Kiev, Ukraine - February 21, 2012 - A logotype collection of well-known world brand's printed on paper. Include Google, Mc'Donald's, Nike, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Nikon, YouTube, Adidas, Amazon.com, Unilever, Twitter, Mastercard, Samsung, Canon and Starbuck's logos.

Social media is a tough place to be. Not only are the number of platforms growing by the day, the rules each one plays by keep changing every other day too. However, despite the challenges it throws in marketers’ faces, social media also represents the most real way of coming face to face with one’s customers.

Here we shall take a look at what makes the social media stars so special. Hopefully, they’ll offer a lesson or two that can be applied to your business too!

Ecommerce is All About Service. Even When It’s Not.

I doubt if there exists a single reader of this piece who has not bought something online. Each one of us has different reasons for shopping online that are uniquely our own. Mine is the fact that I’m an incorrigible shopaholic. Many online shoppers like the convenience of ordering stuff from their living room. Others like the fact that they don’t have to lug home heavy shopping bags anymore. Whatever be their reasons, the underlying expectation of every online shopper is stellar service that matches the shopping experience inside a brick and mortar store.

This is a secret that the originator of e-commerce in its modern form – Amazon – learned very early in the game. Take a look at their Facebook post below.

desertday

Firstly, I love that after all these years “in business,” they still maintain a lighthearted voice – including posts about dessert. What I love more though is the rapid response times that they display for completely unrelated comments on the same post. Notice that Case 1 above has a customer generally being nice and just saying a simple hello. Of course, Amazon responds genially to that. In Case 2, there another customer who’s ranting about a bad experience and the team swings into action in minutes again.

Bottom line? Whether it’s a blog you run or a blog-turned-ecommerce site, an Amazon Webstore (now transitioned to Shopify) or a full-blown online retail store, it doesn’t matter if your customer is happy or sad. When they reach out to you on social media, you respond. Immediately.

Behind the Scenes Fun

The rise of Twitter and Instagram has pretty much spelt the death knell for celebrity gossip magazines and tabloids. When the freshest and most authentic celeb news is now available straight from the horse’s mouth on social media, why would anyone waste money (okay, time) on magazines?

The opening of behind the scenes fun is not restricted to celebrities alone. Loads of brands satiate their followers’ curiosity by letting them in on all the good stuff that goes on behind the curtain. Nat & Lo’s 20% Project showcases the projects Googlers undertake in their famed 20% creative time off:

img2 - nat & los

Google Stories offers insights into how Google’s flagship search product has touched regular people in innumerable ways. The core idea is to share more about yourself with your followers, and boy, have they returned Google the favor!

Social Media is Where You Hang Out with Friends

Nobody joins a social network with the hope of connecting with a bunch of brands and businesses. You go on Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat to get in touch with friends and family, hear the latest gossip in your circles, and maybe stalk your dreamy ex. If that’s how people behave on social media, why should businesses go on and on only about themselves? What ever happened to good old friendship between brands?

I’m not advocating that you play best buds with your competitors, but being friendly with non-competing brands on social media is a decidedly good strategy. When you tag another brand in one of your posts, you automatically expand your audience by the size of that partner brand’s fan following on social media. Instantly. Moreover, by referencing brands other than your own, you demonstrate a world view that extends beyond just selling your goods and services.

Just as the Chicago Cubs tweeted about their recent historic victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, Budweiser, an official sponsor of the Cubs chimed in with their two cents in support of the winning team.

img3 - chicago cubs

With one friendly tweet, Budweiser rose above self-promotional posts and immersed itself into what their fans care about – the Cubs and baseball.

Wit is Welcome. Timely Wit, Even More So.

Show me one person who doesn’t like a good laugh and I’ll show you a hypocrite. The best social media accounts temper their posts with liberal doses of humor and wit, making them a pleasure to follow. However it’s not all about being a laugh-a-minute social media manager.

Anyone can prepare funny posts in advance and expend them in a scheduled, deliberate fashion. It’s the quick guns with silver tongues (keyboards?) that take the cake on social media. Take BEHR Paints for instance. The brand pounced on the chance to score a home run with the color changing dress fiasco that had all of social media in a tizzy earlier this year.

img 4 - the dress

With this smart post, not only did they manage to stay on point with the conversation du jour, they also managed to slip in some brand promotion along with it. Check and mate!

Tell Your Customers That You’re Open for Business. 24 X 7.

To be fair, most brands make it point to reply to customers when they post comments or questions on social media. It’s only polite to do so. However, the amount of time most businesses take to do that can range from a few minutes to a few days in some cases.

KLM Royal Dutch is definitely not “most” businesses. This airline is famed for its out of the world social customer care. And for good reason too. The airline promises a turnaround time of under 30 minutes for every query posted on social media. Besides getting back to customers at lightning speed, they speak the language of their customers. With 14 different languages supported in real time, KLM shows the rest of us how customer care is done on social media.

img 5 - klm dutch

People are on social media not just between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. If you run a business that is open round the clock, your social media needs to be available round the clock. It’s as simple as that.

Know any more social media super stars that set an example for the rest of us? Share your thoughts, we’d love to hear more!