British Airways, Cineworld and Nestle — whether it’s posting sarcastic replies or not replying at all, they’ve all been caught up in a customer complaint saga on social media over the past year or so.
And if brands like that can get caught out, there’s a chance your small business could too.
Here are five quick tips to help you deal with customer complaints on social media:
The whole point of social media is that it’s always connected and 24-7. Whether it’s within working hours or out of them, you should always try and respond to customer complaints on social media quickly and professionally — the longer you leave it, the more damaging it could be.
Yes, the customer might be making a stupid complaint or one which they have no right to make, but they’re still a customer at the end of the day so you need to treat them with respect and professionalism — fail to do so and you risk losing them and everyone they know as customers. Remember, you’re representing your brand in a public arena so ensure your replies are polite, courteous and tie in with brand values.
Just because the complaint is being made on social media, there’s no reason why you should treat it any differently to an in-store complaint. Think about what you’d say to a customer if they made the complaint to you in person and then communicate this via the relevant platform.
When a customer questioned Cineworld’s sky-high cinema prices, the company’s social media manager replied with a series of downright sarcastic and rude comments. OK, so they might have thought they were funny — but when a customer is making a serious complaint, humour definitely isn’t the way to go.
If you’ve got an employee handling your social media accounts, there’s a strong chance you already have lots of trust in them — but would you feel confident if they had to handle a complaint? At the end of the day, it’s your brand they’re representing, so you need to make sure they’re on board. Be sure to give them proper training on your brand’s policy regarding complaints — or alternatively, ask them to pass complaints on to another member of staff who is familiar with your policy.
Amy Edwards is the SEO manager for Bubble Jobs.
Recommendations are a vital part of finding answers. We all have people we turn to when we need advice. It could be a parent, boss, friend or colleague. If they don’t have the answer — and they don’t always — we look further afield.
Today, more often than not, this means using social media.
Influencer marketing is the process of identifying, engaging and supporting the people who create the conversations that impact your brand, products or services. Influencers are likely to be buyers themselves, as well as recommenders of products or services to their own audiences.
Social media has supported the growth in influencer marketing, by focusing on individuals who have influence over potential buyers. Consultants, analysts, journalists, academics and standards bodies are all examples of business influencers. Endorsements no longer need to come from celebrities to be valuable and credible.
Once you become aware of who your influencers are, you can aim your marketing activity at these individuals, in the hope that they’ll share your information with their wider audience.
The answer to this question isn’t as simple as “look up their Klout or Kred score” (I’m not knocking either, but they’re not a sufficiently robust measurement in isolation).
Rarely will anyone claim to be “an influencer” (if they do, beware — they may not be trustworthy), and it’s impossible to “buy a list” of influencers.
Keywords have a value beyond SEO — they must be part of your content strategy. Keywords help you define your own messages, and find those who are leading the conversation in those areas.
The most simple way to identify influencers is to listen. Use Google Alerts for your keywords and follow your keywords as hashtags on Twitter.
Quite quickly, a few people will reveal themselves to you. Check them out and bingo — you’ve found your potential influencers.
I briefly mentioned “check them out”. This is critical, and not so quick.
While your influencers need to have a large audience, it’s not about the number of followers, connections or likes. This strategy is not a popularity contest.
You can assess the credibility of a potential influencer by the quality of their content, the frequency of their updates and the level of their engagement (response to comments, retweets and so on).
Although the influencer has a role to play within your sales process, they won’t want to be seen as a sales person but a person with knowledge and, in turn, a good authority. It’s important that the content shared by an influencer stays within the context of their own content plan (back to credibility).
If you like what you see, consider reaching out to them. Engage with them — follow them, send them a message, respond to their posts. Do your research on what content they’re broadcasting and provide them with content they’re likely to share.
There’s no shortcut to influencer marketing — it takes time to research and manage — but it can be very effective for either standalone PR activity or to amplify other marketing efforts, such as events or new product launches.
For social media users, influencers are a great filter — they often do all the hard work so others don’t have to. I certainly know who the key influencers in my timeline are, and actively look out for their content… they often have the answers before I even know the question!
Confused by social media? Check out this brilliant infographic based on the iconic tube map:
Click on the infographic to enlarge.
Supplied by Laura Hampton, the digital marketing manager at Hallam Internet.
Does your business website have a blog? If not, it should! Not only are blogs great for building brand loyalty, they’re also incredibly useful for improving your search rankings. Think of a blog as your own personal newspaper. What do your customers want to know?
Blogging like a business pro isn’t all that hard, it just takes planning. Here are 13 steps to get you started.
It’s easiest to host your blog on the same platform your website runs on. If you prefer a free site like Wordpress or Blogger, talk to your IT guru about creating a subdomain for your blog. If you must create a totally separate domain for your blog, get as close to the business name as you can.
Don’t get too creative here. For the best SEO results, pick a name that will hit the keywords you want. Use subtitles if you need to convey more information.
Most businesses shoot themselves in the foot by beginning to blog, then abruptly stopping when things get busy. Have a content plan in place as well as a concrete blogging schedule to prevent this from happening, and bring in an outside content person if necessary.
Before you start promoting your blog, fill the “drafts” folder with a few reserve blog posts that aren’t too time-sensitive. Be sure you’ve got a few posts live on the site before you start pointing people there, too, so they have something to read!
Before you get too deep into posting, be sure your blog is connected to your social accounts like Facebook and Twitter. You’ll want some social widgets on the blog, too.
Business blogs simply shouldn’t steal photos — it’s a recipe for a lawsuit (and unethical!) Spend a couple hours and even bring in a professional photographer to create a library of business images you can pull from when posting down the road.
Aim for at least once a week for the first few months of blogging, more if you can. And remember that although every blog post should contain correct punctuation and formatting, they don’t always have to be long-form reads.
Every single time you post, you should be promoting, especially via social media. Be sure to reach out to people you think would be particularly interested in the content one-by-one.
Have like-minded professionals or industry figureheads write a guest post or give you an interview. It will make great blog fodder and you’ll get double promotion points when they promote the post, too.
You own a business…give people a reason to follow you! Whether it’s useful information delivered in emails to blog followers or coupons for discounted service for people who follow, people need a reason.
It’s easy to get stuck in a routine of creating the same type of posts week after week. Mix it up! Post a video one week and a white paper the next; you’ll seem more adaptable as a company.
Your IT pro may be helpful here, but you should learn the basics of proper SEO formatting. Headers, links… know what these things are to best position your blog.
Once you’ve established a great group of loyal followers, get their opinions! Find out what they’d like to see more of and less of and never forget what a valuable resource your comments section is.
Business blogging isn’t complicated, it just takes preparation.
Ryan Currie is a product manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development. In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.
Everywhere you look these days, you'll find people using a mobile device to browse the internet or interact on social networks. If you're a business owner, it makes sense to take advantage of this.
Tapping into the mobile market helps increase your visibility and drives more traffic to your site. It also helps to have a social media strategy in place since a lot of people use Facebook or Twitter through their mobile devices.
Here are three key ways you can promote your business through social media and mobile:
If you have an existing site, pull it up on a mobile device to see how it looks and determine how long it loads. Doing this helps you take note of the necessary changes needed to make your site accessible on a hand-held device. This is important — recent research showed that 57% of users will not recommend a business with a badly-designed mobile site.
Another thing you can do is adopt a responsive design for your site. However, this can mean rebuilding it entirely. Once it's implemented though, your website will display properly across different devices.
Here are some tactics for your social media marketing strategy:
Here are some apps you should take advantage of:
For small businesses, not all social media sites are equal. Find out who’s using which sites and how social media is likely to evolve in the future in this revealing infographic.
Thanks to Top Web Design Schools for sharing this infographic with us.