You’re the social media captain on board your company’s customer service ship. And now you’ve found yourself in a tough but not totally preventable situation: a number of people are peeved about your product or service.
Worse yet, they want you – and everyone else in the world – to know about these concerns, loudly, and they’re using YOUR social media platforms as a soapbox to get the word out or tell you about it.
What do you do? You read this blog post, that's what.
Community Management: A Brand's Digital Glue
Community management on any social media platform can be challenging.
Sure, you’re the direct digital voice of your brand, curating content and driving engagement, but you’re also on the hook for a whole lot more:
- Fully addressing comments from both disgruntled and complimentary customers
- Ensuring commenters and fans are, ahem, behaving themselves across your feeds
- Capitalizing on reviews or remarks to cross-sell or further promote new events, products or engagement
That’s a lot to juggle, right? Well there’s more.
In this day and age, the world is viral. No, really. From cats riding Roombas to in-car lip-sync stars to gravity-defying goals, even the smallest, silliest, inane posts can get shared and viewed a million times. Imagine if just one of those has your brand front and center. Imagine further it’s a customer complaining about it.
In the end, it’s all about best practices – keeping current customers engaged, attracting new ones, turning around unhappy ones and leveraging your social media to its fullest advantage. It’s a tall order, but you can handle it. Here’s how.
Acknowledge Your Customers' Very Existence
The Internet is an unfathomably big, scary, anonymous world – and every user wants to be heard. The best way to accomplish this? Make it personal.
This one’s as important as it is easy, so it bears repeating: Make. It. Personal. Use the customer’s name and point out you’re happy to help with their specific problem/inquiry.
Then, if you need to, respond again – don’t assume one interaction can solve everything. Commit (and comment) until the situation has turned around or resolved as best as possible.
Respond Fast and Friendly (with a Caveat)
When there’s a problem or question, people expect fast responses and faster answers. After all, isn’t everyone always, always connected and instantly available? (Thanks, smartphones.)
Obviously you can’t monitor every channel 24/7, so first determine what your brand feels is acceptable for response time, and then stick to it.
What's a good response time? It totally depends on the company and the industry. JetBlue aims for 15 minutes, which makes sense given the customer-centric nature of the airline business. Xbox has an absurd 5-minute response time.
But for a B2B brand, a 24-hour response time could be more than acceptable. That said, it never hurts to keep your ear to the ground.
Handling customer service issues quickly and effectively gets around. Happy customers with a good experience are more likely to make it part of their own narrative – a story shared about you.
Don't Blow Your Chance to Engage
A customer comments about your product or brand – they’ve started a conversation with you. This is your chance to do more than “like” it or consider your job done; this is an opportunity goldmine!
Engage with them. Introduce a new or similar product, where to find it, online or close to home. Invite them to take action, enter a contest, share the wealth. You and I know that social media isn’t just for broadcasting information – it’s for converting the casual to the captivated.
Need proof? We used social engagements to serve up tasty ROI for client Nathan's Famous during its annual Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Social replies are an underrated and often missing ingredient in digital campaigns.
By replying to fans and directing them to the Nathan's website where they could vote for their favorite eaters, we generated tons of hype, captured valuable email addresses and helped drive over 100,000 more unique users to the site than the year before.
Of course, this was in tandem with other digital marketing efforts, but no doubt it had an impact. Some die-hards even replied to tell us they'd voted and couldn't wait to watch the Main Event on TV! Kaboom.
Ruthlessly Protect Your Brand
Your brand’s social platforms must be safe places to go for any and every customer – free of discrimination, graphic content and political rallying. At times, unfortunately, this means having to remove or hide content.
Your job (or your badass agency's job) is not to handle malicious or deliberately derogatory rhetoric. Your job is to handle criticism and solve customer problems. Don’t confuse the two.
The best way to keep things family friendly on your page and protect yourself from trolls is to set some house rules. That way people don’t think you’re deleting comments because they’re negative. You can place your house rules on your website or in the “About” section of your Facebook page.
And although it’s a bummer to delete content, in the long run, it’s the only way to ensure fans remain happy, comfortable and confident in exploring your brand’s feed as part of their daily routine.
Toss the Script and Have Fun
The world of social media is somewhat ridiculous. Seriously, have you ever seen so many cat videos? Or so many people sharing and liking them?
That means part of your own personality, humor and levity can shine through in your daily work – assuming your boss is cool with you occasionally straying from the strict company line and templated “official” responses.
Converse with your fans, surprise them with something cleverly you. ’Cuz at the end of the day, that’s what you’re best at, right?