Take the Plunge into Social Media

man using social media on his smartphone

man plunging into water, just like companies utilizing social media

According to a recent study reported by Mercury News, nearly half of all companies don’t utilize social media for customer service purposes.

Natalie Petouhoff, a business consultant and lecturer at the UCLA Anderson School of Management who conducted research on the study, had strong words for companies who have chosen not to implement social media as part of their customer service strategies: “You’re destroying your brand by not responding.”

Though stern, Natalie may not be far off – social media interactions and usage is growing while a staggering 70% of social media messages directed at companies are ignored and left to float out in cyberspace. Companies don’t utilize social media for customer service purposes.

While the Mercury News article discusses other ways in which companies are using social media, it neglects to focus on the one question that really matters: just why haven’t these companies taken the plunge?

To whom does social media belong?

One main reason that companies may be hesitant to provide customer service support over social media is the age-old tug of war between customer support and marketing/PR. Many organizations are a perpetual battlefield between the two departments in regards to just who has the right to manage and maintain social media accounts.

However, this way of approaching the situation is flawed. To ensure an increasingly positive customer experience with each of your brand’s patrons, it’s crucial for teams and departments to work together to consistently meet (and exceed!) customer expectations. By choosing between marketing and customer support, your brand will miss out on many opportunities to create brand loyalty.

To overcome the tug of war regarding social media, create a social media team consisting of members of both the marketing and customer support departments. These representatives will discuss branding needs, unified messaging, and social media policies together – then take them back to their respective departments.

After all, marketing and customer service are increasingly spreading outside of their own departments to other employees!

What if social media opens a floodgate?

Some companies realize the value of utilizing social media from a customer service aspect, but are simply afraid that using it in this way will open a floodgate of social media inquiries, messages, and comments that their brand won’t be able to keep up with.

However, companies in this situation should realize that consumers are already using social media to post about brands and experiences – it’s simply a matter of whether your brand will ignore customer feedback or meet it with gusto.

If the thought of ignoring valuable customer input doesn’t move your company into action, this figure might: studies have shown that consumers spend nearly 30% more with companies with whom they have regular interactions. Time to get tweetin’!

How can companies avoid scattered social media messaging?

It can be difficult for companies to imagine how they’d be able to stay on brand if marketing/PR and customer support were both utilized on their social media channels. Thankfully, this can be solved through solid planning.

By following the advice above and creating a social media team comprised of both marketing/PR and customer support representatives, it’ll give your social media messaging the strong planning and consideration it deserves. Encourage your team to come up with an exact persona for your company that each and every person will reference when posting.

By having a persona to reference when posting, your social media should take on a unified, consistent point of view on all subjects within the social media realm. For added protection, conduct ongoing trainings to make sure that all team members realize what is and is not appropriate to post on company social profiles.