It comes as no surprise that as a millennial working for a social media consulting agency, social media is one of my favorite things to discuss. But food comes in at a close second. When I started hearing about grocery delivery services on social media, I thought would give them a whirl. I tried the major players back in 2015 — Blue Apron, Green Chef, and Plated.
What started as a curiosity became a long-lasting brand relationship driven by the engagement from the team over at Plated. Today’s customers are looking for brands to feel invested in, and smart companies are honing in on this and attracting Millennials with online engagement. Plated has earned a winning spot among millennial customers through the work of their engagement team.
Let’s get a few things out of the way first. Plated can delight customers with excellent engagement because it’s built on a solid content marketing foundation. It’s what comes after that sets companies apart.
Social media, customer service, and marketing should be gears driving the same machine. If you’ve got great design, photography, and copy but can’t connect with customers on an individual level, you’re probably not going to create long-lasting brand advocates.
Like many millennials, I’m constantly using social media to document major trends in my daily life, which over the course of one week usually involves a great deal of food.
Enter Plated. Since the recipes are so creative (and tasty) I love sharing the photos once they’re done. As you can see in the screenshot, I posted a picture of chicken avocado burgers on Instagram with the hashtag #platedpics and tagged Plated in the caption. Plated returned the favor by liking the post!
This basic recognition can make a huge difference to someone new to the brand. And it’s free marketing for Plated from someone who loves their product — this is a customer service no-brainer.
In fact, social sharing is how many Millennials find the products they’ll eventually use. According to a recent INC article on Millennials as consumers, this is based on the psychological phenomenon of Social Proof, “the psychological concept that humans naturally look toward those around them to help make decisions.” Instead of seeing an ad promoting the product, you’re seeing a reputable source within your network promoting the product, which is a much different experience.
In an increasingly online world, Millennials are looking to social platforms to gauge which products are already in their network.
The statistics back this up. According to a CrowdTwist study on Millennials and social media, “43.5 percent of Millennials said they use social media to spread the word about products or services” And Plated knows it. One of the major ways these kinds of companies grow is by word of mouth recommendations, so it’s even more important for Plated to be validating their customers’ experiences with their product on a social sharing platform. Attracting Millennials with online engagement isn’t just valuable for Plated, it’s critical to their continual growth as a company.
This time, Plated liked the photo and left a comment, saying that my image was so good they wanted to share it in their official marketing materials! As a customer, this made me feel special and valued.
Engagement like this is so worthwhile for a company that gains customers through social means. And it probably took very little effort for Plated to accomplish this engagement. The ROI is huge.
According to one Forbes article, “62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks, but to engage them.”
Then Plated goes even further by spotlighting fan-made meals with their weekly email alerts regarding your order. It creates more marketing opportunities by giving instructions on how to share while recognizing the efforts of those already sharing. It also plugs the blog, giving customers another pathway to stay connected with the brand.
When there is a strong partnership between the social customer care team and the marketing team, attracting Millennials with online engagement is easy.
2. Plated engages with comments
So, Plated knows how to reach out to its loyal fans. What about on its home turf?
Many brands in the same arena aren’t keeping up with comments— good or bad. Plated (and their social customer care team) makes a habit of engaging with comments on their own posts and giving thoughtful, non-bot responses, clearly attracting Millennials with online engagement. See the following activity on a popular Plated post:
Clearly, the team over at Plated is categorizing incoming engagement and responding to fans who are sharing their favorite grilled cheese, as indicated in the call to action included in the copy of the post. This is a great example of content marketing and engagement working together to create a seamless social media experience for the customer, increasing the likelihood of creating brand-loyal advocates.
3. Plated provides next-level customer service
Social customer care only works if you have excellent follow-through both online and offline. Can you help a customer navigate a problem and come out the other side a satisfied advocate of your brand? Customer care is full of opportunities to delight your customers when a problem arises by going above and beyond.
A few months ago, I had an unusual dilemma that needed the attention of the Plated customer care team. After sending boxes of Plated to a few friends for them to try, we cooked a meal together that I absolutely loved. When I wanted to cook it again a few weeks later over the holidays, I realized that my own account didn’t have access to that recipe because technically I never ordered it.
Knowing this, I decided to give it a shot and start a quick live chat with the Plated team regarding my situation. Plated quickly responded with a personal touch. After a brief live chat, it became clear that a phone call would be more helpful for the nature of my request. In no time, I was on the phone with Dylan from Plated, asking for more information about what I remembered about the recipe so he could find it and send it to me ASAP. Even though I had never purchased that recipe, Dylan was completely accommodating of my request. Minutes later, the recipe card was waiting in my inbox, ready for me to use that night to cook dinner with my family.
Then I pushed the envelope a little further. How far would Plated go to help me have the best experience with their product? A few days later I was cooking for my relatives again and wanted to prepare the following recipe:
But I had cooked it before and didn’t like how much prep work went into the acorn squash. I reached out again to my man Dylan— could he recommend a substitute for the acorn squash? And how would that alter the recipe?
Through live chat, he said he would contact one of their expert chefs to find out exactly how to meet my cooking needs. He got back to me with a quick call about the substitute: red bell peppers. But was waiting for the chefs to give him the specific recipe alterations. I then received this email:
Dylan had consulted with the cooking geniuses over at Plated to create customized instructions for my personal use. It felt like I was a VIP customer!
Surely Dylan has tired of my lavish requests at this point, but I would never know from his level of care and professionalism throughout the entire communication process.
Dylan never made my requests seem like a problem or inconvenience. He was on my team trying to improve my Plated experience even more.
But what about when something actually goes wrong?
I spoke with one Millennial and avid Plated customer about her experience with a delivery error:
“I absolutely love Plated for so many reasons. I honestly can’t think of a meal that I didn’t enjoy and reminisce about days later.
However, not every experience I’ve had with Plated has been ideal. A couple of weeks ago I had my box delivered on the wrong day; it was supposed to arrive on a Saturday but didn’t get dropped off by FedEx until the following Tuesday. Not only did this throw off my meal planning for the week, but I wouldn’t even be able to salvage the food when it arrived on Tuesday because it would have been sitting out in the heat for two days.
But there was a silver lining in this crummy situation and it was Plated’s customer experience team. I called to speak with a representative as soon as I realized my box hadn’t been delivered at its usual time that Saturday and was greeted with a very friendly/helpful Plated team member. While the source for the mishap was never uncovered, I was provided with solutions to my problem. The representative kindly provided a protocol for handling the box when it finally did arrive, said she would call FedEx to uncover where the miscommunication came from and offered a credit to my account after losing those meals.
While this definitely was a frustrating situation, in the end, it didn’t ruin my respect for the company.
I still order from Plated every week and still get excited whenever I see what my weekly menu options are. My one bad experience didn’t overshadow this company’s excellent customer service, delicious product, and convenience.” — Sarah
This is how you not only solve your customers’ problems but also turn them into opportunities to be impressed with your brand.
Plated from the Millennial perspective
Just to make sure I wasn’t the only rabid Plated fan in the millennial category, I polled a few other millennials between the ages of 22- 34 who’ve become brand-loyal to Plated. Here’s what they had to say:
“I love posting my newest ‘creations’ on Facebook!”— Amy
“Their recipes are much more unique, giving me the experience of a tailored high-end service”— Kevan
“Many of my friends enjoy Plated like me, but I can’t try every new recipe every week. It’s great being able to see what they’re making on social media” — Anne
“I like that Plated is so accessible. If something’s wrong with my order, they’re on top of it as soon as I let them know.” — Rachel
“I would never say no to free groceries, so when someone sent me a box I thought I would just try it and forget about it. But now my whole family uses it and I’ve even recommended it to a few friends” – Elliott
Clearly Millennials value high-quality customer service and the potential to share experiences with the brand on social media. A highly-trained social customer care team can make all the difference between a passive consumer and a long-lasting brand loyal customer, especially for Millennials.
As luck would have it, the team at SocialPath Solution loves creating comprehensive social customer care strategies to implement within your own industry. Combining content marketing and a social customer care team is a powerful force for attracting Millennials with online engagement, and we’re just the experts to help you start captivating brand-loyal customers of your own.