6145649472_42a30521d1_mRecently we were doing some research for a client regarding how their competitors are using social media. One key competitor has a very active Instagram account, both in terms of how often they post and in terms of the interaction they get on their photos. One photo was of a woman wearing a certain fashion that the company helped make possible. A commenter said, “I wish I could pull that off but I don’t have what I need.” They obviously missed the point that purchasing a product from the company is what would enable them to get where they wanted to go. That’s not the really sad part of the tale, however. The really sad part is that the company never responded to the comment. It would have been easy to use the comment as a jumping off point to make a sale. Instead, the comment simply lingers there, a missed opportunity.

It is not hard to notice that attention spans in the world of social media are short and only seem to be getting shorter. Take, for instance, the new video trend on Instagram (and hence Facebook) called Hyperlapse, where videos are sped up to a dizzying pace. It is a bit like we are all turning into felines who need to be entertained by fast-moving and not super deep objects. Comments usually are not long in the online space, but even so, I fear that many companies either skip reading them entirely and instead just look at the number of comments, or perhaps they just skim read comments and hence miss important tidbits. Indeed, the failure to really read social media comments could be costing you valuable sales.

But I don’t have time! ARGH!!

Responding to comments can seem intimidating if you are getting a lot of interaction on your online posts. If that is a concern for you, the solution is simple. Post less, respond more. The capacity to interact with customers on an individual basis in real time for free (relatively speaking) is what the golden dream of the social media revolution was all about back in 2009 and 2010. The idea that you could talk to your customers, find out what their interests were, and actually get direct feedback from them was what was considered so miraculous about all of this new technology.

It seems in the interim we have lost track of that a little, and the emphasis rests more on pushing content out versus engaging with your customers and prospects. If you are pushing out content and no one is responding, that is not doing your company any good. By the same token, if you are pushing out content and ignoring anyone who responds, you are also not doing your company any good. In fact, you might be harming your brand.

Are people confused about what you do?

There’s one other tidbit about the comment mentioned above. The comment reveals clearly that the person was confused about what they were seeing. They may not have been aware that they were commenting on a company’s post, but beyond that they certainly did not understand that a product was being sold to them. Although it can be depressing, reading comments like that can help you pivot and improve your social media marketing. Remember that anyone can see your posts and they may not have the context you assume everyone will have. After seeing that comment, the company in question may want to change their Instagram descriptions in the future so that they say, “Use XYZ product to achieve this fresh new look.” These kinds of changes are easy to implement and can have a an immediate positive impact.

Be sure to read those comments when you get them, regardless of which social media platform you are using. As far as I am concerned comments are the gold you dig for online. Don’t miss a chance to take advantage of them!

Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/53178089@N00/6145649472/ via Creative Commons