Italian restaurant chain Carluccio’s has managed to rip up the content plan and take a new approach to social media. Tom Harvey, new client director at drinks and hospitality specialist YesMore, and he can outline the new approach, how it works and why it’s working well for Carluccio’s.
A key part of any client relationship in social media world is the content plan. Posts across all platforms are discussed, written and approved in advance. Everyone is comfortable, happy and feels secure that they’ve ticked all the right boxes.
Except – this approach is essentially not social. It’s advertising, one way messaging at set times that doesn’t respond to the world around it. It is fundamentally a broadcast model – which isn’t what social media was set up to do, and doesn’t offer a genuine, responsive, human and frankly, a particularly sociable experience for followers and fans.
Another key part of any client relationship in social media is trust. So with our client Carluccio’s, we’ve come up with a model that rips up the rulebook – and the content plan.
This model allows us – and therefore Carluccio’s – to tap into the mood of the nation, respond to events and ensure appropriate timing for posts. It’s a more responsive, human and natural way of interacting.
Rather than a content plan, we now have a checklist model. We have a monthly meeting to discuss the essential things Carluccio’s needs to talk about the following month. We add into that a general marketing calendar of nationally important dates – things like Mother’s Day, Valentines Day, Italian holidays, etc – to form a list of things the client wants to talk about.
From these, we create a top 10 priority issues list. The client provides any essential images and assets, and signs off any images we could foresee using. Images used are the only thing signed off ahead of time.
The rest is up to us, with no further sign off. We post through the month with the targeting, timing and copywriting coming naturally from YesMore. We know what makes the audience tick and have first hand experience of what works best. We can respond to good weather, trending topics, positive news stories – and unlike when content and timing are pre planned, it’s easier for us to avoid things that are insensitive, badly timed and that are destined to be overlooked. Content plans can generally predict the mood on a bank holiday but not on any random Wednesday – but humans can. And in turn, we respond to people with that same level of insight and sociable interaction.
One example of when this model worked well was when around the Royal Wedding this year. A story appeared in the press about Amalfi lemons in Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake. And we were able to talk about Carluccio’s Sofia Spritz with Italian lemons from our Content Checklist in a genuinely natural and relevant way, with a hook that we wouldn’t have known about when preparing a content plan a month before.
Of course, this model is based on a level of trust between the client and agency. Carluccio’s is leading the way here with a recognition that social models need to evolve to be more sociable – and has the bravery to make those changes and trust their agency partners.
There will of course be times when things don’t quite hit the mark. We have a post-event feedback model, where if the client feels the tone is wrong, they will tell us after the fact and we adjust and learn. No-one is blamed for missing the mark, we’re one united team and we learn and evolve together. Likewise, if mistakes are made, we react in a genuinely sociable way – by acknowledging them and apologising if we made a mistake, just as a human would. Because we are humans.
Contractually, responsibility is shared for any errors – though serious errors are normally human mistakes, such as cross posting, or, in other models,actually caused by mistakes in copy/pasting from a content plan (!) – so the risk is no greater in this model than with a content plan.
And the positives far outweigh these risks. We can assess the national mood, it gives us flexibility, speed and a more human tone of voice and interaction. On top of this, it saves time and budget for the client – the time that was once spent on pre-writing, formatting and labouring over the content planning is now spent on posting more content.
Of course, this model also acknowledges the huge impact that social media can have on a business – and as such, it isn’t a way of working that can be ‘handed over to the intern’. Some level of solid experience and senior level oversight will always be necessary. But, frankly, given the power of social media today, that is how it should be.
By Tom Harvey
Alcohol marketing specialist and founder