Having a presence on social media is essential – it’s something we’ve mentioned time and time again. But is just being there enough? How do you elevate your presence so that it works better for your business?

We believe it’s about being really present – that means not just going on and on about yourself in a vacuum, but engaging with your peers, your suppliers, the wider audience and of course, your customers. It’s about customer service and customer support taking top priority for all your social media activity.

So what should you do? Our top 5 tips are:

Be responsive. It’s almost a case of ” if you forget everything else, don’t forget this!” If people have taken the time to tell you how they feel – good or bad – then it’s rude not to reply. We were surprised to see this statistic: Eighty-eight percent of brands don’t respond to messages that need a reply. That’s shocking! You may think that only the big players really need to tap into this but we would argue that the opposite is the case. Whatever the size of your business, if you have customers, or indeed potential customers, who are taking the time to communicate with you, being unresponsive can damage your brand.

Respond quickly. Time is of the essence. This is especially true if someone is annoyed or sending you negative feedback – if you wait days to respond to them, their annoyance levels will only increase. How quickly should you respond? A study by Twitter suggested that people expect a response from a business within an hour, so try your very best to meet that expectation.

Convey emotion. You need to show people you care. Show them you appreciate what they have to say. It helps them understand that your brand has a human side and a personality. Just as you would expect a member of staff to conduct themselves in the right manner with your customers, so should your social media. Think of it as another arm of your customer service experience.

Think twice about what you’re saying. We’ve all experienced occasions when someone has written something in an email that comes across as very direct or even aggressive, and yet when you speak to the person directly it emerges that that was never the intention! Because social media isn’t an “in person” communication, there’s a danger of exactly the same thing happening. Before you post any response to any message – especially if it’s a reaction to a more negative comment – re-read what you’ve said and decide if it could be misconstrued. If possible, get someone else to read it too so you get a fresh pair of eyes on it!

Turn a negative into a positive. We’ve talked about this before. Sometimes things go wrong and a customer may vent their frustrations with a negative review. Use the opportunity to turn the experience into a positive one. It’s all about how you deal with it. A few months ago one of our clients had a delivery from a well known high street restaurant where the food was almost inedible. Frustrated that there appeared to be no way to contact them online or by email, they took to social media to voice their frustrations. They received a DM within minutes, a follow-up phone call from the manager and an offer to dine in or receive another delivery “on them”. Fabulous customer service and my client returned to social media to tell everyone just how good they were… now that’s the way to do it!

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