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Developing Social Media Relationships for Businesses

Social media has gone from being a ‘nice to have’ to being a ‘must have’ in recent years. However many businesses struggle to come to terms with how to operate on these platforms and get the most out of them. A lot of this stems from the lack of knowledge, time and commitment to developing relationships with their audience.

 

Interaction

We see it time and time again where companies claim that their audience doesn’t want to interact with them, yet when we look at their page they have comments on their social pages that they have given no response to! Regardless of whether it is good or bad comment, each interaction from your audience requires a response. By interacting with everything across all of your social media, you are getting your audience familiar with the fact that if they post or interact with your page, they will always get something back. This further encourages users to continue interacting, and encourages new users to interact when they see that other users are getting a response.

 

Why So Serious?

Social Media for businesses is not so serious!

Image credit: HDWallpapers.in

 

This is arguably the most common mistake of all. Businesses take themselves way too seriously on Social Media platforms, and that is not what these platforms are designed for, and certainly not what gets a positive response (apart from LinkedIn, perhaps).

Companies post and post, with zero likes, comments or shares on Facebook and their immediate reaction is that their audience must not be on Facebook – incorrect, your audience is on Facebook you just aren’t communicating with them in the right way. We are aware than in some industries it is more difficult than others to reach and communicate with your audience, which in some cases can take time experimenting with your approach.

Whatever you do though, try and inject a fun side of your businesses image. Social is designed to be a little tongue in cheek. It is even acceptable to take the mickey out of your customers, providing it is very clear you are being funny/ cheeky and not trying to offend (there have been some major screw ups in the past)

Of course, whilst it is very effective to be humorous, businesses must know where the line is on their page. After all it is a business page, and a business page must not only draw a line for itself, it must also moderate content of its users. Businesses can get involved with community fun but it is always best practice to step in and reiterate you do not tolerate it when users cross the line on your page, and you can hide their comment in the process. It is up to you as the page administrator to decide and establish where the ‘line’ is on your page.

If businesses get their social media right it can have a resounding effect. As an example, Tesco Mobile are fantastic at combating negative brand comments on Twitter and spinning it into excellent publicity through humour that results in a lot of sharing (See images below).

 

Tesco Mobile Example Tweets

Image Credit: Twitter

 

Handle Complaints & Bad Reviews, Don’t Remove Them

When businesses delete or ignore their negative feedback on Social Media, it just looks like the company in question is guilty, or has no interest in communicating with their customers. This really damages a business’s credibility, which can be easily avoided by confronting the problem head on. Deleting comments can add fuel to the fire of angry customers which can make companies look even worse.

 

 

Now let’s consider the alternative. If a customer/ potential customer does leave negative feedback and you respond in the most helpful and friendly way possible, whilst justifying your actions, then it can have a positive influence on other users viewing your page or post. Take this example:

 

Social Complaint Handling for Businesses

Image Credit: Bizzebee.com

 

This fantastic display of handling a complaint about one of their ads has been picked up on by other users and they have managed to turn negative feedback into potential new business just through displaying great customer service. And if you take another look, you will notice that the original complaint owner did not respond any further. Success!

 

B2C versus B2B on Social Media

If there are any B2B readers still reading at this point, you are probably thinking that these platforms don’t apply to you. And you’re probably not a huge fan of social media (apart from LinkedIn of course). It usually comes as a surprise that businesses can build relationships with other businesses on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. A popular way of doing this is simply commenting on an industry influencer’s activity, sharing their content and eventually approaching them to enquire if they could return the favour.

The ability to be able to tag other companies on these platforms allows us to communicate from one business to another business, both in and out of the public eye. Arguably the best example there has ever been of businesses combining to develop relationships is when (no surprise that Tesco Mobile are involved again) the big boys had a humorous debate over whether Jaffa Cakes are a biscuit or a cake.

There is a place for all businesses on each platform, it is just a case of adapting the style of approach. By all means if you feel that adapting the style would be compromising your brand too much then that is okay too, but there are potential gains to be won and lost on every platform.

 

Selfless Posting

Have you ever had a friend that just talks about themselves all day? And if you try and get a word in edge ways they just bring the conversation right back around to them? That friend is over 80% of businesses online. We like to call it ‘Me Me Me’ marketing, and it is extremely ineffective. The reason why it is so ineffective is because nobody trusts someone that only promotes themselves and only cares about what they have to say, and they certainly don’t want to socialise with them.

Alternatively a business can genuinely endorse other companies without any personal gain as a motive. When this happens, the company makes themselves more approachable and even likeable. Of course we are not suggesting promoting any old product just to demonstrate selflessness; that would be obviously fake. If something is genuinely useful to your target audience then you should be providing that information to them, and they will start to appreciate the value you offer them, and trust will begin to form.