Most brands today manage at least 2-3 social media channels for their online visibility. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, LinkedIn or Twitter, when a customer or potential customers are engaging with your brand, there are a few must-do’s (and don’ts) to leverage this engagement. Here they are:
1. Be fast. You know how when you send a friend a message on WhatsApp or Messenger, if they don’t reply within the hour you get annoyed (especially if there are 2 blue ticks!!)? Things are moving fast on the platforms and as such, when people are engaging with your business on social media, they expect an immediate reaction. How fast should you be? Well, we recommend to not leave an unanswered engagement for more than (very) few hours during the day until late evening.
2. Respond to all engagements. Most ads out there get some engagement. Some ads crack it and gain much traction – hundreds sometimes thousands of comments, replies or messages. In both cases, taking the time to reply to each one will pay off every time. Once, it shows you care about your audience and second, engagement brings engagement which brings more engagement. Social media algorithms work in a way that they prefer content that people care about. And how do these algorithms “know” if people care or not? You got it right – if they interact with it!
3. Attend all types of engagement. For some it’s easy to leave a comment asking for more details, others will choose a private message and some will even tag your business in a post on their personal timeline. Whatever the case is, make sure to not miss any of the ways that people choose to engage with you and engage back.
4. Manage a situation before it becomes a crisis. At times people will complain about your service, will say your price is too high, that your staff is not efficient. It’s part of the game. Being “out there” also means you’re exposed to criticism. Our advice? Respect people’s opinion. For some people maybe your product is expensive. Remember – whereas you’re replying to “one” person only, there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of eyeballs that are looking at how you react. Even if you can’t please that one person, you should think about the rest of them. The way you manage this criticism will determine people’s opinion about you and you can definitely leverage from it. If someone received a bad service from you, first of all show empathy and then – solve it on the spot. Don’t ignore it. Try to get the person’s details, talk to them on the phone, and understand what you can do for them. Don’t join the party too late when it already went viral. A lot of complaints can be dealt with right there and help you to not only avoid a PR disaster but also provide better service to the person who was not happy just a moment ago.
5. Face the keyboard heroes. It’s unpleasant to talk about it but there’s another type of comments online. These commenters aren’t genuinely disappointed with your service or really feel the price is overrated. This type of comments will simply include swearwords, bad language about you and your brand. It can be your competitors or someone who just wants to hurt your business. Our best advice is to face them very firmly, asking for a concrete criticism. If they can’t provide that, it’s your right to ask the commenter to remove it (technically you can remove it/hide it yourself but we don’t recommend doing that). Our experience shows time after time that this attitude works. Most keyboard bullies don’t expect you to stand up for them but when you do, you can change the situation. Remember, in real life this situation is almost impossible – no one will enter your shop or office and put a sign with their unpleasant thoughts 🙂 If facing them doesn’t help and you feel they just came to your page to abuse, you can let it be and not feed the unnecessary conversation.
6. Words matter. When replying to people, think of the words you use and whether they represent your brand. For example, the natural way to reply to people is as if the account belongs to the writer. So that sentences like “I would be happy to…” instead of “We would be happy to…” sneak in. In case you manage many representatives and they sign their name, this could work. Another example is the way you greet people. Once again, if it was a real shop, you’d say hi or good afternoon, there’s no reason not to do so online. The lack of intonation makes communication online “cold” so wishing someone a great afternoon or adding a smiley can add much light to your reaction and to their day.
7. Marketing opportunities. Parallel to providing actual requested information, you can always add a call to action that will put forward your products/service. Examples: “Explore more on our website in the link below” or “Pop up by our shop to discover the entire collection” and so on.
8. Be human. When you have a “real” conversation with people, you usually use their names (first or last). Social media is a platform that is built on people, why not migrate this habit to the platform as well? Don’t hesitate to refer to people in their names. First, it makes your reply personal and second it shows you took the time to reply to the person himself/herself and by that increases the chance the person will engage back. And engagement is as mentioned above – THE goal.
9. Do adjustments. Facebook is different from LinkedIn which is different from Twitter. The tone of voice in these platforms really is not the same so whereas LinkedIn will be more of a corporate environment, Instagram is in much fun and unofficial scenery (noticed how there’s no “like” on Instagram, only “love”?).
10. Check back. Most brands manage their pages manually. That means that as there’s no external software (like Hootsuite or Mention) to monitor the activity, things can be missed. Make sure to check back on your engagements frequently to make sure all engagements were attended. In this context it is important to mention the much spoken about ChatBots that can save you a lot of time.
11. Lead generation + keep their privacy (and your business’s interests). In the previous blog post we discussed much about lead generation, so you already know by now the importance of generating leads from your social media channels. When someone comments, sends a message or replies to you, make sure you don’t miss out on getting their details to take them further in the sales funnel. Sometimes it happens that people leave their phone number/email address right there in the thread. We suggest that after you thank the person for sending their info, you hide it to keep their privacy. Also to not leave it for the competition to use the person’s details.
12. Know whom you’re talking to. Many times, a regular client, a returning client or in a less pleasant situation an unhappy client, is writing to you. It’s important to understand the context of the person who is engaging with you to serve them best. Your page managers should communicate with your sales team constantly.
The way you manage your communities online has great impact on your brand’s image. It’s far more than a customer service channel, it’s the place where everyone is at – 24/7 and where you can and should interact with people who are your clients or potential ones non-stop!