If your company just got past the whole «Social Media is scary»-bit, I can understand that it seems easier to do what you have always done when promoting the company, but that is when things can go terribly wrong, and the internet remembers.
What I think a lot of companies working to find their place in the social media world do wrong, is to not let their employees get personal. The whole point of social media on a business level, lies in the first word: Social.
Tone of voice
I see so many Facebook-pages and Twitter-feeds daily with a social media-admin replying to customer feedback starting with «dear sir» or something similar, and you need to stop it. Use their first name, and for the love of everything lovable, stop directing them to sending you an e-mail or for that sake, a actual physical letter! Either direct message them asking for their e-mail and then you do the work and get in touch, or just direct message them! And do not leave them hanging for three days to answer them, unless it is the weekend, because social media is about quick response-time.
What I do when replying to one of the people on (as an example) the Facebook-page I run for my job, is firstly to reply via the medium they used to get to me. If they Facebook-message the page, I do the same back. if they tweet me, I tweet them back. If they write on our Facebook wall, I comment on their post back. And I keep it in a friendly but polite tone. I would still not in any way or form start using TXT-speak or slang, but I keep it informal.
This is part of a psychological «trick» that people are often advised to use face-to-face with new individuals: Reflect what they send you back to them. This does not mean that you copy and paste their post and send it back, of course. What I mean is that you need to reflect the way they write and the manner in which they contact you back, so if somebody were to write a more formal, long comment to my company through the Facebook page, I would write a more formal, more detailed comment back when answering them. If as a opposite example, somebody asked something like «Hi! When are you open tomorrow?» I would reply with «Hello, (name of person)! We are open from Xam to Xpm tomorrow!» The point here is: Don’t complicate things for yourself. People will probably appreciate you keeping their tone with them and giving them the kind of answers they would like.
Don’t sell, give something away!
What is my point about having commercial in the post title, then? Well, companies really, really ned to stop using social media platforms as a pure channel for them telling their clients about all their offers or great services. If someone likes your Facebook Page/Follows you on Twitter, they as a general start out are interested in your company in some way, they spent the energy to find you on social media platforms. It is completely fine to inform about services or an offer, but I have a couple of rules on this for our pages: On Facebook, I rarely repeat a post about an event or a survey at all, if I do, I never do it twice in a week. Facebook audience is not interested in being repeatedly told where they should be, and that spam report-button is easy to click. Another thing is to keep to relevant things to what we do as a company, but mix it up with some fun in between, to keep people’s curiosity.
If I have a lot of things to post, or I get requests from outside companies to post for them, I will post it on Facebook if I have the space (don’t over-post on Facebook, 3-5 posts a day is enough.) or I will post it on Twitter in a (obviously) shortened version. However, my acceptance for things to go on Twitter is lower than it is on Facebook, because Twitter and Facebook have different communities, and the short length on Twitter allows me more breathing room when it comes to posting several times a day, on Twitter I have no post per day-limit, but try to keep to 4 per hour as a max. It also as said needs to be relevant to what we do in some way.
Negativity keeps your feet on the ground
Another tip I have, is to not do like Applebee’s did recently, and let your reputation go down the drain, not to mention pouring gasoline on the fire. A good example to handle a social media-crisis, is portrayed in this article about KitchenAid. If a client called in a complaint about a mistake you did over the phone, you would not be sitting there yelling at them, so don’t do it via social media either. Applebee’s also made the mistake of deleting posts that spoke negatively about them, don’t censor your clients, it will not make them any happier about you. Have some rules uploaded somewhere visible on the page about what you will delete (attacks on a person/religion, irrelevant posts (state what is relevant), spam, etc.) and never delete anything but what you have pointed out in your statement.
- Interact and intrigue, don’t use your platforms for pure advertisement!
- Try starting some healthy discussions, or join in with others, but don’t turn into a hot-headed mess.
- Get personal! You don’t need to share what sugar you use in your coffee, but please share fun photos from the office or maybe a playlist of the background music in your lobby.
- Informal but polite is the way to go!
- If drama finds you, keep your cool.
- Don’t spam, but don’t let it go too long between posts either.
- Reflect your clients and their needs!
- Censoring your clients is a no-no, politely thank them for their input instead, and ask what you can do to make them come back to you in the future.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!