How ProFlowers Manages Social Media (And How You Should Too)

Managing a social presence for a brand - large or small - is tough and anyone who says it isn't, hasn't been responsible for proving social's ROI, creating engaging content or responding to customer complaints.


Some brands, however, seem to have all the social media magic. ProFlowers, a Provide Commerce brand, is one such enterprise that sets the bar for what social media for business should look like. As such, Website Magazine caught up with Greg Chapman (pictured), ProFlowers' chief consumer experience officer, to chat all things social and commerce.


What are the top two goals for ProFlowers when it comes to their social media efforts? 

Chapman, ProFlowers: Social media is an important part of our overall marketing strategy. Our goal at ProFlowers is to utilize our social media platforms to both create brand awareness and deepen engagement with our audience.  We find ways to genuinely connect with our customers and constantly communicate with them, offering insightful tips, discounts and entertaining content that is relevant and our customer wants to engage in. It's a great way to increase the visibility of our brand and attract our target consumer segments.

Customer email and direct mail are important parts of our communication strategy; and like most companies, we maintain a strong relationship with our audience through our house file. However, these forms of communication are disruptive forms of push marketing. I like to utilize social media as a way to maintain a relationship with our customers without disruption - they 'pull' our brand into their social network. Social media is now such a normal part of everyone's day and we want to listen to our customers and interact with them genuinely through this medium.

How does ProFlowers measure the business value of social media? 

Chapman, ProFlowers: It's more than just about likes. Since our goal is to create and maintain strong relationships with our customers, the measurement needs to reflect engagement and a positive brand sentiment, not just "likes." We strongly believe that if our content is good and it's resonating with our consumers, it will be reflected in the overall platform engagement rate. 

So, we measure how many people have viewed a single piece of content (e.g. a Facebook post) vs. engaged with the content. That shows us whether the content is resonating with our audience and whether it's compelling enough to engage with and attract the right customer. We also look at a number of other important metrics like sentiment.

Website Magazine editors found it particularly impressive last Valentine's Day when ProFlowers not only responded to customer service inquiries it was mentioned in on Twitter, but also humanized its brand by sending out this Tweet:

What can you tell me about ProFlowers' approach to customer service on social media, particularly Twitter? 

Chapman, ProFlowers: Our mission is to deliver a "wow" experience that makes gift givers heroes in the eyes of their recipients. Customer service is always our #1 priority, and ProFlowers has provided top-notch customer service for decades - it's at the heart of what we do. We deliver fresh and colorful floral bouquets ready to bloom for at least 7 days, every time, or we make it right - no matter what. 

We've carried that belief and experience into the social media space. We have a dedicated social media customer service team whose sole job is to react and respond to both negative and positive tweets, every single one. 

When Winter Storm Pax arrived over Valentine's Day this year, we got ahead of the chatter on social media and proactively sent an email to our customers informing them that the weather may upset their delivery. We also tweeted to let our customers know that they could take a full refund or $20 toward their next purchase. 

That tweet was a part of our overall strategy that entailed genuine, transparent and constant communication of all forms to our customers. We continuously monitored the situation in real-time, 24 hours a day, and kept communicating-not only responding to each and every person on social media, but also proactively communicating to show them that we care. We tried to really humanize our responses to show that we are people too and that despite the storm, we are here for them. 

Twitter was just one platform that we used to listen to our consumers, but also to show them how we are here for them. We created brand loyalty out of a very challenging situation.

What did ProFlowers' social team learn about social media customer service from this past Valentine's Day and how will those lessons shape its customer service/social media efforts moving forward? 

Chapman, ProFlowers: We learned about the power of social media and how important genuine, transparent and consistent communication is with our customers. Based on lessons learned from the Valentine's Day crisis, we took steps to ensure that we are always prepared to communicate with our customers and respond to their needs instantly on all our communications channels, including customer emails, our website, social media, and the media-at-large. 

Since then, we have doubled our social media customer service team presence during peak times to ensure quick turnaround times on responses. It's all part of making sure that our customers understand we're here to take care of them and that we stand behind every single order. 

What ProFlowers social media initiatives do you find most effective/successful/interesting and why?

Chapman, ProFlowers: We develop content that is highly targeted to our consumer segments and find that providing floral expertise and tips through social media is very effective. Flowers and plants are at the heart of what we do and our audience enjoys educational how-to's and interesting floral content.

Generally, our successful social media initiatives have been part of an integrated campaign approach. We collaborate with the broader organization and leverage partnership and campaign activities that our marketing and PR teams create. 

For example, when the PR team forged a partnership with Warner Brothers, making ProFlowers the official floral partner of hit romance reality series The Bachelor, it gave us an opportunity to develop compelling content that reached a key target segment. Our Facebook contests granting winners a trip to the show's After the Final Rose grew our fans by 10,000+ and significantly increased engagement. 

The broader team also created a Mother's Day brand activation event in New York's Grand Central Station called "Ain't Mom Grand." The campaign was a partnership with our sister brand Shari's Berries and we created a genuine celebration of moms. We built a giant wall of flowers made of 15,000 fuji mums and roses and a 600-pound wall of chocolate chips. 

It was a chance for us to interact directly with our consumers  at one of the busiest times of the year for the floral industry and to truly celebrate moms in a grand way. We offered a chance for people to tweet or Instagram adoration to their moms through an engaging and stunning floral backdrop. The content in social media was astoundingly positive. Sentiment went from 35 percent to 73 percent positive by the conclusion of the event.