Using Social Media to Engage With Your Customers

Benefits, best practices, and more!

By Arielle Mullen, Digital Strategist

A recent study from Animoto found that in 2019, 60% of consumers who made a purchase from a brand found them on social media. The report also found that before visiting a brand’s website, 58% of consumers review their social media presence first (up 81% from last year). Meaning? From discovery to purchase, social media is massively important in the customer journey, and will likely only become more so as time goes on.

Social media was created for the purpose of dialogue, but most businesses have been hesitant to develop a social customer care strategy, opting instead to talk at their audience, and offering little in the way of value. Usually their reasoning comes down to one of two reasons: either they don’t believe it’s a valuable medium for engaging with customers, or they’re terrified by the idea.

Hopefully, the findings cited at the top of this article will have negated the first excuse, and if you find yourself in the latter category, you’re in luck! As a wise G.I. Joe once said, “Knowledge is power,” so today, we’re taking you through the top do’s and don’ts of social customer care. Read on to learn more!

90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year [2019], with 33% looking every day.   BrightLocal

DO conduct an audit of your social channels to identify where, when, and why people are reaching out. 

Mapping the touchpoints of communication between you and your audience(s) is crucial. By stepping through this process, you’ll gain an understanding of the general sentiment towards your brand, customer pain points, opportunities for improvement, and areas of strength. Not sure where to start? Try our STARR Assessment to gain a better understanding of your social channels.

In 2019, 60% of people surveyed have written reviews for positive experiences, while just 25% have written reviews for negative experiences.   BrightLocal 

DON’T ignore positive feedback. 

Whether negative or positive, have a plan in place for responding to comments. Social customer care is a spectator sport, and the absolute worst thing you can do is ignore feedback. Outline a policy and process so your team will know how to best engage with comments.

91% of consumers say positive reviews make them more likely to use a business, while 82% of consumers are less likely to use a business after seeing negative reviews. BrightLocal

DO use social to boost customer loyalty and protect brand reputation. 

Studies have shown that customers who receive a direct response on Twitter from a brand are willing to spend 3-30% more on future purchases, while 81% of users who are ignored will not recommend that company to their friends.

DO set expectations by clearly listing support hours on each social channel.

Making your customers feel ignored is a surefire way to induce fury, and there’s no fury quite like internet fury, so don’t forget this important step.

DON’T try to pass automation off as human. 

Regardless of the medium, we’ve all been there on the customer side. One minute you’re interacting with a company, whether by phone, email, or chat, and you realize you’ve been engaging with a chatbot, prerecorded voice, or automatic response. It’s an eerie feeling, and definitely not one you want your customers to experience. The pitfalls of chatbots Don’t go cursing Skynet just yet; these tools can be a valuable piece of your social strategy. The trick is to communicate with your audience the way they want to communicate with you.

76% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. BrightLocal

DO monitor your mentions.

If you’re only paying attention to messages and comments sent from your customers directly to you, you could be missing out on a giant piece of the conversation. When people create social posts about your business, they’re not always going to tag your account, so being proactive is a must. Google Alerts is a great (free!) tool to use that will allow you to collect information passively, without having to sink a ton of time into the task. To create an alert, head to www.google.com/alerts, type your business name into the search query box, choose how often you want to receive notifications (we recommend monthly), what kind of alerts are important to you, and where you’d like the info sent.

Set a recurring reminder to find mentions, then use what you find to engage with new audiences, answer questions, acknowledge positive feedback, or respond to negative comments. This type of proactive social listening will keep you in touch with public sentiment, and position your business as a master of social customer care.

DON’T lose your cool.

It’s rare (hopefully), but receiving negative feedback is an inevitable part of customer service. When dealing with someone who is particularly upset, remember to stay calm, acknowledge their complaint, and move the conversation offline by requesting they send a direct message, email, or call, so you can fix the problem. If you’ve employed this tactic and they continue to post angry (public) comments, it’s likely that their priority is performative more than resolution.

When it comes to social customer care, while the rules of engagement might seem daunting at first glance, a well-defined policy can make all the difference. We recommend taking the time to create the framework of communication sooner rather than later, as your efforts will help safeguard your business’s reputation for years to come.