Promoting your business

Customer sentiment on social media: are you listening?

Michael Karamallis of Fluffy Crunch is an entrepreneur, husband, father and the co-founder of Australia’s most awarded fairy floss. With a master’s degree in the Psychology of Coaching from the University of Sydney, he likes to joke, “I went to university to learn how to spin fairy floss!” But clearly the degree wasn’t wasted.

Fluffy Crunch has been a member of My Business since September 2020

Listening to your customers using social media and being able to pivot from an almost entirely events-based to an online business in a matter of weeks requires the ability to think deeply and apply learning.

Social media: The shopfront of the digital world

Michael Karamallis and his wife Paola were preparing for the Sydney Royal Easter Show when COVID-19 presented them with a bleak business future.

With only around 20% of their income coming from their online store, he made a tough decision to be vulnerable and open up about their struggles on social media. “We decided to share our story. We reached out to our customers and explained that we might have to close down.” The support poured in and, today, their online income has increased by 500%.

Learning from your customers

How did Fluffy Crunch pivot so quickly and effectively? The short answer is: foresight. By asking customers at events to follow them online and populating their social media with great images and stories, they had already created a small following on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

So when the time came to pivot, it was natural to ask their customers for help and advice on these platforms.

Reaching out to their following on Instagram and Facebook, asking their likes and like-nots, also allowed them to identify their key brand attributes. They discovered their three ‘Fs’: flavours, fun and family.

Fairy floss isn’t just for kids: it’s a nostalgic experience, a return to childish innocence and joy.

“Who wakes up one day and says, ‘Hey. I want to buy some fairy floss’?” he asks. 

“It’s not a need. But we’ve managed to create some excitement and joy around a fun product that tastes good.”

Karamallis’s psychology background helped him understand that while kids may be the primary consumers of fairy floss, they don’t own credit cards.

So they decided to use their marketing to share the child-like delight of fairy floss with everyone. And as it turns out, adults don’t just buy products for their children.

“We see mothers posting online saying, ‘My kids are in bed, so now I can finally get out my secret stash of Fluffy Crunch’,” Karamallis laughs.

But learning from this social-media-sourced insight is just one way Michael has used customer conversations to turn the feel-good factor of Fluffy Crunch into business success.

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Lessons from social listening

With more than 13,000 followers on Facebook and 21,000 followers on Instagram, the Fluffy Crunch team is able to connect with people in a way that allows them to spread the sweet joy with their friends online and make their taste buds happy in the real world. But monitoring customer sentiment on their Facebook and Instagram profiles also benefits their product offering and service.

For example, while the purchasing options on social media remove buying barriers, user feedback pointed out that in Fluffy Crunch’s case, it actually also removed an important aspect of their offering: personalisation. “The dynamic checkout seemed a logical option to use but, unfortunately, it didn’t provide the same experience as our website.”

It turned out, it was bypassing the preprogrammed ‘select a message, select a flavour’ process that was essential to the personalised, high-quality experience their customers were expecting. So after much deliberation, they decided to remove the purchasing option from their social media channels.

‘Social listening’ also enabled them to learn that their customers were craving more information and transparency about the Fluffy Crunch ingredients and allergens, which prompted them to add an allergen statement to their website.

Feedback also helped them realise that customers are already planning their Christmas shopping in September, which inspired them to start preparing Christmas-related products and promotions well in advance of anticipated demand.

Leveraging customers’ perceptions

Not all feedback is positive, but the value of fans’ comments, questions and interactions on social media is indisputable. Fluffy Crunch’s business decision-making has improved thanks to their social listening and interaction.

This has influenced product selection, packaging choices, marketing planning, the use of images, the engagement of micro-influencers and the frequency of giveaways and competitions.

“You will always get a small percentage of people who don’t agree with or like what you’re doing. I guess it’s about how you respond to it,” Karamallis says.

While Karamallis and his team can’t see the delight on fans’ faces when they eat fairy floss at an event these days, the online business is thriving.

Social media is helping fans share the child-like joy of eating fairy floss, while helping Fluffy Crunch expand their reach and acquire new customers at the same time.

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