The smartphone has become ubiquitous. In the United States of America, you will find either an iPhone or an Android tucked into the hip pocket or handbag of one out of every two adults
(Source: Pew Research Centre, pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Smartphone-Ownership-2013/Findings.aspx), which is why savvy businesses are so keen to embrace social media. The social media landscape comes in many forms, ranging from online forums, podcasts and blogs, videos, and rating sites to social bookmarking. With such a wide range of different channels within social media, it is important for businesses to know the lay of the land before setting out on their social media journey. Here are five dos and don’ts of social media.
Like any other sort of medium, social media should be targeted at specific sections of your customer base. Right from the beginning, businesses must understand who their customers are, before deciding which platform to use in order to engage them. Certain businesses suit different social media sites better. Before signing up for all of them and sending out a blast of spam, get to know your customer and your product, then target your communications accordingly.
Don’t do the hard sell
Social media is not a pure sales tool. Instead, the use of a Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook account should be used to build relationships and find out what customers want. Instead of trying to sell your customers something, ask them what they want. Good, honest customer feedback is invaluable, and social media gives you the communication tools you need to obtain that.
Don’t say anything you shouldn’t
When in doubt, say nothing at all. This is the golden rule of social media. If you’re not sure about what you’re posting, it’s probably not a good idea. The power of social media is that everything that is posted on these platforms represents the business’ brand. Never forget that social media is a public platform. Filter your posts accordingly.
In the case of social media, it is far better to not have a Facebook page than have one where fans only receive automated responses and no updates are posted for days on end. Businesses should use social media to engage with their customers and build trust. Users of social media are quick to uncover false behavior, so being transparent and authentic is the key to engaging them.
Do understand social media etiquette
It’s a brave new world out there in social media, so be sure to understand the rules before jumping in. It’s important to be positive and responsive to your customers, which in the social media world, means a response at least within 24 hours. There are also new words and concepts to learn, such as hashtags, tumbles, RSS, tweet, meme, and pinning.
Do go offline, if necessary
Social media is a great tool to use to build relationships, gather customer feedback and gauge market mood. However, it shouldn’t be used to try to resolve conflicts or complaints. These types of customer interactions are best responded to quickly and continued in a private discussion offline. Never delete a negative post or comment; removing a customer’s post, especially if he or she is unsatisfied with a product or service, could be more detrimental than leaving it there.
While social media is often viewed as a double-edged sword, the rewards far outweigh the risks. Businesses that succeed in mastering social media have easy access to their customer’s wants and needs, as well as the opportunity to build relationships, increase market exposure and network with other businesses.
By Peggy Tee ©