Improving Social Media Engagement With Better Responses
Social media has become more and more important as a source of customer service over the years. In fact, Havas Worldwide released a study reporting that 48% of respondents feel frustrated if they don’t receive a fast response to a complaint on social media. Given this statistic, it’s critical that your actions on social media are hitting the right target.
First, you need to watch your social media accounts closely for questions or complaints, and respond to them quickly. How quickly? That depends on you. But to put things in context, a report from The Social Habit says that 32 percent of people who reach out to brands on social media “expect a response within 30 minutes.” About a fifth of respondents expected a response within 30 minutes, no matter what time they contacted the company. So theoretically, a very savvy social media user could Tweet at your company at 3 a.m. and await a quick response, in spite of the early hours. To help you deal with this and other messy situations, below are some tips on improving your social media engagement—specifically, your responses to queries and complaints.
Post Your “Hours of Operation”
What can you do about the social media users who expect a response, as of yesterday? Manage expectations by posting your response times. State in your Twitter bio how long users should wait for queries made in the evening and on weekends. Without that standard in place, customers may have unrealistic expectations about your social media communication.
Speed Aside, Responses Are the Important Thing
Speedy response times aren’t the only way to make an impression, though. A Harris survey revealed that 18 percent of consumers became fans of brands, even though their initial experiences with the companies were negative. What happened? Those companies responded to their social media complaints. Some 70 percent were so impressed by this that they actually deleted the original complaint or posted a separate positive review. If you can’t respond quickly, the important thing is to just respond. Even if it’s taking a long time to resolve the issue, let the customer know that you’re working on a solution. They’ll appreciate the update, and letting them know you’re paying attention is much better than putting off a response—by the time you answer them, they might have taken their business elsewhere.
Quality, Not Quantity
You won’t be able to generate good responses if you spread yourself between ten different social media networks. Figure out which ones your buyer personas use, and focus your social media strategy there. If your business hopes to reach younger people, Facebook and Twitter are a must. In contrast, if your business works with professionals, LinkedIn may be the right place to focus your attention. Pick a handful of social media networks and work with them. If you choose too many and have accounts that you forget about, someone may try to contact you on that network, and you’ll never even know about it.
Decide What Sort of Response Is Necessary
Jessica Reed of Social Media Today suggests thinking of different scenarios that may arise, and how they may be handled. Some you can deal with online; others might require a more in-depth conversation. When your business grows and your team expands, consider educating your customer-facing employees on the responses that should be used for different comments.
Let Fans Do the Talking
Josh Pelz, the chief digital officer of the Gansevoort Hotel Group, takes a unique approach to social media responsiveness. When someone has a question about the hotel group, he’ll share the question along on Facebook or Twitter and ask the group’s followers to provide an answer. This is an example of social proof, at its finest. When you have a strong enough following, you may want to try doing the same. Granted, companies have tried somewhat similar tactics by creating special hashtags related to their brand, and their efforts exploded in their faces. But the difference is that you’ll be passing the query along to people who know your brand, like it, and already follow you on your social media account. Their answers are more likely to be positive, rather than snarky.
Trust Your Workers
If you have several people who handle social media, trust them to respond to complaints in the appropriate way. In social media, when time is of the essence, the team needs to know how to respond to any negative feedback. Make sure they know the company’s values and policies, and allow them to respond with those things in mind.
Nobody likes hearing complaints about their business, but on social media, complaints can be a good opportunity to show that you really listen to your customers. More than anything else, people just want to be heard. Show them that you’re hearing them loud and clear by responding to their complaints in a timely and respectful manner. With a few well-chosen words, even the most prickly customer can become your biggest fan.