Social media used to be as simple as pushing your corporate message out via your Facebook and Twitter pages and owning that space.
And then consumers realised they could actually tell businesses how good or bad (mostly bad) their service, product or customer service was. And this was all done very publicly.
In fact, 67% of consumers have used a brand’s social media presence to get a customer service response, compared to just 33% who have engaged in social marketing activities. [source: forbes.com]
Businesses scrambled to own the conversation, albeit too late. Overnight, brand responsiveness became one of the key remits of a company’s social media team and, in turn, their PR activity.
An award-winning online financial company asked us to look into their social media activity as they were experiencing a large amount of negative engagement on their Facebook page. Their small internal marketing team were unable to manage the streams effectively, so they needed a way to manage and control the influx of comments.
After analysing their engagement, we found that users were posting comments because they couldn’t find a direct way to contact the business through their new website. Because the business had not invested in the right tools, the volume of comments became overwhelming. This meant that the in-house team were unable to respond quickly, creating a real problem for their brand reputation.
Our immediate advice was to utilise a social media management tool like Sprout Social. This enabled the team to better monitor and engage with the Facebook comments as they came in. They were also able to better plan, organise and manage all their social content, plus improve customer loyalty by better engaging in the conversations surrounding their brand on social.
We also recommended a further step that would allow customers to feedback via Facebook, but in a way that eliminated the need to post a negative comment.
In a pre-Facebook Messenger for Business world, there was no immediate way to engage with a business. We designed and built a Facebook App that acted as a contact form for users to input all the relevant details and uploads needed to submit their issue.
We added the app to their Facebook company page and linked to it in the About Us sections of the profile. Posts promoted use of the app, whilst we directed those who still posted comments to the app form.
The form was then forwarded immediately to the customer service team, who would deal with the issue within the service level agreement. This agreement was also provided to the user upon submission of the Facebook App form.
This approach proved so successful that a version of the form was also embedded on the company website.
Where we are now
This may have happened in the days before Facebook Messenger for Business, but the problems remain the same. Conversations happen in real time and users expect an answer there and then. Whereas before we had to create a bespoke app to deal with the situation, now there are a number of tools that facilitate this, such as Facebook Messenger for Business, WhatsApp and even automated chatbots.
What hasn’t changed is that companies and brands continue to use social media as a way to directly engage with their customers. Yet, as I write this, the Wetherspoon pub chain has closed its social media accounts. Instead, they are reverting to using their website, newsletter and printed magazine to engage and update their audience.
Are we experiencing the beginning of a backlash to social media? I don’t think so. Social media is here to stay, but it will be an interesting journey to see how social media for business and customer service will evolve.