A Little More Conversation
What is online engagement, what does it mean?
Here at Social Results we believe that successful online engagement is rooted in great conversation. So, let’s see what Google says about the word conversation and how this could apply to your online business communication strategy.
a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged.
What we have is an exchange between people, something very different to the corporate and brand broadcast styles of marketing used over the decades and more akin to a visit to your friendly local corner shop. Broadcast marketing isn't dead, but in the days of social media it should be considered an aspect, not the be all and end all, of your strategy.
This less formal approach is something that those who have worked in the client and customer relationship management fields will find to be second nature, however those unused to the spontaneity of talking directly with the public may find it a little daunting. Keep reading to get an insight into the world of public service delivery.
First of all remember that as long as you respond to people in a timely fashion, or approach people who are seeking what you are offering (intercept marketing) you have a very good chance of reinforcing and improving, your organisation’s reputation. These people already want your attention, or are warm to your offering, so don't be scared.
Remind yourself why you are in business and why people are better off using your services or products rather than a competitor's and get online and tell them in enthusiastic and friendly manner why you are the service to choose. Top tip: never ever bad mouth a competitor, even if you are right it will make you appear negative and possibly even spiteful which doesn't usually sell well, unless it is a gimmick.
Find out who the most influential people and organisations within your sector are and learn from them and, if possible, engage with them. An influencer in your sector recommending your services can significantly raise your profile and do wonders for your reputation, however respect their powers of influence as they cut both ways. Don't bombard them and they may come around to your services or products.
Answer queries as quickly as you can and be seen to be doing it in a polite and friendly manner. This approach can do wonders as not only does the person you are conversing with see your responses, anyone with access to your network can see it too, and if you are seen to be helpful are more likely to engage with you in the future.
If you are feeling brave enough, it suits your organisation, you are comfortable doing so, and it appropriate to the conversation don't be afraid to add a little humour. However, if someone is being negative we don't advise wisecracks as it can appear flippant and that you do not take people's concerns seriously. Take a look at our earlier blog entries concerning complaints handling and identifying trolls.
One of the hardest things is to keep thinking of new things to say, resorting to word or picture or Facebook Like challenges may get you a lot of superficial engagement on an network but will it get you business or accurately represent your organisation? If you are finding it difficult our team can help you to identify potential sources of meaningful, interesting and entertaining content, so get in touch.
Customer Relationship Management
Social networks are places where individuals hold the power; they invite you into their world so make sure you abide by the social rules of engagement.
For super brands, the Coca-Colas of this world, broadcast media is all that is needed to keep them in the forefront of people’s minds. They aren't going to be able to field all of the questions people might have as millions upon millions of customers use their product, so they keep a reasonable corporate distance.
For everyone else a genuine positive and conversational approach goes a very long way to help businesses connect with their audience of customers and clients. What follows is a handy list of pointers, which is by no means exhaustive, about some online business communication basics.
People tend to take about what they know, and human experience goes a long way. Find something people will be able to relate to directly that relates to your brand or service, be thoughtful and creative and you’ll generate a conversation rather than a row. Check out our Portfolio for some examples of this in action.
If someone has made the effort to try to connect with you, don’t leave them hanging. If you can react immediately (especially on Twitter) do so, even if it is to let them know you will get back to them, if not don’t worry just make sure you don’t forget. Social media is fast, keep up and people will keep their interest in you.
One of the golden rules in management and customer services is to “manage expectations”. If you can’t supply someone with a product or service suggest an alternative or direct them to somewhere that can. They will remember you as a trustworthy source and you will have a much greater chance of connecting in a positive way in the future.
Apart from a very small number services and products humour can be used as a key way to connect. There is no exact science, but anything that is likely to trigger a positive emotional response has a much higher chance of “going viral”. Check out our Portfolio for a few examples.
When it comes to services and products that would not be suited to a humorous approach please get in touch as we will be able to use our experience working with emotionally charged people to advise you on techniques that would suit your organisation and your clients or service users.
Keep on Message
Remember why you are using social media, think quality not quantity. No matter how many Likes and follows, shares and comments you are getting, if this is not converting into sales or making a positive impact on whatever your organisation’s goal may be, you are wasting time and money.
If this is a sticking point, get in touch and we will help you to measure your social media impact effectively.
A lot of this will come as second nature to those who have a lot of experience working in public and client-facing positions, but we understand that this can be a challenge for those new to direct communication with the public. We’ve got around 17 years front-line client relationship experience so get in touch and we’ll help you to make social media work for you.
Don’t feed the Trolls?
This is a common phrase often found on the internet, or heard in conversation but what does it mean?
The phrase “Feeding the Trolls” refers to giving attention to someone who is on a mission to wreak havoc at your expense and draw attention away from what you should be doing. In the case of businesses this means losing valuable customer relations and engagement you could be having with your real customers.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, some people just want an argument. In the end it really doesn’t really matter what the root cause is, if someone has decided to target your organisation in order to start a fight you aren’t going to be able to reason with them.
Just make sure you know the difference between a Troll, and someone with a real grievance that you can help with.
How to identify a Troll, some or all may apply:
How to deal with a Troll effectively:
Take screenshots, if someone complains about being blocked you have all the evidence you need to support your actions.
On the odd occasion some individuals may announce that they know a better organisation than yours and post links to them. If that organisation is a true competitor, no matter how tempted you might be, don’t get defensive, instead congratulate them on finding a service that meets their needs. You aren’t going to get their custom any way, and if they have been acting unreasonably others will see that your organisation doesn't need to pander to people who exhibit that kind of behaviour.
Your community will thank you for being professional and sticking to your guns. Remember this is your little section of the internet and no one has the right to abuse you or others who have chosen to be there. Much the same as if someone started hollering abuse in the middle of a shop, you’d get the security guards to escort them off the premises.
Having a run-in with a Troll can be very unsettling; no one wants or deserves to be on the receiving end of a tirade of abuse, be it directed at your organisation or your followers. If you find yourself in this situation make sure that you discuss it with someone outside of the network. This is not a sign of weakness and is a tactic used by many people who work with the general public or challenging individuals to reduce the emotional impact difficult exchanges can produce.
To quote Alfred the butler in Batman "Some men just want to watch the world burn"©, thankfully the chances of you having to deal with someone like The Joker are quite slim.
For further information you can get in touch with us in a variety of ways on our Contact page. Unfortunately we are unable to charter carrier pigeons. :)
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The Negative Comment Switcheroo
You have a great product or service, people are interested in what you do, you are increasing the traffic to your website and everything appears to be going swimmingly, then one commenter makes a negative statement about your product or service.
The answer is in fact e), with the proviso that if you then find you are dealing with a Troll a combination of options a) to d) may then be appropriate. We'll explain more about Troll handling in a future blog post.
Lets assume we aren't dealing with a Troll but a person with a real grievance, and see that whilst options a) to e) might be tempting they really aren't the best course of action for your organisation:
So how do you engage with someone who has made a negative comment? Follow these five easy steps:
No matter how trivial a problem may seem to you, remember you are just one of the many experiences that life throws at people everyday. Don’t take it personally and treat that person how you would like to be treated if you were having a bad day.
But why take the time and effort, does this really matter in the end when you need to make sales?
Many years ago, before the internet, it was well know in business spheres that a person who had a good experience with a company would only tell around half as many people as when they had a bad experience with a company. However, those who had a bad experience that was dealt with professionally and courteously would tell even more people about how great an organisation was.
Fast forward to today, with the power of social networks amplifying these behaviours a hundred-fold if not more, it's worth taking the time to protect your organisation’s reputation and play the long game when it comes to customer retention. We actually recommend running searches to ensure you can step in to help those who might not be having the positive experience you hope they would with your product or services.
If you don’t have the time, we can make the effort for you.