Be a friend to your fans: TescoMobile


Social media plays a spectrum of roles in daily life. But how is it different from sending an email, or dialing a phone? You could say that they all started by providing a common function: by allowing convenient and accessible communication. As platforms like Facebook gained momentum, however, the social comms component evolved to provide another value. What was formerly used as an alternative for face-to-face, just like emails or phone calls–evolved to become a canvas for establishing, reinforcing and redefining concepts of self-identity. Even amongst unfamiliar faces, it’s important that we represent some parts of who we are. Online, social media has evolved to require just that. No longer are these platforms solely about speaking with people you know, or perhaps even want to know on a personal level.

Social media has become a platform for the performance of personal identity–a value that is inscribed in its primary value as a means for conversation.

As such, it’s no surprise that TescoMobile’s recent Twitter conversation went viral. It’s crucial to recognise that this conversation started out as one that could have easily been as mundane and insignificant as overhearing a customer service call over the phone.

This conversation went viral precisely because that’s not what happened at all. While the customer’s (somewhat confusing) gripes were addressed early on, that only served as a springboard for TescoMobile to launch into a highly engaging conversation with the dissatisfied customer’s ‘whistle blower’, Riccardo Esposito.

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Instead of merely thanking Esposito for ‘bringing this to our attention’ (yawn), TescoMobile framed their appreciation in the context of playful banter. The quirky and captivating tone of voice keeps Esposito engaged, and before long, multiple brands are involved in this strangely spectacular performance of delightful creativity and imagination.

While the conversation effectively steered the topic away from the initial complaint, the brand gained most from its ability to balance humour and humility with effortless finesse.

In the end, this humorous, tongue-in-cheek narrative was never about managing customer service, or even about improving upon common marketing metrics like response time, conversions or engagement rates.

This conversation is ultimately about the magic of social media. It exemplifies how the measurable qualities of clicks and impressions are always underwritten by an ineffable chemistry, the odd science that can make or break the relationship between an audience and a brand.

What this conversation suggests, is ultimately a case for the importance of identity in conversation. When brand messaging sounds more like a friendly chat; when tone of voice hints at totems of personal identity; when brands aren’t afraid to wear their hearts, hopes and humanity on their sleeves–perhaps that’s when a passive fan becomes a loyal friend.

If you need proof, take a look at Twitter reactions to TescoMobile below:

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