The surest path to social media success comes from aligning your strategy with core organizational goals. Web hosting provider (mt) MediaTemple has done just that, using social to enhance their customer support and, in the process, humanizing a brand many could dismiss as ‘intangible.’ (mt) Social Media Lead Sara Carter (above) was kind enough to take a moment away from her social dashboard and elaborate on this using a few more than 140 characters.
Quick disclosure: Many of our sites including this one are hosted via (mt) Grid Service. I’m also an (mt) affiliate, earning a modest commission when users click on my sidebar ad and purchase the service.
I want to start with a quick personal anecdote. My first experience with (mt) MediaTemple on social media was one night when I was burning the midnight oil on a little web project I wanted to quickly stand up. Sadly I hit a few snags so I @ mentioned (mt) MediaTemple on Twitter. Despite being very late at night (or early in the morning) someone got back to me and helped me resolve the issue. Can you talk a bit about how you use Twitter for support?
Our Twitter feed is staffed 24/7/365 for customer support, just as our phone & Skype support are. In addition to responding to proper @ mentions, we also monitor for any mention of “Media Temple” or “mediatemple.” We will respond to any and every mention that would benefit from one — whether it’s a question, support request, comment, feedback, or anything else! There are times when a support issue is simply too involved for a few 140-character messages, and a proper support request is necessary. Any customer with an already open support request can send it to us over Twitter at any time to have someone take a look. This is especially convenient for customers who are not in an ideal situation to call us, but still require urgent assistance.
My favorite thing is when somebody sends out a tweet with the words “media temple,” and is then pleasantly surprised when they immediately have a response from us reaching out to help them. It may sound a little creepy, but we’re always watching! It’s only been beneficial to us and our customers.
In addition to following (mt) MediaTemple on various social networks, you also proactively friended me on Facebook as Sara at MediaTemple. Beyond engaging with your main MediaTemple Facebook page, how else are you using social platforms for outreach with your brand advocates?
The (mt) Media Temple Facebook page has really transformed over the last 6 months. We’ve managed to utilize it more for engaging purposes rather than strictly sharing articles. Now it’s officially a fan page with interaction from (mt) advocates & community. I created “Sara at MediaTemple” to connect with a more focused group of our “regulars” on Twitter/Facebook and (mt) advocates. I want people to feel like they have a friend at (mt) Media Temple, so engaging with that profile hopefully puts forth a sense of having sort of VIP support and an inside look at what we’re doing. It also allows me to connect with customers on a more personal level, which helps humanize our brand.
Matt L. and I are also active on Google+ with our personal accounts, monitoring for mentions of (mt) and commenting on them there. We also try to maintain a consistent presence in popular forums (including our own forums) to identify and connect with our customers, in addition to just being a part of conversations.
I often cite you as a great example on Instagram, as photos help you make the intangible (web hosting) tangible. Can you tell us how else you use social media to make your brand more real?
We’re really big into trying to create a unique experience by humanizing (mt) as much as possible. We’ve just begun posting on Instagram (above and below), which seems like a pretty unlikely social platform to find a web hosting company but (mt) is known for having a unique culture, and we love sharing it. Plus, we’re as geeky and into cool apps as much as our customers are, so why not connect in everyone’s favorite social spots? We experimented with G+ hangouts by running a couple of contests in a sort of game-show fashion. It was great to experience some virtual “real life” interaction with customers that we otherwise only swap text with on a daily or weekly basis.
One thing that we feel like we’ve struck gold with as far as making the (mt) brand more real is support videos (example below). As with any tech-based service, there are going to be problems sometimes. While we strive to be as informative & transparent as possible with our system status page, there is just something about the human element of hearing someone’s voice and seeing a face that instils a sense of calm and confidence. We’ve found that our use of video to provide updates and valuable information softens the blow of dealing with an issue that typically negatively impacts customers. It feels really great to receive more praise and thanks for the way we handle an incident than complaints about the incident itself.
How is your internal social team organized? What tools do you use?
The Social Media Team at (mt) currently consists of myself, Sara C., and Matt L. We are staffed on the Twitter feed during peak hours, which is basically Monday through Friday between 6 am and 8 pm. All other hours are covered by the (mt) Tweetologists, often referred to as the 140 Team. The 140 Team consists of phone support agents who are trained to cover the Twitter feed. We have a schedule for regular coverage and backup coverage to ensure that the feed stays monitored and active 24 hours a day. While Matt and I are the primary Twitter coverage during the week, we also work closely with (mt)’s marketing department on promotions, contests, and things like that.
We primarily use ExactTarget’s CoTweet (now branded as SocialEngage) for Twitter engagement, but are working with an (mt) customer to transition over to their Twitter engagement client called TwitSpark.
We use Radian6 for brand monitoring and engagement across the web for blogs, articles, and forums. Radian6 also has some great reporting tools. While we’ve experimented with several reporting tools, the constants tend to be Radian6, CoTweet and its built-in reporting, bit.ly, as well as Facebook insights.
Social media is moving target for brands. What’s next for (mt) MediaTemple?
There are so many social media sites that it’s impossible to be active in every single one. I think that you need to be present where it makes sense and focus on mastering those channels rather than trying to be everywhere. We feel that we have a pretty good handle on the channels that we’re most active in, but will continue in trying to truly master each. Our next areas of focus will be revitalizing our homegrown forums, and our YouTube channel. (mt) Media Temple has recently appointed a dedicated videographer, so we’re excited to start participating more in the video social space.
If there’s one word you could use to sum up the benefit that (mt) MediaTemple gets from social media, what would it be and why?
Loyalty. (mt) Media Temple’s use of social media — particularly in support — is continuously exceeding customers’ expectations. When you feel taken care of — like you can connect with the people behind the service and like those people genuinely have an interest in your satisfaction — it makes you not only want to stick with them but also share the experience with others. There are few companies and corporations that execute those actions in a genuine fashion, and I feel like we’re doing it right. We bring our personality and culture to the table, and that results in a more human experience that people tend to gravitate towards.
Thanks for sharing, Sara. If you think you have a brand that’s not a good fit for the kind of human connections and conversations that social media makes possible, I challenge you to follow, friend, circle, and like (mt) MediaTemple.