It’s no secret that growing numbers of consumers rely on social media for a range of everyday purposes. For many, it is a primary source of news as well as an outlet for personal views on politics and current events. For some, it is also a way of keeping up-to-date about goings-on among family members and close friends – something to follow up on in person later on. What you might be less aware of is the fact that social media is increasingly turning into a conduit for conversational interactions that would have taken a much different form just a couple years ago.
Some people use direct messaging features on platforms like Facebook, Telegram, WhatsApp, and Telegram in order to simply keep in touch with friends or make casual contact with professional leads or other people they would like to get to know. This being the case, growing numbers of consumers expect social media to serve as an alternative to phone calls and email when it comes to resolving a sales issue, providing feedback, or otherwise interacting with a company that might receive or retain their business.
Keep the Door Open
This expectation is something that companies, especially ecommerce companies, should eagerly embrace. They can do so by making sure that links to their social media pages are prominently displayed in the “contact” section of their website, as well as in the “about” section and in the site’s footer, if it has one. Companies should also consider running their search engine optimization campaigns in ways that promote direct links to those social media pages for certain types of search.
By these means, companies should be able to make it so visitors to their websites feel every bit as comfortable with reaching out to customer service representatives through social media as they do reaching out to them through more traditional means. And even if a company’s leadership is much more familiar with those traditional means of communication, it should be understood that both the customer and the company may benefit from social media being a first point of contact.
The benefit for the customer mostly consists of the convenience of being able to handle a customer service issue in the context of doing all the other things they do on the same social media platform. The benefit for the company comes from the fact that it’s getting a significant head start in its social media marketing just by virtue of getting consumers onto the relevant page.
Capture Attention While You Can
Whether a customer is issuing a complaint or following up on an order, they probably have the option to tag the company in their own post, reply to something in the company’s social media feed, or send a direct message if this is something the company allows. In any case, they’ll have to navigate directly to the company’s page, at which point it’s highly likely that they be exposed to some of the content that’s posted there.
Of course, this isn’t inherently much different from what happens when a customer wants to file a complaint and looks up the company’s website on Google in order to find the right contact form, email address, or phone number. In that case, there’s still a good chance they’ll have to scroll past the content that’s on the front of the company’s website in order to get to the point of contact they were looking for.
The difference is in the actual nature of that content. Social media is more of a living, breathing thing, so when a consumer glances as a commercial page for a second, they might get a meaningful impression of how the company’s social media accounts operate. A website is mainly designed to convey evergreen information, and if the customer has already interacted with the company that owns that site, it’s pretty unlikely that a quick glance at the main page will tell them anything they don’t already know.
It would be one thing if consumers were finding a company’s contact information by navigating to its blog, but this rarely ever happens. And even when it does, the top view lines of a blog page can only convey so much about what the company’s staff are most interested in and how they interact with customers and the general public.
Social media should be able to tell people all that and more, and it should be able to do so without requiring that the customer scrolls down very far. A pinned tweet can serve as a highly significant call to action, and the “stories” feature on Instagram can very quickly show a visitor what’s new on the page, and how multiple recent posts fit together as part of a larger experience.
Keep Them Coming Back
Whether they came to the company with complaints or praise, a customer who reaches out through social media is one who can potentially be convinced to continue interacting with the company’s page after the comment has been recorded or the issue has been resolved.
A company can achieve this by making it clear at all times that its social media accounts are not simply conduits for advertising, but rather a source of information, entertainment, and open communication with the public. Content on those accounts should emphasize value over sales, and aspire to keep people coming back and making their brand interactions part of the everyday activity that for which they’ve come to rely on social media.
Not a lot of people go looking for a commercial social media account and then follow it specifically so they can receive sales pitches. But plenty of people find themselves on a company’s social media page for one reason or another, then decide that it’s worth following because they have a good impression of the brand and they see the content as something more than a string of advertisements.
Traditional advertising and SEO may be among the things that earn followers for any given company with a social media presence. But if a customer service inquiry is the first point of contact instead, companies should be ready to capitalize on the opportunity and retain that visitor’s attention for as long as possible.