Tess Tucker is Head of Digital Marketing at online take-away ordering service Just Eat. She tells us about Just Eat’s social media strategy and explains what steps brands can take to raise engagement and grow fans and followers
Figaro Digital: What sorts of strategies and tactics have you found successful at Just Eat for growing fans on social media?
Tess Tucker: Facebook is the biggest thing for us and we have close to 800,000 fans there. Content is very important in terms of engagement although, like lots of people, some of the recent changes in Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm have presented certain challenges. We also have a weekly newsletter where we’re able to include a lot of content. What’s important is that we’re not trying to sell something directly there. The content tends to be around offers we’re running, new restaurants, promoting restaurants that are getting particularly good ratings. Those are the product-level messages we include, but beyond that we’re establishing our brand and the personality. In the newsletter and in the transactional emails we promote our Twitter account. Competitions create a nice incentive for people to come over to our Facebook page and ‘like’ it, and that also means that if people aren’t opening the newsletter, we can still talk to them on Facebook or Twitter.
What advice would you have for brands who want to create, as you have done, relevant, sharable, fun content – stuff that really gets people engaged with the brand?
Obviously it depends on what business or sector you’re in and what you’re trying to achieve, but it’s relatively straightforward to get people engaging with your content. At Just Eat we’re very location-based so we can’t promote our restaurants – it simply wouldn’t be relevant to everyone. As I say, we don’t go down the sales route. Our messaging is more general. A lot of our content is about entertainment, engaging people, generating those positive feelings towards our brand and keeping it top-of-mind when people are in the market for a take-away.
Humorous content works well for us. We’re a young brand and we have quite a young audience – a lot of our customers are 18-35. For us it’s about tuning into the zeitgeist, being able to turn high quality content around quickly and staying true to the brand.
All of those things can be a challenge. I could easily say, ‘Every time we put a cat picture up, people engage with it. We’ll just do that!’ But what’s that got to do with ordering a take-away? Creating content which is suitable for our brand, our audience and which works is an ongoing challenge. It means constantly trying new things. As a brand though, we’re not afraid of being fun and a bit cheeky. That gives us a lot of flexibility. A lot of our brand messaging supports our TV ads – you might have seen some of that tongue-in-cheek ‘anti-cooking’ content. We’ll have a content stream which follows a campaign and supports the idea that we’re about freeing up people’s time and so on. We try to keep our brand values in all the messages we post.
You have an established and consistent editorial tone of voice across all your social media channels. Did that evolve organically or was it something that required a lot of honing and refining?
It kind of evolved organically. Some of it was born out of our own personalities here. Then we worked with a freelance writer who helped develop that. A couple of years ago we realised there was enough editorial work to justify having an in-house copywriter. We hired someone and by then I think we knew what the tone of voice should be like. We also have a social media executive, so most of the writing – other than the customer care responses – falls between two people and that makes it easier for that tone of voice to remain consistent.
What are some of the commonest mistakes you see brands making on social media at the moment?
Again, it depends what business you’re in, but there are still brands which break the rules around Facebook competitions – brands who ask users to tag a photo or comment on a post to enter a competition. Those are things which, in theory, Facebook could close down your page for. There’s still a lot of that going on and we’re very careful about adhering to the rules around Facebook competitions.
The other mistake people make on social media is simply being boring, repetitive and pushing sales rather than providing something people might actually want to look at or read. Also, not refining your content for the specific channel: treating Facebook the same way you treat Twitter.
Apart from the obvious issue of space, what distinctions do you make between Facebook and Twitter?
On Twitter we post more frequently, because you know that content is going to drop out of people’s feeds more quickly. You can be more conversational there. On Twitter we might just say ‘Good morning, how are you?’ We wouldn’t do that on Facebook. On Facebook we post less frequently, but the content is more structured than on Twitter.
Do you use any other social media sites?
We use Google+, which we find has a slightly different audience to Facebook, and sometimes content which doesn’t work that well on Facebook does better on Google +. Something which might be a bit obscure to the Facebook crowd may work better on Google+. We actually have more people on Google+ plus than we do Twitter, but obviously Twitter is far more interactive. We’re on Pinterest, but that’s more experimental at this stage. Facebook is the most interesting for us, simply because of what you can do with it. It has greater flexibility.
How should marketers be looking at ROI on social media?
A good question – it’s something people are still struggling with. For us, we don’t invest huge amounts of our overall marketing budget in social media. We’ve done some econometrics which has demonstrated that there is evidence to support the fact that the people we have on Facebook do actually go on to place orders. We’re a mass market offering. If someone uses the internet and they like getting take-aways then they’re a potential Just Eat customer. Our feeling is that if someone has liked us on Facebook, at some point they will decide to give us a go.
We also have a fairly standard ‘How did you hear about us?’ survey during the sign-up process and that always positively supports social media. We firmly believe that fans on Facebook do go on to place orders, but we’re not quite at the place where we’re able to put all that data together.
What other developments do you think we can expect to see across social media – either in terms of technology or user behavior – over the next year or so?
Well, as I mentioned at the start, the changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm are quite significant, especially if, like us, you spend quite a lot of money acquiring fans and it then becomes difficult to speak to them because of the changes to the algorithm. That’s making us think about how much we should be investing in Facebook if, in the future, every time you want to post, you have to pay.
I don’t know if Facebook will react to that and the algorithm will change again. Or maybe we’ll just invest more in Twitter and elsewhere, because it’s not feasible to invest a lot on Facebook if you then have to promote each of your posts. That’s soon going to mount up if you want to post every day.
Social media has always been, essentially, free. You expect to be able to get stuff out without paying a large amount. If Facebook are changing their approach to monetize what they’ve got, I think brands will also change their approach to Facebook. There’s a lot to consider here: the frequency with which we post, what we do on Facebook.
Other than that, we’re seeing new social networks emerging, particularly more specialised sites. This can be quite confusing for brands because you need to know what’s emerging, whether it’s likely to be relevant and – if you want to be active in those spaces – there’s the question of resource.
I think more niche networks will appear and the question is whether the novelty of Facebook and Twitter will wear off. Will our relationships with those networks change over time? It’s important for most brands to be on Facebook and Twitter now, but in a few years’ time people may just get bored of interacting with brands there. That’s a consideration in the long term.
One of the other challenges we’ve faced recently has been as a result of changes to Facebook apps. Up until a year or 18 months ago, Facebook apps – which we’ve been using for competitions – were working really well for us. But as more and more people get smartphones and open our communications on a mobile device we’re facing more challenges. If you’re sending someone through to an app on Facebook, they need to be able to see that on a mobile.
More immediately, everything now needs to compatible with mobile and there are certainly times when I’ve tried to do something with Tumblr or Facebook via a mobile device and found I can’t. We all need to keep up with that. As far we’re concerned at Just Eat, our attitude is ‘mobile first.’
Interview by Jon Fortgang