I’ve had the opportunity to speak and work with a variety of community managers, and the best community managers, whether it’s managing a community on Facebook, a forum, Twitter or other platform, view every single consumer response and post as an opportunity. Customer content is nothing that should be ignored or removed or even taken for granted. The best community managers embrace it with open arms and aim to make the piece of content into something more.
Customers Want to Be Heard
A report from eMarketer found that 49.5% of consumers stated they’d be less likely to buy anything from a company that did not answer questions/complaints through their social media channels. 38.8% said they’d be somewhat less likely to buy, and only 11.7% stated that they wouldn’t care. To bring the point home even more, 83.8% of consumers find it at least somewhat important that company’s answer questions or complaints promptly.
There’s no way a brand can respond to every single response in the social space, but it’s certainly a worthwhile goal. It’s not all on the brand either. We have a lot of tools at our disposal, including bringing brand advocates in on the conversation, to help address questions. Consumers care. They want to be heard.
A brand’s social channels aren’t broadcast tools. They’re avenues to engage and respond to customers. More importantly, engaging and responding to customers helps protect a brand’s online reputation, which in the short and long-term can influence consumer purchase decisions.
Every Post Is an Opportunity
No matter what a customer says, it should be looked at as a potential opportunity, not only to retain the customer but also to maintain a positive online brand reputation. Brands can’t take consumer sharing for granted, and community managers should focus on providing help for customers.
Brands can offer real assistance through social channels. This doesn’t mean viewing community management as an automated machine. Provide custom solutions, and try to avoid pushing a customer somewhere else for more information. Chances are they’ve already gone down a few routes for support. Social media is often a last try to find a solution. Provide it as much as possible, and try to make it public. You may be saving yourself some time in the future by addressing the problems of more than just one person.
Don’t let problems or opportunities sit there. If someone posts something positive, say thank you and share it. If someone says something negative, be quick to respond. You may not have a solution right away. Just let them know they’ve been heard, and you’re working to help them. That can go a long ways. Mobile apps for Twitter and Facebook Pages make this easier than ever. Brands can offer personalized replies and customized solutions from just about anywhere.
You Have to Listen
All of the above is null and void if a brand isn’t listening. Brands should be tracking sentiment and mentions on an ongoing basis. Being on top of what’s being said and providing responses is the best way to maintain a positive online reputation and retain customers in the social space. Don’t let things linger. Seize opportunities when they come up.