Brands Who Talk Back to Their Customers

July 24, 2017 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai

How often do you see a brand saying something like this on social media?

Well, just over a week ago that’s exactly what happened when financial app Square went head to head with Twitter user @SandwichofFarts. Yes, that’s a real Twitter handle and (hopefully) a real person behind it.

We’ve already talked about brands that take a stand and aren’t afraid to get a dialogue going, even if tinged with hints of sass.

But this new exchange made us appreciate brands who make a good defensive/offensive strategy even more.   

This is what captured our minutes this week.

Here’s why:

1. This is a good example of when a response matrix simply won’t cut it.

Forget the excel sheets and chat bots in this kind of experience. The Tite Report once shared Erin Bury’s, managing director of Eighty-Eight, idea that bots can’t replace all parts of a brand’s business and really shouldn’t.

Sending a plain response like “we appreciate your comments and have forwarded them to our customer experience team” is a whole lot of bull.

If anything, that just adds fuel to a troll’s fire.

No, situations like this call for a personal touch so that they are handled with care and with strategy at the forefront.

2. Square demonstrated how clapping back to trolls can actually be a great expression of authenticity.

Who said a brand’s voice needed to only come across in ads, general social posts or other content?

Other than being one of the most popular marketing buzzwords of all time, authenticity should be at the core of a brand’s every move. That includes the times that aren’t planned for in a content calendar.

Looking at the whole exchange (thanks to AdWeek!), Square didn’t stoop down to any insults and instead kept the tone and messaging consistent. Heck, Square even got a little pitch in there (for fart sandwiches, of course).



Even AdWeek’s Q&A with Square’s social lead, Nick Dimichino, didn’t let the fart puns go.

Square says that it believes in empowering and enriching people. What better way to act on that than by expressing empowerment in a way that makes people’s social media experience more enriched?

3. Responding to the troll strengthened the Square brand.

“Staying silent would be deadly.” Fart puns aside, Square has a point here.

When it comes to handling trolls on social media, it’s a game of balance. It’s quite impossible to appease every customer out there. And besides, trolls are just that – they’re looking to start something for the sake of it.

It’s not necessary to respond when:
-The person is being negative just to be negative, and doesn’t actually add any value to other customers or to the brand and its products
-The issue being referenced has already been taken to customer service
-Follow-up isn’t required

It is necessary to respond, such as in this case with Square, when:
-The brand is being undermined repeatedly
-The person is ruining others’ experiences
-The comments are crude, racist, belligerent and/or offensive in any other way

Some could argue that @SandwichofFarts didn’t need to be taken seriously. But the main reason it was necessary and worked so well in this moment is that Square’s move positioned the brand as one that stands up for what its image and what it believes in.

Brands frequently roll over for their customers, but that’s not necessarily the best route to go. Aside from the entertainment factor (which, we might add, people love to watch go down), a brand that stands up for itself generates respect from its audiences.

The brand-customer relationship is a two-way street.

People want to associate themselves with brands that hold values they respect. There’s certainly no shortage of respect for having, well, respect.

Way to go to Square for standing up for itself. Boldness, uniqueness or difference can be shown in more ways than just an interesting ad campaign.

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention.

What will win this week?


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