As big brands and corporations move toward using social media platforms and developing online communities they should consider investing the time to learn the “game rules” of how to effectively communicate and interact with their fans online.
Many conservative and skeptical-to-try-social brands take the Big Brother approach to their community management philosophies, creating what may not be the best approach when tackling the intricacies and nuances of social media relationship management.
Responding to Fan Comments
If fans, followers and clients don’t agree with corporate ideologies or if they dare color outside the corporate rule book, many companies are too quick to respond in a defensive manner or circumvent the matter entirely by simply deleting a post they don’t agree with. Often it’s reactive and without reason, even though a post isn’t slanderous to their brand or disruptive to their reputation.
The heart of social media is about building long-term relationships and it’s important that companies remember to inject a human personality into their online profiles rather than a steel-cased corporate one. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter should be utilized to support ongoing conversations to fan ideas, thoughts and comments on a long-term basis. Social media is a two-way street.
Improve your social media relationship management:
1. Every fan in your social media community has a different opinion and experience of your brand and view it differently than you do as a business owner or C-level executive overseeing the brand.
2. Your clients are the experts. They are the ones that spread the word about their experiences with your brand. Do they love it? Do they hate it? They’ll tell their friends via word-of-mouth—and today’s word-of-mouth is social media.
3. When consumers are considering purchasing a product, they ask their friends and family about what they think about your product or service. They’ll believe their friends well before they believe what you push out through your social media and marketing/PR efforts.
4. Allow your fans to share their opinions in your social media communities. Having the ability to monitor discussions under your watchful eye, opposed to other sites you may not know about, offers you an opportunity to let the conversation occur organically and before your eyes. You can also step in for comment when the time is appropriate. You’ll be surprised that many of your brand champions will jump to your rescue if needed. Again, your customer’s opinions are more valuable than yours, since you are “Big Brother” in many of your customer’s eyes.
5. Allowing organic discussion to occur in your social media communities breeds trust within your community and gives insight into your clients’ attitudes towards your brand and how you may better serve them. There is much rich knowledge that can be gleaned from feedback in your social media communities and you can then disseminate it to the appropriate departments in your organization so they’re familiar with the conversations taking place around their scope or your brand they manage.
6. For every question or comment that is asked by a fan, follower or client, it is likely on the mind of ten-fold more. Pay attention. Take notes.
7. Social media monitoring standards reflect that one should never remove a post without some discussion around it if it’s not truly detrimental to one’s brand. Even if it is, the community manager should take the time to explain why a post is removed when it has already become an engaged topic. Again, this builds a community of trust and makes fans feel/think that “Big Brother” (your brand) isn’t going to remove posts that don’t necessarily reflect the brand’s ideals if aren’t in 100 percent alignment.
8. Lastly, if you do have to remove a controversial post take a screen shot of it or copy it before you delete it. They will provide valuable examples regarding why and how to resolve issues in the future.