(This article will take 3 minutes to read)
It was whilst in Johannesburg at a conference that I made the discovery that many company’s create a social presence through various social media channels and then don’t monitor it nor as a result engage and respond.
This is what then spurred my idea to conduct a social experiment. I am an avid social media fan and I engage on twitter, facebook, LinkedIn and FourSquare both in my personal capacity and also for the business that I work for. As a result I regularly “check-in” to interesting places, tweet my experiences and generally share on the appropriate channels my actions or experiences, that are appropriate.
I arrived at the conference hotel, the Protea Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday 17th February and I automatically reached for my iPhone upon arrival to check in on FourSquare. I have my FourSquare account associated with my personal Facebook and Twitter accounts so that I can choose when I check-in, which social media feed I want to post my check-in to. I chose both Facebook and Twitter. Within a few moments my twitter account jumped into life to show me a reply from @proteahotels wishing me a wonderful stay and asking me to let them know if there was anything I needed.
My next experience occurred a few days later on Tuesday 19th February after my iPhone Vodacom 3G connection died. No amount of restarting or resetting could get my device to reconnect to the 3G data network. After the usual Google search and twitter search to see if it was a known issue I discovered four other people with a similar problem in the same geographic area on the Vodacom network.
Enthused by my previous and very satisfying experience with @ProteaHotels I decided to tweet my issue to Vodacom at @Vodacom111. I noted that @Vodacom111 state that they provide support up till 10pm so at 7pm I thought I was guaranteed a quick response. Sadly it took @vodacom111 almost 3 hours to even acknowledge my issue. I noted that they had actually even answered other requests of help from other that had been posted after my post. Not a great experience but at least I did get a response eventually. As an aside, the problem resolved itself, so I actually tweeted them back to tell them such and then asked what the problem was. I am still waiting…7hours later…
Enjoying my social experience and realising that I was actually embarking on a rather interesting and useful quest, I decided to consciously engage with the companies that I experienced and that had claimed their social media channels.
I arrived at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg on Wednesday 20th February for my morning flight back to Cape Town. I had just learnt that my Investec Bank account now provided me with access to the SAA Business Lounge at domestic departures. Anything is better than sitting on plastic or metal seats listening to the inane announcements of flight delays and gate changes so I decided to head off to check out the lounge.
I checked in with FourSquare to the SAA Business Lounge and congratulated Investec in finally offering its customers a decent Lounge option. Within minutes I received a twitter reply from @InvestecPB_SA wishing me a pleasant time in the Lounge and a good flight.
Both @PaulCartmel and I were so impressed with @InvestecPB_SA - here is the twitter conversation - read from bottom to top :)
Well congratulations @ORTambo_int you surpassed my expectations. You apologised and told me that it wasn’t always possible in such a changing environment to get it right. It felt like a stock standard response – the kind of response that an operator has stored and can choose from when they receive a complaint. So I decided to push it a little further. I asked @ORTambo_int why they couldn’t then send their passengers SMS’s or even make an app available to limit the number of lemmings running around the airport from gate to gate.
Again within moments I had my reply, they are busy with an app and it will be launched soon and wished me a pleasant flight.
Well done @ORTambo_int you guys are taking your social engagement seriously and whilst I was originally upset I now feel like a valued and listened to customer.
As a result of my few days in Johannesburg and my social experiment to test the levels of social engagement in South Africa’s businesses I have decided to continue and I will share my experiences further with the good, the bad and the ugly on the social scene.