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Social media is a two-way street: How to improve your social strategy

July 21 2015

Tim Smith

Anyone who’s responsible for the communications and marketing efforts of their brand certainly understands the importance of having a meaningful presence on social media. But if your brand hopes to engage millennials, having a presence is not nearly enough. In a day and age where 81 percent of Twitter users expect a same-day response, you need to focus on responding and engaging with a sense of urgency and immediacy.1 And while social media takes some energy and resources, some simple tips will help you be successful.

There is a phenomenon happening right now in which organizations are racing to communicate and engage their audience through as many social media outlets as possible. However, the really successful brands like Nike, T-Mobile, and Starbucks, understand that it’s more than just that. They recognize that Millennials expect a two-way conversation – and are prepared and willing to be responsive and sensitive to the needs of this audience. Starbucks even started a separate account, @MyStarbucksIdea, to solicit feedback from fans, and T-Mobile signs every tweet with a signature so consumers know they are talking to a real person.2

On the other hand, according to socialbakers, 70 percent of global brands are failing to engage with their customers on social media platforms.3 This means that nearly three out of four brands are ignoring a potential customer or sale, or even worse, provoking them and pushing them away. Cable TV providers, for example, are notorious for poor engagement – and are driving consumers away as a result. By treating social media as a traditional, one-way flow of information, brands are causing harm to their reputation and brand equity.

Millennials crave engagement. They want an experience, but most of all they want their opinion to be considered and valued. They are looking to participate with brands in a personal, one-on-one conversation.

When you open up a social media channel and then fail to respond, it is the equivalent to inviting someone to dinner at your house and then refusing to answer the door.

These conversations can happen via email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and a host of other platforms. And if you can successfully utilize them to create meaningful conversations, your brand will win big. For example, check out Seamless on Twitter. The popular online food ordering service uses an authentic and original brand tone on their account and is very quick to respond to complaints and concerns. The growing company even follows fans back2, helping to create loyal customers for life.
If you are looking to improve your social media strategy, here are five things you can do:

  1. Designate a point person. Somebody needs to be responsible and accountable for managing your social media. Appoint people, make that designation public to your organization internally and then give the lead person the tools to make it successful.
  2. Listen and respond quickly. Make a rule that you will respond to every communication within a reasonable amount of time. Certainly the maximum should be 24 hours, but quicker is better. Don’t ever flat-out ignore.
  3. Keep replies on point. Make it clear that your social media team cannot allow the communication to get personal. Deal with any issues, apologize, and work to correct. If the comment is unreasonable, don’t blow up the issue bigger than it needs to be – your core audience will respect your professionalism.
  4. Stick to your brand voice and tone. Whether you have many people on your social media team or just one, it is critical that everyone understands, adopts and sticks to the brand voice.
  5. Be real. Automated responses are fine to let someone know you’ll get back to them in a couple hours, but then real people must deal with the issue. Automated responses often make the issue worse because it sends the message that you don’t care. Don’t do it.

How important is this to your business? Consider these numbers: Of the 7.2 billion people on our planet, more than two billion people have social media accounts. Of these, 1.7 billion users are active participants.4

Bottom line – if they aren’t communicating with your brand on social media today, they will be soon. And you need to be ready. Don’t have a plan? Get one. Don’t know where to start? Call me. We’ll help you create a kick ass strategy.
-Tim