Catching up with the morning social news when I came across this great article from Jolie O’Dell over at @mashable – they mention that the post ‘originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.’
It’s a great read and touches on something I’ve been saying for years. . . YOU are the best voice of engagement for your small business brand. YOU are the reason your brand is successful.
There are people who do not get social media and take a hap hazard approach to what they invest in their online presence. These people will spend thousands of dollars on yellow pages ads yet balk at the idea of building a blog or learning how to use Twitter or Facebook.
Some business owners will not have their “a ha” moment in the beginning of their reluctant online efforts because social media, to them, is just one more thing to do for their company . . . like buying stamps or printing out post cards. They haven’t yet seen the value in personally connecting with the people who purchase their products online as well as in person.
Social Media, in order to be effective and truly help your small business or personal brand thrive, has to have your personality come through. Engagement with your customers, fan base and followers is key. If you can spend time each day checking email, answering the phone or writing letters . . . you can learn to use social media for your company.
— Mashable spoke with Marsha Collier, who wrote the book on online customer service. “Collier says that while there are lessons to be learned from larger corporations’ social media campaigns, the most important part of bringing your business online for customer interaction is that you’re creating a personality for your company and giving your business a face. “When you engage the community, you personalize your business. Your business is no longer a store or a website: It’s a person.” And at that point, Collier says, it’s vital to communicate promptly and personally, which can be time-consuming.”
Once, when I attended a seminar for the furniture and design industry, I overheard the woman in front of me say to her neighbor “Social Media is a waste of my time. I could actually be doing things for my clients rather than play around on the computer telling people what I had for breakfast.” It was interesting to hear but sad to say that I was not at all surprised by this sentiment, which is common among those who don’t yet see the value in online relationships and business growth. Talk about being out of touch with her demographic and the bigger picture of how social media could be used for customer service.
The expectations of customers have changed and how we communicated even 10 years ago has changed drastically. You may be surprised to learn that social media users 50 and older are now the fastest-growing demographic among Internet users. Companies must carefully judge how they communicate with customers through social media – as mistakes can be costly.
Jolie offers some fantastic advice for those of us who are interested in learning how to improve how we use social media for customer service.
She covers :
- Best Tools to Use
- Best Practices & Streams to Study
- Damage Control
While you’re at it – book mark this handy dandy guide and stay up to date on the latest on Mashable Social Media
How do you use social media for customer service?
What are your biggest challenges in using social media for your small business?
What is one of your social media customer service success stories?