Customer service has long been a pillar for all businesses, big and small. It was usually a one-on-one interaction that in large part was private. In recent years there has been a shift in how the customer interacts with a brand. They share their experience online. Today, people not only experience a brand – they communicate with it, and one of the easiest ways for this dialogue is through social media.
Gone are the days where an advertiser could push out a message and it be the only voice of their brand. Today one must embrace the conversation between you and your customers. Those who choose not to participate have opted out of a very powerful and influential aspect of their branding.
6 Ways to Join the Conversation the Right Way:
- Be Visual
If pictures are worth a thousand words, an image is a great way to get around that pesky character limit. Images within your posts are read far more often than those with plain text.
- Be Topical and Responsive to Trending Topics
When something big is trending – be on top of it. If you can bend a light-hearted newsworthy story to your brand without losing authenticity, it’s worth a post. Sharing usually reaches far more people than you alone could ever do by yourself.
- Problems Are Public, Not Private
People don’t recall the details of a problem as much as how it was resolved. There are always people that will never be pleased, no matter what you do. If the customer is being unreasonable, they will be judged by their peers accordingly. For the rest, find a way to impress and resolve. It may be the best advertising you do for your brand all year.
- Don’t Block Them – Answer Them
If Social Media is a conversation then deleting a post is like slamming a door in someone’s face. Unless they are being extremely abusive, keep the dialogue going until a resolution is reached.
- Target Taste-Makers
Taste-makers are people with large followings that can help your message get to the right people faster. Find taste-makers that share your target. Make it fun, unique and most importantly, “re-tweetable.”
- Do Not Broadcast
Twitter is not a medium to broadcast a promotion or investor announcements. Encourage engagement. Find ways to spark conversation with them that they’ll be interested in having.
Examples of Brands Doing Social Media Right
Taco Bell was an early adopter of this approach and has seen significant uptake with people between the ages 18-34. Their voice online is in line with how people of their demographic speak. Using witty responses to their followers’ questions they get numerous re-tweets on a daily basis. They reach out to taste-makers around the world in unique ways that include custom Halloween costumes that play off the celebrity’s own story, or home-made jewelry with hand-written notes for the taste-maker to post on their own feed. Two thirds of their feed is done with imagery. This prompts even more engagement. Most importantly, they don’t pretend to be something they’re not. With posts like, “When all else fails, there’s always Taco Bell,” they know their brand isn’t the end-all be-all in the lives of their target. They recognize it and people respond to their brutal honesty.
When all else fails, there's always @TacoBell.
— Taco Bell (@tacobell) October 17, 2013
Delta Airlines’ industry is permeated with safety and corporate talk. But on Social Media, they have found a special balance of responding openly to customer issues as well as posting messages that inform as well as entertain. An image that was reported in an article by TIME shows the backside of one of their jets with the caption, “Baby got back! We like big jets and we cannot lie, this 737 is ready to fly.” Some brands have more latitude than others, and Delta has obvious limitations regarding safety concerns, but even they can find room to make it interesting.
Baby got back! We like big jets and we cannot lie, this 737 is ready to fly. pic.twitter.com/N9BaWWi3SR
— Delta (@Delta) July 30, 2013
These are just a few brands that truly interact with their target. They have shown time and time again that Social Media is a valuable tool to build brand loyalty and to keep your business top-of-mind. Embracing the openness of communication with your customers while remaining authentic, engaging and informative is crucial to being part of the conversation. Following these tips will help you on your way to opening an engaging dialogue with your customers that builds brand loyalty and improves your bottom line.