Succeeding with Social Media Dialogue

By now, most businesses have accepted social media is not going anywhere. In fact, social media is becoming more prevalent and ingrained in the daily lives of clients and consumers.

Statistics regarding usage and population are easily found, including how many people make purchases online. One significant statistic is the highest percentage of social media users, ages 18 – 34, also have the most buying power. And where do they go for reviews and company information? That’s right, social media.

Businesses have known this for awhile, which is why there are innumerable B2C and B2B companies with Facebook pages, LinkedIn presences and Twitter/Instagram feeds. As the marketing adage states, go where the people are. Yet, despite being where the people are, only 39 percent say they are receiving medium ROI from organic posts and only 20 percent state they receive highest ROI from this form of marketing.

Advertising on social media

If social media is where 4.2 million people are spending their free time and getting their purchasing recommendations, why are those ROIs not higher?

Simple. Companies are using social media like an advertising channel and not as it is designed. Unlike television, radio and print, social media is built on a platform of socialization. Bet you couldn’t see that one coming from the name. And this is where most companies fail in their conversions.

Businesses spend money for social media managers, writing attention grabbing copy and set a publishing schedule like they would purchase a television ad. Except social media is not advertising to a passive audience that is sitting on a couch or in a car.

Watching the right metric

Some companies watch the analytics produced by each platform, focusing on impressions while still thinking about the numbers game of marketing: More exposure equates to the power of three and having your brand come to mind when it’s time to buy. In fact, promoting posts is based on spending money with the idea of increasing impressions.

But impressions is not the metric where conversions reside.

The more important metric to follow on social media is engagement. Social media is based on how much liking and conversation follows from a post. Most people use social media to learn something new, and creating dialogue builds interpersonal interest in a topic.

Avoid automation

Does that mean send out automated DMs thanking for follows, or publishing the follow/unfollow stats to prove popularity? No. Let me rephrase that: NO. Social media is not a numbers game. It’s a networking game. It’s a chance to strengthen brand awareness, initiate thought leadership, create value statements and build a curiosity about your company.

I am in favor of using third party apps to manage and publish posts on a schedule. But that should be the foundation on which dialogue, engagement and interaction with your clients should rest.

Just like local SEO and replying, if you are not engaging with the people who follow you on social media, you are shutting your door on customers. So next time you publish a post, try asking a question instead of stating a fact. Create a poll rather than a statement. Engage with your customer base rather than picking a play from the tv marketing playbook. Seek out what they have to say.

Why? You might learn something about your customer you didn’t know. And I bet the 20 percent of companies who are receiving their highest ROAS are engaged with their customers. They’re probably engaged with your customers, too.

The Power of Replying to Customer Reviews

It’s no secret to businesses that online customer reviews are an important aspect of marketing in the era of Google. In fact, 6 in 10 consumers look to Google for customer reviews when deciding to make a purchase. Even more important, 91 percent of consumers ages 18 to 34, the age with the most buying power, trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

So it’s no surprise that marketing departments try to entice customers to leave positive reviews. And getting a positive review should be getting easier. According to ReviewTrackers survey, reviews are becoming increasingly positive and leaning away from being an easy place for unhappy customers to vent.

That’s good news, right? Yes, except businesses are not maximizing on the impact of an online review. Similar to social media, online customer reviews are a place to deepen your brand by interacting with your customers directly. So let’s talk about the reasons why a business should reply to reviews, both negative and positive.

The negative customer review

It’s inevitable, no business can escape the unhappy customer. Some reviews are legitimate airing of grievances left unaddressed or ignored, while some reviews might be a troll looking to rail against someone. However, it’s not for a business to decide the intent behind the review.

Instead, a company needs to reply and address the stated concern. Here’s why – negative reviews push away customers. More so now than ever before. In fact, 91 percent of surveyed consumers say a negative review has convinced them to not buy from a company.¬†On top of that, 53 percent of customers expect a business to reply to negative reviews.

Yet 63 percent state a business has never replied.

While some businesses might take the high road approach, ignoring negative attention if they believe themselves in the right, consumers do not see it that way. According to Brightlocal, 89 percent of consumers read business responses to reviews.

Listen to your reviews for valid concerns and address them. This is an opportunity to build bridges to your customers. If the review is accurate, potential customers will see you are a business who values them and will take necessary steps to correct any issues. If the review is off the mark, educate the public about your processes, your business and turn the review into a free marketing opportunity.

Most importantly, use a writer to draft replies. Otherwise, a bad situation might turn out worse in the minds of current and potential customers.

The positive customer review

Okay, so you reply to negative reviews, and the work is done. Not so quickly. Not replying to positive reviews is a huge missed opportunity. It all comes back to making your customers feel valued.

Psychology plays heavily into our decisions, including brand loyalty. And one of the best ways to deepen brand loyalty is to be personable with your customers. People bond to people, not businesses. Instead of using customer reviews only as SEO tools to advertise your business, use positive reviews as a dialogue with your customers.

The increased engagement from you will increase engagement from them. Including word of mouth promotion of your business.

Plus, responding to positive reviews can help minimize any negative reviews. Instead of seeing a business who only responds to a PR problem, potential consumers will see a business who values their customers and engages with interest.

At the end of the day, replying to both positive and negative customer reviews will strengthen the free marketing your business is getting. However, just a warning: combative negative review replies will backfire, as will canned positive review replies. As in all things human, the best way to approach customers is to be genuine.