why bother Bunnings? oh, you haven't

One of my favourite examples of social media engagement is the Peter Shankman Mortons story (the Morton’s Steakhouse turned up with a free steak meal as he landed at Newark airport, after his joke tweet had requested it). The free publicity and branding this resulted in for Mortons was gold. And yet they probably did it as a lark – what if we REALLY did this, how cool would that be?

Mortons is a plush steakhouse chain in the States, and Peter is a fan. Even more so now, I bet, and the feeling would be mutual. Back in Australia, I frequent our humble fast food outlet, Hungry Jacks, usually as a treat for my kids (and yes, I admit it, for me). The other day we arrived just before noon to find the place packed, queues everywhere where too few and rather panicked staff were trying in vain to serve customers as more and more piled in. There were maybe 20 folks, all a bit disgruntled not sure where the queue was and when their order would be taken. Quite a few had been there a while already, so after five minutes of this I asked my son if we could go the the next door KFC instead. No one there. He wanted his burger so we persisted, but after a while more I said – “come on, let’s go KFC, nothing happening here”. And so we did. As I left I tweeted my disappointment to the Hungry Jacks twitter account.

Within an hour I had a personal message from Hungry Jacks central asking me to email them the location of the restaurant as they genuinely wanted to know why I had had such a poor experience. I was impressed someone at HJ was at least on twitter and watching the relevant streams.

Later I found myself in Bunnings, where sad middle aged men like me spend weekends walking aimlessly up and down the aisles looking for a particular tool or gizmo to help with some long lost DIY project. After an age, I had what I wanted, but was then alarmed to see about 50 people queuing at two checkouts (with about 7 checkouts empty and unmanned). I tweeted my annoyance to @Bunnings. Something about having run a small business myself, and one that relied on supreme customer service for survival, really bugs me when businesses don’t seem to care about their customers. They view us like a notch on a management spreadsheet, or seemingly so.

No reply from Bunnings, but of course I am not surprised as their Twitter account (see image above) lies dormant with a single tweet telling people to go to their website. What a missed opportunity, not just to view what people are saying about you, but to engage and connect with your customers. How useful could the Bunnings tweet be, if they just thought about how it could be applied. I hear some impressive agency is going to get them organised in that sphere. Lord help us. Get tweeting Bunnings. Think Mortons. Think what you could do with it (not an agency, YOU). Social media provides a company the golden opportunity to engage, connect, add value and (above all) listen.

About the author

Charlie has spent more than 20 years in Perth’s tech and startup sector, firstly as a founder himself, through to exit, and more recently as a writer, advisor and investor. Originally from the UK, Charlie worked in Singapore before arriving in Perth in 1997 to do an MBA at UWA. Graduating as top student in 1999 he set up online real estate business aussiehome.com, running it for 10 years before selling to REIWA, whereupon Charlie ran reiwa.com. In 2013, he moved to Business News to lead their digital transformation as CEO, and then worked for the federal government’s Accelerating Commercialisation program, funding pre-revenue startups and innovative businesses. He now works in an advisory capacity for multiple tech and other businesses, is managing editor of Startup News and co-host of the Startup West podcast. He also writes a column for Business News on startups. Charlie sits on the advisory boards of WA Leaders, TEDxPerth, WAITTA, the Perth Symphony Orchestra, and the full board of Rise Network.

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