Social media has become an integral part of marketing for businesses large and small. That’s a no-brainer. But it’s not just for fun and memes. The benefits of being active on social networks even go beyond developing a presence and promoting your brand.
With proper monitoring, you can also use social media as a tool for managing your online reputation and building better relationships with customers.
How to Monitor
First, you must know how to track social media conversations. While you can do this individually on each social media site, it’s much easier to use a social media management tool, such as HootSuite, Domo, Spredfast, Sprout Social or Adobe Social that rolls them into one interface. Set up alerts and searches for your company’s name and products/services, plus other important industry terms. This helps you see conversations mentioning your brand and your industry so you can respond instantly. Some businesses devote entire people and office space to monitoring social media, such as the pictured social media command center at Dell.
Once you are set up with your tool of choice, here are three ways social media monitoring can give your online reputation an edge:
Providing excellent customer service should be key to any business, but it’s not just about 1-800 numbers anymore. Your social media accounts can be some of the best tools for efficiently addressing issues and concerns from customers.
Use social media to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by responding to any questions (or complaints) in efforts to understand and resolve the situations, and doing so quickly. A 2012 Oracle report states that over half of Twitter users expect a response within two hours of tweeting about a customer service issue, while 51 percent of Facebook users expect a 24-hour response. You’re not limited to interacting with customers directly tweeting at you or posting on your Facebook page. When you’re actively listening on social media, you can reach out to customers talking about your product, whether it’s thanking them for their support or offering them assistance if they’re frustrated.
It is also important to be proactive so you can avoid being on the defensive later. If you are aware of a service issue, use social media to let know customers know that there is a situation, you are aware of it and you are taking the necessary measures to fix it.
Getting immediate customer feedback has never been easier since social media entered the picture. People love sharing their opinions, but filling out lengthy surveys and response cards can feel like a chore. Social media offers a great opportunity to solicit customer insight on products and services, and you can do so by just asking a simple question. This can also build engagement and loyalty with current and potential customers by showing you care about their opinions.
You can even use crowd-sourcing by launching a contest, like what Lays Potato Chips did with their “Do Us a Flavor” contest. The company selected a consumer-submitted recipe (Cheesy Garlic Bread) to be made into an actual new chip flavor via Facebook “likes” and Twitter hashtags.
While social media is an incredible tool for drawing attention to your business, the downside is that it can also draw negative attention in the case of a public relations crisis. Take a deep breath–if you address the situation quickly and effectively, your brand can recover with even more loyal followers and advocates afterward.
For example, in 2013, a photographer discovered that the fashion brand DKNY was using his photos in a window display without his permission. The photographer subsequently used social media to gain support and ask for a donation to the YMCA in lieu of personal payment (gaining nearly 34,000 likes and 4,000 comments in the process). DKNY had a strong and quick response (within four hours) explaining the exact details of the situation, sincerely apologizing for the mistake, and offering a charitable donation as suggested, defusing the situation before it got any more out of hand. A swift, sincere apology goes a long way when customers take their anger online. It’s helpful to be prepared for a crisis before one ever happens so you don’t have to waste time figuring out who will respond or how your company should handle it.
Social media is now a crucial part of managing your online reputation, making it important to dedicate resources to listening and responding. Contact us to learn how Message Sprout can help you set up or manage your social media monitoring.
Photo credit: Geoff Livingston