Ever since social media came along, it has given businesses the opportunity to have two-way conversations with their customers, which is where social media enjoys a significant advantage over static websites.
Whilst websites can have interactive features such as comments and live chat, they do not generally offer the same level of interaction and fun, social way of communicating that social networking sites offer.
I first remember hearing about someone interacting with a big, usually uncontactable company through their blog back in 2008. The company was a telecommunications company, and a friend of mine had posted a blog about how much she was disliking that company at the time, due to issues she was experiencing with her phone, and the fact that she had got no joy by calling the company’s phone help line.
Surprisingly, the moment she posted her comment on her blog, the CEO of the company picked up on it from the other side of the world (the UK) and posted a response letting her know he had personally instructed the Australian team to fix the issue as soon as possible. You can imagine how much of the perception of the brand turned around from that one act of listening and responding, especially coming from the CEO.
Today, although you may not hear from the CEO, people do expect to be able to interact with your brand.
More and more people are also cottoning on to the fact that sitting on the phone for hours to resolve an issue is not exactly anyone’s idea of fun and are instead turning to social media as a nice public way to get a company’s attention, and quite possibly an immediate response.
Even as a small business with limited resources, it is actually not that difficult to tune in and listen to what people need and are saying about your brand or business on social media, even if you are not actively posting status updates. In fact I recommend that you do.
Using tools such as Hootsuite.com will allow you to monitor important search terms like your company name, any special products you own, any trademark, or even your name or staff names so you might pick up when people are talking about you. If they are, you can choose to respond, observe or another great trick is to refer the matter to management when you need to buy time to consider what the response will be.
I know some business owners already feel like they are online 24/7 and that it is all a bit much. But then again, if you have a smartphone and use apps like Hootsuite or simply the social media apps of each of the networks, monitoring these is as simple as seeing a little red ‘1’ when you have a new message, just like what you get when you have a text message.
Just think back to when text messaging first came out (if you are old enough to remember!) and it is likely in those early days you were not a fan, and preferred to pick up the phone to talk to someone. Nowadays, you probably realise that there is indeed a time and place for text messaging, and text message as second nature.
The same goes for social media. It will likely seem like ‘another thing’ when you get started, but over time as you get the hang of it could provide some great benefits.
The network most people will often turn to first when seeking support from your business, is Twitter. Consider Twitter a text message online, and even though you might have shut the office for the day and are not essentially ‘switched on’, with an internet enabled phone or tablet you are in fact switched on and connected 24/7 and even whilst you are in front of the telly if you have a message come in, you can choose to respond .if you want to, or when you next have a chance. The fact is you are aware, and to respond should only take you a few moments. It could welll be a problem averted for the next day and one less email or phone call to deal with. How good would that be!
Sometimes, you may find you enter into a conversation, and in order to maintain your company’s high customer standards and online reputation there may be a bit of back and forth. But you can’t put a price on that.
I hope this blog post has given you a few tips on how you could be interacting with your customers on social media.
- Do you already use Twitter as a way for customers to request support or let you know the issues they are experiencing?
- How do you find using it? Do you use extra tools?
- Do you respond to customers after hours online? Only in certain circumstances? What circumstances?
I would love for you to post your thoughts in the comment section below.