For many small business owners getting on the bandwagon of social media is a novel and scary experience. They recognize that they cannot avoid it because that’s where their current and potential customers are. But at the same time they are scared due to lack of knowledge and experience. We showed 3-step approach to overcome social media fears in the earlier post. In this post we will show how you can get the most out of social media by following the best practices.
- Monitor your reputation. Social media is a Wild West of online world. Customers are free to say what they think about your business – some may be true, some not. Regardless whether it is true or not, the customer comments on social media do influence the behavior of other customers and your future business. That’s why it is important to keep a watchful eye on what is being said on Facebook , Twitter , Yelp and other social media sites.
- Stay active. While monitoring your social media reputation is a good start, you will not be able to get the most out of it by doing that alone. Social media is all about interaction with customers. In addition to listening, you need to actively participate in conversation. You cannot be afraid of negative comments about your business. Instead, you need to respond appropriately and make sure the concerns raised by the customers are addressed in the form of apology, rebate, clarification or other appropriate means. You also need to accentuate the positive comments so that other customers are aware of them, thereby raising your business reputation.
- Be quick. Social media is about real-time conversation. You cannot wait for days, or even hours, before addressing the concerns being raised there. By then they will have spread like weeds impacting your business reputation. You need to monitor in real-time and respond quickly to anything that has the potential to harm your business.
- Be honest. Phony conversations and false promises do not go well on social media. People participating on social media sites are not afraid to speak their mind and they expect others to do the same. It doesn’t mean getting in the shouting match with your customers. It means being genuine about your conversations and not pretending to be something that your business is not. If you do not agree with the comments say so, albeit tactfully.
- Be selective. As much as you need to be active and quick on social media, you still have to prioritize and be selective about how much you should participate. Let’s face it; social media can be a big time waster if you are not careful. Just ask those who are spending countless hours talking to friends and playing games on Facebook. That’s why it is important to pick your battles wisely. It might also be helpful to hire someone to do this on your behalf. Just make sure that the person understands what your business stands for and represents it fairly and accurately in the online world.
- Don’t forget the human touch. After everything is said and done, social media cannot and will not replace the human touch that is essential for building trust and long-term relationship with your customers. You still need to ensure that face-to-face interaction and customer service is preserved and valued by all employees of your business. After all, behind every Avatar on Facebook there is a human being who is your current or potential customer.
What is your experience in interacting on social media? Any feedback or advice for the other readers?