When the average person thinks about social media, they think of the everyday consumer who uses it for personal use, to connect with friends or for businesses to push out their own content and news. I believe that social media, from an organizational perspective, should be used as a customer service tool. I started my career in digital marketing in 2010, working at a content marketing agency in their five-person social media department. At that time our only concern was creating social profiles for our client’s and automating an RSS feed to push content to their networks (I know, super basic back then). The overall goal was to help their SEO and increase their page rankings on Google.
Flash forward five years later and if I saw this strategy today, I would question the success of this social plan. Consumers have always been the most important asset for businesses and I think social media is a platform that allows you to really foster the relationship between the company and the customer. Before social media, where did businesses have the opportunity to truly engage directly with fans and build relationships with their customer base? These platforms allow for this, and I strongly believe that every business, (B2B or B2C), sports team, celebrity, brand etc., should be using social media to build their brand and connect with their customers and fans.
Social Listening & Word of Mouth Marketing
I understand this kind of monitoring and listening does take time and resources which a lot of organizations struggle with. Even if you are a small business, relationship management via social media goes a long way. Actively responding to consumers on networks (positive or negative) shows there is a personality behind the brand AND that someone is listening and cares about what you have to say. The influence of interacting and providing quality customer service on through social media is huge. You might only be in a conversation with one person, but the reach they can offer could be great. If their fans and followers see how personable and attentive your account is, it almost becomes free marketing!
This can have a positive ripple effect and lead to great word of mouth marketing! I attended ‘Social Media Week’ in New York City last year and there was a presentation in which I learned there is much more word of mouth marketing that goes on offline than online. Which makes sense, but if you see all the people talking about your brand online (which should be easier to monitor), then imagine how many people are talking about it offline. Taking it to an even higher level, if you can foster these relationships online through customer service you may create brand advocates with your consumers. Just by creating relationships and engaging with your audience you can really help continue the organic conversation around your brand.
I follow GrubHub, an online food delivery service, on Twitter. They do a great job of not only interacting with consumers using a fun and humorous personality, but they are also responsive to their customers to make sure they are satisfied. Today, a customer tweeted that she was hungry, but GrubHub wasn’t delivering in her area because of bad weather. They responded offering to help find a service that would deliver. This is a great example of the impact of how social customer service and listening is important. This customer has over 1,300 followers, which is a pretty big reach. Now her followers will see how responsive GrubHub was, and how willing they were to help find a solution, even recommending another service which I think gives them some credibility. Providing quality customer service and listening on social media will not only help retain customers, but assist in acquiring new ones!
In conclusion, social media is the best and most direct way to provide customer service and manage relationships with a company’s consumer base. People want to feel special and know that they are being listened to. If used properly, social media can achieve both of these goals which can help raise brand awareness, word of mouth marketing and in the end help to retain and obtain new customers.