As much as social media has been receiving a lot of attention and hype, about all the benefits that it offers to businesses, it is important to note it may sometimes backfire. This is because like everything else in the business world, you have to look at it as a form of investment, and be willing to commit resources, so that you can yield good returns. Plenty of businesses have failed in their social media attempts, not because social media is a poor avenue, but because they never gave it their all. If you come into social media offering only 50% of your time and resources, you should not expect any considerable returns. Companies which embraced social media before everyone else are now reaping the full benefits, because they had the audacity to risk their resources on a fairly new medium of interacting with customers.
The biggest lesson that we can learn from Top companies that are now doing well in social media, is that dedicating a lot more of your time to social media is definitely very rewarding.
The other important thing we can learn from them is that aggressiveness is required more than ever. You have to be creative to start conversations with your customers, and post content and videos that easily resonates with them and wows them. Aggressiveness comes in because unlike other channels where you can post content periodically, with social media this will not work. You have to be active on a daily basis, so as to keep the conversation going and interact with your customers in real time. This is what makes social media unique, because your customers are always online, and they have all sorts of issues that they want to discuss with you. Social media interaction therefore requires a lot of dedication, and once you do this you will find out that it is actually fun.
Additionally, it is not enough to have a central social media center for your company. Top companies in social media always encourage their employees to represent the organization on their own social media sites, because it gives the organization a wider outreach. You will find that the CEO has a huge Twitter following, and normally takes this opportunity to interact with customers and potential customers. However it should not only be the CEO; every employee who holds an important position in the company should act an agent of the company on their social networking sites. They should initiate conversations with their friends and fans, on issues regarding the organization and this will go a long way in ensuring that the organization is active on social media.
Respond as quickly as possible to your customers – great communication can only happen if there is response from either end. On the other hand, a good conversation will only happen if there is fast response, especially from the receiving end. This means that there should be multiple personnel from the organization responding to clients in real-time, and ensuring that this happens within a maximum of 1 minute. This is because the moment you keep customers waiting for a response, the conversation is distorted and the customer will most likely get impatient and leave the chat. You will also find that almost all the customers have different issues, which therefore makes a lot of sense to departmentalize the company’s social media Centre. You will then categorize the most common issues raised by customers, and allocate each to a different department. This will introduce efficiency in the entire Centre, and will ensure that customers get their responses as fast as possible, in real time.
Interact with customers on a personal level customer’s feel valued if you interact with them personally. Some companies may have pre-written responses which they automatically send to customers or use certain software which send automated messages, which is absolutely wrong. Imagine interacting with the CEO of a big company, and he addresses you by name while responding? Such a move might lead most of us into becoming loyal customers of that company. This just shows the impact of interacting with people on a personal level. The best thing is to chat with customers in real time, address them by name while responding, and add some humor. This will create a natural conversation, and sell your brand even more. Remember, people have the power to make or break a brand, and real power lies in people.
Ensure that you handle your own social media Centre There are certain organizations which outsource their social media centers, by hiring outside agents. This may turn out to be catastrophic, because they might not represent the company, in the best way possible, and since they are handling social media centers from multiple other companies, they might not dedicate a lot of their time to your company. Additionally, there is no other person who knows your own company more than your own employees, and outsourcing may create a huge gap in terms of giving out reliable info. Companies that are performing well on social media have a whole department that is dedicated to interacting with customers. This therefore points out that an In-house social media strategy is the most beneficial.
Maintain Honesty if for example your organization is facing serious challenges and is not therefore able to perform normally, a top representative from the company who is easily recognized by people may use social media to explain to customers that the company is facing certain challenges. In a world where organizations will say anything to get off the hook especially when they are on the receiving end of customers, people will appreciate an honest gesture. Of course they will be fiery in their responses and even question your company’s credibility, but the best thing is to explain the situation to them using well calculated words to avoid infuriating them even more. This is how JetBlue Airlines managed to save their face in the middle of a crisis. They posted a video on YouTube, of their CEO apologizing to customers, and then in the comments section they interacted with people and this helped a lot in managing people`s frustrations. This was back in 2007, and the impact was massive. JetBlue was actually among the first companies to embrace social media.
Go out of your way to help customers even if a customer has asked a question that you feel is not really relevant, it wouldn’t hurt to give a swift response. Be patient, because customers are sometimes a peculiar lot and will ask all sorts of questions, but remember that the customer is always right.