Is Uber’s social media strategy a winner?

Fiona WhiteWhile Uber is seen as a leader in social media marketing Fiona White argues it is still being too selective about the channels it uses. 

The Australian launch of #UBERKITTENS on-demand yesterday has stirred up more than our obsession with all things tiny and fluffy. It has again highlighted Uber’s use of social media marketing, widely touted as pretty groundbreaking for a business that essentially sells urban transport.

So, are they revolutionising the industry? 

Influencer Strategy:

Uber referrals incentivise everyday influencers with ‘pull’ to spread the word via their social channels. The more influence you have, the more people in your network then use the code and the more credit is earned for the referrer. For Uber this means higher awareness and more new users – the perfect symbiotic relationship.

Kittens + the Internet = #WINNING:

uberkittyUber’s latest campaign demonstrates their ability to use popular culture to generate social buzz and PR.

‘Evolving the way the world moves’ (an excerpt from their website), Uber goes well beyond getting you from A to B, with ‘opening up more possibilities’ also present on their list of services. Delivering kittens for charity, ice-cream or flowers on Valentine’s Day perfectly communicate this brand proposition. The fact that the stunts are so incredibly shareable then amplifies the reach of Uber’s brand positioning around the world.

Be Likeable:

Community management is the human voice of a brand. Brands are up close and e-personal with their consumers, having one-on-one conversations for the world to see. I believe it is one of the most important things a brand can do. Alongside campaigns like #UBERKITTENS, communicating as a human being who is funny, helpful and admits when they are wrong makes a brand likeable and relatable. A brand that is our mate is a brand we will be loyal to.

uber-logoSo have Uber mastered the art of social media marketing? Not quite yet. The brand’s Facebook (both Australian and global) shows sporadic community management occurring, while on the Australian page they’ve removed the ability to post publicly on their wall entirely.

In contrast, the level of customer service on their Twitter page is strong both locally and globally, which leads me to believe that Uber have decided to use Facebook as a broadcasting platform rather than an engagement channel.

But how sound is this approach? While a brand can implement a strategy that aims to minimise the complaints or the use of a social channel as a customer service platform, ignoring the consumers trying to have a conversation with you, either happy or disgruntled, is a lost opportunity to engage, and to potentially turn a negative experience into a positive one.

This lack of customer care on social media does not appear to have hurt Uber so far. But what happens when infatuation fades and users have settled into a long-term relationship with a brand that struggles to listen?

  • Fiona White is digital marketing manager for Heinz Australia

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