Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Linkedin. Pinterest.
Social media sites are full of failed business profiles that are abandoned, full of negativity, or just full of junk. It’s impossible to know the reason behind every single botched social media attempt, but there are a lot of businesses out there—primarily small companies—who jump in to social media without thinking about these important parts of social media.
Most companies start a social media presence with a clear sales goal. There are ways to achieve this on social media with testimonials, images of products or services delivered, creative posts. However, many companies overlook the most direct approach: answering messages from potential customers.
Remember, customers (and potential customers) reach out to businesses with questions through whatever means is convenient for them—even if it’s not always the company’s preferred method. Select an employee or manager (carefully) who is trained to handle customer service inquiries. Connect an e-mail to company social media profiles so the employee receives notifications of new messages. If there is not a suitable employee or a manager that has time, contact a marketing company that can manage the social media profile (including responding to messages after contacting the business).
Respond to them as soon as possible. If that’s not possible, and the social media network has the capability, leave an auto-respond message that indicates when a response is coming (such as during business hours). Make it a top priority to respond promptly (within a few hours) BEFORE the customer moves on to the competition.
Negative comments and reviews
As much as company managers look forward to the sunshine of social media, there is a down side to marketing on social media. Social media is a two-way conversation; negative comments and reviews, unfortunately, are part of the process. Dealing with unhappy customers is also a key reason to choose the employee who responds on social media carefully (or why to put social media messages in the hands of marketing pros).
When a customer does post a negative comment or review, the general rule is to respond. The response should include a sincere sorry (even if it’s just for what they’re going through) and an offer—if possible—to resolve the issue. Don’t be afraid to ask the customer to private message if more information is needed. There are a few exceptions to the ‘always respond’ rule, such as if the comment or review is an act of revenge (i.e. from a former employee, angry friend or family member). On Facebook, the option to review a business can be turned off if the negativity becomes overwhelming. This shouldn’t be the first choice, however, as there is value in maintaining a social media profile with positive testimonials.
Amount of time it takes
Successful companies on social media make it look easy; from an outside standpoint, managing multiple social media profiles—and getting results from them—can appear simple. The truth is not so simple. The first step is choosing the right social media sites with the company’s target audience. From there, a solid social media presence requires quality images, videos, hash tags (when appropriate), responses…all posted at the right time (when followers are online) on a regular basis. A successful social media presence requires a plan that follows the company’s sales cycle (here’s how to craft a complete online marketing plan). In short, a successful social media presence requires time.
If the answer is in-house, a company manager should take care to choose the right employee who can maintain a regular posting schedule. If there is no one on staff who has the time or expertise, outsource the effort to an experienced marketing company.