The new trend of brands engaging in tongue-in-cheek social conversations with other well-known companies is growing – but who does this really benefit?
Is it for our (the customers’) viewing pleasure, or is it merely an ego boosting shot to get one up on another company, even if the two involved are in very different industries?
Brands who are successful on social media are usually the ones who are not only great at responding and resolving customer service queries online, but also the ones who are able to sympathise and converse with customers with a genuine human touch. But, more recently, it seems that conversations with customers have taken a backseat, as more companies get involved with conversations pitted against each other to see who comes out on top as Banter King.
Tesco’s and 02 have claimed their space as Banter Royalty on Social Networks, but many more brands are ready to battle it out with them for the top spots with ever wittier, and more “bants”, tweets.
Nando’s recently received a complaint from a customer, Jeremy Cole, on Twitter and responded with an apology and a gift voucher. When Jeremy received the apology sans gift voucher via Royal Mail, he resorted to Twitter and accused them of theft. Nando’s resolved the issue online, but were not satisfied with Royal Mail’s antics and suggested they draw Jeremy a chicken as an apology - the banter gauntlet was thrown down, and Royal Mail duly obliged.
Quite possibly the strangest bunch of companies to engage with each other on social media. O2 have recently launched the #bemoredog campaign, and saw an opportunity to hijack Innocent Drinks’ tweet of a dog standing over a “No Dogs Allowed” sign. This witty response invited customers and brands to get involved with the chit chat, with Betfair and Tango joining in and shareing images of funny dogs. Ultimately, O2 came out on top of this social bant-off, with the other brands simply adding to fuel to their new campaign.
Two mobile phone companies going head to head…in a Twitter rap battle. After the whole #bemoredog Twitter back and forth with various brands, O2 tried to re-enact this banter with a competitor, Tesco Mobile. This time round, the joke ended up being on O2 as Tesco Mobile saw right through their attempt at some more viral marketing.
Witty tweets poking fun at other brands, and sometimes even at consumers, can be funny – but how far is too far? What happens if a consumer doesn’t take well to a funny response, and makes a formal complaint?
For now it seems to be all fun and games for brands having banter with each other. Customers seem to take well to the conversations, especially if it involves brands who are known for their wit on social, and are happy to get involved and engage with them. It’s a conversation starter, and when done in the right tone can be a great opportunity to spread the word about a company’s social media channels, but how long before a brand takes the “banter” too far, and it’s an offended customer, rather than a doodle of a chicken, that goes viral?