One of the things I love about the explosion of Social Media marketing is that we get new studies every single day. You would think that Social Media, with its ability to record every interaction and transaction, would provide us with a crystal clear picture of, well, how it is working.
Then along come two different reports that seem to contradict themselves.
First, there is this report from Econsultancy that says 95% of companies do NOT respond to their followers on Facebook. This despite the fact that one of the number one reasons companies venture into Social Media is to – buzz word alert – engage with their customers. So, if this report is truly accurate it appears companies want to engage – but on their own terms. This is an interpretive oversimplification that does not take into account the fact that many wrangle with legal ramifications. Of course, it could also mean they are risk averse and prefer silence to saying the wrong thing.
Either way, doesn’t this defeat the purpose of inviting fans to like you? If you believe Social Media is all about relationships and interactions then shouldn’t any conversation a fan begins require a response?
I have written about my attempts to engage Firestone and on many occasions have posted comments and questions on the Starbucks page – and never received a reply. So, this report does not come as a complete surprise. When someone goes to the trouble of clicking on your like button and allowing your information to infiltrate their Newsfeed and Ticker the least you can do is be aware of them.
Companies are quick to monitor conversations in the Social Media space and talk about influencers and engagement (I am so sick of that word) – yet it would appear they do not have the basic understanding of human interaction. Yes, we are all on a learning curve in Social Media but isn’t customer service a core strategy?
What companies seem to forget is that ALL their fans relate to how you treat ONE fan. People are watching and if your company ignores one question or fails to respond to a negative (or positive) post it sends a message to all fans that you simply don’t care.
Then, there is this study from Market Tools (courtesy of All Facebook) that says that 23% of firms provide customer support on Facebook. Wait…what?
How can this be? How can 5% respond but 23% provide customer support?
That, it seems, is the problem with evaluating what is “really” happening in Social Media. Reports, studies and findings tend to throw numbers out there and become viral. I’m not saying these reports are incorrect – just that they need to be taken with a grain of salt.
Every company’s Social Media situation is unique. Each product or service strikes an emotional chord with their customers. Regardless of the need, you are fulfilling something in a person’s life that makes them want to care about you. Your mission is to find that responsive chord and mine it for all its worth.
Whether the number is 5% or 23% to not use Social Media as a way of handling your customers needs is a huge mistake. If you are going to the trouble of creating platforms and developing content why wouldn’t you include listening as one of your core strategies?
The ultimate end game of Social Media marketing is the same as ANY form of marketing – to get someone to give you money. The difference here is that now the process is a two-way street. I won’t go as far as to say that the power has shifted to the hands (and keyboards) of the consumer. You still control your brand. However, Social Media allows customers greater access – and a louder voice – than ever before. It is word-of-mouth marketing on steroids.
Don’t be among the 5% (or 23%) – play the game to its fullest. You just might win.
Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist