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March 9, 2015

The Art of Social Media Conversation

Social Media allows businesses to interact with people in real-time on a more personal level. However, this means that all your posts and messages are available for public scrutiny, unlike the more traditional press release. In addition, your response time can be critical for keeping or improving public relations.

Let’s discuss some best practices!

  1. Be Genuine. The first part of being genuine is to know yourself. Know your business. What type of business are you? What type of voice do you want to have? Some companies value professionalism first, with a pinch of the human touch. Others are known for a more fun attitude, so they cultivate it by having wittier posts and tweets. If you’re not yet sure what your company is, you can play around with it a little until you have some data to see what your audience reacts best to, but don’t waffle too much or too extremely or they’ll just view your business as wildly inconsistent.
    The next part of being genuine falls into your social media strategy. We call this one:
  2. Be Wise about Replies. You will not have time or energy to reply to every comment or re-tweet you see. Even if you do have that kind of “downtime,” this is not where you should spend it. Make sure you read everything, but you don’t have to respond to EVERYTHING. Be proactive about potential crises, offer feedback to both positive and negative comments, and follow up where you need to with private messages. Two things you should avoid? Do not use auto-messaging functions, and don’t be inconsistent.
    TIP: On Twitter, if you want to tag someone, either write (@handlenamehere) or move the tags to the middle or end of your tweet. Otherwise, you are simply replying and only users who follow BOTH of you will see your tweet.
  3. Be Smart, Don’t Start. I think there is a rule in dating about this- do not bring up religion or politics. Whether or not you want to invite discussion, your page is a place of business. Stay professional by being courteous to everyone. It will do your business a lot more good and you won’t have to worry about dealing with firefights!
  4. Be Proactive. This one is also about crisis management. Studies have shown that communities respond much better toward companies who take action and resolve their issues BEFORE they are outed to the public. For example, if you need to have a recall, isn’t it better to do it voluntarily than be at the center of damages litigation? Social media is the place to do this. In this day and age, and with the underlying message of social media, you cannot just wait and see. It doesn’t have to be on a global scale either. Let’s imagine that a customer posts on your latest Facebook photo that his previous experience in your store was negative. Everyone can now see this post. What should you do? You should respond directly and say something like, “I’m sorry about your experience… please message us at (insert your contact info here) so we can discuss it.” Other customers will see this message and know that not only were you paying attention but also that they can contact you if they have issues.

These are some general practices you can apply when using social media to ensure you have professional interaction with your audience. Be mindful and vigilant, and you will succeed!

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