Far too often when it comes to social media marketing, small business owners put the emphasis on the last word instead of the first. The most important part of social media is being social. While your interactions might not be in person, there is certainly a human component to social media etiquette. Let’s look at three common social media mistakes that small business owners often make, and how they can be resolved by letting real life, in-person interactions dictate the way you behave online:
Responding to comments & mentions– A crucial mistake that small business owners make is not monitoring their social media channels for interactions. This could include questions, comments, suggestions, or compliments (we’ll address negative feedback separately). As a painter, if a satisfied client calls and says “I just want to thank you for the terrific job you did, I’m so happy with how my house looks”, would you hang up on them? Of course not. As a retail owner, if a customer asks “How much is this?” would you let the question linger without an answer? Never. These scenarios seem preposterous in real life and yet they occur every day online. Monitor your social media channels for ANY kind of questions and comments, not just negative ones, respond as you would if that person was right there in front of you and remember: You’re not the customer. So be polite and courteous just like you would in real life and it will give a much better result.
Networking and relationship building– Another very common mistake is expecting that if you build your social media channels, they will come. I equate social media communities to the largest networking event you can imagine. Which person sounds more appealing to you: The one standing in the corner repeating their sales pitch to anyone who walks by, or the person who is walking around the room, actively engaged in conversations and exchanging business cards with each new connection? The more time you put into actively engaging with your community, asking questions, commenting on other users’ content, and just being friendly, the faster your communities will grow and the faster you’ll see results from your efforts.
Handling negative feedback: This is by far the #1 mistake small business owners make online: Mishandling negative feedback from customers. Picture yourself as the manager of a restaurant. An unhappy customer comes over and tells you that his food is cold. At this point, you have two options:
- Option 1: Apologize to the customer, bring the food back to the kitchen to warm it up, and ask if there is anything else you can do to improve their experience.
- Option 2: Ask your security guard to remove this customer from your restaurant.
Obviously, Option 2 seems extreme. And yet, the number one way that small business owners respond to customer feedback is by deleting/hiding comments, or ignoring them entirely. Every time you see a complaint about your restaurant on your Facebook page, Yelp account, or Twitter feed, think of it as a real person in live and in front of you before you choose your course of action. Facing a complaint is an opportunity to salvage a potentially lost customer and ignoring this negative feedback is only going to exacerbate the problem.
Social etiquette follows us wherever we go, no matter if it’s in person or online. Use good manners to manage and promote your business online same as you would in person and you will see equally promising results. How do you dictate your online behavior? Can you think of other scenarios where personal interactions are similar to social media situations?
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