Depending on your business, you may see customers face-to-face or talk with them over the phone every day. But a lot of companies don’t see social media in the same way; they’ll use their accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks just to post information instead of interacting with their followers (and potential customers). Social networking is actually an amazing opportunity to build relationships with your customers.
When we work with a company on their social media presence, we try to apply the Golden Rule when it comes to posts, replies, and mentions from people around the web; in other words, if we were writing something about a company on social media, how would we want them to respond? As Alan mentioned in his post about responding to negative feedback, it’s important to (almost) always acknowledge a person when they mention your company, no matter if they’re saying something great or if they had a bad experience. Sometimes that’s as simple as liking their Facebook post as your page, or sending a quick tweet of “Thanks!” Sharing or retweeting posts can also be useful for people who obviously really like your company or brand; it shows that you’re listening and that you think their thoughts are important enough to share with others.
But remember that your response is often the first interaction a potential customer will have with your company. How can you leave the best first impression possible? Spend an extra minute to see if you can…
- Give them (a little) more information than they need. If someone asks when you close, don’t just reply with a time; try something like, “We close at 8:00 tonight. If you can’t make it in, we’re open 11-8 all week and 11-4 on Saturday. Hope to see you!” If they said they liked your cookie dough ice cream, try to suggest something else they might like on their next visit: “We’re glad you liked it! Next time you might want to try Cookie Blast – it’s a new flavor this year that’s a cross between cookie dough and cookies & cream.” (I just made that up for this post, but it actually sounds really, really good right now.)
- Make your reply relevant. Take a look at the profile and latest posts of the person who is talking with you. Can you use that information to make a better reply? Imagine you work at a Bar Harbor restaurant, and a man asks about where you’re located. If you notice that he’s from around Bar Harbor, you might use landmarks he may know: “We’re just off Route 3 next to the Village Green.” If you see that he’s been posting about how excited he is to be going on a cruise around New England, it might be a good idea to tailor your reply accordingly: “We’re on the road across from the town pier, two blocks up the hill on the right.” You might even include a link to a special page on your restaurant’s site geared to cruise ship visitors. (Of course, as with everything online, there are limits; keep in mind that it’s great to be helpful, but not great to be creepy.)
Social media is often your first interaction with a potential customer. Be fun and approachable, but also be empathetic when people have a problem. Whether they have a question, a concern, or a lot of praise, write back and leave them smiling!