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Engaging with Social Media

Here’s more concerning my “Social Media Manifesto.” In my last entry, I talked about Expanding with Social Media. Before that, it was Evolving with Social Media. Today, I’m going to speak to engaging with it. This is a bit of a departure from the other two, as many of these ideas speak to how a larger organization might engage in social media. But even an individual can put these principles to practice as she engages the world.

Social Media Involves Responding

Today’s customer service reps are used to responding to inbound calls, letters and now emails. But calls and letters are yesteryear forms of communication and studies show email is becoming passé. Today, people communicate through Facebook, Twitter and blog comments. Response teams should be taught to engage with their organization’s Facebook page, Twitter account and blog and respond to customer service issues accordingly. For individuals, it means doing the same thing on a smaller scale.

Social Media Involves Being Proactive

Lots of companies have learned to respond to customer complaints within their own network. But smart companies have learned to expand outside their network to really make an impact. Using creative, online tools such as Hootsuite, companies can search for keywords such as their company’s name or business field. When a complaint outside of their network is posted, they can reach out and respond to it, surprising the poster with superb customer service. For instance, I recently posted about an outage I had with Charter cable. Within 24 hours, I received a personal tweet from a Charter rep offering to help in any way he could. Was he doing this out of his own, good heart? No way. Charter has learned the game of being proactive. For individuals, it means using search tools to search for individuals talking about your field of expertise and engaging with them.

Social Media Involves Making Mistakes

When customer service reps respond to issues through social media, the response is immediate and permanent. Because reps are people and posts are perceived through the filter of the reader, mistakes will be made. Things will be said that the company wishes could be retracted. The good news is, social media is also forgiving. If a company posts hundreds of responses each week via Facebook, a few mistakes will eventually be buried and forgiven. The proper response is to handle any issue coolly, swiftly and directly. Also, to protect the organization at large, don’t have the CS reps responding under the moniker of the organization. Instead, have each one create an alias, such as “Ken@IBM”—this not only makes the response more personal, but it also protects the organization at large.

What are your thoughts on how to engage with social media?

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