We live in the digital age of "social media".
For businesses, this new age has brought on dreams and nightmares. One mistake can bring a horde of trolls rushing to your page. One compelling post can have the whole world at your beck and call.
That being said, social media has given businesses a voice but in turn, given customers a megaphone.
In the real world, the interactions between businesses and customers are completely different from the online cluster of replies and comments on the Internet. On social media, everyone sees everything and how you communicate to your audience needs to be handled with precision. The last thing you want is to come off as uninterested, mute or annoying.
Your Social Media is not a 1-800 Number
When it comes to business social media interaction, you're not a telemarketer. Your business shouldn't be portrayed as someone who's reading from a humdrum script, on their 6th cup of coffee, and waiting for their shift to end.
Some may not see it, but on a more personal level, customer interaction on social media is a form of marketing. Interactions give your brand a backbone. In a way, it can display your brand's character; do you really care about your audience or is your attention fixed on their wallets?
Know the "Who"
Your brand identity should be what drives you as a business. Knowing who you are and whom you are talking to.
Regarding social media interaction, knowing who you're talking to can make or break your online perception and how you handle an online audience. You wouldn't sell insurance to a kid and you wouldn't talk meme culture with a senior.
This can avoid confusion but most importantly, paint the picture you want your audience to perceive. As a brand, you shouldn't only look the part but you need to act it too.
Not only can online interactions maintain current customers but also, can draw new ones. Seeing the way you interact with your audience can allow others to understand you as a brand. They see what you're about.
5 Tips on Interacting with your Audience
1. Don't be a Plain Jane Doe:
What do I mean by this? Don't be the Plain Jane who dies off like a Jane Doe. A 'Plain Jane Doe'.
Embody your brand with passion. Doesn't matter if you're selling ponies or paper clips. Everything you say should compel your audience. Now, this doesn't mean that you need to chug an energy drink and start typing in all-caps. Passion can look different depending on your audience.
It all ties in with knowing the "Whom". Do your responses need to be clever, sincere, exciting, professional etc.? At the end of the day, you know your audience best. Figure out the best way to relay the best response.
2. Open Conversations
"How was your day?"
Your business social media interactions shouldn't feel like you're talking to an angsty teenager.
Create ways to get your audience talking. With most small businesses, you need to begin the conversation before you can start navigating through bundles of traffic. Simply because you're on social media, doesn't mean people will start posting about you.
There's so much information being fed into our social feeds, it may seem like a daunting task. It's important to remember that your audience won't communicate with you if you're not giving them a reason to.
Whether that's through posting eye-catching pictures, mesmerizing videos, or asking questions to your audience, your audience needs a reason to stop their scrolling finger to react and interact.
3. Handle Anger with Care
We all know someone who suffers from raging twitter-fingers. This someone feels the need to relieve whatever 5-second frustration they have building up towards social media.
For this audience, brands have become an outlet for that frustration to be released onto. It may seem like a negative but when handled correctly, it can become an asset to any brand.
In a case study done by Groove, they used the business Proposify as an example. The example showed how Proposify handled an online grump in a way that suited with their brand identity. By doing that, they were able to turn a negative situation into a better relationship.
Not only can diffusing a heated situation be good for you and the customer, but it can also be a way to showcase who you are as a brand. Others will be able to observe how you handle that kind of pressure.
For a more in-depth analysis on the matter, check out this case study done by Groove.
4. Be the Proud Parent
Showcase your audience. Show your audience that you're proud of them. Give them a "noogie" and shower them with social media praise. Showing off your audience, whenever they're reaching out or saying something fantastic about your brand, creates a stronger bond with your customers. It shows you care.
Bringing attention to your audience, in turn, brings attention to you. When others see brands care about their audience, they want to join in the fun.
What does that look like? Simply magnifying your audience's comments, posts, pictures, videos about you. Through follow-up comments, retweets, shares etc.
Doesn't matter if it's a poorly drawn picture of a dog or a simple comment. Bringing light to your customer's interactions makes them feel apart of your brand.
5. Contests with Interaction
Contests should not only be seen as a quick grab at shares and likes. They're more than that. You can say you're giving away a trip to Mars but without the correct interaction, no one is going to take you seriously.
Faces Magazine, an Ottawa-based lifestyle publication, is a perfect example.
Their most recent contest on Twitter tallied over 600 retweets for a pair of Sens tickets.
The biggest take away for me wasn't the stats but how they handled the whole contest. They communicated. Posting deadlines, winners and follow-up posts with previous winners.
Anyone can promote a contest but without the proper interaction, you lose your legitimacy. For all we know, you're giving the prize away to your significant other as an anniversary gift.
A wise man once told me, "Sweat the small stuff."
In every social media interaction, be intentional. Show your audience that you care enough to know whom you're talking to. Show why you care about their silly complaint or their encouraging comment? Why they deserve an exciting contest or to have a moment shared?
Social media interaction isn't about representing the brand but embodying it. Sometimes, we need to focus less on what we're selling and turn our gaze towards who we're selling to.