About Chris Strub
Chris serves as both a consultant, offering social media best practices to nonprofits, and as an on-scene host, creating hours of real-time live video content to raise awareness and drive donations. In the winter of 2017, Chris served as a National Red Kettle Ambassador for The Salvation Army USA.
When Chris isn’t on scene at a giving day, social media conference or training session, he is based out of downtown Greenville, South Carolina.
Chris is a live-stream content creator who’s recorded countless podcast and live video interviews with influencers from around the world out of his signature ‘#FlyTheWStudio,’ a tribute to his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs.
Chris is a versatile mobile storyteller, best known for being the first person to live-stream and Snapchat in all 50 U.S. states.
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Introduction (00:04): Chris Strub serves as both a consultant offering social media best practices to nonprofits, and as an on-scene host, creating hours of real time live video content to raise awareness and drive donations. When Chris isn’t on scene at a giving day, a social media conference or training session, he’s based out of downtown Greenville, South Carolina. Chris is also a livestream content creator who’s recorded countless podcasts and live video interviews with influencers from all around the world out of his signature Fly The W studio, a tribute to his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs. Chris is a versatile mobile storyteller, best known for being the first person to livestream and Snapchat in all 50 US States.
Mary Drumond (01:29): Welcome to one more episode of Voices of Customer Experience. I am joined today by social media god, Chris Strub.
Chris Strub (01:39): Oh, goodness gracious. Perfect. I’ll take it. Let me update my Linkedin bio real quick. Good morning.
MD (01:45): Good morning. Thank you so much for being here, Chris.
CS (01:47): It’s a pleasure.
MD (01:48): Let’s get started by introducing you to our listeners and just telling them a little bit about what you do, what you feel passionate about, what drives you to get out of bed in the morning and get the work done.
CS (01:59): Sure. So first of all, thanks for having me on. You know, I’m truly passionate these days about working with nonprofits. So, um, I know you gave an excellent bio there at the outset, but I focus a lot– It’s funny cause she does it in post production— these days as the giving day guy. So I work with giving days around the United States, like San Antonio, Louisville, Kentucky, St Louis, Columbia, South Carolina, and I help them develop broad social media strategies, focusing on using live video to raise awareness and drive donations during their 24 hour giving days. You know, I’ve worked with some of the bigger nonprofits around the country, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America, the Salvation Army as a red kettle ambassador. I’ve really enjoyed trying to use these these social media gifts to really try and make a positive difference in the world and leave this place, leave this earth a better place than when I got here. That’s really my main passion. I’m sure we’ll get into some of the different aspects of social media management and talk a little bit about Social Media Marketing World and those sides of things. But yeah, at the end of the day, I get out of bed because I love really trying to help nonprofits step their game up and really kind of get on the level with some of these bigger brands that we’ll talk about today as well.
MD (03:10): That’s amazing, and it’s great to hear that kind of passion for something that isn’t usual. I get a lot of guests on here and you’re the first person that I hear talking about dedicating your work into helping nonprofits. It’s really great. But getting into that social media side and talking about even how you help nonprofits find a social media platform, is that kind of it? Is that where your skills have the best use, getting these nonprofits on social media?
CS (03:39): Yeah, I think if you want to parse the words a little bit, it’s not that they’re not on social media. And usually what these nonprofits we’re talking about, you know, expanding their Facebook presence, for example. Again, you look at all these studies, I wrote this article for Forbes recently, 99% of nonprofits have a Facebook page and a very significant portion of them find it successful in terms of their marketing aspects. In fact, more nonprofits have a Facebook page than actually have a website. So it’s not so much, let’s get you on there anymore. It’s let’s install the confidence in you to actually take full advantage of these platforms and these audiences that you have built over the last 5, 10, 12 years. So for me, a lot of that has been stepping into the video space, the live video space. You know, I’ve done quite a bit of live streaming work since really, I started before 2015 but really back when Meerkat and Periscope started back in the spring of 2015 doing 50 States a hundred days. And then working with big brothers, big sisters and Humana with Dan Gingiss, you know, all these different projects that I’ve done over the years have really sort of centered around this orbit of live streaming video. And my work primarily focuses on really encouraging these nonprofits to understand that people want to hear from them. They really need to develop a deeper understanding of what’s going on in their communities. And the nonprofits have these channels at their disposal. I’m kind of there to be a battery, you know, an external battery as I like to refer to myself sometimes in the sales process. Like I’ll come in and help you create a supercharged set of content during these high value days of you know, the giving days.
MD (05:19): Well, let me ask you something because it’s something, as you were talking and my mind kind of started buzzing. When we think of nonprofits, we don’t really think of them adopting customer-centric strategies. You know, this is a customer experience podcast. We do focus a lot on that area. But when you think about it, nonprofits also need to be able to reach their crowd. They have to be where the people are, and they have to be able to deliver that with the right tools and the right methods. And I guess sometimes we put nonprofits into this box of almost like government organizations for some weird reason, where we think that they don’t have to abide by traditional marketing or they don’t have to find some way to get in front of people, but that’s not true at all. It’s just as important, isn’t it?
CS (06:06): I think it’s almost more important. Mary, I talk a lot when I go do trainings and stuff around the country, I talk a lot about the 99 one rule, which as your listeners might know, that 90% of content that’s consumed on social media, people won’t say anything about it. They won’t comment, they won’t like it, they won’t reshare it. So there’s a lot of that silence out there. When I speak to these nonprofits, I try to further reshape or reemphasize that rule and imagine it as more like the 98 one one rule. Like when you’re a nonprofit, you’re not creating content that’s designed for people to jump up and down and you know, brag about their experience on social media. And I think we’re both disciples of the Dan Gingiss school, right? The wiser sort of process where Dan talks a lot about how you want to create these extraordinary experiences. Well, for a nonprofit, often an extraordinary experience can be, let’s provide food for a family that doesn’t have food, or let’s help you get over your, your drug addiction or you know, you name the issue. It’s not the sort of thing that you’re going to jump onto your Instagram story, type in a hashtag and say, Oh, you know, I ate today. My kids got books for school. Like it’s not that sort of thing. And so it’s really for me, oftentimes a positive reinforcement to say, look, your nonprofit is doing great work. The work that you’re doing is appreciated by the community. Even if it’s not demonstrated in these traditional social media metrics like likes and shares. You know, we have to always encourage these nonprofits to speak confidently and use the social media channels in ways that really reflects the importance of the work that they’re doing in their communities day in and day out.
MD (07:52): Yeah. You know my sister runs a nonprofit and she’s in Austin, Texas. And she focuses on rescuing English Bulldogs. And you’d say, well why on earth would anyone need to rescue a ridiculously expensive breed of dog? Right? And the truth is that it’s such a difficult dog to take care of, that people abandon them all the time. And she actually has like more Bulldogs coming in than she can possibly handle. She relies on a really wonderful network of very wonderful people who want to donate their time and their effort and their money into helping these animals. And her number one platform is Facebook.
CS (08:39): Oh, sure.
MD (08:39): And I heard you say that there are a lot of companies that won’t even have a website, but they’ll have a Facebook page. And that’s true for her. She doesn’t have a website. She has a Facebook page. And all of the donations, all of the fundraising, happens through donation campaigns on Facebook. And it’s interesting that Facebook became a platform that nonprofits can really use to be able to generate awareness and get donations.
CS (09:03): Yeah. I think, first of all, thank you to her for doing that sort of work. I mean it’s often incredible to hear the many different stories of so many different nonprofits around the country that never get any sort of recognition, so to speak. You know, I think with animals it can really present some shareable content. It can really be a a story that we can all relate to. And it’s something that we’re not ashamed to talk about in that social media type space. Whereas some of these, the more social services, the more lifesaving, human lifesaving elements, can be a little trickier to gather that sort of social media momentum. But I really think, Mary, this, this comes down to a principle that I really learned from Amy Landino, the former Amy Schmittauer she talks about in her book Vlog Like a Boss, it’s about identifying your audience and speaking directly to that one person out there that you know your message is important too. And then replicating that. I’m certain and that your family member is using storytelling in a way on social media that is speaking to that person and pulling the heartstrings of that next potential person who she’d like to join the Facebook group or like the Facebook page or ultimately make a donation and help save a dog’s life.
MD (10:15): So that leads me to my next question because that is an aspect that requires a huge degree of empathy where you have to really understand where your customer is and how to reach them. So pulling away from nonprofits, when we’re talking about organizations and companies, do you think Chris, that companies should focus more on a single platform where they can put all their efforts and be really, really amazing at it? Or should they do a little bit of everything and kind of spread out their efforts on various channels?
CS (10:47): I’m going to break your question into two parts there. So you use the word reach. Reach is an element of social media marketing of content marketing. That is a challenge in and of itself, right? So a lot of companies out there are using let’s say Facebook advertising and you can do so very, very effectively by geo-targeting, by really creating that perfect customer you know, re-targeting to what people are searching for. And reach is just one element of what we do on social media, and I think there you may be smarter to, again, if we’re talking about distributing advertising dollars per se. Yeah, I mean, I think Facebook it is probably the premier platform now in 2019 to focus on to try and reach as many of your target customers as possible. But you know, again, we’re on a a podcast talking about customer experience. For me, I’m always come from this school of wanting to be available across as many channels as possible. And this is a spot where some of the experts like Dan and I disagree. They’ll say, Oh, you don’t want to be on every channel. And I say, wait a second. I think you should be available on every channel if that’s where your customers are reaching out to you. So you may not have the resources to create a content marketing plan on Instagram, for example, right? Oh, we only have one person on our team or we only have X number of dollars to spend on ads, so on and so forth. Maybe it makes sense to focus just on Facebook and not try and build a content marketing strategy to build your reach on Instagram, on Twitter, on Snapchat. What I think you should do as a company is sign up for all of these different platforms. Have an Instagram profile, have a Snapchat profile. Of course, have a Twitter. I love Twitter. And even if you’re not using those channels as a company on a day to day basis, turn on your notifications. Open up your ears to the customers that prefer to speak to you on those channels. So you may never send out, you may never use buffer or lately or any other, you know, content marketing platform to schedule out content on Twitter. And if all you do is respond to the people that are reaching out to you and your company on Twitter, then you’ve succeeded. I talked about this on another podcast, Mary, and you should probably should cut me off cause I will talk and talk and talk, but–
MD (13:18): I’m not cutting you off.
CS (13:20): This is great. The one tweet marketing plan, right? So if you’re not on Twitter, here’s what I would do. Sign up, fill out a profile, 240 characters in your profile, whatever it is. Put your website on there, get a perfect profile picture and cover photo. And then write one tweet that explains to your audience, Hey, we’re on Twitter now, but we don’t spend a lot of time here. The best way to get in touch with us is X, Y, Z. You know, so put your phone number, put your email address, connect with us on Facebook and send us a message over there to our chat bot,. whatever it is, make that your only tweet, pin that to your profile. And then when people find you on Twitter, they’re not going to be exposed to your, you know, consistent content marketing plan, your eight to 10 tweets a day. Forget about all of that. We’re doing this in 15 minutes or less, right? I feel like a Geico commercial. Write your bio, set up your profile picture, your cover photo, write one tweet that explains where people can find you, and all of a sudden now for the next 20 years, when people find you on Twitter, they will be exposed to exactly how the best way they can get in touch with you is.
MD (14:33): That’s actually a pretty brilliant plan. I like that, because I can see that like in my day job as a marketer, I deal with that all the time. So we’re not very active on Facebook. We don’t feel like our customers are engaging with us on Facebook, but we feel like LinkedIn is a really, really strong channel for that. So having a message up there on Facebook and saying, Hey, all our activity is over on LinkedIn, go and find us there. That that seems actually pretty interesting because it’s a way of saying, Hey, I know that you found us here and we’ll be here if you need us, but if you want to follow our activity and if you want to, you know, get news or whatever it is, content, then go and follow us over on LinkedIn. I actually really like that.
CS (15:17): It’s about managing customer expectations, you know what I mean? Like okay, let’s go back and say it’s the 50s and you have a brick and mortar store and the main entrance is is here on main street and then there’s a back entrance back in the alley. You don’t want people coming in the back entrance, you know, you’re going to lock that door down and say, come on up. Plenty of parking up front. Come on in the front door and see everything that we’ve got going on. So just because people can find you in other ways doesn’t mean that that’s where you want them to come in. But that also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give them any information on where the best place to find you is. If there was a new hot dog stand here in Greenville that set up a Twitter account that had one tweet that was like, look man, we’re not pro tweeters but we’re pro hotdog makers. Come on down and see us between 11 and 4 Tuesday through Saturday. I would go down there in an instant because they’re being honest and upfront with what the expectations are and they’re telling us exactly where to find them and how to make the most out of the experience with that company.
MD (16:47): So let’s get right to like the core. What is, nowadays for you, the most important aspect of having social media as a company?
CS (17:00): I think it always comes down to listening, Mary. I mean, social media is where people go to talk to one another. It’s not the mall, it’s not where people go to to make shopping decisions, right? I’m sure this has been iterated hundreds of times on this podcast before, but social media is where people go to talk about the things that are happening and in a growing fashion, it’s where people are going to get answers about the issues or the questions that they have with a brand. So to me, the core of social media is keeping your ear to the ground, listening to what people are saying to you, and then ultimately, if you feel confident about doing so, gathering that feedback and shaping that into the broader marketing messages that you’re going to deliver across all your channels. Long gone are the days of this magic where everything that you post on social media is consumed by everyone that you’re connected with. So to speak on social media, right? We know that Facebook reach is down in the low single digits, right? We can look at analytics from a tweet and say, even my tweets and you know, I’m looked at as this, you know, Twitter czar. Um, but even even for those most popular accounts on Twitter even, they are still reaching just a small fraction of the people that they are connected with on social media. I have about 17,000 followers on Twitter. When I post something on Twitter, it’s not reaching 17,000 people. For me, what’s most important is keeping an ear to the ground. Listening to every single mention, every single time someone sends you a message, either publicly or privately, being quick to respond to that message in a substantive and meaningful and helpful way and doing so consistently over the months, over the years, will help brandish your reputation as a company that is flexible and engaging and willing to help through social media. For me, the number one metric that I look at, and I always like tying things always back to Twitter because it is really the most measurable in terms of these public responses. To me, I look a lot at at brands and companies’ engagement rate, or the reply rate, right? So if you use an app called Twitonomy, which I talked about at Social Media Marketing World; I can look at Mary’s Twitter profile, I can look at the Worthix, Twitter profile, I can look at Dan Gingiss’s Twitter profile, and I can say how much of their time that they’re spending on Twitter, are they actually spending responding to the people that are talking to them? So for me, I try and keep my reply rate, you know, anywhere between 40 and 50%. I’ve found, generally speaking, the higher that reply rate is with maybe a dramatic drop off at like 99%, because every once in a while you should share something that you’re doing. But I would argue that if you could get that rate up into the 90% range, that tells me that people are speaking to you more than you’re trying to speak to them. And that, to me, is a strong indicator of a brand that people are actually getting value from. And that’s not just trying to stand out on the corner with a megaphone and the the 20 foot tall guy with the inflatable arms that’s just standing out on the corner trying to get everybody’s attention. You know, the more interactivity, the more value you’re providing directly to your audience. To me, that’s the mark of a strong brand on social media and specifically on Twitter.
MD (20:29): That’s a great definition right there. So for our listeners who, who haven’t had the chance of listening to Dan Gingiss’s amazing podcast on season two over here on Voices of CX, Chris is constantly referring to him because he’s one of the biggest speakers nowadays on customer experience and he constantly brings it back to social media, which is really interesting. Dan started off in social media, didn’t he, Chris?
CS (20:56): Oh yeah.
MD (20:56): And then gradually, it became a customer experience thing. So there is a very big overlap between customer experience and social media. And people who don’t see that, they just might not be looking at it through the right angle. Your social media strategy has to be extremely customer-centric, right?
CS (21:15): I think so. And you know, Dan is one of my best friends. You know, I’ll give you the quick back story. I actually met Dan down near your neck of the woods down in Atlanta at a social media conference in 2014. We happened to meet actually through Twitter. You know, that Dan had sent a tweet about a panel that was going on at this event called the social shakeup. It was a panel about millennials and there were no millennials on the panel. And Dan tweeted that and I said, Hey, Dan added, I didn’t know who Dan was, I was like, Hey Dan, you’re right. There are no millennials on this panel. What’s what’s going on? And we ended up meeting like in the hallway. We went to a session later on in that day. And as Seinfeld would say, yada, yada, yada. Five years later, Dan and I are like best friends now. I mean, we travel to different conferences. You know, the three of us, we met up at Inbound last month. Yeah. You know, so for me, this ties back to something that I talked a lot about at Social Media Marketing World this year, which is proactivity and using these social media channels strategically, right? When we’re talking about it in the point of reference to a company, as we just talked about, it’s keeping your ear to the ground. But it’s also, I think, I’m going to give you a spoiler alert. This is gonna be a lot of what I’m going to talk about at Social Media Marketing World 2020, which is, I don’t think that brands are clear enough sometimes about how and why people should get in touch with them through social media. It’s kind of assumed that, okay, we’re on Facebook, we’re on Twitter, but I think there’s an enormous potential for growth for brands to better incorporate their social media channels as part of their regular operations. You know, Dan has talked for years about how it’s much more cost efficient for brands to funnel their customer complaints and/or the compliments through social media, right? It’s much cheaper to manage that through Twitter than it is through the phone or through an email. And so for me, I see a big opportunity for brands and companies to more strongly encourage customers to use these social media channels by creating spaces in their brick and mortar locations that strongly encourage that user generated content, by better giving calls to action on receipts or in their emails to connect. All those aspects I think are really important. But from a personal perspective, it’s about understanding exactly who your core audience is that you want to connect with. Like, you know, I knew going to these future events that I wanted to connect with Dan Gingiss. I knew I wanted to connect with Brian Kramer. I knew I wanted to connect, I to become close friends with Brian Fanzo. And now five years later, here we are. You know, I am friends with a lot of these people because of that intentionality and that patience. So there is a lot of opportunity there if you choose to use these channels in a way that establishes that longterm goal pretty clear.
MD (24:02): Well, you know, this is something that we’ve talked about before, you and I, Chris. But when it comes to customer experience, lots of people forget that the customer experience is everything. Everything that touches the customer that your brand is putting out, whether it’s way before they purchase from you or whether it’s way after. And the truth is it doesn’t really matter what market you’re in, what industry you’re in. You can have, like you said, it can be a hot dog stand. It could be a mega enterprise, it could be the personal trainer at my gym who attributes his success to the experience that he’s providing his customers with when they’re on the floor. Every single industry, every single company, big or small, the experience is everything. And using social media to be able to somehow contribute to that experience, add something onto that experience, whether it’s through branding, whether it’s through just listening like you said, or whether it’s being a channel for customer service, all of these aspects are somehow within the experience, but when it comes to companies that don’t have direct consumer sales, so they’re not dealing directly with the people who are buying their products. When you have B2B, as you know people like to call it, somehow the strategy changes because you’re not really listening that much. Companies don’t engage with other companies that much, unless you’re Wendy’s and Popeye’s and whoever’s feuding over a chicken sandwich. In general, what sort of advice would you give to our listeners who are in organizations who sell to other organizations, and how should they position themselves on social to somehow contribute to that experience of the person who is on the other side?
CS (25:55): It’s a great question. You know, with the way that you describe things where there’s not as much interaction. Certainly I think there are still listening opportunities no matter what you might think your expectations are in terms of that engagement. It’s still critically important to be able to listen if your B2B brand is posting anything anywhere and somebody replies on it, it still makes sense to have that ability to respond quickly. You know, I think it’s okay to in that case maybe to be a little bit more illustrative and use these channels a little bit more in the way that I think too many B2C brands are already doing, which is to make sure you put your best foot forward. But I always, my instinct always tells me to go back to this, second time we’ll reference Brian Kramer, the human human aspect of things, right? People want to do business with other humans. So you know, maybe we’re moving away from this institutionalized perfection where everything about the brand just needs to be flawless in terms of the presentation, and think about how we can advance the personal branding of some of the leaders of these B2B companies who are interacting with one another. You know, or if you’re a sales person, let’s say you’re using LinkedIn to be communicative with one another, now there’s more ways than ever to be able to extend your personal brand, to be able to demonstrate the human side of who you are, what you do, and why you do what you do. And you can take an action like Mary has and host a podcast for five, six seasons where you’re not only demonstrating the depth of your personal knowledge in your field, but you’re also intentionally interacting with a lot of the other people in the space. I looked again last night at the list of all of the industry leaders that have been on this podcast before me, and it’s quite humbling. But that’s how it happens, right? No, it was years ago that Mary said, look like we’re going to use podcasting to position ourselves amongst this group of customer experience leaders. And now these 75 people that you’ve spoken to over the years all have an intense familiarity with the work that you do because of that content marketing strategy that you’ve put out there. I think, again, earning the trust of the people that you are in business with, again, whether it’s your one-to-many, B2C approach or a one-to-one approach, right? Like this conversation will strengthen the relationship between Chris Strub and Worthix. Right? And then tomorrow you’re bringing somebody in to Alpharetta there to have an in person conversation at the office, that strengthens that relationship. I think from a B2B perspective, we don’t necessarily need to always think through the lens of how massive an impact voluminously can we make with this content. It’s how massive an impact from a one to one perspective can we make through what we’re doing on a day to day basis.
MD (29:30): That’s really important and I can see that being the only way to do things, especially with small to midsize businesses. Now, when you get to really big scale, when you get a company like Starbucks, for example, that not only is it massive and consumed all over the globe, Starbucks has something ridiculous like 93% brand recognition across the world or something insane. Every single day, you have people tweeting at Starbucks with a picture of their frappe-mochaccino-I-don’t-know-what drink. How can a brand that’s global, that’s an enterprise that’s got hundreds and thousands, maybe millions of consumers, somehow filter their social media to make sure they’re still providing people with that personalized attention.
CS (30:16): Invest. Look, I mean I’ve argued with Dan about this for years too, which is, I don’t care how big your company is, I don’t think you’ll ever reach a point where it’s safe to ignore the outreach of a single customer. I’m absolutely positive that Starbucks and McDonald’s and all these, you know, global leaders have massive teams that are out there doing social listening all day long and there are apps on apps and there are enterprise solutions where you can listen that scale and you can selectively engage in all of these things and you know, for better or for worse, my stance for these mega brands has always been why not octople your social listening strategy and really engage with every single customer that’s out there. If we’re talking about, you know, a little Italian restaurant in South Carolina or something, their goal on social media would be to capture every single meaningful interaction. Every single person that that expresses that they had a positive or even a mediocre experience at their restaurant, their goal on social media should be to engage that person and make sure either they thanked them for the compliment or you know, as Jay Baer would say, we’re hugging our haters and we’re trying to turn those complaints into recurring customers. But if I go to a McDonald’s, if I go to a burger King, insert your favorite brand here, and I tweet to them or I send them a Snapchat or something, why is that considered less important? I don’t understand that. Is it because we’ve reached this massive scale where suddenly now the customer interactions don’t matter as if I don’t have any other choices between these big brands and the local shops? If I was, again, in one of these global leadership roles, I would say, let’s forget the Facebook advertising budget, we need to shift 90% of our Facebook advertising budget to create a best-in-class social listening campus. You know what I mean? Give me 500 people that are going to listen, and every single time someone mentions McDonald’s, let’s engage in a conversation with them, and let’s keep that conversation going and let’s deepen that relationship from, oh I go to McDonald’s once a week, to I go three or four times a week, right? Like I’ve never really understood from a corporate perspective where that line is drawn, where suddenly we decide we don’t care about these conversations anymore. It’s beyond me.
MD (32:50): Well, that’s actually like crazy important. I’m super glad that you pointed that out because even in my mind I sort of made that differentiation between, you know, Oh, this person needs help versus this person is just tagging me in these pictures. But when it comes down to it, customers do have a choice and taking away the humanity of social media, subtracting from the human element, is a mistake. At least that’s what I’m hearing from you now. So when it comes to automated responses on social media, it’s almost an oxymoron in the sense that it goes against everything that social media represents. And you know, taking it back to the example that I gave a couple minutes ago with my trainer, and the way that he makes the experience amazing is that he focuses all of his undivided attention on individual customers and makes sure that they feel seen at that moment. And it’s all about them. That hour that he spends with each of those people, it’s all about them. If you take away that human aspect, if you put an app there to train that person instead of a trainer, it totally kills the purpose, which is probably why like, okay, even though there are apps out there for training, most folks, when they need something extra, they’re still going to a person, having a person there. And so when you think about the solutions that are being provided to social media where it’s automated responses or automated likes and customers feel like it’s a machine and it’s not a person, it must be the biggest buzzkill on the planet.
CS (34:25): Yeah. Well let’s, let’s disambiguate this just a little bit, right? I don’t think that it’s necessarily the difference between a human response and an automated response. I think the difference between getting a response and not getting a response at all, and there are certain brands that when I walk in, and I use an app called swarm, which is a spin-off of Foursquare, you know, my company is called, I Am Here, so I’m very big on traveling around and I’m very, very open. I know you follow me on Twitter where I share my travels, my experiences with the world quite often. And there’s a dramatic difference that I think is going to continue to bear itself out over the next 5, 10, 20 years as this rise of the prosumer sort of continues. And being a pro-sumer was a, was a huge point of emphasis in my Social Media Marketing World talk, maybe the topic of a future book, so I should like trademark that while we’re having this conversation right now. But this idea that when I walk into a Bed Bath and Beyond and I check in, within 30 seconds I’ll get a response from at bed bath and beyond that says, Hey Chris, welcome. Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help. Now do I know if that’s coming from, you know, Jamie the customer service person or coming from a robot right at the outset? Uh, no I don’t, but I do know that it’s showing me that they as a brand are listening and if I did have a problem, now I get the sense that if I continued that conversation, someone from that brand is going to be there to listen. Same thing with American airlines. I don’t necessarily need to feel validated every single time I tag American airlines. You know, heading to GSP airport to fly at American Airlines today, can’t wait to be there. Like that’s okay if they don’t respond, but what’s not okay if they don’t respond is, you know, something like Marsha Collier was writing the other day on Twitter, which is about how the company kind of abandoned her at the gate and then she went to Southwest airlines and Southwest took care of her and it’s like, okay, American, where are you now? In that instant that, that zero moment of truth, like you need to be there as a brand to listen, to fix the problem, and I think increasingly to be there as part of the experience, right? I’d love to check into a McDonald’s someday and then get a tweet back immediately from @RonaldMcDonald that’s like, Hey Chris, welcome to McDonald’s. Like save 50 cents on your junior frosty. Now I’m mixing brands. I’m going to get crucified for that, like give me something that expresses that gratitude for me sharing that experience with 17,000 people in theory on social media.
MD (36:55): That’s an actual way to like translate from social media platforms into real life experiences right there.
CS (37:03): Again, if you walk into a store, you expect to be greeted, you know, welcome to Moe’s, right? Like I don’t have a gauge of Moe’s social media team, but like if I walk into a Moe’s and they yell, welcome to Moe’s, what to me is the difference if I tag them on Instagram that I’m walking into Moe’s, now instead of walking in with my family that you know, the three people, now I’m walking in with 5,000 people that follow me on Instagram and I’m saying I’m at a Moe’s. Wouldnt makes sense for most to write back and say, welcome to Moe’s there too? You know when you talk about doing things at scale and all, we don’t have the resources to scale, you know, to be able to respond to everybody. Well, wait a second, you’re responding to the family of four that’s walking in every single time without fail. If you don’t say welcome to Moe’s, you’re going to get fired. But when thousands of people check in on social media that they’re at Moe’s and no one’s saying anything to them there, to me that problem with the scale is on the opposite end.
MD (38:00): Do you think that’s just decision makers that haven’t yet understood the entire scope of how much digital is an integral part of our lives now?
CS (38:10): It’s crazy to hear a question like that, and have to say yes.
MD (38:15): I know. It’s crazy to ask it.
CS (38:17): You know, again, you and I hang out with, at these conferences, some of the most progressive thought leaders in the space. But it’s sad to admit that, yeah, I do think there are a lot of brands out there that don’t understand the gravity of interactivity on social media. And the fact that, you know, maybe maybe I’ll continue to go to a certain location even if they never respond. But I tell you what, like I check in, I know we’re both workout fiends, although you could body press me and throw me across the room based on your Instagram content.
MD (38:52): I could, yes. This is true.
CS (38:52): A little behind the scenes. But I go to planet fitness all the time. And I got a tweet once from the CEO of another gym last year. And I tweeted back to planet fitness and I almost felt like I was cheating on this brand by going to check out another brand. But the only reason I went there is not because I drove past them on Jericho turnpike every day. No, I knew that they were there for my whole life. What made the difference for me to go in and check out this new gym or new-to-me gym was the fact that they were proactively listening to my input on social media and they said, Hey, you should come give us a try sometime. And I did. So to me that’s the ROI.
MD (39:35): That’s ridiculously insightful. Sorry, I’m like, yeah. Absolutely.
CS (39:40): And I think there’s so many more opportunities there for proactive social listening to bring in, and I’m not talking about guerrilla marketing, I’m not talking about Wendy’s dunking on people, you know, that are checking in at Burger King. Like I get that. But Mary, I used to work at the Haywood mall here. It’s the biggest mall in the state of South Carolina. And I worked at Sbarro and what we would do at in the food court is cut up a little slice of pizza. We would hold out a little sample for everyone that’s walking into the food court. So you didn’t need to walk into the mall with a decision that you were going to go get pizza, to come shop with us. For me, I don’t even need to be– And Sbarro does a notoriously poor job of this, I’m sorry if somebody from Sbarro was listening, but they just don’t do social listening at all. But my point is, first of all, if anybody’s checking in at Sbarro, that’s a, that’s a no brainer, that they should be replying and responding and saying, you know, don’t forget the Parmesan cheese, like there’s an easy one. But anyone who’s checking in at the Haywood mall, anyone who’s tagged their location as Haywood mall on Instagram, anyone who has checked in at the Barnes and Noble or the Apple store or any of the other, you know, 65 stores in the mall. If you tweet back to that person or even just click like on their tweet, all of a sudden now you’re right in their face the same way as the GM of the store, I’m standing there with a pepperoni pizza sample. Now you’re offering them a little taste of your brand through social media that may entice them to come over and shop with you before they get back in the car. I just think to wrap up this point, Mary, we’re on the brink. We’re just scratching the surface of what social listening can be. I went to MDMC, this social media conference in st Louis and I met a young man who works for Budweiser, and of course Budweiser is huge in St Louis, and they use social listening to listen to influencers, so to speak, hate using that word, but like one day I checked in at the ballpark there in St Louis and I got a tweet back from Budweiser that was like, cheers, you know, like with your buds. And I’m like, how does she even know where I was here? I didn’t say bud, I didn’t say Budweiser, I didn’t say beer. And they just knew from the geolocation of my tweet that I was at a Cardinals game that afternoon. And they knew that I was one of the target accounts that they were keeping track of on their influencers list or whatever. And I was like, I got to go get a Budweiser.
MD (42:16): Yeah. It goes top of mind immediately. It’s like instant top of mind.
CS (42:20): And that doesn’t, again, that doesn’t have to be humans necessarily on the other end of it. That doesn’t mean, okay my friend works at Budweiser and he knows that I’m at this baseball game, that can really be this advanced AI and this machine learning that I think as we move into the next decade here is going to become increasingly important to providing a strongly differentiated customer experience for people who have decisions ahead of them. Like I’m walking into the mall or I’m walking into Busch stadium, like now what do I do? Okay, I’m going to make a decision based on the social media interactivity that’s taking place in front of me.
MD (42:56): If I could summarize, and you let me know if I got it right, okay? If I could summarize this conversation into a nutshell with the biggest takeaway possible for our listeners, do you agree that the biggest takeaway here is, as you grow, make sure your social media listening grows with your brand? Is that it? Period?
CS (43:17): Yeah, I think that’s 1000% true. Yes.
MD (43:20): And that’s actually more insightful than it seems to be. If you take into consideration the way in which the market is going, I really like this angle that you presented me today with having a way of transporting from the digital and affecting the real life experiences with how you engage your customers on social. For me, that was the biggest takeaway and I really thank you for that because it was great. It’s shifted my views on social media marketing.
CS (43:54): Well, that’s a bold statement. I mean, I had a heavy burden to carry being introduced as a god, so… But you know, I’m grateful for your time. This is really humbling to be invited this has been fun. And I think for anybody who’s listening, no matter what role you’re in, I would translate that down. Whether you’re the, the CMO of something like McDonald’s or Sbarro, or you’re just listening as a friend of Chris and Mary, this proactive listening has really been extremely beneficial for me from a personal perspective as well. So I would really encourage you, if you’re listening, to send both of us a tweet and say what’s up, you know, initiate that conversation. Like this is how relationships are built on the granular level as well and in the multimillion dollar level as we’ve talked about.
MD (44:40): Awesome. So to wrap it up to all our listeners who are on social media, how do they find Chris Strub?
CS (44:46): Throw the @ symbol in front of my name there. It’s @ChrisStrub. I’m most accessible I would say on Twitter and Instagram and my website, is teamstrub.com or if you want to learn more specifically about my work with giving days, it’s givingdayguy.com.
MD (45:02): That is awesome. And I dare, you listener out there, to find a platform where Chris isn’t and try to get him on there.
CS (45:10): Send me a message on any platform where you can find me and see me if I don’t write back immediately.
MD (45:16): Awesome. Thanks so much Chris. Really appreciate this great conversation.
CS (45:20): Thanks Mary.
Mary Drumond is Chief Marketing Officer at survey tech startup Worthix, and host of the Voices of Customer Experience Podcast. Originally a passion project, the podcast runs weekly and features some of the most influential CX thought-leaders, practitioners and academia on challenges, development and the evolution of CX.