Post. Tweet. Like. Love. Share. Repeat.
Social media as we know it today rushed into our world like a gush of wind. It is rare that you will find a company or organization without one (or more!) social media account. Our consumers want instant connection by chatting with you or sending a direct message to learn about your product or resolve an issue. At times, people check social media before they even step foot into your store.
Before we look at social media and how it affects your organization, we have to know where we’ve come from to know where we are heading.
History of Social Media
Many believe social media began with Facebook but they couldn’t be more wrong. This phenomenon began with platforms including, but not limited to:
These networking platforms were created in an effort to create a place where people could network with someone across the world, connect with a blast from the past or share details about their personal lives.
As a society, we’ve long been itching to have a space to connect with those in our world - near and far. Platforms like Friendsters did just that. We were able to connect with those who we felt we had a close connection with - who were our friends. These social mediums have given us the basic platform to connect with our loved ones or strangers.
View this article for more on the history of social media.
Social Media As We Know It Today
Let’s look at Facebook. There was a time where you had to be a student at a college (or at least have an .edu email address because no one knew for sure). Not every university had access to Facebook 2005.
The only way to get access to Facebook was to request your university to be added to the list and once it was approved the word spread like wildfire. Built on the backs of its ancestors by targeting a singular audience that who wanted to connect with friends who were also their classmates - in one place.
To take it to the next level, Mark Zuckerberg appealed to our need for elitism and suddenly our need for approval was all in the hands of one man. This elitist process is what started our need to grow our network, compare how many friends we have compared to the person sitting next to us and
Facebook 2016 has since cast its net wide and allows everyone from our grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, parents, sister, cousin and friend to connect with us and watch our lives from behind the computer screen.
Social Media and Your Organization
Now that we’ve had our history lesson. If your organization values customer connection and satisfaction, it is not wise to ignore the power it holds in our society. Living a world where the person with the most likes, shares and retweets determines trustworthiness, you have to consider how this affects how much your customer trusts your organization.
Our customers are going to social media platforms to see:
- The products and services we offer
- Images and videos of our products
- How we connect to consumers
According to the Social Media Examiner, when customers go the extra mile to connect with you they are seeking transparency, accountability and customer service.
For today, let’s take a look at how customers’ expectations of us may create three challenges for us if we aren’t willing to put in the work and how we can turn them into a success.
Expectation #1 - Show Me What You Got
Transparency is key. If we want our customers to continue to come back to us we have to be transparent with what we offer and how we will deliver on our services. Not only do we have to show how we will deliver on our promise but we also have to show if something goes wrong how will be correct the problem.
Like it or not, transparency will rear its head one of two ways:
- By the information you provide to your customers
- Customers ratings and reviews on your page
Your customers are playing “Big Brother” they are going to your social media channel and watching for any evidence of great or poor service. Based on what they see, they will either make a decision to interact with you or refer someone to check you out.
Often times we run away from being open and honest but we have to use it to our advantage. If you continue to block you consumers from seeing who you really are and how you interact with your customers you are digging a hole to diminish your trustworthiness. Show your true colors and let your customers get to know you.
Learn how to deepen your customers loyalty.
Although there are many positives to your company being transparent with your consumers, there is also a fine line of what should be shared by your team as well. If you’re not careful, transparency can come with a price.
Create a social media policy for your employees that highlights your expectations on:
- Privacy - how much “insider” information can be shared?
- Personal opinion versus company opinion - educate your employees on the importance of separating the two.
- Use of social media in the workplace - keeping the level of productivity high.
Being open with your employees about your social media expectations from the point of hire will avoid pitfalls in the future. Be careful not to create a policy that is too restricting; your employees are your biggest advocates. You allow them to have a voice, they tell their friends and family members. Your return on investment in your employees is brand loyalty.
Explore the social media policies of these top companies for examples to set-up your own.
Expectation #2 - Be Present Multiple Social Media Platforms
Much like every employee in our organizations each social media platform has its own function. As I mentioned before, Facebook is a great place to connect with family, friends, or co-workers. As it has grown over the years one of the growing pains is the elitist factor is no longer there.
Those of us who were around for the earlier years, feel that everyone one is on “The Book” and therefore we need other avenues to also express ourselves.
Some of the other top social media channels include:
Take the time to review how each of these platforms can support your organization. Learn each of their functions in and out and understand that each of them have a purpose.
Without understanding their functions and how it can affect you - you risk your customers creating the wrong point of view of your organization. Photos, videos and comments suddenly become your company - good or bad.
Expectation #3 - Do Damage Control. It’s Your Brand on the Line
Alright, let’s be honest. None of us are perfect. We all have challenges and sometimes things just don’t go right. Its okay because it happens to the best of us and it’s not about what shows up went wrong it is about how you respond to it.
If a customer writes to you about a bad experience, the worst you can do is ignore it. When you ignore your customer or take a while to respond your customer is talking to everyone they know about their experience with your organization.
The Omega Management Group Corporation notes that social media has given customers more power over their relationships with companies. Two things you can do to share the power:
- Show your customers that you care about their challenges
- Work diligently to correct the problem.
Your dedication to correcting the issue will encourage even the customer with the worst experience to come back.
If we’ve learned anything here it is social media is very powerful and our customers’ expectations do nothing but fuel the power.
Don’t allow this power to take you over and dig your organization in a hole. Invest in creating a social media team that will help maintain your reputation, have genuine interactions with your consumers and be willing to increase brand loyalty with your consumers.
Social media never sleeps and neither should you. If you don’t pay close attention your customers will move on to someone who will give them the attention they expect. Hootsuite is a great social media management system that will keep you as the “Big Brother” and have control over your image.