There was a time when I was paid to manage the social media accounts of businesses. Day in and day out I would post content, watch for mentions on Twitter, monitor comments on Facebook and fend off the social media trolls.

These days I  don’t do a lot of social media management for my clients, I’m more of an advocate of keeping it in-house rather than outsourcing. But, regardless of who is responsible, social profiles need to be managed. Regularly.

It amazes me how many businesses neglect their profiles and treat their social media pages like websites. Social media isn’t static, it’s a dynamic place. There is huge potential for valuable connections to be made by the brands that know how.

Customer connections

Social media platforms have made it easier for brands to connect with their customers, and for many consumers, it is the primary method of contacting brands with their queries. It is crucial for brands to be aware of this growing trend.

The 2017 Sensis Social Media Report found that 64% of people are more likely to trust a brand if they positively engage with their customers on social media.

If your brand is going to have a presence on social media you need to realise people are going to contact you. And, it’s a two-way conversation.

Ignoring your customers when they connect with you and ask you a question is like slamming a door in their face. It’s just plain rude.

Stop being an ostrich

Get your head out of the sand and show you care about your audience by adopting these 4 tips in your social media management.

1. Set up alerts

I get it, you mean to check the business Facebook page but you never manage to find time in the day to log on, something always comes up. We are all busy.

In an ideal world, we would have a leisurely couple of hours each day set aside that we could spend on social media – making connections, having conversations with customers, answering their queries and responding to feedback. But reality gets in the way.

To avoid the embarrassing situation of ‘missed messages’ from your customers make sure in your settings you have notifications on. Most of the major platforms allow you to choose what to get notified of and how you are notified, either text message alert or email. It’s quite simple really.

2. Respond in a timely manner

Don’t ignore messages, ever. Have you ever experienced the terrible hold music for what seems like hours on end when you’ve called the electricity company during a black out? Quite literally, left in the dark. That’s what it feels like when you ignore your customer’s query about your product on social.

Even if you don’t have the answer at least acknowledge the message and let them know you’ll investigate and get back to them.

70% of Twitter users expect a response from brands they connect with on Twitter, and 53% of them expect it within an hour  Hubspot

Your responsiveness rate is clearly displayed on your Facebook page in the about section, and they favour those brands that respond quickly by showing a ‘very responsive to messages badge’.

Facebook also has a great tool for busy people called Response Assistant. It automatically responds to messages when you’re not around, giving you a little more room to breathe and keeping your response rate high.

3. Respond to all messages

You’re likely to get a mix of private messages and public messages, and depending on the query and person there are a few different ways you’ll want to respond.

In responding to people, the golden rule is to respond using the method they contacted you. If the message is publicly visible then respond to it publicly, because it’s not just about the person with the query, the onlookers also need to know you’ve replied.

Sometimes you might like to take it out of the public view, which is totally fine but make it obvious. Don’t assume that other users will know you’ve taken it offline or sent a private message.

It may seem a bit painful and unnecessary, but always make sure you write a response for the general public’s eyes. It doesn’t have to be long or detailed, a brief comment in response saying something along the lines of  ‘Hey, check your messages we’ve PM’d you.’ 

4. Deleting is a no no

You may be tempted to delete negative reviews of your business or hide comments that put you in an unfavourable light. Don’t.

There will always be someone that sees the comment before you have a chance to remove it from your page. Deleting comments and reviews on your page makes it looks like you are hiding something and people will question whether you are trustworthy.

In saying this, you need to apply rule 3 above and respond to negative comments as well. Ignoring them won’t make it go away. Here you may decide to take it offline if the person is obviously annoyed or upset. Once again, remember to always make it obvious to others.

There are exceptions to the rule. You have every right to remove posts and comments that don’t abide by the platform’s guidelines and either contain inappropriate images or use explicit language.

Free advertising!

Listening to your customers and letting them know that their problems are important to you goes a long way towards brand advocacy.

Recommendations on social media are the ultimate compliment. A happy customer will share their story with their friends and family. All for free!


Photo credit:  Joe Wroten on Unsplash

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