Could you imagine going into a shop and there weren’t any staff? Except for the obvious (taking everything you can and run!), how would you react? Imagine a world if there wasn’t anyone to contact for customer complaints or queries, sales advice or general socialising. Your shopping experience would be so misguided and boring!
Now, can you imagine having a world where large corporations didn’t use social media – if there wasn’t anyone to contact Facebook or Twitter, or even YouTube? It may seem silly to say but five years ago no one would have heard such a thing. However, in a recent study it has been shown that there are now over 2 billion people online. 85% of customers expect businesses to be active in social media, and that they [90%] DO care about online reviews from peers – even from strangers. The new #Hashtag phenomenon has sent the world crazy about conversation! You have to monitor what these conversations are about and whether it involves you. These conversations could be amazing for your brand. In other circumstances, it could be fatal in a matter of hours.
Today’s culture IS online culture. It is the place where the majority of news and opinions are formed and spread like wildfire. If a customer has a really bad experience, they’re not just going to complain to the company, but they are likely to post it on their profile so they can show the rest of the world how mad they are. Social media is (let’s be honest) a platform for egos and attention seeking; therefore your unhappy customer will do everything they can to gain a better reaction for their own personal confidence at the expense of your company.
But fear not – it also leads to great opportunities! With over 2 billion people online, the market is forever expanding. PR is about engagement and creating a strong relationship with your customer. Therefore, having a public chat via your Facebook or Twitter page won’t harm anyone. It shows that you’re human! Having the great customer service skills in-store is all very well but posting on Facebook/Twitter everyday saying: “Good morning, we hope you’re having a lovely week! Here are our best deals today” will drive more customers to your door – more than you would get by just showing good customer service skills in-store. It’s a way of advertising, but with a human factor. Only 14% of consumers trust adverts, but 90% trust peers, so make sure the main opinion formers (i.e. bloggers, YouTube ranters) are positively reviewing and engaging with you.
Having an online customer competition is kind of like walking past a high-street shop with music blaring, balloons all round and customers walking out with a skip in their step and a smile on their face. A good example of an online competition could be to encourage customers to share their favourite moment using one of your products, or encourage them to share your page to be in with a chance of winning some goodies. Although this may seem simple, it is that subtlety that builds a good connection with your audience and favours your company in their mind.
However the fact remains that 77% of customers read brand posts but don’t comment and only 17% comment and share, which means it is hard to evaluate the ROI on social media. Don’t take likes and followers too seriously, or post just because everyone else is. You need a diverse and thorough action plan which targets all channels and publics in order to be most effective. A fully online campaign is much more effective than solely using Facebook or Twitter.
Whatever you do, make sure you sit tightly belted on the Digital Bandwagon. If you don’t – whether you like it or not – your company will be left in the space of online vulnerability, like a shop with no staff.