Social Media has opened the floodgates and allows customers to directly communicate with companies through vast and responsive platforms. Customers can virtually interact with all their favorite brands with a simple tweet or Facebook post, an ability that was nearly impossible just ten years ago.
Connecting with customers is always an integral portion of any brand’s digital marketing strategy— B2B or B2C—and open communication with your clientele establishes trust. Creating an open communication strategy on social media is difficult, and with lots of moving parts and various platforms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We’ve identified the four most effective ways to create and manage a strong social media strategy and develop the best connections with customers.
1. Be Responsive
All successful social media managers share the same skill; their quick turnaround time when responding to customers. Notifications and alerts are key to staying aware of messages flooding into client’s accounts: and luckily there are a vast number of social management tools out there to help social media managers oversee day-to-day social media engagement and activity. With Hootsuite, Buffer, and Twitter Stream offering a bird’s-eye view of real-time data; having a tool to manage multiple platforms with multiple clients is key to keep on top of what your customers are saying.
When dealing with customer complaints, all messages, posts and tweets should be responded to in a timely matter. When a customer is unhappy they are expecting a quick response to their complaint and the earlier a problem is solved, the better. Leaving a disgruntled customer in the dust is going to make them even more upset, and can lead to another slew of anger-filled tweets – not exactly the PR any brand is looking for. Get into the groove of checking in on your platforms at least 3-4 times a day, spread out in the morning until the evening. It’s also beneficial to log on natively to a social media page (e.g. Facebook.com, Twitter.com) at least once a day to make sure nothing is missed.
2. Be Human
No client or customer wants to hear a generic tweet or Facebook message – they want it to be personalized and sympathetic. When a customer writes a post on Facebook, always include their name (and same with Twitter, include their handle) to make a formal introduction. Even if a request may seem out of the ordinary or a bit over the top, never let your personal opinion show in any public form of interaction. Always respond with an apology and ask for an in-depth explanation, and don’t skip over the issue just to alleviate the problem.
Social media managers are public representatives of their brands: being a reputable and understanding voice of concern will build trust between the customer and company. Think of the golden rule when it comes to any form of communication; treat others how you would want to be treated.
3. Be Aware
The public nature of communication on social media has led to a variety of issues for brands. When complaints arise, it’s impossible to prevent customers from grumbling about their experiences, but you can use communication and empathy to prevent complaints from spiraling out of control publically.
Always respond openly first, to show the customer and the public your brand’s concern, then ask to settle the dispute privately in a Twitter or Facebook message. You may have to tweak a few security settings to enable this, but private communication is both beneficial and more efficient for solving these issues. The customer can get as in-depth and detailed as they want without privacy being compromised.
4. Be Prepared
Social media is a vast ocean of opportunities—both good and bad—but any social media manager must be prepared for the worst. Some brands will be more susceptible to public complaints than others; take AT&T as an example.
A leading provider in phone and internet service, they market to a vast majority of customers who will inevitably experience some sort of problem with their service, and imagine just how unhappy those customers can be! AT&T has developed a strategy addressing complaints. AT&T social media managers first message customers publicly, asking them to message a specific profile with their problems. After receiving a direct message, they have a customer service rep follow up with a phone call to dilute the issue verbally. After the issue is settled, they have another follow-up call to make sure all has settled. This approach is strategic, organized and effective, and their response is accessible and human. In the end, problems are solved by providing multiple methods of communication and regular follow up until a problem is truly resolved.
It is key to have a strategy developed prior to launching any sort of social media profile. Know what to say to customers in certain situations and how to solve problems. Not having the answers to every question is common, but being equipped to understand potential issues is a step in the right direction.
Overall, the road to client and customer relationships on social media starts with recognizing the inevitable and preparing for the worst. Being ready for every situation and respectful of customer concerns are requirements for customer happiness and will help to set your brand on the path to success.
Would you like help managing your social media? Get in touch with us today.