Taking on social media for your business is an all or nothing proposition. By that, I don’t mean go out and set up company accounts and profiles for every social media network on the planet. Not only is that impractical, but it can damage your company’s brand rather than enhance it. As more and more companies use social media to find and market to customers, the need to be aware of the potential pitfalls out there grows as well. An important one, in my mind, is that once one area of your company, let’s say marketing, has engaged your prospect or customers in social media, the entire company has engaged. The engagement doesn’t just stop at the marketing department’s blog or Twitter feed.
For every Foursquare deal at a shop or restaurant that users have received, others encounter waiters and cashiers who scrunch up their face in confusion or annoyance when presented with a customer’s phone. At the point that they need to check with the manager and delay the transaction, they are counteracting the benefits of Foursquare for the business. When offering deals or coupons online, make sure everyone is aware of the deal.
If your business has a call center, that call center is on the front line of the company’s social media engagement. There was a time that customers who had a bad experience with a company’s customer service line could only try to contact a manager or executive to complain. Maybe the manager would call back to remedy the issue. Maybe they wouldn’t. In either case, the damage limited.
Now, it’s much more effective and satisfying for a customer to jump onto the company’s Facebook page or Twitter feed and issue their complaint in full view of everyone. It’s created a forum for those customers. It’s also created a forum for your company to demonstrate how it handles those kinds of interactions. Little help that is if the ONLY people on these networks are your marketing department. If a department interacts with the customer directly (be it face to face, call center, etc), get that department online as well.
The interaction also extends to finding out how customers are using your products and services, how they like your store, or what did they think of their dinner at your restaurant. Product managers, for example, should be active on the company’s social media touchpoints to talk to users about ideas for enhancements, issues, and just to talk about recent or upcoming changes in their products.
The easiest way to look at this is you need to be where your customers are, and your customers are online. They are probably talking about you, and you need to be a part of the conversation. However, don’t feel the need to engage them every step of the way. Neicole Crepeau wrote an excellent post on Businesses Grow about how we are in danger of over-engaging (read: annoying) our customers with constant attempts to have a conversation. The idea is to offer something of value to your customers, not just “be seen” on social media channels. Ask yourself how you would like to interact with a company online? You want the conversation to be informative or you want it to offer you something. Keep that in mind as you make your social media forays.
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