Practically every brand in every niche in every industry worth its chops is going to have some form of a social media presence these days. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the business of selling smartphones, reporting the news or designing websites, you likely want to put your company out there in the public eye. That’s how you get noticed and that’s how you attract new customers.
Indeed, one of the great powers of social networking and social media is that it has helped to level the playing field to a degree, allowing smaller brands to access increasingly large audiences without having to invest huge amounts of money into marketing and advertising. Yes, Facebook is still screwing you over, but there are ways around that too.
Breaking from Tradition
All this being said, the approach that you take with social media has to be drastically different from the approach you may take with more traditional media. More traditional media puts you up on a podium, shouting out at your customers and would-be customers in a very one-way form of communication. You’re talking to them and you’re hoping that they’ll listen. This is true of newspapers, radio, TV, flyers, billboards and so on.
Social media, by its very nature, is a two-way street, just like blogging. It’s not enough to just blast your message out on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You need to interact with your fans and followers too.
Reach Out and Touch Someone
And that’s the real key there: interaction. It’s about having a conversation. While many brands recognize the importance of listening to the feedback they receive from their fans and followers, they’re not going far enough. They’re only using dashboards and analytic software to gauge customer response.
They’re only listening. This would be like if someone approached you to tell you about something that was important to them, but you didn’t even look up. You might hear the words. You might even think about them. But from their point of view, they’re not being heard. From their point of view, you didn’t even notice they were there. You need to acknowledge their existence and value their input, rightly or wrongly.
In the Sprout Social Index report for the fourth quarter of 2015, it was discovered that retailers typically only respond to less than 20% of the posts or comments on their social media pages. That means that over 80% of the messages being sent by customers (and potential customers) and left unacknowledged. The messages may not be ignored, but the customers sure feel like they’re being ignored.
If a customer voices a genuine concern or asks a genuine question of a brand, and that communication goes unacknowledged and without a response, that customer could just move on to a competitor. Not only that, that customer could tell all of his friends, family, colleagues and contacts that brand A doesn’t care about its customers and that they should all switch too. I need not tell you that people online are far more likely to share negative experiences about brands than they are to share average or slightly positive ones.
A Little More Conversation
So, what does this all mean? If you’re going to go through the trouble of setting up a social media presence through sites like YouTube, Google+ or Facebook, you should also take the time not only to listen to you fans and followers, but actually interact with them too. Answer their questions. Thank them for their feedback and input. Show that you are listening and that you care.
Otherwise, you could be literally leaving thousands or even millions of dollars on the table, just because you couldn’t be bothered to say hello or thank you.