Infographic: Conversing With Your Customers on Social Media

By Samantha Youl | 09 Aug 2012

Social media interaction between businesses and customers is becoming more and more common. But are you doing it right? Tim Haynes from BazaarVoice offers his advice.

Social media is proving to be an important business tool for retailers across the globe. Last month, Australian pureplay retailer SurfStitch experienced a website failure, which resulted in a Facebook page filled with amusing images about the website overload and a clever email campaign to follow.

Multichannel company Wittner uses social media to keep customers happy and in-the-know. Recently highlighting an online retail blunder through its social media channels. Businesses and brands want to engage with customers in the right way, a way that is not going to result in a tarnished reputation or endless harassment.

Tim Haynes is a Client Partner at BazaarVoice and he believes that businesses are realising the need to reach out to customers in the spaces that they inhabit. “The challenge most face is not only how to interact, but more importantly, what is the value of this interaction brings to both customers and business alike,” says Haynes. “Then underpinning this, I would throw the most important layer being how do I measure, learn and improve upon these customer interactions?”

According to Haynes, businesses are executing Facebook and Twitter type strategies from within broader marketing units. “The real gold for both customers and businesses alike is when customer interactions can be tracked and actioned across business units, like customer service or marketing,” says Haynes. “If you consider when a customer has a conversation with a business, they don’t really care who they speak with, whether that’s customer service, marketing or sales. What customers really care about is that they are listened to, then of course actioned appropriately and timely by the business.”

A piece of advice for businesses contemplating a social media relationship with customers, is to do the research. Make sure you will be able to support this part of the business.

“An important thing any business should consider with customer interaction is their ability to manage and service the interaction,” says Haynes. “This means many different things to many different businesses in Australia today. Agile companies which move quickly can certainly gain mind-share and wallet share advantage by interacting with existing customers or potential new customers through social interactions. But you shouldn’t jump in if there is no clear value to both business and customer alike.”

If you are considering upping your business’ social presence, but worried about the effects it may have (eg. Channel 9’s Olympic Coverage), Haynes offers some advice. “Social media interactions, like all forms of social interaction, can certainly deliver unwanted results for business, which can in turn be very immediate and possibly costly. There are all the standard issues you should consider before you speak within social media. Think of the positioning of your brand, your tone and appropriateness of voice, business objectives and audience expectations. Always ask yourself ‘what value does this conversation bring both my customer and my business?'”

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