How to Have Killer Social Media EngagementsBy Mike Elgan Print
Here's a social media tip: Go beyond marketing and PR. Truly connect with customers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and other social media sites.
The first step is to translate this into emotionally neutral language for yourself, and then reply with emotionally neutral language. Since actual information is scarce in this example—and in most online rants—the first step is to learn. So ask the angry customer, "Please tell me what happened!" In the vast majority of cases, the aggrieved party will bring the tone way down.
The psychology at play here is similar to how people behave while driving compared with how they act in an elevator. (The comedian Louis C.K. has a hilarious bit on this phenomenon.) In the car, people feel that other drivers don't care and aren't communicating with them, and that any interaction is consequence-free. So they over-react and vent. In contrast, when in an elevator, that same person is probably docile, polite and helpful in their interaction with strangers.
By responding to angry comments in an emotionally neutral, logical and constructive way, you turn highway road rage into polite elevator conversation.
Another way to demonstrate that you're not basing your interaction on policy-driven marketing or PR is to use everyday language, rather than industry jargon. And don't coddle or pander: If customers are wrong, tell them they're wrong. And if the company is wrong, tell them that as well.
Most importantly, don't forget to learn what people are saying—even from the haters, trolls and critics.
3. Join the community
Most importantly, become an active member of online communities by engaging, and spending time and effort to lend your perspective and expertise on conversations that don't necessarily lead to direct benefits for your company.
Over time, people get to know and trust you. In the process, they'll grow to view your organization closer to how you yourself see it: with an insider's view. Someone who appreciates what you're all about.
Being active members of online communities gradually turns you into an expert on the mindset of your best customers. You’ll get to know who they are and what they’ll think.
You’ll be able to predict how customers will respond to new products and other changes to what you have to offer. They’ll also give you ideas. And it will open up unforeseeable opportunities, including introductions, speaking opportunities and even partnerships.
Community membership is a business professional's biggest opportunity in social media. It turns the whole engagement from “you” understanding “them” into a big, mutually beneficial “us.”
Marketing and PR approaches to social media have their place. But the third way, though not easy, is by far the most meaningful, educational and rewarding.
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