To use social media or not to use social media….this is no longer the question. Unfortunately for this archaic inquiry, times have changed- ifs turn into musts and this must is the captain of ’em all. Social Media is as integral to your marketing campaign as doing your taxes is to staying out of federal prison. Sound far fetched? It’s not. Now that we’ve made this point abundantly clear, let’s use some real life parallels to demonstrate my point. What if social media were real life….wait…it is.
Social Media, basically, expands customer relations into the digital realm. That means taking all those comment cards, phone calls, letters etc and putting them online in the form of Facebook posts, tweets, online reviews, chats, comments, the list goes on. What if your brand handled your social media the same way you did all that other traditional stuff? What would happen? Let’s run through a few scenarios:
The Social Version: A customer tweets about the AWFUL experience they had with your restaurant- from the food to the service, the whole ordeal was horrific and painful. This user has 150,000 followers on Twitter. You, as a business, do nothing, say nothing, heck, you didn’t even know it happened. Turn a blind eye. What’s Twitter anyway?
The Real Life Version: A customer verbally complains about their experience directly to you…you say nothing, do nothing, ignore them completely… in front of a crowd of 150,000 prospective clients.
The Social Version: A customer comments on your Facebook fan page regarding assistance they need with a product they recently purchased. Their tone sounds frustrated but not negative. They need help. You don’t respond. You delete the comment for fear of a blip on the quiet perfection of your fan page.
The Real Life Version: A customer calls your help line. After a series of buttons pressed to get to the right person, the employee hangs up on them. Not only will this person be peeved to say they least, they’ll probably call/comment again. In this pattern, they’ll probably get hung up on/deleted again and then tell/post to their facebook friends and followers, who are very loyal mind you, that your brand is terrible and they would never consider buying from you again.Well done.
Since I started with the negative, perhaps now I’ll segue back into some positive scenarios…boost your morale a bit.
The Social Version: A customer who would normally call your help line, spend 20 minutes listening to terrible elevator music on hold, only to potentially get disconnected, decides to check out your Facebook page. They post a question then navigate away to write a quick email. Before they click send, you’ve responded with either a quick answer or a direct phone number/email address where you’ll be ready and waiting to assist them further. The customer feels great, loved and inspired to tell everyone he or she sees that day and that whole week about that amazing customer care experience. Viral marketing occurs.
The Real Life Version: That is the real life version. Learn it. Love it. Use it.
The Social Version: A socially savvy customer is browsing the displays at Bed, Bath & Beyond. They have a question regarding the stock of a certain item in a certain color. They tweet it. BB&B tweets back in a matter of moments with the response and clear directions regarding how to find/order this item. Conversation via Twitter continues until the customer checks out happy with their purchase AND the 15% off coupon their customer service friend tweeted at them. This kind of customer service inspired brand loyalty for life….far exceeding the financial loss of 15% off this purchase.
The Real Life Version: Yea…again, real life. Real life perk: this customer has, you guessed it, 150,000 followers (who all just sat front seat to your social awesomeness). Result? More loyal brand advocates for life.
In sum, the basic point is this: the conversation is taking place whether you’re aware of it or not. Your turning a blind eye can only be destructive to your brand. Certainly there are appropriate occasions for comment removal or for silence, but that’s a decision you have to make in real time; and in order to make it, you have to know it happened. Am I right? In the mean time, listen, monitor and respond. It’ll make all the difference.