10 to 15 years ago, the internet started changing the way businesses went about communicating with customers. Somewhere along the way, social media came into play, and put its own unique twist on the evolution of business-to-consumer communications. Since then, companies have been leveraging the social web as a regular channel for connecting and interacting with clients. But while access to user-friendly features makes chatting fairly easy on the surface, what many businesses are finding is that communicating with efficiency is more challenging than it seems.
Some media provides all the tools you need to have conversations with your audience, but whether your message is heard or falls on deaf ears will depend on a variety of factors. Refer to these tips to make the most of the interactions you have with your fans in the social channel.
Good content makes a great conversation starter. With that said, the conversation will rarely get started if you’re not posting content. From Twitter to Google+, information flows across the social space in fast and furious fashion. In some environments, you have to post frequently for the simple fact that new posts can easily become old once they are buried by the influx of new content streaming through the user’s feed. I wouldn’t say you have to post everyday, but your communication strategy should involve rolling out new posts on a consistent basis so fans continually see you.
Open the Floor
Some of the biggest names in the corporate world have profiles on social networks, providing a convenient way for their fans to connect. Unfortunately, not all of them are very receptive. Some companies receive thousands of messages from fans, only to end up ignoring most. Now you don’t have to answer every single comment, but the more responsive you are, the better. Someone comments on your Facebook page with a question or concern? Promptly respond with an answer that addresses the matter in their comment. Opening the floor like this lets customers know that your brand is approachable and not too big to interact with the the people who support it.
Believe it or not, but not all customers are looking to contact companies to tell them how great they are. Quite the contrary. Some are eager to tap your social lines just to let the world know how bad you screwed up their order or failed them in the customer service department. There is a chance that customers will bring negativity your way. Whether it’s a bad review or recommendation for others to avoid to you at all costs, tackle the issue head-on. This is another great PR move that will show your audience that you are willing to address their concerns – even if it’s at the cost of potentially turning others away.
Maintain Professionalism at All Times
You have to be very careful in addressing negative issues. The easy approach is to adopt “the customer is always right” mentality and stand down as much as possible. But maybe you want your social media people to stand firm and defend the company. After all, the customer might be dead wrong. Whether they are flat out lying or teetering on the edge of fraud, a business must handle these sort of interactions with the most sensitive of kid gloves. No matter how right you may be, attacking the customer will make you come off as a rude, disingenuous company that can’t handle criticism. Not a good look at all.
Communicate Beyond Words
The landscape has not only changed in regards to where businesses communicate with customers. There have been notable changes in how they communicate as well. While the popularity of Twitter and its 140-character messages highlights the power in words, brands are steadily learning that it’s possible to communicate beyond words – rather effectively, too. Instead of relying solely on text-based updates, they are posting images on Instagram and engaging customers with videos on their YouTube channel. Visual content has a way of sparking dialog, so when fans comment on your photos and videos, reply and keep the discussion going. Who knows where those conversations will lead?
Social media has quickly developed into one of the many channels available to bridge the communication gap between the company and their customer. If you have a presence in this space, whether it lives on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or across a combination of multiple destinations, learning how to communicate will be vital to your success. Better brush up on those communication skills!