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Q&A with PuzzleBox Filipina VP: how to make social media relevant to brands

PuzzleBox BPO, Inc. has gained a name among the fastest-rising business process outsourcing (BPO) companies in the Philippines when it comes to marketing services like social media management and multimedia creative solutions. In this Q and A interview, PuzzleBox co-founder and vice president Apple Esplana-Manansala reveals the social media trends that marketers should be aware of, and how to use them for maximum impact in their campaigns.

Q: Let’s talk first about social media management. What are the trends today that businesses and brands should take note of, and why?

AEM: Brands should look at why they should opt for shorter operations for the management of social media sites or websites. This is because being online means you must be ready 24×7. We can manage the social media platform beyond the usual 8 hours x 5 days operations. The community managers handling the brands are all full-time employees working at our office.

Some companies allow staff to work from home which results in cheaper rates but not necessarily in efficiency. On the other hand, our operations are built to manage the work 24×7. For international brands, it even comes out more cost-efficient because they are able to optimize operating time by using the same core team for different parts of their operations based in any part of the world.

A brand can serve their local market and also other operations in other parts of the world. They can talk to just one outsourcing partner who they can trust with confidential information. The client company can save time and money by doing this.

Q: Many business owners tend to think that social media is just creating a Facebook or Instagram page and then just adding comments, photos, and videos regularly. But how does a brand really make an impact with these tools?

AEM: Many brands are available in social media, but they lack focus when it comes to engaging their fans and audience. Some of them actually take for granted the power that social media can make for them.

The importance of social media lies in creating awareness for the brands and making sure the fans are engaged. Brands must realize that their social media platforms is a good avenue to help improve their sales performance. These days, Facebook page has become an avenue where customers can make or reserve for orders.

These platforms can reach a wider audience without the brand overspending. But the ones who manage brands have to realize that there is no specific formula to follow. Social media strategy is a process that their brands have to experience, to see how it can continually make them a preferred brand in the market.

Q: You also do social media content management. How do you marry social media and content marketing?

AEM: There are two important but different functions in social media management. We have different people doing the strategy and content for postings. These are creative people who can write and do graphics.

Separately, we have people with a background in customer service who take charge of the day-to-day operations of the pages. They are the community managers who talk to the fans. They ensure that the page is sanitized and that the fans are engaged in a very timely manner that keeps them happy and makes them stay on the page.

“When a page is actively talking to its followers, it spreads the word that it is a customer-friendly avenue for conversations and suggestions. Even complaints can be solved.”

Q: Can you give us an example of a campaign that you did successfully using social media? What were the objectives? What were the solutions you offered to the challenges? What were the overall results?

AEM: We managed a Facebook page that needed to react and talk to a mass community. The brand is politically-related but mainly focuses on community service for a key city personality. The challenge was that the page cannot end up with just ads, as it is an avenue where netizens can talk to the personality directly. We implemented active social operations management and a maximum of 24-hour reply time to comments and DM’s on the page. The page, which started with less than 3,000 followers, has grown to almost 1M followers organically just by word of mouth.

This case study shows that when a page is actively talking to its followers, it spreads the word that it is a customer-friendly avenue for conversations and suggestions. Even complaints can be solved. Soon, more and more people will reach out to the page and make it part of their regular online visits.

Q: Let’s talk about content marketing now. Again, what are the trends that businesses and brands should know of, and why?

AEM: The current trend is video content. The authenticity and uniqueness of the experience is something that a lot of people must find relatable. Also, user-generated content (UGC) had always been and is still an effective kind of content for the brand, especially in encouraging fans to try out the product you are marketing. A lot of online reviews are generally UGC’s.

Q: Who are your target markets? What industries do they belong to? Are there specific strategies for specific companies, like what may work for financial firms may not necessarily work for retail and FMCG? Or does the one-strategy-fits-all-sizes approach still work?

AEM: Our services work on two fronts. One is business to customers/client directly. If you manage a brand and want to expand your online presence rapidly, then you look for partners like us.  The other front is business to business. In this case, we can work with a business who is offering almost the same services that we have but cannot expand right away. These companies can extend their services and white-label the servicing through us. This way, they are able to expand their business in a more comfortable and more cost-efficient manner.

“The current trend is video content. The authenticity and uniqueness of the experience is something that a lot of people must find relatable.”

Q: Tell us more about your young and dynamic team. What are their specialties? How do they keep your customers engaged? How do they keep up with the ever-changing trends in the market?

AEM: Aside from training, our team members learn a lot from their hands-on experience which we allow them to explore. Our team handling social media management learns through operations, that’s why the learning is deeper. Our team members are curious when it comes to learning, and we encourage them to keep it that way. Our managers are reminded to always be aware of the top news and the new developments in the technology and platforms so that we can share the same to our staff and clients.

On the business perspective for both fronts, our edge relies on the fact that we can help a company grow the number of staff faster than traditional hiring. This is the main challenge for many companies. At PuzzleBox, we make it a point to keep training staff and ensure they are evaluated properly. We believe that a good feedback system allows our team members to improve themselves and therefore improve our services.

Our engagement depends on the brand’s direction. Some brands just wanted a more corporate approach while others want to have more friendly interaction with their customers to result in increased comments on the page.

Q: How does a Philippine BPO market remain attuned to the marketing needs of clients that are based overseas? How do you get their pulse? How do you make sure your creatives are on the spot?

AEM: The Philippines is one of the centers of social media platforms in the world. In Asia alone, we have the greatest number of Facebook users.

Keeping ourselves updated with these platforms such as social media, apps, games or websites enables us to cope with the market trends. Whenever we find something new, we never hesitate but share it to our clients. We then recommend how these might help them build up their plans, targets, and brand value as well as improve their strategies and overall online performance.

Q: Tell us your growth rate and accomplishments the past years. What are the reasons behind them? What propelled you to success?

AEM: We understand that we have a competitive market. It is noteworthy and heart-pumping to see brands or companies growing their business and expanding their market with our help.

Q: What are your plans for the future that you would like to share?

AEM: We would like to grow our business locally and globally. We would like to inform more brands/companies that they should always have access to the best option. If they opt to be available online, they should be ready with fairly good and relatable content. They should also be ready to talk to their market/fans/audience who are beyond the norm of operations that they handle in-house. If they believe that their brands don’t sleep online, then they should start thinking of expanding their working or operating hours beyond the usual 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. working hours. When they reach that point, that’s when they look for partners like us.

Aside from social media operations, in the coming years, we will focus on our development portfolio. We have created and handled e-commerce sites and want to make brands aware of how they can use them more efficiently.

Other than our usual call center services, we have game and app development services for brands, events, or promotional campaigns. More important, we have always wanted to challenge the market by proving to them that efficiency doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. Companies like us do exist – we are in the business of partnerships. Any of our services can be customized depending on what their current need is, and we can even tailor-fit the service according to their budget.