Long gone is the time that marketers could push a message out to a social channel and be able to trust that their audience would see it. Now, with so many users and so many other messages, plus network algorithms that do not favour brands, it’s more difficult than ever to use social media as a traditional push channel. It means that it’s time to shift focus and start looking at social media as what it’s best used for: building one to one, meaningful relationships. Individuals who engage with you on social are likely to trust you more, have deeper loyalty and will be more likely to recommend your products and services to others.
Social media allows businesses to create meaningful 1 to 1 connection. People want to talk to people, not brands; they will more likely to recommend to others. It is important to give value to the engagement process. Too many individuals and businesses are using social media as a push channel, without thoughts about what the other person is thinking. B2B companies are especially guilty of this – but they don’t have to be! They simply need to understand the importance of building the relationship first, then share the marketing messages.
There is a large number of benefits that come with the efficient use of social media and engagement, here are a few of them:
· Build your brand
· Improve your reputation
· Answer questions
· Provide additional value (give advice, insights…)
· Amplify your reach (domino effect, WOM, engage more often, share material, tell others…)
· Increase customer loyalty
How can you do it?
This may all sounds very theoretical and far away from the reality of your business. It is not! Business do not have to start with huge and expensive campaigns to use social media. It is possible to take it ‘step by step’. Here is a list with some advice that you can take along with you and your journey through social media management:
· Respond to comments – be honest, transparent and personal
· Be funny
· Offer additional value
· Ask for a review
· Ask for product commentary
· Conduct polls
· Respond to comments in real-time: invite guests, conduct live demo, host live-show
· Tag guests
· Reference the amazing content of others
· Encourage readers to like, comment and retweet
· Consider starting a group
· Ask a question and respond to the answer
· Use emojis
Practicality of business
Social media use can also improve some vital parts of your business. For example, customer service will become ‘social customer service’. This will help driving brand awareness while selling more products and services. It will also humanise your brand so that individuals can have higher engagement and build loyalty. Last but not least, it can also drive revenue growth. Financial gain is part of this overall development. Sales will increase, fewer returns will be made as a result of social media self-service and both time and monetary savings will be made.
Customer point of view
Businesses need to be empathic and able to see from the other party’s point of view. It is fundamental to understand the pros and cons and follow a guideline to engage efficiently on social media. Here are some ideas that are worth remembering when working with customers online:
· Be on the channels where your customers are
· Respond to comments
· Have a service-level agreement (take action in a set amount of time, help set expectations from customers and check the quality of service)
· Have community guidelines
· Consider dedicated support handle
· Seek out engagement (offer help)
· Be authentic and human
· Commit a human resource to respond
· Connect your social customer service to an internal or call centre care team
· Develop a FAQ page (create videos or demos to educate people)
· Consider using a chatbot (for basic questions or direct customers, but they can seem impersonal)
· Determine when to take a conversation offline
Challenges of operating Social Media
It is not all easy as you might have understood by now, there is a high need of shared rules and guidelines. Your business might face challenges or even crisis while operating social media. Some behaviours simply can be avoided:
· Do not engage with a customer whose intent is to simply argue and publicly defame your brand
· Do not delete (or hide) comments or posts unless they go against your community’s guidelines
· Consider creating a crisis response plan to provide a framework for social response
· Understanding how to interact with your audience will build loyalty and affinity
· Create lists of individuals and companies that you want to build a relationship with and follow them.
· Provide value (give free info, advice, build trust!)
· Pitch at the right time and in the right way. NETWORKING early!
· Be authentic don’t use canned responses
· Contribute to groups (to prove expertise)
· Try different types of content formats (videos, infographic, clips…)
And remember, spam is everywhere, you don’t want to be lumped in with nefarious salespeople. Build a relationship first. Don’t invade spaces that may be personal and private. Be yourself!