When I started to build ReponseIO, I asked my friends, startup founders or just social media users what they found painful about social media. The common answer was the time you can spend on each one and the time you spend attracting and creating interaction with your audiences.
Two weeks ago, I participated in a #bufferchat with Brian Fanzo about increasing engagement with videos (recap here).
One quote that I keep in mind from him is this one:
It doesn’t matter how many followers you have, the key is finding how to show them you care. tweet this
It strikes my mind that some companies and some people just want to have 1k, 10k or 100k followers but they will not take care of them.
Knowing your audience is really important especially when you are a brand. It can help you fulfill their needs, engage them and will result in the expansion of your community.
We’re going to clarify something now: You no longer control what is being said about your brand. It’s difficult to accept that all the actions your company or employees make, good or bad, can become a video on YouTube that goes viral, memes on Pinterest or just a blog post of an individual unknown person.
Changes in customer behaviour
With social media in the palm of their hands, customers don’t hesitate to criticize a brand; it’s easy to do and they can influence more people than just their friends. They expect to have an impact on the brand and to be heard. In 2013, a study by Lithium showed that 74% of customers think that criticism will improve the service.
Social media changes the scope of response for a bad service, and when your reputation is affected it’s really hard to recover from it; it will leave a trace in the virtual world. Let’s take a hotel, for example. Here is a list of some social media a customer can use to talk about it:
To name just a few.
Everybody can now talk about your brand without you even noticing it. Some companies put a big investment in being the first line of contact for their customers. Southwest Airlines, KLM or Zappos are some examples that have a special team dedicated just for that.
What is the return on investment?
For each of the 150 KLM social media specialists, KLM earns on average 190,000 US$ per agent(link).
Being on social media for them is a necessity right now, and they paved a path for their industry. KLM showed to their customer, they cared. As a passenger or future traveller you are just a tweet away from the company.
Companies have to adapt, have to change to face this new reality. They have to understand their customers, where they are, why they are interested in their company and finally put in place the strategy and process that fits that.
Reality check! What to do about it
Step 1: Choose the right social media
Before diving in and creating a profile in each social networking site, you must start by selecting which ones you are going to use. Choosing just one social media is not a good thing — it’s sure that by putting all your eggs in one basket you are not going to impact all your customers.
This graph by IPGLab shows the various ways different social media can be used to interact with different categories of people.
This graph is interesting if you are a brand or if your brand is you as an individual. It helps you choose which social media is effective in targeting the audience you want to reach.
Still from IPGLab, the next graph shows the relationship between various topic areas and the user engagement for each social media.
Step 2: Choose the information to share
How can you find the right one?
First, a number:
“The average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words of information in a single day” (link).
Think about your own connections and the posts you share on Facebook to friends, links you retweet on Twitter, or the pins you keep on Pinterest. You can ask some questions about this information:
- Is it useful? Will I learn something from this information?
- Will I share it to a friend?
- Is it stunning?
- What kind of interaction you want to create?
Each one of these questions is really important. It will define the identity of your brand on social media and how people will consume it.
You have to stay focused on your mission. Be careful in the usage of trends though. You can search for fails in social media and you’ll find a lot of examples of misuse of a trend or hashtag.
Step 3: Choose your tone
Selecting the social media and the information you want to share is the cornerstone of your social media strategy. Now the question is, how are you going to share it? The tone can decide the failure or the success of your strategy.
If you want to succeed in step 3, you need to know your brand and your customers.
- What do they want to know about you?
- Why are they using your brand? For example: you are an airline, it’s synonymous with vacations, dreams, and paradise islands. Share stories about your travellers, new routes, aircraft, or the best destinations of your crew. Take for example, Emirates, who demonstrate this effectively on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
- You need to create a relationship with your customers, being more friendly, getting them to know you, to know your brand.
One rule: As a brand on social media, don’t be too far from your customer.
A new paradigm is born from social media; people no longer hesitate to share their opinions and feelings publicly about an experience. It’s easy with Yelp or Expedia to complain about their last experience in a restaurant if the service or food didn’t match their expectations.
Boundaries and etiquette have been reshaped. People expect to talk to a person, not to a brand. So customize your messages and make your support seem accessible and not too rigid.
Step 4: Empower your team
Customer care at Zappos has flexibility and employees have full autonomy to answer clients. They can spend the time they want and they don’t have to follow a script. This company for a few years has been a great example in the customer support field.
By empowering your team and giving a clear understanding of what they can and cannot do, you give your brand a real voice. Each person has their own way to deal with a customer and they are the best ones to find the right response at that time.
Step 5: Every message needs a reply
Again, data is relevant on this point:
“24% of American Internet Users 12+ Who Have Contacted a Brand in Social Media, expect a Reply Within 30 Minutes” (link).
If people ask you a question on Facebook, post a comment or just rate your app, you should as a company take care of them.
Praise your user.
Steve Jobs was saying the difficult part of building a company is to find the first 1000 fans.
Those fans will become the people who are going to fight for your brand. If you think about growth, every step in your process, every connection with a potential/actual customer is an opportunity for your brand to convert him or her.
Social media has its own rules and you need, as a brand or an individual, to find your identity. Defining it is a long process and a continuous improvement. You have to follow the trends and the evolution of your community.
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I'd love to hear your thoughts on social media strategy. Where do you start? What can you share to others? What did you learn, succeed and fail?
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