In the era of social media everyone is telling you, assuredly so, that you “have to get on Facebook/Twitter/Google+” and whatever else the new ‘fad’ of the week is. I’m not here to say that they aren’t important, I just want you to realize that social media can be potentially harmful to your engagement of customers and how they view you. I’ll use an example that works to prove to you just why social media can be harmful when it isn’t properly harnessed.
When looking for customer services for many businesses these days one needn’t look any further than the “message” section of their Facebook page. Have a grievance? One of their trained support workers will answer you (usually within minutes). This level of engagement is so personal, so quick, and so easy, that customers will surely remember it. Now, what if a business isn’t paying attention to their Facebook? This would mean that customers with real problems may be irritated, or, eventually lost. The same problem arises if a business is sometimes supportive and helpful and other times like a ghost.
Social media must be consistent.
It is not just about being there it is about being accessible, sharing and engaging, and not simply being a “landing page” or a soap box for ad promotions. The following are examples of what not to do on social media, or sins.
- Not having a presence: you can’t be a part of the conversation if you never show up to the party! Make sure you’re on social media and have a clear and concise message. Who are you? What do you do?
- Having an account you never use: businesses change, your phone number or email may be different. Customers could be trying to reach you.
- Not giving the same service to individual customers: You answered 10 people and then went to get coffee and never got back to the other 6? You may think they’ll never know the difference but people talk. If you’re a local business people may be discussing you with your friends. Never assume that a customer’s influence doesn’t matter. Would you ignore customers in your store after you helped the others in-front of them?
- Having an unprofessional page/influence: Your dog is cute, yes. But, people who are shopping at your hardware store are probably more interested in your services. Try to speak professionally, spell properly, and engage without the use of profanity. All that stuff is okay on your personal feed (providing it’s set to private) but your business shouldn’t say anything you wouldn’t tell a customer face to face.
- Your page is nothing but ads and links: Nothing screams “I don’t care about you” more than having a page that is nothing more than an advertisement. If I want to be advertised to, I’ll simply go to your website. While it’s okay to advertise at times (and you should!) your page should be more than a yellow page.
- Buying a page or being inauthentic: For social media to be effective, it must be utilized like any other media tool. You must be willing to put in the time in order to reap the benefits. Horror stories are shown in situations where brands simply “buy” pages that were already curated with followers. In the age of social media the authenticity factory is ever-important.
I recommend you spend at least one half hour a day on your social media pages (total) to ensure that they’re maintaining your brand’s image. At the very least, the followers you do gain, will feel as though they are being engaged by a real person, and not simply being advertised to. Social media is a powerful way to engage with customers and loyal fans. You should never step on this trust!
Shaylynn Hayes is a writer, advocate, and designer. She has an honours diploma in Creative Digital Media and is a web, graphic, and print designer. You can find her design services at East Coast Designs.