We’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve heard people say, “we’ve tried social media and it didn’t work for us.” And then you find, they’ve posted half a dozen very promotional posts, been disappointed that thousands of people have not descended on their website or their shop as a result and given it up as a bad job.
The fact is that social media cannot be a bolt-on to your PR or marketing communications activity, it needs to be an integrated part of it. It’s also time to understand that to use social channels effectively, it’s simply not good enough to just post content, especially purely promotional content, but to understand that this is the channel by which you must engage and create relationships with clients and customers online that you can then take offline. And that means the exchange has to be as much, if not more, about the customer than it is about you. That’s as true if you are a b2b company as it is if you are consumer facing.
An interesting new report from CapGemini entitled “Crafting A Compelling Customer Experience” makes some interesting observations. Social platforms are fast becoming the medium of choice for customers who want help on a product or service. Indeed, 66% expect a same day response to their enquiry; 43% expect a response within an hour. It is also becoming the medium for complaints and as any PR practitioner worth their salt will tell you, it’s not the complaint that causes the problem, it’s how you respond to it. Absenting yourself from social platforms isn’t the answer either. People will still complain about your company but you will have no mechanism by which to confront and address those complaints.
Our suggestion is always to focus on a small number of social platforms but do them well, rather than try and adopt a social strategy that is a mile wide but only an inch deep. Be interested and interesting; create conversations rather than try to overtly sell. Understand how those platforms work and what you need to do to target followers who are pertinent to your proposition – don’t just chase numbers. Use the conversations to understand what your followers are looking for and make suggestions rather than give a hard sell. Pre-agree what your key messages are going to be but don’t be afraid to engage in conversations that are broader than just your brand. And link your social activity with your PR activity to create a closed loop to your marketing that has the effect of directing everyone back to a central point, your web site, for example where they can choose if they want more from you or not.