For many, the earliest and most logical reason for brands to enter the social media space was also a simple one: connect with your customers. This could mean simply being where they are and/or listening to what they say, but for most it also meant communicating directly with them. Those who experienced early success in social media were those who simply took the time to directly communicate with a handful of people (how else do you think Ashton Kutcher amassed more followers than people with actual talent?).
Did this mean that you needed to respond to every single person who spoke to you? Absolutely not. In fact, even if you didn’t respond to everyone, people would still see that you responded to SOME of them and that your brand is making a connection with its consumers generally. Indirect positive sentiment at its finest!
So why am I pointing out things out that are simple and have been discovered already? Because for some reason, some people still do not understand this concept! First, let’s look at the stats: 48% of brands do not respond to users in social media. When you consider that, according to Twitter, 88% of users follow at least one brand and that one social media consumer will tell 42 people about a good customer service experience happening on Twitter, that’s a HUGE missed opportunity to create a little bit of good will and positive sentiment for your brand. To put it another way: if one of every 2 brands are responding, which one would you rather be, and which one would you rather your competitor be?
For the emotive side of this point, I turn to my personal experience with a NYC restaurant called Mad Dog & Beans. Aside from having outstanding Mexican food, Mad Dog has quickly become my favorite restaurant in a city with over 4,200 of them. How did they BECOME my favorite as opposed to just BEING my favorite? Their social media interactions with yours truly. Let’s consider the below:
1. They appreciate you following them
Using the above math, about 176MM people are raising their hands and following a brand on Twitter. How many of those people do you think would appreciate a Brand going the extra mile to thank them after they just went the extra mile for the brand?
2. They encourage feedback
Would they listen and apply my feedback if I gave it to them? I’m not sure. But it doesn’t hurt to ask! After all, I could simply say that the painting on the wall is a little crooked, and it would take them about 2 seconds to fix it. Brand looks more professional + User feels listened to = Win-Win!
3. They answer questions about their promotions
This exchange related to a promotion following Hurricane Sandy that they are offering. By simply responding to me, I can plan out my trip.
4. Responding when they really don’t have to
While many people (myself included) use Twitter as a customer service hub, many Brand interactions do not necessitate a response. I’m not asking you to validate my positive experience, but a quick 5-word response to thank me for spending money with you is certainly a great way to help ensure that I spend money there again.
I realize that these are not the most Earth-shattering insights, but with 52% of Brands NOT responding to their fans in an innocent and easy way, it seems irresponsible not to remind people. Like I said before, Mad Dog BECAME my favorite restaurant in all of New York City (out of over 4,200) with the help of 4 quick messages. If you were a brand and could create that kind of sentiment in 51 words (yes I counted out the above messages), wouldn’t you?
These examples are not exclusive to restaurants with a single location. Global brands can apply these tactics anytime! Below are two quick examples of brands with a global following who took no more than 10 minutes combined to create enough good will to ensure that I use their product instead of their competitors (Note: after these, I absolutely would):
With Nor’easter hitting the east coast, I was nervous about how this would affect my travel plans. It didn’t help when American Airlines cancelled flights heading out of my airport. Did this include my flight? A quick tweet and about 6 minutes worth of exchanges helped solve that issue (Answer: it didn’t). The result: in an industry where something as volatile as nature can lead to losses in the millions of dollars, 3 quick branded tweets not only kept my business with them, but left me saying “American Airlines will help me with my problem, and I don’t have to spend 2 hours on hold with Customer Service!” How would you feel about a brand after saying that?
Bank of America
Bank of America took a moment of frustration and spun it in their favor. Again, do I think they’re going to share this with the branch? I’m not sure. But the fact that they said “we hear you and want to do better for you specifically” wiped away a good amount of negative sentiment.