The key to successful social media advertising is to promote conversation between a brand and its customers. Social media is supposed to be an immediate tool for communication, but many businesses are falling behind and letting customers down.
An infographic from SproutSocial suggests that only 1 out of 5 customer inquiries on Twitter and Facebook get any sort of response. This is a huge shortfall and for a business the consequences can be a loss of custom, poor audience retention rates, and reputation damage for that brand’s customer care approach.
Currently, the average response time to a customer query is a terrible 11 hours. That’s more than enough time for a customer to take their custom elsewhere and plenty of time for that customer to develop a negative opinion of a brand. People like to be heard and acknowledged, so a business should use social media tools to facilitate that.
It’s clear then that there are many missed opportunities when it comes to conversing and connecting with a business’ audience. A brand cannot ignore its customers and social media is certainly no exception. In fact, in a world that increasingly revolves around social media networks it’s even more pressing that a business develops good communication channels and practices with its customers.
Let’s consider then ways that your business can increase engagement and promote conversation between it and its customers.
Social media should be social
This may seem like an obvious statement, but social media is all about connections, conversations, and above all being social. It’s not just about broadcasting your business, its products and services, and your brand philosophy. This is something that many businesses would do well to consider -and reassess the understanding of how social media networks function that it has.
These days user engagement is on the rise and the generic customer has found his or her voice – gone are the days when the corporation was the power player, these days it’s the consumer. Any business unwilling to engage on social media runs the risk of losing customers and creating a negative opinion and perspective of its brand.
Social media is of course social, meaning that customers talk. If they can’t get in touch with your business they’ll end up talking to each other and the odds are the conversation won’t be a positive one. Pertinently user conversations are growing at a fast rate – nine times faster than the social networks themselves.
Customers are always connected and immediately reachable and they expect the same from a business. In fact a customer not only expects a response but they also want a faster and more frequent response from a business and its brands.
MediaBistro suggests that nearly half of all customers desire a response to their tweets and posts within one hour. That expectation grows if the customer in question is experiencing a service issue. Customers even expect a speedy and considered response outside of business hours. It’s becoming an increasingly end user orientated world facilitated hugely by social media networks and the constant connectivity associated with them.
What a business should do
It seems then that customers are ever increasing in their needs and social media is providing them with a platform to express those needs immediately. Let’s have a look at some tips that could help your business increase conversations and engagement with its customers.
It can be hard to keep abreast of where and when your business is mentioned online. It’s really important to maintain a close watch on social mentions regarding your business and brand as it means you can avoid some negative advertising early on.
There are plenty of tools online to help you with this; some are free and others come with a monthly fee. There’s not really an excuse for a business to neglect to monitor what’s being said about it and a business would do well to use software to keep on top of the myriad of mentions it receives daily.
Find avenues to converse through
Social monitoring tools are helpful, but your business needs to provide those tools with related information. Initially a business is likely to follow its own channels, customers, or potential clients. However often people post about your brand but not on the usual social media channels.
Make sure that your business is monitoring keywords that include mentions of your brand as well as topics that relate to your business. In this way your business can find new connections and forge better conversations with customers – and your business is meeting them on the platform of the customers choosing.
Remember to be polite
It’s not just about addressing customer complaints or concerns, it’s about ensuring that you’re building good relationships and promoting conversation and profitable connections. Monitoring tools mean that you can keep on top of brand mentions and relevant topics that relate to your business. In this way you’ll find plenty of opportunities to engage with potential clients, customers, and brand advocates.
Remember to thank everyone for taking the time to mention, comment, or interact with your brand. If you do it well you’ll find that your business does better on social media channels and promotes connections and conversations with potential and current customers. Whilst of course you can get automation software to help with thanking connections, there’s no substitute for personal replies so you should bear this in mind too.
Social media comes with its own set of rules when it comes to complaints too. You should always respond to these quickly, and politely.
You should never:
- Delete complaints – they have already been seen and people will be watching how you respond, so do so politely and personally.
- Argue publically with a customer, no matter how unreasonable their complaint may seem to be.
- Put up with bad language or abuse – if this occurs, warn the person that it’s not acceptable and that their comments will be deleted.
This is of course general advice for conversions. There are plenty of expert ways that you can create conversions too such as using web custom audiences in Facebook to remarket to website visitors.
That, however, is another post entirely and one I will bring you in the future.