Social Channels for Business – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social outlets is now the standard for most businesses. Its a great method to further your marketing reach to potential customers as well as a quick way for your existing customers to ask questions, report issues and interact with real humans at your company.

However, there are downsides to being available on too many communication channels and its very important to make sure you have your support team or others in place to reply accordingly…and fast.

The Benefits of Social Channels

I alluded to these benefits of having company social channels above, but here’s the expanded bullet list.

  • Marketing reach to potential customers
  • Fast interaction with existing customers
  • Updating your customers on important issues
  • Opportunities to run social advertising to grow your follower base or to direct to important pages on your site
  • Giving existing customers a public space for praise

Let’s talk about that last point for a moment because it’s an important one. It can affect the perception of your products and services to other people in both positive and negative ways.

As you know, anyone who knows your Twitter handle can tag you in any tweet they post. This is awesome when your satisfied customers (especially those with a large following) tweet something nice about your company. Their followers see it and if they’ve added a hashtag or two, users following those hashtags will potentially see that tweet too.

Here are few examples from our own Twitter feed:

This one was in response to us thanking him for following us…

This was a reply to us after we responded quickly to a pre-sales question…

This was from someone in our WordPress community that we already know…

If you haven’t already noticed, each one of those tweets validate our business and create a good first impression of our brand for those who are seeing them who may have never heard of @thewpvalet

The Potential Hurdles

Praise and positive words are all well and good, but that’s not the reality of business and customer support. Every business has moments of struggle and pain points but it’s how you respond and correct those situations that make the difference.

Public communication channels can be a double-edged sword. Customers who are upset have the same opportunity as happy users to call you out publicly. It happens, and there’s no way around it if you choose to promote and communicate socially. This is why it’s so vitally important to have a person (or persons) dedicated to responding to people socially and also to escalate important communication to the rest of the team to get something corrected quickly.

In other words, responding quickly and escalating when appropriate gives you the ability to turn a potentially bad customer experience into a great one.

Here are a few examples of companies responding quickly and “turning it around” (click the timestamp links on the embedded tweet to see company replies)

@TervisTumbler responds to customer who broke their cup and reminds them of the lifetime replacement guarantee.

@KraftFoods replies to customer who got less than they expected with their product.

@BlueApron replies to customer who didn’t get their shipment on time.

In every one of those examples, it’s likely that the companies were able to correct these customer issues by simply being attentive and responding fast on Twitter.

The Downright Ugly Side of Social Networks and Your Business

And now we come to Public Relations nightmares for companies. The examples below show the power of the viral nature of social networks. If someone in your company does something they shouldn’t have, it’s possible that millions of people will know of it before you can respond accordingly.

Remember this guy? A video of a Fedex worker that has 9 million views as of today even though the video was posted 4 years ago.

Back in 2012, McDonalds promoted the use of the #McStories hashtag welcoming customers to share their great McDonalds experiences…and it went horribly wrong.

Here’s a screenshot of some of the Tweets.

McDonalds Twitter Campaign Gone Wrong
McDonalds Twitter Campaign Gone Wrong

Is Your Company Ready to Manage Its Social Presence?

Social channels can be incredibly beneficial to your business or they can bring your brand to its knees. Managing these channels is not easy if you have limited resources and there are numerous ways in which companies do this. Those will come in a future article but we’re curious, how do you manage your social channels? Do you have one or more people dedicated to this? Are there any specific tools or services you use to help bring it all together?

Please let us know in the comments.