Social Media: Is it a silver bullet?

Many of our clients express their desire to increase their online presence by using facebook and twitter. Our reply is fantastic! WHY?

The answers are often well thought out, to develop a bigger market, to retain clients to improve branding. These are all correct, yet at the same time many of these organizations have regular email updates to their consumers or memberships. They offer phone support and email support so how will the addition of social media strategy further assist them? In short it can have both positive and negative outcomes.

Congratulations, you have established a facebook and twitter profile, you are in the process of developing an awareness of these new outlets, you email your clients or members you place notifiers on your webpage you have a few likes but not as many as you anticipated. You decide to place specials or promotions onto these platforms maybe offer a special deal on your widgets or discounted joining fees. That's great the awareness increases, the orders start to roll in. Your facebook followers start to display your promotions and comments on their pages and you have further increased your market penetration. You extend this with “refer a friend” and if they post on 'our' twitter or facebook wall you both receive a 10% discount on your next order.

The key is retaining these people and not necessarily via social media. once you have their details you can of course add them to your regular marketing campaigns.

Question: Does your organisation have the ability to monitor these posts? Does your ordering/joining system have a function for a referral and a lead generation notation?

To further develop your social media brand you implement a tips and tricks post, helpful fact or thought of the week post to further develop brand awareness. Now you have mastered this your market is slowly increasing and your brand awareness has tapped into an entire new demographic.

You receive your first complaint, the widget arrived broken!

How do you deal with this?

You respond of course, you offer all assistance possible and rectify the issue. Excellent response time and excellent customer service, yet how damaging is that information?

Potentially, it may destroy the hard work you have put into developing the brand.

Why is this? Often times these situations are taken off line and that is an excellent strategy. However, unless both the organization and client can show a successful result the damage remains for all to see.

Another scenario that recently presented itself while we were on site with a client. The appearance of a post stating that the product was inferior and the individual 'poster' would never do business with them again. This required a timely response the client service team immediately attempted to take the issue off line and to assist the very disgruntled client. The response stated "please call us or email us immediately for further assistance refXXXXXX". They even provided a specific reference number for this individual to fast track the repair or replace process everything was done by the book.

There was no response quoting that reference number, furthermore there were more posts appearing on their social media feeds saying much the same. Yes, you guessed it, it was a defamatory hoax. Although unable to be proven these posts were not from clients but probably or possibly competitors.

How do you deal with this?

The clients mentioned, in the two response examples above have large teams of Customer Service Representatives (CSR's). They also operate 24 hour a day call and email support and order lines that allows them to effectively monitor and develop the social media experience. However, even these organizations sometimes miss a post or two.

There is not methodology for reviewing this it is a matter of going through each and every post. Often times it may be easier just to save the support and complaints for email and telephone. The same rapid response can still be offered.

Why use social media for support services? In short DON'T, there is a group of mid level management people that feel this is a great opportunity, we tend to disagree. The arguments in favour are it attracts a new generation that use social media for everything. They are right! But, they can be directed, for complaints call 123 456 or email COMPLAINTS@123456.com “but these people are on their iphones, ipads” is often what we hear.

Yes they are! They have email right? On the iphone you can make a call, yes?

What is stopping the social media generation from using these methods why open twitter and facebook to complaints direct them immediately to call or email. Then, like all good CSR teams follow it through.

Social media can be a valuable tool in your marketing strategy, if implemented correctly with the right resources and information it can boost your brand awareness and therefore potentially increase your sales.
Remember to be wary of relying too much on this method and do not let your business be consumed by social media it is there to assist you. You may also want to pick your target comments.

After the Boston bombing attacks there were numerous posts regarding support and compassion for those impacted or affected. One online organisation tried to sell its wares it received numerous bad posts on its twitter account for its attempt to profit from others misfortune.

Use social media to build brand awareness or allegiance, do not use it as a direct sales tool and be wary what you post once it is up it is very difficult to remove the power of the screen shot and cellular and mobile technology allows people to retain the image long after you remove it. Make sure your marketing team or representative is well versed in online etiquette, YOU DON’T WANT A POST GOING UP IN ALL CAPITALS.

Last but not least in our opinion social media should drive individual consumers to your site make them want to keep coming back to http://www.your-website.com, not to just your social media page.