Avoid the Social Media ‘Avalanche’ Communication is KEY!
An avalanche, as we all know, can be defined as a downhill fall that’s so rapid, a large mass is dislodged from the top of a precipice. It can also be defined as simply: An overwhelming, sudden quantity of ‘something.’ Completely precarious and completely unpredictable, an avalanche comes without warning and can be hazardous to one’s health.
When you think about the world and today’s ‘online realm,’ you are speaking about an avalanche of mythic proportions. Between everything from Facebook to Twitter to the billions of blogs and sites that are dedicated to a company’s advertising and consumer ‘speak,’ you see that the connection between customers and brands have become their very own avalanche. In fact, the online world has become the basis for the reputation of any and all brands and companies.
Social Media is now the number one platform for individuals to use in order to ‘vent’ their aggressions or displeasure for a bad product or a hideous service experience. Unfortunately, with the power of social media, also comes more than a few problems. There are many examples where a brand’s reputation has been ‘kicked in the teeth,’ shall we say, due to the ignorance that is out there in the corporate world, as well as the trillions of complaints on the World Wide Web.
The most famous example would be: “United Breaks Guitar.” This is where a singer-songwriter’s guitar was broken during a flight on United Airlines. When the artist mentioned the damage to the customer service department, apparently he was ignored. As a result, he went on to publish a ‘Youtube’ video about the incident which instantly went viral, and the whole world was informed in seconds, causing damage to the reputation of United’s customer service department. The issue was finally resolved after United responded to the complaint and reimbursed the artist.
Now, this complaint certainly wasn’t untrue and United did offer full restitution to the angered consumer. But, as you can see, this is only one example of billions out there on America’s Superhighway. Social media is actually becoming increasingly crowded with customer complaints and stories of dissatisfaction. Therefore, being ‘present’ in these various social media sites and responding to queries and complaints immediately is becoming more important than ever before. Many brands have already built a resource and/or process where their clients can go that specifically addresses the issue of social media customer service. Others have not…
For those companies who have not yet ‘jumped’ on this particular bandwagon, below are some of the most important ways in which social media can be used to enhance customer service:
A) Creating online social profiles is fantastic for a brand, but you also must ‘be’ there – front and center – to make sure you can answer any questions, or take care of any complaints that arise. The first step is to create your online existence and have an official presence. Creating profiles allows your customers to identify you and makes it easier for them to engage and rely upon you and your product. Rather than ‘shouting at the world,’ your online presence will make it easier for your customers to seek help when it’s sorely needed.
B) Listening to the ‘conversations’ about your brand on the Web. People are never going to find your presence unless you start engaging with them; and the best way to do this is by always listening to the conversations related to your brand, and start responding. Proactively engaging with prospects and customers can increase your visibility and create a better experience for your customers. Better experience = them coming back.
C) Creating content related to your product/service. Your customers are continuously seeking help and searching for relevant content, which means YOU need to be that content provider. Creating content, like blog posts or video tutorials, are an essential part of sparking that ‘conversation’ between brand and customer.
D) Real-time response is necessary! Customers delight in a company that is always there for them when they need help. One of the ways in which social media can help create that delight is through real-time response to a customer’s online query. Immediate response to the complaints, or even mentions regarding the fact that the complaint was received and the company is ‘on it’ as far as providing the necessary information, can create an everlasting impression on a customer far better than utilizing a direct marketing strategy.
E) It is an old line but still remains true: Communication is Key! You need to communicate your offers and deals. One way to increase interest among your customers is to offer discounts and deals through your social networking channels. This will help you reach out to a much larger audience and energize your customers – making them excited to participate. DELL was one of the first brands to exploit these fundamentals and ended up earning millions through investment in their Twitter Channels.
But how do you measure your performance? Every social media activity gains response from the ‘crowd.’ Therefore, in order to measure the performance of your social media activities, you need to consider and implement an exact plan which will allow you to track your consumers continuously:
1.) Interactions: Keep track of the number of fans and followers of your brand, and all their activity related to your profiles, such as; reTweets, comments, likes, dislikes, etc. Keep daily track of how many mentions your brand receives on all the networking platforms.
2.) Responders: Keep daily track of the number of people who have interacted with your brands and the rate at which these interactions are increasing.
3.) Level Sentiments: In addition to tracking ‘mentions’ of your brands, you also need to truly see, listen and understand the sentiments of your customers. Your goal should be to provoke positive sentiments and reduce the number of negative complaints by utilizing a glowing customer service strategy.
4.) Feedback: Customer Feedback is an important part of customer service; only through feedback can a company truly glean important insights on what can be done to make things better. A company can also use a form of ‘feedback count.’ This includes things such as surveys or polls where the company can measure the effectiveness of their social media as well as customer service.
As you can see, we’ve come a long way from the mailing campaigns of yesteryear in order to get customers ‘on board’ with your company. Social Media has completely changed the face of marketing, as well as the way customers and brands interact with one another.
As with everything in the business world, the strategies used in a social media campaign vary according to the tastes, ideas, and designs that an individual company would most like to express. But, in the end, it is always the responsibility of a company to do their very best, utilize in-depth research and then adopt the best practices in order to engage in social media.