Products seem to always be the center of attention. We are pitched a product and told how great it is and how we should buy it because it is the perfect product for us. Companies base their marketing strategies and customer outreach around the product, but often forget to keep their customers the center of attention. Social media, although not always properly deployed, can help to bridge this gap and help companies refocus customers as their primary concern.
The greatest difference in social media tactics as it relates to customer interaction can be seen in the mattress industry. Mattresses? Yes mattresses. Mattresses are where we spend approximately 33% of our lives and whether we have a good mattress or not can make those hours cherished or miserable. In order to get a comfortable mattress we often spend hundreds of dollars and it can be one of the biggest purchases in a customer’s year. The two companies we are going to look at are Sleepy’s, a national mattress retailer with over 1,000 physical stores, and Casper, a startup company who does business exclusively online.
FAILING AT SOCIAL BUSINESS
Sleepy’s has high fixed costs in enormous showrooms, commissioned salespeople, overstocked inventories, and high shipping costs. They care about two things when selling you a mattress, how quickly they can get paid from the sale and how high the markup is going to be. This strategy means that in order to be successful, Sleepy’s needs to pump out as many mattresses as they can. Instead of connecting with customers and providing them with advice on which mattresses to buy, their social media strategy is centered around getting the word out about upcoming sales.
Every once in a while, someone decides that they want to be personable, but usually ends up coming out as an awkward attempt at humanizing the company.
#WhatIsLoveIn4Words was the only tweet I found from the company that did not mention a sale going back to Thanksgiving. Simply put, Sleepy’s is a company that uses its social media as an online flyer and keeps customer’s interests on the back burner.
I also feel that it is important to disclose that in July, I ordered a mattress from Sleepy’s at which time they informed me, after spending $700, I would have the mattress delivered in two weeks. I moved into my apartment and Sleepy’s was not only a week late on their delivery, but when the bed was finally delivered, the deliverymen had forgotten the frame and box spring. It took another 3 weeks for the box spring and frame to arrive and Sleepy’s made zero attempts to remedy the situation as I had called corporate headquarters more than a dozen times with zero response. I had already paid them for the bed in its entirety, so they looked at dealing with me as a value-losing proposition. Looking back, I wish that I had tweeted my concerns to see how they would have dealt with me.
SUCCEEDING AT SOCIAL BUSINESS
Casper is Sleepy’s polar opposite. The startup company has raised around $38 million through two rounds of venture capital funding and shows no signs of slowing down. Although they have one physical showroom in New York City and another in Los Angeles, their business is driven by online sales. The company even brags that the mattress can be delivered same day in New York City via a bicycle courier, but allows 2-5 for everywhere else in the United States. The tone of the company’s website is very conversational as you can see below.
Casper’s business is centered on creating an interactive social environment. Instead of spending venture capital money on grandiose showrooms across the country, they are letting their customers do the talking for them. Word of mouth advertising is not only the best form of advertising, but it is also the most cost effective form of advertising. Social media allows Casper to harness the previously hidden word of mouth advertising and display it publicly in the form of retweets.
Casper is not just in the mattress business, they made a conscious decision to be a sleeping destination. Their Twitter page is not just a place to interact about their product, but a spot to converse about sleep and everything that accompanies it.
By creating this online sleep safe haven, Casper is able to naturally foster the strong positive reactions to their product that is so valuable to the growth of the company. The first thing we see on their Twitter is there is no mention of sales and very few tweets directing people directly back to the website. Instead, there is a mix of links about the company from third parties, light hearted blog posts, and an astounding number of retweets. Every tweet the company release was conversational and had a humorous tone.
Not to mention, Casper has an all too familiar love of food.
The vibe you get when you follow Casper is closer to that of a person than a company. Casper also handles customer service very differently than Sleepy’s does.
Showing sincerity towards the customer, Casper responds with actionable steps that the customer can take to remedy the problem if it does not fix itself. There is no automated message or cloned response to customer’s concerns, but a real person on the other side of the computer actively working to address customer’s concerns.
Some might say that the difference between these two companies is simple: big business versus startup company, but it goes much deeper than that. Each company’s social media presence gives off the perception that customers don’t mean anything (Sleepy’s) or that their customers are their greatest asset (Casper). Sleepy’s stands to learn a lot from Casper just by giving them a follow.
Update: Casper is a pretty cool company: