Using Social Media to Connect with Your Customers
media is an extremely powerful tool for capturing the attention of
future customers. Being present in the ever increasing social media
space is a basic requirement for any company looking to increase or even
maintain online sales. It’s even easier than ever to create profiles
and pages, as we have shown in previous blogs. Social media is not just a
one way street though, it was designed for interaction. Being open to
communication within your social media presence is a great way to
separate your company from the crowd and make it so your voice is heard
in the online marketplace.
Every social media site has built in tools that can be used to communicate with your customers. Knowing how each one works, what the limitations are, and best practices is crucial information to know. Let’s go over the tools within two of the largest sites: Facebook and Twitter
Posts within Facebook are open for nearly anyone to comment. What this means is you should never post anything you would not want people “talking about”. This sounds simple enough but it can get complicated. Your business’ Facebook page is not just a stream of information for many people, it is an opportunity for them to communicate with you. Engage those people by posting content you want them discussing. Get people involved in your business by asking questions in your posts. This is a great way to acquire live feedback regarding a product, possibly even something you have not released yet. Not everything you post will spark a discussion, but knowing the possibility exists can help you avoid any awkward situations or posts you might regret later. Once you have comments going on some of your posts, don’t forget to respond. You can reply directly to a comment (a specific person’s questions, for example) or comment in general. Using each of these methods to separate your answers can avoid confusion regarding who your comment was targeting. You can also tag people by name, but that sends them a notification which may seem a bit forward and for some seems to cross the “privacy” boundary. While you do not need to respond to every comment, keeping a dialogue going for the first few hours or days of a post shows your company is truly interested in an open dialogue with it’s customers.
many senses Twitter functions the same as Facebook. Posts become tweets
and comments become replies or mentions. The basic rules though, still
apply. Posting anything invites others to discuss what you said. The
difference is how responses work and it can get a bit complicated but
important to understand. You can respond directly to someone who replied
to your tweet. By default it will include your name in your response,
this is important as it keeps it as part of the entire discussion. In
essence when you respond to someone on twitter, who replied to one of
your tweets, you are responding to yourself and that person. If you
remove your name from the response it will not show up with all the
other replies. Managing how your replies might show, in similar fashion
to comments on Facebook, will help people from getting confused with who
you are responding to.
Types of customer interactions
The comments and replies you will get from customers will range in content but can typically be categorized into three types: compliments/praise, questions, and complaints. Each of these types requires it’s own approach and care should be taken to ensure your correspondence has the proper tone and communicates exactly what you mean.
These are easy to identify and respond to as these are people who are fans your company and simply want to let you know that. While they are not demanding information or have much in the way of questions you will still want to acknowledge them; people like to know they have been heard. Facebook and Twitter have several ways that let you acknowledge something without putting too much effort into it. You can like someone’s comment in Facebook or favorite someone’s reply in Twitter. This quick action goes a long way to let that person know you heard them and you appreciate what they said. You can take it a step further and, after a few similar comments are made, post a general comment thanking people for their support.
Often times customers will ask questions via social media. These may come in the form of comments on something you post or stand alone posts directly to your page. No matter how a customer reaches out using social media it is vitally important you at least acknowledge their question. Both the customer’s question and your response are viewable by the public, making your interaction a unique opportunity to showcase how much you actually care about your customers. If the question has an straight forward answer do not be afraid to respond with all the details needed to answer their query. Often times more than one customer may have the same question, they may even ask them near or around the same time, so being thorough with an answer allows you to handle multiple customers at once. If the question requires more information such as a customer’s contact information or you require more specifics about a customer’s needs to answer their question, it is best to move the discussion elsewhere. Direct a customer to your website or provide an email address or phone number. Often times a customer may stumble upon your social media page before knowing about your website.
These will be the hardest and most complicated of interactions you will handle, whether that is in social media, email, over the phone or in person. Social media adds the element of being publicly on display, so the content and method of your response must be tactful and considerate. The same principles for customer questions can be applied to complaints. If you can handle the complaint in your response, you should do so. This holds especially true if the complaint is regarding something you are aware of and many people are experiencing. While you may have released a statement about a defect in your product or service, responding to individual complaints about the same issue shows your level of attention to the issue. Some complaints cannot be handled in a few sentences though, and similar to questions may require more information from the customer. Redirecting a customer to your website, email or phone can be an effective way to corral complaints into the right direction. Be cautious of coming off as a robot by just pasting the same response over and over again; sometimes it is best to only respond to a select few complaints and reinforce your statement on an issue with a separate post.
Conversations = Sales
Social media was built for conversations, whether they are between two friends or a business and their customer. Maintaining your social media pages by keeping them up to date with current information will invite customers to engage you in conversation. Embrace these opportunities to connect with your customers in such a public space. These are moments of, essentially, free advertisement and a great chance for future customers to see your dedication to your business and those who pay for your services.