Over the last couple of decades, social media has emerged as a vital tool in business. It has provided opportunities to engage with a diverse range of potential customers, and build a new dimension to brand voices. It is both a tool for agile customer service and a forum for low-cost, effective content marketing.
However, it’s true to say that social media can also be something of a minefield. The comments section in particular has long been considered a potential dumpster fire of spamming, opinions, and trolling. This isn’t just from the private users; if social media managers approach engagement to comments in the wrong way, what begins as an exchange of opinions can very quickly descend into a combative mess.
So how should businesses approach their response to social media comments? At a time in which most companies rely upon this extremely visible, sharable form of customer communication, what practices should you adopt or avoid? Let’s take a look at a few key areas of focus.
Stay on Brand
Social media has the reputation of being a casual platform. Its accessibility helps to create an atmosphere that can feel free and conversational. However, it’s important not to mistake this for a forum upon which staff feels free to exercise the same behavior they use on their personal social media accounts. Any business accounts should be extensions of the brand voice, and as such, any response to customer comments must be pitched accordingly.
This is where a concise social media policy can pay off. It provides a clear framework for how all staff must interact with customers using the company accounts. From a customer service perspective, this means that personnel feels that they can confidently approach any interaction on social media, knowing they’re acting within brand requirements.
Create a guide that addresses how staff responds to comments. Highlight examples of interactions with customers and the types of vocabulary, tone, and format to use so that responses always reflect the brand voice. Provide staff with a file of resources to give customers when issues arise and give demonstrations of how the brand apologizes when something goes wrong. One of the most common mistakes when using social media is not responding to comments positively. By setting clear brand guidelines on how to correctly address issues, you can help ensure that negative comments are met with positive responses, and can be transformed into exceptional customer service.
Perhaps the most positive aspect of social media for businesses is the potential to develop closer connections with customers. There are going to be some occasions in which consumer comments that are intended to be short or insulting, but you’ll likely find this isn’t the majority. If a customer is commenting on your posts, they are generally encouraging responses from you. This makes the comment section an important tool in building and maintaining relationships.
Your approach to this should include:
- Reposting. Share your customers’ comments, posts, and photographs in your timeline. Give them the spotlight, and show that you value their opinions and engagement; both positive and not so positive.
- Dialogue Building. Don’t just post a single, standard response to a customer comment. Use language that actively engages them; ask further questions, respond to specific elements of the text. Make it clear that their opinions are taken seriously, and you consider them worthy of discussion.
- Personalizing. While you should certainly keep responses to comments on-brand, this shouldn’t come at the expense of making a meaningful connection. Don’t be formulaic or cold, and respond in a way that shows you’re keen to relate to the individual consumer. Sign off all responses with the first name of the company representative.
This relationship building can also play an important role in a solid digital marketing strategy. Engagement in a more personal, dialogue-directed way can be used in the growth step of the marketing life cycle. You can capitalize on the relationships you build by turning customers into advocates for your brand, improving your overall reputation, and bolstering customer confidence.
Utilizing the comments section of social media effectively demands attention. This can be difficult for smaller businesses that can’t employ a full-time social media manager. However, it’s important to take a firm, frequent approach to comment moderation to ensure that you can respond appropriately.
Some businesses approach the difficulties of constant moderation by utilizing a closed comments approach. This is common regarding posts that are likely to be controversial or draw trolling. Disabling comments can help to protect the brand’s reputation by minimizing the potential for negative reviews to be posted and reduces the effect of spam posts. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that this discourages engagement with genuine responders, and gives the impression that the company is censoring its critics.
On the whole, moderation should be both vigilant and operated with a lightness of touch. Do not delete comments purely on the basis that they’re negative; you can have a better effect upon your relationships and reputation by taking the time to address issues. However, be clear and strict about what behavior you don’t tolerate on your channels. Any bullying, harassment, or abuse should be documented, reported swiftly, and removed.
Engaging with customers via the comments section can be fraught with difficulties. However, by maintaining a strong but flexible brand presence, and keeping the dialogue open, you can build effective, discourages engagement with consumers. This, alongside a robust approach to moderation, can help you avoid the worst mistakes of social media interactions.