More followers can bring more social rage: Virgin Mobile

Telco sees real-time social content as next frontier

Virgin Mobile associate director of digital experience, Alicia Mack.
Virgin Mobile associate director of digital experience, Alicia Mack.

A large number of likes on Facebook doesn’t always equate to a large amount of brand love, according to a marketing official at Virgin Mobile Australia.

“Size is not as important as people think it is,” Virgin Mobile associate director of digital experience, Alicia Mack, said at a social media forum hosted by Oakton. “It is the reach and engagement of your community.”

Followers on social networks won’t all be brand advocates and a large number of them might only be there to vent their grievances, said Mack.

“We don’t want Facebook to be a glut of social complaints,” she said. “We don’t want people who are brand admirers or who might be considering Virgin Mobile and just seeing nothing but complaints about [a] poor network or poor service.”

Virgin Mobile has attempted to redirect complaints about service instead to a Lithium message board, where people can find help from support technicians and other customers, she said.

“We’re very, very happy to accept a smaller Facebook or brand consumer community to be able to siphon a lot of the service consumers elsewhere,” Mack said.

A company like Vodafone Hutchison Australia with a vaster social audience than Virgin has suffered from a flood of complaints on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, she continued. The social noise got the infamous hashtag “Vodafail” trending.

“Consumers got really pissed off at Vodafone and took to social networks to talk about it. That was picked up very, very quickly and still to this day – years later – they’re still trying to overcome that,” Mack claimed.

Virgin Mobile had a PR disaster of its own when it increased international call rates to a few countries, and one affected customer caused a massive headache, Mack explained.

But while there is an element of defence to social, it is also opens opportunities to do big marketing at a fraction of the cost of TV and other traditional advertising. Virgin Mobile has a smaller budget than the big telcos but sees social as a way to “punch above our weight,” Mack said. For example, a recent social-by-design campaign by Virgin featuring Brad Pitt’s brother, Doug Pitt, was a big global success that cost relatively little compared to traditional ad campaigns.

“Even though were outspent 20 to one that year in a media, this activity... reached 5 million people on Facebook,” Mack said. “It increased our awareness by 21 per cent and increased our brand consideration by 25 per cent.”

Providing social content that quickly reacts to current events as the next big opportunity for Virgin Mobile and other brands. But Mack warned it is not without its dangers.

“Content is much more powerful when you’re talking to customers in real-time,” she said. RELATED: Companies still not strategic enough about social media strategy Why CMOs can’t ignore social media governance
How to command conversation: 3 social media command centre examples
Oreo scored a major win when, during a blackout occurring in the Super Bowl, it sent out an image advertising that customers could still dunk their Oreos even in the dark. To make that happen, the cookie maker had dedicated a 15-person team of social marketers to the sporting event.

Read more: Brands must look for emotional connection and shareability, says Buzzfeed

On the other hand, clothing maker, Kenneth Cole, suffered a major PR disaster when it went to Twitter to imply that uprisings in Cairo had something to do with customer interest in its Spring sale, said Mack.

It can be a challenge to get executives behind social marketing initiatives, admitted Mack. “Structurally, what we found to be a challenge a couple years ago when we were trying to introduce a social-by-design mentality is getting marketing directors and CEOs to think beyond a Channel Nine, 8:30 ad campaign…” she said.

But with more examples of success emerging, these business leaders are becoming easer to convince, she said.

“The simplest way is [to] give them an example in dollars and cents on why it works.”

Adam Bender covers digital marketing and wearable computing for CMO and is the author of a dystopian novel about surveillance. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia

Signup to CMO’s new email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Creating the ultimate customer-centric environment in 2018

All businesses today that are serious about being successful have adopted a customer-centric environment.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Embrace customer obsession to transform marketing into a catalyst for growth

In 2018, Forrester believes 20 per cent of CEOs globally will fail to act on digital transformation and put their firms at risk.

Michael Barnes

VP research director, Forrester

How challenger brands can win at biddable media

Challenger brands, especially in highly competitive markets, generally can’t match established players for media spend.

Chris Pittham

Managing director, Jaywing

While a lot has been said about AI and machine learning, I don't see it put to extensive use as yet. I will be happy to have it help the ...

Atul Dhakappa

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Wowww! What A Awsome Blog! Thanks for this wonderful post I really got many valuable information through it. As a learner it's not so eas...

Mia Joseph

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

What you have said about AI, machine learning and voice activation is very true. Some of the other things we are already observing is the...

Atul Dhakappa

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Yes, Digital Marketing now getting growth at the higher level. we can't predict today trends in the digital world. Nice stuff! Thanks for...

lorenso

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

I believe Digital Marketing is moving more toward social media and influential marketing. People are trying to grow their influence as in...

Rachel Kieran

Predictions: 8 digital marketing trends for 2018

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in