Some days ago I saw people talking about well-known restaurant in Helsinki on Twitter and the comments were anything but positive. People tweeting were criticising the restaurant’s food, level of service and even the working conditions and pay of the employees. This might not be nothing new but the most telling thing was what the new people joining the conversation were saying: “I didn’t know that about the restaurant and it sounds terrible. I’ve never been there but maybe I shouldn’t even go.” It would have been really good for that restaurant to join the conversation and tell their side of the story but they were absent. Similar things are happening all the time, to a lot of brands, all across the internet. The good news is that its never too late to start engaging with your own customers online!
Your customers are social
People spend a lot of time online nowadays. They search for information, book airline tickets and hotels or shop for clothes, read news and talk with each other on social media. Last year In Finland, 81 percent of people using internet used it for searching for information and 53 percent wrote messages on social media, blogs and forums (source). So people are actively using the internet for finding information and sharing it with one another. To find information about a brand or a company, it is easy just to type its name on Google.
Customer ratings and feedback greatly affect other people’s purchase decisions. Social media, blogs and forums have given a channel for people to voice their opinion - in good or bad. Noteworthy for any company is that what is being said online can easily be forwarded to one’s own network of people. Disappointed customer can share their story to their friends, friends of friends or even the whole nation (just google what happened when a security guard took a little children’s balloon in a department store and disappointed onlooker put a video of it on Facebook).
Compared to traditional corporate communications companies can’t control the social media and what is being said about them online. It is a whole another playing field. Sadly, I often see customers’ questions unanswered on social networks. Because social media is not tracked, complaints are left unhandled and sometimes they even escalate into a nationwide social media disaster. It is a missed opportunity as well that positive comments are left on their own and never utilized. This is why monitoring what is being said about your brand is crucial. It is good reputation management.
Use online dialogue to your advantage
Luckily there are good examples of companies doing it right on social media. After the volcano erupted in Iceland and spat a lot of ash in the air many airlines noticed that social media and especially Twitter are quick communication channels. For example KLM and Finnair utilize social media well nowadays. Also, brands like Fazer and other big consumer businesses have put online dialogue their top priority.
You can and should use your online presence to your advantage, too! There are different tools for that, for example Radian6 is a powerful tool for monitoring online media and handling social customer service. Be where your customers are and strengthen your relationship with them by conversing with them like you would face-to-face. There are other benefits as well, like analysing your industry and seeing emerging trends, getting to know your customers better and analysing the overall sentiment towards your brand and products.
With the right tools, it does not take long to spot issues that need tackling or answering to a question or retweeting positive feedback. The point is you need to start somewhere! Being silent sends a clear and loud message, too.
Digital Marketing Manager
Watch the short Radian6 product video here