Big or small, your business needs a long-term strategy to manage your identity in the online world and touch base with your customers. Here are a few tips….
Your Twitter fans are screaming for blood. Your brand page is getting spammed on Facebook. Online forums seem to be full of negative reviews for your product. You can’t figure out what to do with LinkedIn. It all looked so easy in the beginning. Relax, all is not lost! Whether your business is big or small you need to develop a philosophy and a strategy for your presence on social media and in the online space given the increasing number of people browsing for products and services online. There are a set of tenets by which your business should live by online to create maximum impact and engage with your customers and followers effectively. These are common sense for the most part — but not always easy to follow!
1. Let your hair down
Nobody likes bores-least of all the website-hopping 20 somethings who participate in the most online conversations. One of the most important things to do therefore is to let your hair down and build a personality for yourself on your social media channels. These can vary by medium (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) but you need to have something interesting to say and then say it in a fun way. It’s OK, nay essential, to have your brand create a unique voice and keep the conversations engaging. There are all kinds of approaches to do this including telling stories, talking about your team, do a fun daily contest, and a multitude of ways. Use what works for your business and your industry.
2. Remember those Ps & Qs?
It’s easy to get angry when someone rubbishes you online. Take a deep breath. Remember to stay courteous and polite. You are not talking to just one person-but to many 100s or 1000s or people who are viewing your exchange. Having equanimity and poise when dealing with your followers is super important. At most times it’s as simple as using ‘Please’ and
‘Thank you’ profusely! Some people will troll (an Internet term for those trying to annoy you) you
on social media. How you respond is as important is what you respond with.
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3. Listen…no I mean REALLY … listen to your customers
Social media is not a gimmick anymore (well it never was … but that’s a different story). It’s also not just about trying to look good in front of your customers. People have chosen to engage with your brand online and if they provide suggestions on your product or your service then you owe it to yourself to listen to them. If you fake it, your response reads like this: “Thank you for your feedback. We will bury it somewhere deep. We hope you forget about it and that you never bother us again”. Don’t do this. It takes a lot of effort to deal with the travails of a single unhappy customer but if you do and show you care you’re on your way to a succeeding online and creating a winning culture. Create specific processes so that feedback from your customers is reaching the technical support, marketing, sales, or product teams quickly.
4. “It’s hard for me I’m say sorry … “
Like the old Chicago song with this title — it really is hard to say you’re sorry. What will people think of you if you admit to a fault? Actually, in a ridiculously large number of cases they will respect you if you admit to failing and you are taking concrete corrective action. It’s OK to fail and it’s OK to say you screwed up. You will win more accolades by doing this than trying to provide layers of justification and obfuscate the issue. Try it — it works! Remember the golden rule for apologizing — first mean it and then say it.
5. Keep conversing
Being there for your customers and followers means being there at all times and continuing the conversation in real time. Responses are measured in minutes if not seconds. A response on Twitter which is 24 hours old is old news and says you don’t really care enough about the channel to respond quickly. Immediacy is critical. Also, you need to keep talking and content coming from your end at frequent intervals. Don’t look at this is a one way medium from your customers to you. It’s easy to tell if it’s working: in a conversation if you don’t have two-way communication then it’s not a conversation. A lot of brands’ social pages are just media to disseminate PR releases and announcements — that’s not really going to work unless you can create some discussion around it