If something is worth doing, it won’t be easy.
A strong social media presence is a muscle that serves as both an external force and an internal support mechanism. It can advance the business and it can support other business structures. But since it is muscle, it needs to be worked out. This can sometimes be painful, but pain done right can bring growth.
In my consultancy business, we help other businesses grow their social media presence. Our goal is engagement, and we create that engagement through videos and content that prefers particular over generic content. We love a good interview with an expert in the company, and the social media audience loves it, too.
The downside to the sudden influx of views, reactions, and comments is that not all of the comments are positive. We recently had a client who worked with a different agency previously. The average number of reactions on their content was 3 per post.
When they switched to us, one of the first videos of ours generated 93 likes/hearts, 16 comments, and 18 shares – an incredible level of engagement for a manufacturing company. In the first month of engagement, however, we have also seen quite a few half-positive “suggestion” comments and some extremely negative comments. It can feel a bit shocking – why this sudden hatred? Does it have to do with the content? How do we stop this from happening?
The answer can feel a little unsettling – there is no way to prevent negative comments. In fact, trying to prevent them will probably generate more problems down the line. We’ve seen it happen – a few blocked users can go on to create a hate page that is then completely out of your control. The best choice is to keep the reactions at home, on your own page, where you at least have a chance to respond on your own terms.
The sudden outpouring of feedback, even negative feedback, is a gift. Customers see that you are active, and they are hopeful that they can finally get in touch with a real person who can help them solve their problem. It is an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with customers.
The strength of their anger can sometimes reflect the ability of the business to communicate with customers effectively. Very few customers are suddenly angry – it is usually a process of not being able to get in touch with the business through other means. Of course, even after addressing the customers’ concerns, not everyone will be happy, but showing future customers how you deal with problems and complaints builds trust.
Building trust with customers takes patience, time, and effort. Customers appreciate genuine engagement, and they appreciate being heard in a timely manner.
This is why we believe that the community manager role should not be taken lightly. The people who interact with your customers directly reflect on the business itself. This is not a role that can be outsourced to a call center, and it is important to have a response plan in place. What happens if there is a problem with a product or if a mistake was made by the company? How do we respond if the customer was treated poorly by an employee?
This is why we have a response protocol, and it is dynamic – new problems will always arise. We walk with the company in deciding how to respond to new situations.
For companies who are trying to build their social media presence, there is a risk in having a greater reach and higher engagement. It is important to be aware of the risk and take it seriously. But I believe that the risk is worth it – genuine engagement will create long-term relationships with the customers that far outweigh the risks.
It’s not an easy path, but it’s worth it.