Community managers are the future of customer relationships
In a world where I can reach my grandmother on Facebook Messenger, but I can’t reach my internet provider on Twitter because they just don’t have a Twitter profile, something is not working well.
As you know, conversations are shifting from traditional channels like phone and email to social media, and brands are trying to adapt and introduce this new channel into their customer relationship strategy. But still, 89% of social media messages to brands go ignored.
“80% of companies online are under the impression that they deliver exceptional social media customer service, while only 8% of their customers say that they agree.”
By and large, brands are adding this as a new channel for customer care; managing incoming messages on social media as they would do for incoming emails and phone calls.
Unlike the traditional one-to-one customer relationship, brands are walking into a new world where conversations happen in a social sphere - a community. You can’t handle a phone call in exactly the same way as you would handle a comment on Facebook. Understanding this, makes it clear that you can’t copy-paste your traditional customer care strategy and transpose it to social media. You need a trendy superhero: the community manager.
Welcome to a world of public conversations
Have you ever tried to have a private chat in a busy company lift? Would you say the same things to your customer in front of an audience of a thousand people as in a phone call? Would you employ the same tone of voice? Ask the same sensitive information?
Social media signals the end of private conversations.
You’re not alone anymore. Your social audience matters.
This audience is almost as important, if not more important, than the individual customer that you’re interacting with. Just think of all the possible ‘bad buzz’ coming from a community manager’s inappropriate actions.
One retweet or Facebook comment can turn viral, reach thousands of people and deeply affect your brand reputation.
Keeping in line with the voice and personality of a brand may sound like a walk in the park, but mastering the tone of a company is often easier said than done - especially under the scrutiny of potentially thousands of people.
Community managers’ missions show how complex the social sphere is
Community managers’ missions do really vary depending on the company, the social media team size, the seniority of the community manager, whether you call it a “Social Media Manager” or a “Social Media Strategist”… But if you still don’t know what kind of missions a community manager can be on, here is a glimpse:
Having conversations — with the brand advocates and all possible folks in / from the brand communities; moderating owned channels
Content creation — writing blog posts, articles, newsletters, communications materials, and material for social media channels. Creating a regular publishing schedule.
Analytics — daily use of measurement tools such as Google Analytics to provide reports on metrics.
Social selling — depending on the company activity and social media strategy, the Community Manager can also be responsible for aspects of business development and sales.
Monitor trends — of the latest technologies, contents, design and strategy.
Events organisation — organising a live video on Facebook or Instagram, special contest to win prizes… the community manager requires.
Social listening — understanding your customers, their main interests, what drives conversations, keeping a close eye on competitors and monitoring brand’s digital reputation.
Managing sponsored campaigns — planning and monitoring of social ads on Facebook, Twitter…
Let me be clear, I’m not saying that managing your customer relationship on social media requires this large set of skills. I just want to show you that managing a social media community involves multiple expertise types, way beyond traditional customer care.
Customer relationship KPIs on social media are also of a different nature. Now we’re talking about reach, engagement or event ‘sentiment’ analysis.
Content drives conversations
Your social media fan pages are not a neutral public place where people would talk between them about random topics. Your content drives conversations.
See your social fan page as your own created universe, where you want to invite your customers.
When H&M features its autumn’s collection with the singer Tiffany Young, it’s not only to express its brand value and lifestyle, it’s a call for engagement.
The same way you would start a conversation talking about the latest news you read in your local newspaper, H&M is asking you: “hey, do you like Scotland and Tiffany Young as well? By the way, that’s our new collection - do you like it?”
Your social fan pages belong to you, and you can do whatever you want to express your brand image. Just don’t forget the conversations you might drive.
You want the content you share to bring your community together, and drive conversations about topics and the values your brand embodies.
It’s a 24/7 relationship
Most forms of customer support via phone and email are not typically expected to be available 24/7. Yet, social media customer support has created an ‘always-on’ expectation.
With social media, word of mouth is getting into a new dimension because of its unpredictable reach and new temporal value. A small customer incident can turn into a major negative news story that can reach thousands of people…
According to social media expert Jay Baer, 42% of consumers who complain over social media expect a response time of 60 minutes or less.
Being able to respond during weekends and out of office hours involves a specific customer service organisation that requires flexibility and a wise allocation of your resources. You obviously can’t rule a 24/7 fully operational team; your community manager still has to sleep at some point.
Engagement > response
Customer service on social media is about more than just answering questions or dealing with problems. We can define engagement as an emotional involvement or commitment.
One does not pick up the phone and call KFC’s hotline to say how great were the last chicken wings he had. But on social media, that happens!
Social platforms like Instagram simply give you a chance to say “thank you” to your customers when they want to share their enthusiasm.
Today, customer expectations are sky-high and brand loyalty is key. Engaging with your customers might just be the easiest and cheapest way to nurture loyalty.
A good community manager will not hesitate to retweet someone who posted a picture of your brand or product. We always undervalue the power of a simple “like” to a fan comment.
Influencers are to be part of your customer service
Influencers for your customer service? Yes, influencers can not only be one part of your social media marketing strategy, they can also play a crucial role in your customer service.
As soon your influencers are taking part of your marketing effort, sharing some of your content, they unwittingly become part of your customer service team.
It is now quite common that your customers ask questions directly to influencers about your products, and not to you!
They can be your voice for many of your customers, so don’t forget to consider them in your customer care strategy.
To make sure they provide the right answers, you can - for example - provide them with a specific influencer FAQ document that they could use, or give them a special contact point who will provide them with all the information they need.
If well managed, customer relationships on social media can be a huge opportunity to bring back empathy to customer service. This is not an easy job, but it’s a daily emotional effort that can create strong bonds between your brand and your customers.