-powered blizzard was activated inside the mall. Guests were able to spend time enjoying the snow and holiday energy instead of growing frustrated with the crowds and lines.

Your takeaway: Knowing that more and more shoppers will be using their mobile devices in-store, there is an opportunity to infuse the community feel of social throughout the on-site experience. Having fans come together and use a hashtag to affect their physical surroundings not only increases social engagement, but it also allows your brand to stand out in the holiday clutter.

Is your brand ready for the holidays and uptick in social care volume? Uncover helpful insights to help prepare for the season in our Black Friday infographic.

Allie Eby's picture

Allie Eby

Allie is the Social Marketing Specialist, managing posting and response for Spredfast's social channels. A Kansas native, Allie loves the Jayhawks and Boulevard Tank 7. In her spare time, you can find her hiking, being overly competitive in a local kickball league and tweeting at @allie_eby.