One of the biggest reasons people are hesitant about getting their businesses up and running on social media is that they are afraid of what users might post/share/say about their brand. Guess what, they’re doing it anyway!
Time after time, I hear this understandable fear, considering these online social networking tools are new and, in some ways, an unpredictable way of sharing thoughts and feelings for the world to see. What if someone leaves a negative comment about an experience with your business? Any prospective patron can see that comment.
My response to this fear is to not give in to the fear! The nature of social media means it is commonplace for consumers to share their thoughts and opinions online, and businesses need to be accommodating to survive in the Web 2.0 era.
Leverage the Opportunity
Social media is a great way to communicate with your stakeholders. The ease and ubiquity of websites like Facebook means your target audience can leave feedback quickly and directly, and sometimes that feedback can be negative, but you can use that communication opportunity to your benefit! If someone leaves a negative comment about your business, consider it a chance to open up dialogue about how to better serve your customers. Even better, it gives you an opportunity to right a wrong and create a powerful impression of your brand.
Online Feedback is a Two-way Street
In the old days, customers wrote letters or left comment cards with businesses to express how they felt about the service they were getting. Smart business owners would take these comments to heart and respond with better service, but often there was no way to get back to the concerned customer directly.
With social media, all that has changed. Now business owners can respond quickly to a commenter simply by replying to his or her post. The advantages to this method are two-fold: (1) You know your customer is receiving a timely response that he or she will read in short order and (2) because social media is public, you demonstrate to others that you take their feedback seriously and sincerely want to turn a negative experience into a positive one.
Building the Trust
Any business owner knows that the best way to stay in business is to develop lasting relationships with customers. Social media gives you the advantage of communicating directly with them. You can create dialogue and communicate in a direct way that was not possible before.
It’s important to not think that feedback is always negative! The old adage that the loudest voices are always from the few unhappy is not necessarily true in the online world. In fact, satisfied customers are likely to leave quick posts about the great experience they had with your company while they are cruising the Web.
People are more likely to leave feedback on social media than they are using older methods, because it is so much easier. That is the nature of social media—leaving thoughts and opinions publicly. What better way to show how good you do your job than to have some unsolicited testimonials right on your business’s social media page? Many times when someone says something negative, others will reply back in defense of your brand. Talking about powerful!
Social media continues to amaze me. It has so many uses, it’s almost limitless. It can be seen as a vehicle for advertising, public relations, promotional marketing—so many different things. As I alluded to in this blog entry, social media can be used as a powerful customer service tool.
Social media is what you make it to be. It’s how your organization decides to utilize emerging technologies to leverage your brand into the market place. If you don’t, competitors will—and are. Don’t get left behind.