In times like the present, there’s never been a greater need to view and treat your social media channels as a customer service tool. Sure, we can email or phone a business, but in reality, most of the time we want an immediate response and as we’re living in a digital world where we typically expect instant gratification, people tend to turn to social media and expect a timely response. However, businesses are often not meeting expectations.
With COVID-19 causing havoc across the globe, businesses are feeling the pressure. Most people are spending more time online and flooding to social media channels, which means there has never been a better time to reconsider how you use social media to support and grow your business.
Responding to your messages and comments across social media channels is commonly referred to as ‘reactive community management’. This is an area where most businesses, of all sizes, are performing poorly. Too often, comments, questions and enquiries are not responded to, direct messages are ignored, reviews aren’t acknowledged, or businesses simply take several days to answer.
On the other hand, proactive social media management is taking the time to consider your community’s needs and incorporating this into your overall social media activity. This might be delivered by creating content aimed to address frequently asked questions, offering discounts, educating your audience and sharing news that’s of genuine value.
Most businesses see social media as an opportunity to showcase their work, sell their products or share news and updates. Essentially, social media is often used as a digital billboard where businesses can share self-serving news and updates. However, they are missing out on the opportunity to build genuine engagement and relationships with their consumers. According to the Yellow Social Media Report 2020, just under a quarter of Australians (23%) use social media to keep up to date with brands, businesses, offers and promotions and this has increased even further during COVID-19. Sprout Social compared March 2020 to April 2020 and identified that on average, businesses saw 44 more engagements per day occurred across all social channels and industries, and 7.3 more engagements per post on average.
We explore some fundamental considerations for perfecting your community management on social media below:
Businesses are often deterred from entering the social media landscape due to the fear of negative comments and or reviews. Yes, consumers have more power and influence than they have ever had before, but if you hold back due to fear, you’re also potentially missing the chance to hear from those who have had a good experience with your business.
It’s also worth reconsidering the way we view less than favourable commentary. Instead of looking at this as a negative, look at it as an opportunity. We can learn from customer feedback to improve products, services and overall customer experience.
There have also been countless examples of businesses’ that have successfully managed to respond to complaints in humorous and engaging ways and have even gathered mass community support. Woolworths won the respect of its community and even made headlines when channelling Ice Cube in a cleverly crafted response to a complaint on their Facebook Page.
It’s also worth noting that diversity in comments, complaints and reviews is to be expected as it’s impossible to please everyone all of the time. It also demonstrates credibility as people understand and appreciate that everyone’s experience differs.
Aside from everything else, if people have an unpleasant experience with your business, they are more than likely going to share their experience online regardless of whether your business is online. At least if you are, you have an opportunity to be a part of the conversation and to listen and learn from your customers’ experiences, instead of avoiding them.
Community management is often seen as a junior position and while it may be depending on the social media channels in question, it is an important role and this position should be given the respect it deserves.
Like in a retail store, the person managing your social media is the front of house, they form part of your audience’s first impression, which means that it is important that this person, or persons, are given the training and support they require to perform their job well.
Your community manager needs to have strong customer service skills, the ability to work efficiently and think on their feet, and to work well within a team, as they will often need to source information to unexpected questions.
As we have addressed, community management is both reactive and proactive. You don’t have to wait around for your followers to engage with your social media. Invite and encourage them to participate by using:
Throughout this article, we have explored what it takes to successfully manage a social media community. Let’s take a look at some brands that are nailing it.
As we have highlighted throughout, social media is an essential tool in delivering exceptional customer care and quality customer experience. While we have seen the importance of community management increase during COVID-19, in reality, many businesses have been well and truly lagging in this area. Hopefully, businesses of all sizes can use this time to review their current community management strategies and begin to improve and build on their delivery.
If you would like someone to review and or assist with your community management, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here.