People in general are going to talk about your brand, and how they experience your products and services. Those conversations will be both positive and negative. If it’s a good discussion, some tips that I would suggest are to be thankful and engage and recognize the consumers, and reach out and say what you think as well. It is someone giving you a high five, in a way, by using social media. If it is someone who has had an issue with the service, the first thing is to be genuine and care. Try to reach out and use that experience as an opportunity to learn and improve what you do to make sure the customer issues are dealt with and satisfied. If you are able to do that, you can turn someone who has not had a great experience into an advocate. Engage, but be truthful and careful. Don’t argue – especially if you receive negative feedback. If it is a negative comment, don’t try to justify, because all you will do is aggravate and continue the negative “piling on.” If you want to engage, engage genuinely and try to help, but don’t try to argue and do not try to discredit the customer.
In a way, social media just shifted the conversations that were already happening to a more public forum. In the past, the same conversations would have happened privately between two people who knew each other. The conversation is the same, but now it’s more available.
Some social media networks are more publicly available than others. Facebook is more of a closed network, and those who see the updates there are friends. In Facebook’s case, it’s sometimes harder to see someone saying something good or bad about your company. However, if you have a Facebook fan page, you can try to engage them there. Twitter is publicly available, and it is a great opportunity. LinkedIn is almost a hybrid of the two, so the interactions vary based on the very social media themselves.
This article originally ran as part of the February 1, 2010 Technique, “Social media can assist your CRM efforts.” To read the entire feature, click here.