Social media goes both directions; it's not a one way street.

Social media engagement goes both directions; it’s not a one way street.

Companies who use social media to converse with their customers have to realize that it is a two-way street.

Borrowing some numbers from this post on Social Media Today, here is some information about customer engagement using social media channels.

  • 24% of those who lost their temper about a product/service turned to social media to talk about their experience with that company (via Shankman)
  • 40% of consumers using social sites value access to customer service (via The Connection)
  • 70% of airlines surveyed will use social media to promote their brand and offer reservations, customer relationship management and check-in via social media platforms (
  • 80% of consumers heard back from brands they contacted through social media within 12 hours (eDigitalResearch)
  • 59% of organizations take more than one working day to respond to email complaints, the average response time on Twitter was 5.1 hours, with 10 percent of companies answering within one hour (Simply Measured)

What does this mean for you as a business who thinks that you’ll use social media to a) promote your company and thought leaders and b) grow awareness of your brand?

It can readily be answered using this old joke:

Q:  What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?  A:  A stick.

If your company has tasked someone, either internally or externally, with posting promotional material, appearances, news or other messages on social media, they need to be prepared to answer as well.

male finger pressing computer keys at workplaceThe rules are fairly straightforward and commonsense, but always bear repeating:

  • If someone starts to follow you, thank them.
  • If someone sends you a message, either in response to something you posted or because they want to reach you directly, be sure to answer them promptly.  Within one business day is acceptable unless it’s a complaint, in which case someone just act as quickly as possible.
  • Never, ever ever engage in a public skirmish with a person.  You can’t win.  You could end up like this restaurant chain.
  • It’s okay to be professional (about news core to your business) and light (philanthropic activities, employee news, related industry news or “of interest” stories).

Remember, at the end of the day, it’s about engaging and creating a connection with a person or people.  The closer you can be to them and seem like less a company and more a person, the more they’ll participate in the discussion.

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