Since Nest Labs introduced its first learning thermostat in 2011, the brand has become nearly synonymous with the smart home industry. Acquired by Alphabet Inc. (Google) in early 2014, the Nest brand now includes an entire range of smart home and home automation products including programmable, self-learning, sensor-driven and Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, smoke detectors, security cameras and other security systems.
As Nest continues to grow as a brand, so does its social media platforms. The brand’s Facebook page has more than 500,000 Likes. Nest has more than 179,000 followers on Twitter, 71,000-plus followers on Instagram and more than 40,000 subscribers on YouTube.
So, what can inventors of smart home products and home automation solutions learn from Nest’s success on social media? Here are three tools inventors and product developers can apply to their own product’s social profiles.
Native video on Facebook
Facebook’s algorithms determine what types of content users see and are constantly changing, but one constant is the importance of native video. Facebook users respond well to both organic videos and paid video ads, and Facebook’s algorithms appear to be pushing video to the top of the newsfeed.
Nest uses videos on Facebook in two primary ways. First, it has created a series of short, 20-second-long, branded videos that show why a Nest product is better than the old way of doing things. For example, in a video promoting the Nest security system, someone is shown installing a traditional alarm control panel and destroying the wall in the process—and then someone is shown plugging in a Nest security system and walking away in order to show the simplicity of the company’s installation process.
Second, Nest relies on user-generated content to create shareable videos. Users are encouraged to submit funny or entertaining footage captured on their Nest cam, which Nest then re-posts to Facebook. Submissions include a dog climbing over a baby gate, an out-of-control mail truck, pets destroying a house and more. This brings us to something else inventors can do to promote their product on social media.
Encourage engagement via user-generated content
A significant portion of Nest’s social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are made up of user-generated content. One big initiative to encourage Nest users to submit content is the Nestie Awards. Nest hosts these awards yearly and encourages users to submit video caught on their Nest cameras. Anything from pets to baby’s first steps to time lapses and more are accepted, and winners are announced in various categories. Winners are given prizes that include a suite of Nest products, a free year of Nest Aware and a trophy.
User-generated content such as Nest cam videos helps improve a product or brand’s social media presence in two ways. It gives the social media manager more content with which to work. Social media requires you to post high-quality content quite often, and coming up with creative, original, quality content 365 days a year is not easy.
Also, and perhaps more important, fans love to see their content on social media and are more likely to interact with it. In the case of the Nest cam videos, not only is the person who submitted it likely to share it with friends and family once Nest posts it, but others are likely to share as well. This is an easy way to get more people looking at your content. A video posted in January of two pets destroying a house while their owner was away racked up more than 300 shares!
Provide another avenue for customer service and support
Social media is a great place for product-based brands to interact with their customers in a casual, real-time setting, and customer service and support is no exception. Nest does an excellent job of responding to their followers’ questions, inquiries and problems in a timely and helpful manner.
For example, consider one Facebook post for the Nest Secure. Two different Facebook users commented on the post, asking when Nest products would be available in other countries, and Nest responded promptly to both fans. Another user asked about promotions and pricing, and again, Nest’s social media management team provided more information about promotions Nest is currently running.
On another Facebook post, someone commented about an issue with his or her Nest thermostat setting itself to the wrong temperatures and not working with Amazon Alexa. Nest’s social media team offered several solutions and provided a link to an article on Nest’s website that could help troubleshoot the problem.
Overall, Nest does an exceptional job providing customer service and support on social media. When it can address the problem immediately, it does; when it can’t the company directs the user to the correct area on the website or to phone support. Quickly responding to customers is helpful because you are very likely answering a questions others have as well.
Additionally, Nest’s social media management team does a great job of balancing responding to comments and providing assistance with not provoking internet “trolls,” or those who post inflammatory, rude or negative comments just to incite an argument or create a negative environment. Generally, the best way to deal with trolls on social media is to ignore them. Often, a brand’s loyal customers will come to its defense, creating no need for the brand to get involved.
Whether you’ve invented and launched a smart home product or something else entirely, it’s always helpful to examine what other brands are doing well on social media and let that guide your own strategy. Looking at Nest’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts is a great place to find inspiration for your own social media profiles, especially if you’re promoting a smart-home or tech product.
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 print edition of Inventors Digest.