News & Insight

By Roger Huff

People love to talk. They love to share the good, the bad and everything in between with their networks, in-person and digitally on websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp. People crave attention. When a consumer reaches out to a brand through a social media channel, what’s the best way for the company to respond to their consumers? Here’s a primer with 5 tips to successfully engage with your customers through social media.

1. Make it Easy

Make it easy for consumers to find and follow your brand by adding visible social media icons in all of your digital communications including e-newsletters, advertisements, and websites.

Create a branded hashtag to increase brand engagement and buzz around your company’s products, campaigns, announcements and overall brand. Brands can search their hashtag to discover others who have used it and can measure the success and reach of that campaign. Having your social media channels and hashtags visual on your marketing collateral will make it easy for your customers to “like” or follow your brand, and reach out to engage with questions and comments.

2. Be a Human

The average consumer prefers to speak to a “real human” so be personable when engaging with customers over all social media channels. Nearly one-third of consumers use Facebook to speak with a customer service representative, according to a Startek survey. Use each engagement as an opportunity to promptly answer a question, resolve an issue, or simply share a comment in the conversation. Your authenticity will be rewarded and canned responses will quickly label your brand as robotic and unoriginal.

3. Have a Conversation

Social media has opened up a new channel for consumers and brands to engage with each other. Keep in mind it’s a two-way conversation, and great way to start the conversation is with a question. Asking a question to your social media audience will spark the conversation and begin the engagement. Likewise, answering questions can begin the conversation. Listening to your fans, followers, customers and potential customers is equally important as is responding to questions or concerns. Above all, be honest when engaging with your company’s social media community.

4. Consistent Messages

Once the conversation is rolling on social channels, keep interactions consistent across all platforms including website, email campaigns, social media channels, phone, and chat. Companies tend to give “greater” power to social teams when engaging with customers on public social channels, but it should be important for all channels including the traditional ones like phone and email. Consumers have a variety of options when engaging with a brand, and it’s up to the company to stay on brand when offering special promotions/deals and event details. Two-thirds of consumers used Facebook to find deals and promotions, 80% of which are Baby Boomers, the survey found.

5. Create a Community

Because consumers have a choice about how to engage with brands, companies need to have a strategy in place to take part in the conversations wherever their consumers are having them. Brands must think beyond popular social media channels like Facebook or Twitter and look at blogs and forums, as well as ratings and reviews of products, too. Consumers are researching whether others have the same issue or question as them and are going directly to the brand’s social community for support. While brands have the ability to monitor social channels, they also need to interact with the entire community to resolve the issue. Once the engagement occurs, the community will evolve into brand advocates.

A successful social media strategy takes time to develop and refine; the best way to begin is to be a part of the conversation and listen to what your customers are saying—they are your best brand advocates.
Roger Huff is director of social media & digital engagement for STARTEK.