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Responding to Customers on Social Media
Responding On Social Media

Bonding & Rapport through Social Networking is one of the most powerful tools your company has to increase sales, second only to interpersonal communication in real life.

Let’s start with some basic Netiquette:

  1. Always respond on the media you were contacted, unless asked or requires private information.
    (If you get a Tweet, send a tweet. Don’t call immediately or send an email if someone commented on Facebook. They will ask, if they want a call or better yet call you first.)
  2. There is no context for your words, so be respectful and be careful.
    (No sarcasm or innuendo. Humor is powerful on the Internet, but make sure it is straight forward and lighthearted. When in doubt, make it blatantly obvious by just adding “Ha!”)
  3. Only use shorthand that the other person has used previously.
    (LOL, JK, & BRB is not universal.)
  4. Don’t respond when you wouldn’t call though.
    (If someone comments at 3pm, don’t reply after midnight. They won’t see the message, and things like text message may beep on their phone and wake them up.)
  5. Keep private stuff private.
    (Obviously, things like credit cards and private information shouldn’t be shared online, but if you need to talk about sensitive issues, it is best to send a message on the media they contacted to that it will require a private conversation and let them know when you will call.)
  6. Stay cool while waiting for a response.
    (Everyone has their own speed on the Internet. Some people check email and LinkedIn messages 15 times a day, others once a week, so be patient when waiting for that reply.)
  7. Never use social media or email to cancel plans or send urgent messages.
    (Actual conversation is required for canceling a meeting or communicating an urgent message. No one wants to get back from being stood up to find an email saying something came up. Calling is best, but Instant Message, or text may be acceptable if they respond immediately.)
  8. Use the same picture (of your face) on all public profiles. Complete your profiles and keep them up to date. If you can’t keep up, shut them down.
    (The same picture allows people to see they have the correct person, plus people want to socialize with people, not brands, robots or question marks. Sorry, no pics of your kids as the profile picture either. Who wants to do business with a 2 year old? Also, no dead profiles. If you don’t check them regularly delete them. You don’t want to find out later that you missed a big sale because someone sent you a message on MySpace. Oops.)
    (That is considered yelling on the Internet and no one likes to be yelled at.)
  10. Respond quickly, but thoroughly to every message and comment. Do it right the first time.
    (Even if it is just to say “thanks,” make sure you get the last word or the conversation is clearly over. There is a regular give and take on the Internet because we can’t see each other, so communication works best when it alternates back and forth. Multiple messages in a row from you is confusing because the often receive them in reverse order, plus the don’t know when you are done. Send one thorough and complete response to each message your receive, then be patient.)
Do not tag me in photos that I am not in to get me to look at them. This little game does not ingratiate you to me, it makes me hate you. All I do all day is look for photos of myself on the Internet, and when I am pic-teased, I get super-angry about it. Do not be a pic-tease. – Comedian, Nick Kroll
Responding to Customers on Social Networking Sites
Responding to Customers on
Social Networking Sites

Now some more advanced techniques for communicating on social networks…

Those were sort of my Top 10 Netiquette Commandments, they provide a nice framework to keep you out of trouble, but they really don’t help you much along the lines of build trust and business relationships that result in more sales. In order to do that, you are going to have to learn some more advanced ideas about interpersonal communications between human beings.
The number 1 thing you need to know about human beings is this: We all pretty much do whatever the easiest thing is to eliminate the most pain or create the most pleasure in our lives. In short, we do what we think is best.
In a scientific study, they found that 99% of people are generally doing this. There are about 1% who hate themselves and are self-sabotaging, but let’s go ahead and assume we don’t want them as clients. Let me explain more.
When you wake up in the morning, you never think to yourself, “Let me see how stupid I can look today. I wondering if I can do something really embarrassing, and cost myself a ton of business.” Yet those things happen sometimes, if not to us, we see it happen to others all the time. Have you ever seen someone with a tattoo on their face? Chances are they didn’t think… “I want to scare small children and make sure I never get hired in corporate America.” They probably thought it was cool, tough or maybe intimidating, and it would eliminate future pain or get them future pleasure. 
So what does that have to do with responding to customers on social networking?
Well, this basic principle of psychology and communications, means a great deal to all of us. It means there is a big problem with how you communicate online, and a clue about how to fix it. It also means that there is a tremendous opportunity to stand out from the competition, because they already think they are doing their best, given the circumstances and resources.
Here is the problem. Every person on the planet is different and will evaluate what is best from a different set of circumstances. You are going to do what you think is best, but what if it is not best for the other person? Think about the “golden rule.” Treat others the way you want to be treated. There is a problem with that. What if they don’t want to be treated like you?
Here is the solution. Treat each person the way they want to be treated. This is especially true on the Internet. Each person has their own skill level of computing, internet speed, knowledge from research, social networking preferences, communication habits, as well as all the other personality and experience differences that go along with real life. That means each of your prospects or customers need to be dealt with the way they want to be, especially in how you respond online.
Here is an example. Let’s say you post your email address on your contact page, because you can formulate your responses, take time to respond at your convenience, you are a fast typer, and you can copy multiple departments if you have to. Sounds reasonable that everyone has email these days, and they can comply with this if they have a question.
However, what if prospect is an 80 year-old woman, who can’t type well, has an emergency, and she is looking up your number at a local library? Does your solution make the most sense for her?

The best way to communication through social networks is the way that your clients are communicating with you.

In order to do this effectively, you must treat each person as an individual and set up the social networks, online advertising, and response strategies for each. It sounds more complicated than it actually is, but the key is creating lots of options and then using the right tool to unlock the right door to the right customer. It is your responsibility to create an open communication channel with your clients. It is not theirs. Take some time now to think about how you can apply this concept to the way you currently communicate online.
This principle applies to much more than just the communication channel, so we will discuss this more in the future. In the meantime, keep putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, and focusing on how they want to be treated.