We live in fast times, my friends. Things in the social world are evolving and changing daily, actually by the minute. Algorithms change constantly. New products come to market every day. Marketing technology and tools are being developed as I write. And these new tools and services are being pitched to us all the time. Nearly all of these new, emerging technical solutions promise to solve all of our problems, and they may, in fact, solve them. But, before we find new ways to beat an algorithm or push more tweets at a time, I have an analog solution that every brand should have, but sadly, few do…it is the lowly social response model.
We all talk a good game about social media being about a dialog with customers. And we are really good at saying hello. What we have yet to master is the rest of the “dialog” or worse yet, when the customer says hello first. Last year, Lithium Technologies published a report that says customers will punish you for not responding quickly on Twitter. And by quickly, they mean within the hour! So a response model is just good business!
To do this, take a look at your current social channels. You probably have a few ideas of who these folks are. Some of your followers are trolls, plain and simple. Some of them are unhappy customers, some a raving fans. Create buckets for each of these segments.
Step Two – Determine the response
Each of the audiences you identify in the earlier phase will have different needs and motivations. You should develop a standard approach to handling those. For example an unhappy customer might just need to be heard and understand. So, the associated response might be to engage the person in an effort to revive their trust.
For example, not too long ago, I had to alert a brand to a failed QR code on a direct mail piece on Twitter. Instead of ignoring me (yay!) they responded quickly with a sincere apology and were accountable to the mistake. I was immediately won over simply because they responded.
Step Three – Find your voice
You have a brand and probably beautifully designed style guides. But, I bet you have yet to take those guides to social and put them into practice. This must be done. This is where the rubber meets the road and how you can differentiate your brand. There are far too many responses in social now that are clearly bots. And even when they aren’t bots, they sound like them because they are so darned generic.
Let me explain. In the above scenario, a brand should respond to an unhappy customer with an effort to revive their trust. So, the bot response is: “Sorry you are experiencing a problem. DM us with your account info.” Um, no… Big, big NO. First of all, asking for account info during hello is not cool. Second, no one thinks you’re sorry.
Instead, put some brand around it. Recently, we had a snafu with one of my posts (truth be told, I turned in the wrong version) and one of our readers pointed it out…Instead of saying: Sorry you are experiencing a problem. We responded SME style:
Well color me embarrassed! Let’s get that content up there. We can fix the G+ too. Thanks Mike for brining this up. Our motto is results through truth. And we are all about bringing the truth when we make a mistake.
The brand voice is how you stand out when you stand out enough to respond.
Step Four – Define how you handle praise
When people get excited about your brand, that is awesome. It feels so good and makes the team that manages and monitors social so happy. It is like a big virtual high five. But, how should you handle it. Do you comment and say thanks, do you just let it stand. This can be a simple decision, but one that should be thought through and documented.
Step Five – Define how you handle trolls
On the flip side, trolls…sigh. Trolls are both inevitable and troubling. They are upsetting to the team and the brand. Sometimes they can really rattle a cage. But, regardless, there needs to be a documented way of identifying and handling them. This is a brand-by-brand decision and should be made and documented.
Social is so powerful as it stands today, but it isn’t even close to living up to its potential. There is so much more that it has to offer people and brands. Now, we just need to learn how to talk to one another.