From spring cleaning to coping with wasps: how a leading pest-control specialist is using social media in conjunction with a pioneering monitoring service to drive brand awareness and increase customer engagement.
Do you have a pest control problem? If so, take it online and help may come quicker than you might expect. Like many other large global brands, Rentokil, the market leader in pest control, is so convinced that social media is a crucial area of brand awareness and customer engagement that it has a dedicated social media team tasked to listen and connect with customers online.
The online conversations Rentokil is looking out for are picked up, managed and responded to using multi-language listening and tracking services from SentimentMetrics.com, with the aim of driving customer engagement and satisfaction as well as increasing the amount of enquiries for pest control services.
Part of the Marketing Mix
Alicia Holbrook, social media manager at Rentokil, is part of the firm’s global marketing and strategy team and is responsible for social media campaigns and interactions. “At the moment we focus on pest control, but we are starting to use the SentimentMetrics.com solution for other parts of the company that don’t have a dedicated social media team, such as Rentokil Initial and City Link,” she says.
Rentokil chose Sentiment Metrics over competitive social media monitoring solutions because it contained the tools needed to cope with the requirements of a worldwide organisation. “One of the main reasons we chose the Sentiment Metrics service was because of its multi-language functionality,” says Holbrook. “As we are a global firm, we needed a tool that could monitor social media in different countries and then translate it.” Interestingly, Alicia Holbrook reports that Rentokil generates much more traffic from Monday to Friday, which indicates to her that it is mostly business users commenting about the firm in the social media space or seeking an answer to a particular problem.
“Most traffic happens on a Tuesday,” she says. “This could be because on a Monday, the facilities manager may think ‘right, we really need to sort out the bird problem in the car park.’ By Tuesday, they may actually have the time to research it and find out how they can get rid of the problem in the car park. “I’ve also noticed that business users tend to Tweet more from their personal accounts, rather than their business accounts, saying things like; ‘We’ve got rats – what do I do?’ or ‘Something has eaten my carpets, what do I do?’”
Like all big brands, having the latest tools to proactively engage with customers in the fast-moving social media market was a big driver for adopting a social media monitoring service. Yet, according to Holbrook, the reason it was adopted was also in response to a Twitter ‘following’ strategy that unexpectedly backfired. “Getting SentimentMetrics.com was a direct result of all the criticism we had around Twitter in the early days of us using social media,” she says. “When you join Twitter, you get invited to follow like-minded people. So we followed people in the pest control industry or those who had one of our key words as their interest etc. Some of the people we followed came back and said “Why is @Rentokil following me?” and this was picked up in the press.
“So we got the SentimentMetrics.com service to see what people were saying about us so that we could respond fast. Since we got the tool, there have barely been any negative mentions. On reflection, the whole experience was a learning curve.”
With past experience in mind, Rentokil has changed to a less bullish and more informative strategy to generate awareness of its brand messages and campaigns. Rather than give up, the pest control specialist is working towards long-term goals. “With a platform like Twitter, in order to attract followers you need to put in the groundwork,” says Holbrook.
“The longer you put out content and the more interesting the things you Tweet are, the more successfully you naturally build up a follower base. Now, we don’t actively attract people to follow us, we just pick them up as the months progress. In turn, this has led to a more loyal follower base.”
Listening, learning and engaging
Since it was implemented in 2010, having the ability to measure, analyse and understand what is being said about the Rentokil brand online through the use of SentimentMetrics.com has helped Alicia Holbrook and her colleagues to proactively engage with customers and maintain brand integrity.
“The speed of response with social media is crucial – people want an answer and they want it fast,” she says. “Using a tool like SentimentMetrics.com is quite essential for this as if you don’t have the ability to listen, you can’t respond. “We react to all kinds of feedback, whether positive or negative. While we are very aware that if you respond on Twitter it is a very visible platform, when people have problems we need to be able to hear them so that we can act to correct it. Similarly, if a customer Tweets us to say ‘thanks for doing a great job’ we need to acknowledge that in order to build relationships.”
On the campaign trail
As well as effectively turning around its Twitter policy for a more positive outcome, Rentokil has also been turning its attention to other social media platforms and is using them to drive traffic to each other. “We have only just started using Facebook, so that is an area we will be looking to improve on this year,” she explains. “Our blog has been very effective and Twitter has been very good at promoting and spreading the word, helping us to double visitor numbers year-on-year.
“We also use social media to put out campaigns and we can use HootSuite to measure key words. We can’t, however, use it to measure who is saying what on forums, which is where the SentimentMetrics.com tool is particularly useful. Recently, we had a lot of activity following our #SpringClean campaign, which we worked with Mumsnet and other parenting forums on. In it, we gave the top five spring cleaning tips from TV personality and home cleaning expert, Aggie Mackenzie.
“Our next major campaign is #UKWaspWatch, which runs throughout the summer and has a dedicated web page, Facebook page and Twitter account. We hope that the Sentiment Metrics tool will be able to measure the whole depth of this cross-platform campaign. The information gathered from #UKWaspWatch will be of use to local councils, pest controllers and schools and seeks to combine education with fun!
However creative the campaign, Alicia Holbrook is clear that it should have a clear link to the overall Rentokil brand message: “Every social media communication that we push out in this and in other campaigns is underpinned by our brand message that we are the experts in pest control,” she says.
“In the wasp campaign, the way we achieve this is to educate people about pests as well as practical issues such as how to deal with stings and what you should do if you come across a wasps nest, etc. It’s not about the hard sell. What we hope is that if someone types ‘wasps nest’ into a search engine, for instance, it will come back with some useful information for them.”
Driving a tangible ROI?
While Rentokil has noted a direct correlation between last year’s wasp campaign and a 146% rise in enquiries to deal with problem nests, Holbrook believes that focusing attention on one social media strategy outcome – be it sales or otherwise – is a mistake.
“Should brands use social media as a brand awareness tool or a customer service tool?” she muses. “I believe that it should be both because social media crosses so many areas of business and marketing. You have to weigh up how well social media is driving traffic to the website and converting to sales and, also, how well it is driving brand awareness. Social media isn’t just about ROI - it’s also undoubtedly about amplifying your brand.”