If your customers are on social media (and 74% of all internet users are) then it makes sense for your company to be there as well. A social media presence provides companies with an opportunity to engage in a conversation with their customers. They can authentically promote themselves while listening to what customers say about them. When done well, social media humanises brands and is used as an effective customer service channel.
And customers want to engage with companies using social media. According to the findings of social media behavioral researcher, Tom Webster and the Edison Research team, the top 5 reasons that customers want to follow a brand on social media are:
There are many benefits of of having a social presence and using it to interact with customers. Consider some of these statistics:
So with all these benefits, what’s stopping organisations from joining social media? In my experience, it’s the lack of control and the consequences if something goes wrong. Is there a more public place to make a mistake than on social media? I don’t think so.
So a lot of businesses right now are in a quandry. Their customers want to interract with them on social media but they desperately don’t want to be there. There is a very real fear of the consequences should something go wrong.
Here are three tips that should make your transition to social media a little easier.
Social media is not something you only half do. Plan for it, align your social strategy with your overall brand strategy, and devote the required resources to it. If you’re not comfortable jumping straight in, spend some time just listening and looking at what your competitors and contemporaries are doing to get a feel for it. I know of a major Australian bank that spent 6 months doing exactly this before activating their Twitter account so they knew what to expect from Day 1.
Once you’re up and running, don’t pull the plug after 6 months if you haven’t seen a massive uplift in sales. Social is a long term play and the ROI benefits extend far beyond your Sales department.
If you use social media as a channel just to promote yourself you’ll do more damage to your brand than if you’d never joined to start with. Why? Because of reasons 3 and 5 above. 80% of customer service inquiries posted on social media go unanswered (Source: Sprout Social) because too many businesses treat social as a megaphone with which to blast the world with information rather than to take questions, concerns or feedback.
Further to this point, to manage customer expectations, if you’re not going to staff your social accounts 24/7, make it clear on your bio’s what hours you do. For an example of this see Origin Energy. Telstra goes a step further and publishes their response time from the previous week to help manage expectations. Clearly they know that 53% of customers who ask a brand a question on Twitter expect a response within an hour, with that percentage rising to 72% if it’s a complaint (Source: Lithium Technologies).
I can’t stress enough how critical it is to hire the right people to staff your social media account(s). They represent your company in a medium that can have as much (if not more) of an impact as television. They humanise your brand and are your brand’s voice. As such they need an implicit understanding of your brand’s story and have personal characteristics that align your brand. For example, if one of your brand values is fun, get someone with a sense of humour.
Aside from what I consider to be hygiene factors (spelling, grammar, an understanding of the power of social media), they will also need to have a strong customer focus: empathy, respect and compassion for customers and a desire to solve problems.
At CXpert we help companies make the transition to offering customer support online. Contact us today to talk through how we might be able to help you.
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