Why Do Your Best Friends Text You But Not Your Favorite Brands?

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. 

Today’s column is written by Jeff Nicholson, CEO at Tracer and chief media officer at VaynerMedia.

These days, most people communicate with their best friends via messaging. I’d even go as far as to say that the world is dominated by numerous chat platforms, whether it’s WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat or just a simple text message. Like it or not, it’s how we all communicate. Heck, I even use text messaging to communicate with my team most of the time.

So, why have brands not embraced this as a way to directly communicate with their customers?

Is it because they don’t want your money? (That would be hard to believe.) Or is it simply that they don’t know how to leverage the opportunities that exist on these messaging platforms, where people are literally waiting to be sold to?

To find out, I decided to jump on a number of messaging platforms to test how brands currently communicate with customers. Over the past few months, I’ve been messaging some of my favorite brands via Facebook Messenger and Twitter, among others, and to be honest, I don’t feel loved. I reached out to some just to say “Hi!” and others to ask specific questions. But most didn’t even respond. I’m handing them the opportunity to sell to me on a platter; why would they not respond? 

I’m not here to call out brands specifically, but I do want to point out the opportunities so many brands are missing when it comes to building stronger relationships with existing and potential customers.

For example, I messaged a major financial institution in the United States who has more than a million “friends” on Facebook Messenger, yet I’m still waiting for a response two months later. If this was my actual friend, I’d be pretty upset with them, and I definitely wouldn’t give them my money nor my loyalty.

Why do we not hold the brands we fund with our own dollars to the same standards that we hold our friends?

In contrast, when I asked one of the biggest airlines in the Unites States about their credit card program, it responded immediately, clarified my question and then effectively pointed me in the right direction. I felt loved.

However, it did not proactively follow up to see if I’d signed up for the card or needed any further help. It had an opportunity to extend the relationship from acquaintance to friend territory just by checking in to see how I was doing.

And this is what I mean by missed opportunities.

Brands must realize that we live in a world dominated by mobile penetration. Before mobile, the touch point for the consumer was the store shelf where people could interact with the actual product. Now this touch point is in the form of a digital device in the palm of everyone’s hands. It’s become more accessible, and as a result, brands must adapt to be a little more savvy in how they communicate. They have the opportunity to teach consumers new habits and ways of interacting with them. It’s an opportunity to improve customer service, upsell and reverse potentially negative brand interactions. Not to mention the cost savings – people are expensive and chatbots are cheap!

With consumers growing tired of constant interruptions from brands on their mobile devices, developing a one-on-one relationship with them via whatever messaging platform they use is a win-win for everyone, but it needs to be consensual. It needs to add value. It needs to build that personal one-on-one relationship and not feel like an annoying interruption. It needs to feel like you’re texting with a friend. If a brand can achieve that, they will make their consumers feel the love and, in turn, they will feel the love back.

We should have higher standards for the brands we invest in.

So, I challenge marketers to see if they feel loved by their own brands like they do when receiving their best friends’ texts.

Follow VaynerMedia (@VaynerMedia) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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