In today’s information age full of technological and communication advances brands and corporations are able to get closer than ever before to their customer base. Whilst social media sites provide excellent opportunities for brands to interact and gather information from consumers regarding their products and services, it is important that they appreciate that social communication is two way.
As much as brands might hope or believe it, social media is not simply a means for corporate organisations to harvest personal data for future targeted advertising campaigns. In the eyes of the consumer coporate social media channels should provide relevant updates and news, address customer issues or answer questions regarding the company or brand.
Evidence suggests that brands which fail to address or ignore customer concerns online are damaging not only their online reputation but bottom line sales as well.
Major brands particularly in the retail sector are notoriously lax in their one to one customer interaction, preferring to distribute mass generic messages.
A huge amount of positive consumer PR can be had from offering genuine customer service online and social media gives organisations the perfect platform to promote a welcoming and transparent company image.
1. Always Respond
It may seem obvious but it is something which most organisations ignore. When a customer communicates with you through social media always take the time to respond and deal with any issues or comments they have, There is a suitable response for everything, whether positive, negative or mere spam. You don’t need to address spam directly, simply comment highlighting the rules on spam or profanity on the page. Don’t just ignore it and pretend that it didn’t happen.
If a customer asked you a question at a convention or conference you wouldn’t just walk away and ignore them that would look terrible! Ignoring comments online projects a similar image of neglect and (lack of) care.
2. Get Search Savvy
Particularly relevant to Twitter, given the volume of messages often sent and received, is the use of the search tool. Social media monitoring tools are able to scan for mentions of your brand but you can do this yourself utilising the search. Search for your brand alongside general keywords to gauge online consensus of your brand. Personal checking of your brand’s social reputation online could avoid problems and issues being missed or allow questions to be answered more quickly.
3. Solve Problems Offline
You will receive negative feedback, even if your product is, overall, successful and popular. How you react and deal with negative feedback will tell the public a lot about your business and its customer relationship management. Address the disgruntled user directly and offer your help in solving the issue. Provide clear instructions or details on how to contact someone who will be able to help. Ignoring the negative feedback will do even greater damage. Respond in a positive and friendly manner at all times to promote an image of care and concern for customers. You may well find that the negative response is a one off or unsubstantiated.
4. Maintain Professional Standards
As tempting as it may be, particularly when dealing with negative comments, you must not reply to a consumer in a way that suggests anything other than total professionalism. Any slip up will not be long forgotten and in most cases a deletion will not protect you. Maintain professional standards at all times, offering helpful advice to all customers.
5. Always Provide Clear and Consistent Feedback
It’s all very well responding to each issue in a friendly and helpful manner. But you have to actually deal with the issue and help the consumer in some way. Offering up a confusing, misleading or irrelevant response to a question or query will likely worsen the situation. Ensure you keep track of what has been said and who has responsibility for dealing with each of the issues. Always give the customer the option and availability to speak directly to you through telephone or email.
Adhering to these simple tips will help you best utilise social media for positive consumer PR, developing strong CRM and a healthy online brand reputation.
[author ]Ross Moffat is a PR and Marketing enthusiast and freelance writer for PR Agency Beattie Communications. He has been writing professionally on a variety of topics for over 2 years.[/author]