So far we have talked about listening and hearing, beginning to join the conversation and the need to mix old school and new communication tools in a communication plan. Today, the focus is on engaging customers, potential customers through social media. In today’s web world, customer service occurs in real time. And, you can’t afford to be slow with it.

Kids talking togetherThere are so many ways you can generate interest and excitement about your product or service by involving customers and stakeholders in the conversations, it’s hard to know where to start.

  • Ask for input on Twitter or Facebook by creating a something easy like a simple poll or even a full-on survey. Ask customers to vote on a new flavor or name for a new product.
  • Food and recipe sites have it made when they ask for favorite ways to use their product.

Be sure to respond to all the questions you receive in social media. Customers are watching for responses when they see questions. Slow or no response can quickly turn an innocent question into a crisis.

Speaking of crisis, they can take on a very quick life of their own in social media as messages spread at the speed of light. My advice to clients when it comes to social media crises is three pronged:

  • Reflect — try to hear what the person is saying with an open mind and from his/her side. What changes might you be able to address in a response.
  • Respond — always respond. It shows your community that you are listening and hearing what customers are saying. Then, try to take the conversation away from social media channels for final resolution.
  • Recover — see if you can bring the communication back into a social media channel. Customers who are care for quickly and listened to often become new allies. They might even post a public thank you.

Customers and supporters like to feel they are part of decisions online. They like to know you care about them and that their opinions matter. And, they want you to be able to help and answer them almost any time of the day…or night. Staffing to provide that kind of responsiveness is another social media challenge for organizations.

What are your favorite ways to engage customers and supporters? Are their tools you use to make sure you’re being responsive?

Rest of the series:

Part 1: Listening (And Hearing) Crucial In Communication Plans

Part 2: Now That You Know What’s Being Said, Join the Conversation

Part 3: Successful PR Plans are a balance new and old tools and tactics