The bad news? When customers complain on social media, those complaints can tarnish your brand’s name for a wide audience faster than ever.
The good news? Just as complaints travel at light speed thanks to social media, so do compliments.
If you think you’re not “on” or “doing” social media, you’re wrong. Your company may not be active, but I guarantee your fans and your non-supporters are there. Because of this, it is the brand’s responsibility to create a social media experience that can turn a dissatisfied customer into a raving fan.
To help your brand do this, here are seven ways to create a memorable customer experience on social media.
1. Give Your Customers a Place to Talk Some companies are afraid to set up facebook pages because they allow customers to comment, which means someone might write something negative. It seems counterintuitive, but you should actually want customers to complain on your company’s Facebook page. If your customers are complaining about you on their personal, privacy-protected Facebook profiles, you have no way to know if they’re complaining, much less reach out to them and make it right.
When customers complain on your brand’s Facebook page, you can respond and resolve issues. If you do it right (and get a little lucky), unhappy customers will turn their opinions around and recommend you to friends because of your fantastic customer service.
2. Integrate Social Media Into Your Customer Service Neglecting your social media properties when they’re full of customer complaints is suicide for your brand. It’s like publishing a customer service hotline phone number that no one ever answers. (Except worse, because the whole Internet can see your negligence.)
Don’t open up the floor for complaints without a plan to handle them. Predict the complaints you may get and construct policies for replying to them. You should also plan on responding to fans who compliment you. At the very least, you should thank customers for the compliment. But if you really want to make customers happy, show happy customers your appreciation with coupons or other rewards.
3. Activate Your Existing Customer Base Most brands have more customers than they do Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Start building your social media fan base by reaching out to your current customers — after all, they already “like” your brand in real life.
Think about how you currently contact your customer base and how you can use those communication channels to draw customers to your social media properties. For example, you could run a contest or promotion on Facebook and then include that promotion on your product’s packaging, in your next email, and in any touch point you have with your customers.
4. Be Proactive Don’t just wait for someone to post on your wall or tweet your account. It’s especially easy on Twitter to monitor for mentions of your name and reach out when someone has a problem, even if they haven’t mentioned your account. Set your brand apart by proactively interacting with customers who are talking about your brand, whether you’re thanking them for a compliment or helping them solve a problem.
Think about why your customers use social media sites like Twitter — it’s because they want to “connect” and to have a voice out there. Make them happy that someone, most importantly your company, is listening to what they have to say.
5. Reward Influencers
Find the social media influencers for your audience and give them extras. This could be as simple as giving them advance notice of a special promotion, or complex as giving them a free trip and tour of your facilities. For example, check out what Musselman's apple sause did for its blogger network. Making people feel special will help turn them into advocates for your brand. Reward your brand ambassadors when they least expect it and you’ll see some pretty phenomenal results.
6. Create Compelling Content Give your fans something of value on your page. For example, Nordstom’s Beauty Central on Facebook provides a ton of relevant, useful content. You can do something similar to this in every industry. If you’re a movie producer, post behind-the-scenes photos, and if you’re a bank, write money saving tips. It’s hard to get people to engage with your brand when you don’t have anything interesting to say. Every brand can (and should) create quality content.
Social media can be a channel to make customers or followers feel special, like they’re in an exclusive club with your brand because they follow you. Make them feel this exclusiveness whether you have ten social media fans or 100,000.
7. Stand Out From the Crowd Some of the most memorable social media experiences are created by going beyond text. This can be as complex as Starbucks’s Pumpkin picture app, or simple as using voice applications to let your brand’s spokesperson actually speak to your fans. The more interactive and engaging your social media presence, the better. In part, social media is a little anti-social because there can be a lot lost in plain text. By giving your fans a true voice on social media, or encouraging participation through photos and videos, you humanize the experience that much more. You’ll be doing so when most of the other companies out there aren’t really participating effectively this way.
Has a brand ever given you a truly memorable social media experience? Let us know in the comments.