It’s widely known that Millennials are early adopters and high utilizers of social media. And many brands have tried to build social experiences to engage them…some more successfully than others. To find out what drives success, we conducted a qualitative study to understand what brands could learn from people who are truly sociable versus just active in social media. Rather than select the participants, we had people describe the traits of people they considered to be very sociable and then each brought people that fit that description. As seen by their friends, sociable people have four characteristics that brands could learn from.
First, they are accessible. They are incredibly good at giving the impression that they are available to their friends at all times. They eliminate barriers of contact and they are seen as extremely warm and inviting. They invite people into their personal space, and the people they interact with feel as though they are given personal insight into their character.
Zappos set the standard of accessibility with 24/7 phone, chat, and email access. And it wasn’t just your basic support but there was often something personal to surprise and delight. In my case, I was upgraded to next-day shipping for a purchase when I happened to mention it was a late gift. In another example, if you ever tweet to @XboxSupport, there is a good chance you will get a quick response. The Elite Tweet Fleet (as it is called) not only set a Guinness record but it has been known to answer a question roughly every 2 minutes and 42 seconds.
Next, sociable people are seen as actively caring for the needs of their friends. We all know these people-- they are happiest when they know that everyone else is having a good time. If there is a problem, they want to fix it. As such, they serve as a defacto social ombudsman for their friends and they take pride in their satisfaction.
While not the most iconic hotel group, Kimpton Hotels displays this behavior on a regular basis -- especially if you are signed up for the In Touch loyalty program. It seems very caring (maybe even gushing at times) by offering gifts (free drink from minibar, beer in ice bucket in room) and “thought you might like” suggestions in emails and notes. And it makes email requests feel like nothing's too much trouble. After a recent trip, a colleague had to get a copy of a lost receipt for the restaurant in one of the Kimpton Hotels he had stayed in. He emailed the concierge and within two hours, he had a copy of the receipt with a “no problem, need anything else” message.
Sociable people are also a resource for those around them. They always have a good inclination of what’s going on in the world. They know what events and activities are happening at any given point in time, and they are quickly able to prioritize their interest in one activity over another. This makes them the person whom their friends turn to for advice on what to do and as a resource for connecting them with relevant others.
Sites for parents like www.Pampers.com have traditionally been great resources but another great example of a brand playing this role is www.mrporter.com. It’s a resource for all things related to men’s style that’s going on at the moment. Currently, it’s offering style Q&A’s inspired by the fashion on the USA Network show “Suits.” It also has a what-to-wear section to inspire you for different occasions and one of my favorites is the Style Icons tab where it features stylish people from Ryan Gosling to Picasso. It discusses their style and connects it to current products to help you create a personal style in a similar way. Nike also has nine apps that are there as a resource to help you “just do it” and don’t sell anything.
And finally, sociable people are the spark for their friends.They are very aware of gaps in social rhythm and they use those as opportunities to interject the instant burst of energy needed to spice up a situation. They have a great sense of timing so it’s not about being disruptive, it’s that they have a genuine interestin affecting the lives of others.
Pepsi seems to be attempting this by inviting people to live their lives to the fullest and take advantage of the moment. It has created a “Live for Now Music” program on Twitter. Besides providing fans with an instant overview of the artists, music and music news trending on Twitter, for added spark, it will offer free music downloads to @pepsi followers, stage a series of pop-up concerts streamed live on the platform through Pepsi’s enhanced profile page, and the opportunity for followers to influence the concert program by tweeting out the songs they want included.
Just as with people, for brands to be recognized by their Millennial “friends” as truly sociable, they will have to continue to learn to fulfill these roles in the experiences they create.