Peach Report

Social media: new online lessons

9 May, 2012

Businesses need to be prompt, personal and professional when it comes to dealing with customers in the world of social media, say a host of experts in recent advice round-ups. There's new ideas for training staff too. Here's the latest top tips.

Handling customers online

Sam Keniger of customer experience management specialist Medallia, says you need to be careful how you respond on social media. “You don’t get many chances to address a vocal, disgruntled customer or correct a fake, perhaps competitor-generated social media review. And silently ignoring social feedback from customers is never an option.”

Keniger says you need to be timely too when responding to both good and bad posts. “Instilling a culture of urgency among employees is important when closing the loop on social reviews. Not only is one customer watching—so is everyone else.”

Companies should never auto respond and should allow frontline staff to handle comments—but should avoid the risk of becoming too personal. “Picking a fight online is a great way to start a PR massacre… It may seem unfair to businesses, but the customer is always right, at least on these forums.”

Responses should also be brief and should thank customers for their comments. See 7 Rules for Responding to Customers Online,

Social media as a training aid

Also on Mashable, Sharlyn Lauby says social media can be useful for staff, too. Create Facebook groups and Twitter feeds for training participants and networking via LinkedIn, as well as creating maps of teams. Role play via Twitter can also be a good way to finetune customer service; create an account that stimulates angry customers, and ask staff to respond before gathering feedback. See 5 Social Media Activities for Your Next HR Training Session

Lessons from street food

You can also learn from how food trucks have mastered social media. Courtney Selter of Raven says trucks have shown how to find and target their audiences—and “the same kind of research is crucial in social media. If you don’t know the places where your audience is hanging out and talking about you, you’re missing out. Speed and timeliness are  crucial.

“Social media moves fast, and it pays to have a plan… research timing your messages so they connect with the biggest section of your audience. Consider who you’re talking to: office workers taking a Twitter break during lunch? Internet professionals who are online all day long? Stay-at-home moms with a Facebook habit?”

Food trucks show how to cut to the chase—“The same is true in social media: short posts that cut out all the extras garner more engagement”—as well as how to stand out and cash in on their popularity. “The lesson here for social media? Ride the wave of what’s hot when you can.” See 6 Things Food Trucks Can Teach Us About Social Media.

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