By Ben Lloyd

June 27th, 2017

Most brands have already realized that social media has completely changed the customer service game – but many still struggle to properly manage their channels. Community management becomes even more complicated when you consider how quickly social media platforms are developing.

To help you regain control of your social efforts, and to better engage your customers, we’ve created this all new list of Dos & Don’ts to help you out.

DO draw up some guidelines
Social media may be slightly different to your other communications channels, but you must still be able to deliver a consistent customer experience. Creating some guidelines for your social media team will help to define and maintain the consistency.

Ensuring everyone knows what is (and is not) acceptable, and the correct tone of voice will help customers to know what to expect from your business.

DON’T hide from criticism
Unhappy customers are a fact of doing business – and social media gives them a platform to air their grievances. The natural instinct is to shut these complaints down as quickly as possible – but doing so means missing an important opportunity.

Leaving negative comments and feedback in place allows your social listening team to try and resolve issues publicly – showcasing your exceptional customer service in the process. 

DO set some community boundaries
Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are bastions of free speech. This does not, however, give people free reign to make slanderous, libelous, or deeply offensive comments in your community channels.

Your social team needs to set some community guidelines in advance to deal with inappropriate content. In effect, this gives your social media listening team the right to remove, block or report content that breaks the law – or the basic rules of taste and decency by which your business operates.

DON’T be afraid to use humor. Carefully.
Humor is massively popular on social media, and customers love to see a brand having a joke with their followers. Dollar Shave Club post a steady stream of humorous images to their Instagram feed, for instance, helping build a healthy 81K+ community of followers.

 

Proudly cleaning up the half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herders since 2012. #MayThe4thBeWithYou

A post shared by Dollar Shave Club (@dollarshaveclub) on


Other brands like Tesco Mobile are actively listening for opportunities to engage with people who aren’t even talking about the brand directly. They then engage in gentle teasing to start new conversations – a tactic that often results in their updates being shared far and wide.

Just remember that humor can backfire because not everyone finds the same things funny – using sarcasm is a particularly high-risk strategy. Make sure you try and get a feel for your individual followers before starting a joke. And if in doubt, play it safe – especially if your tone of voice guidelines call for a more serious approach.

DO be real
Even in the digital age, the old sales mantra remains true – people buy from people. Be real with your followers and they will respect you a whole lot more.

Don’t forget to stay on brand though.

DON’T stop listening
Often customers and prospects will be having conversations about your brand – and you are not necessarily involved. Effective use of social listening tools will help you find these conversations and provide you with opportunities to engage.

In the Gillette example below, the company turned a sarcastic comment about their pricy razors into an easy win. There are potentially thousands of such opportunities floating out there each day.

DO offer help and advice
Often customers will reach out to your brand via social media with questions or problems. Make sure your team has sufficient training and experience to resolve these queries. You should also build an escalation framework so that more difficult issues are escalated to an in-house product/service expert quickly, allowing you to provide answers as fast as possible.

Your social listening team should also be looking for opportunities to provide help and advice to people who are not asking your brand directly. Monitoring chatter about your products and services can identify people who need help and advice, drawing them into engagement with you.

DON’T be too slow
32% of customers complaining on social media expect a response within 30-minutes. Which means that your business needs to be listening around the clock, ready to deal with customer comments as quickly as possible. In doing so, you help your customers feel valued, that your brand is truly interested in helping them.

Your competitors are just a click away – wait too long and you could lose your customers.

 

“32% of people interacting with brands on social media expect a response within 30 minutes.”

Jay Baer

DO be on trend
You should also prep your social media team to respond to news and events quickly, particularly those that present an opportunity to promote your brand. Consider Irish budget airline Ryanair’s response to the UK’s recent general election result, which even quotes one of the political party’s campaign slogans.

DON’T stop engaging
Many customers simply want to feel that their feedback (good or bad) is being heard by your brand. No matter if they are posting a concern, a complaint or even just positive feedback, they will appreciate your attention.

Do use video
Video is incredibly powerful on social networks. You can showcase products and services, or provide users with a glimpse behind the scenes at your business. “How to” videos will help your customers get more from their purchases too. On the social marketing side, video is extremely important for getting your message out. Facebook’s algorithms actively promote video content, increasing its visibility.

The figures say it all. Are you rising to the rise of video? Source: Statista

 Your social media team also needs to pay more attention to live-streaming channels such as Periscope, Facebook Live and Instagram Live. These tools will become increasingly important for engaging customers in real time, answering questions, providing advice or simply entertaining them using your channels.

DON’T be tied to a single social network
Facebook may be the biggest social network at the moment, but that could change in future. The meteoric growth of Instagram and Snapchat shows how quickly consumer tastes and interests change.

As you build your social listening strategy, take time to assess the available channels and how they could be applied to your marketing. Your strategy needs to be flexible too – that way you can add new channels as they become available, engaging with your customers wherever they are.

DO see every issue through to completion
If you promise an answer to a question, make sure it is delivered. There’s nothing wrong with asking for more information or time from your customers, but you must deliver on your promises every single time. You may find that a social media listening tool helps keep track of these issues and making sure they are completed.

DON’T “respond” to everything
Use a social triage system to assess which comments are more important than others, and focus on dealing with those in full. You can then use “Like” or “Love” to acknowledge customers and followers – you don’t have to respond to every comment with one of your own.

Often this most basic level of acknowledgment is enough to let customers know that you’ve seen their comments, reinforcing the belief that your brand cares about their opinions.

Know there are no set rules
The truth is that what works for one business may not work for everyone. The jokey tone of voice used by Innocent and Oreo allows them to be more playful – but that approach may not be suitable for every brand.

Fortunately these 14 Dos and Don’ts apply in most cases – and they are a perfect starting point for building a playbook for your own social media team. 

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