According to Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report, nearly half of U.S. customers use social media to ask questions, report satisfaction, or complain to a company. Even more interesting – a third of them prefer social media to using the phone!

This means that if you’re not listening and responding to your customers via various online channels, you’re heading down a dangerous path. And if your current social media strategy is not delivering results, you may be doing it wrong.

It’s not just important to have a Facebook or a Twitter page… you also need to be a social rockstar! Here’s how:

Find Out Where Your Customers Are

Where do you focus your attention? Doesn’t it make sense to be where your customers are hanging out? Besides Facebook and Twitter, brands often find that their consumers frequent other social networks like Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Vimeo, and others.

So go where your customers are — but once you’re there, don’t neglect your customers. Just being there isn’t enough, and if you ignore a user’s comment, you could actually lose a customer. So it’s important that — along with having a presence on these networks — you are also responsive to any customer communication. How do you be more “responsive,” you say? Well, since you asked…

Look Into What the Customer is Saying

Once you set up your social channels, you will be bombarded with queries, complaints, suggestions, and a lot of social media “noise”. You need to plan on how you will tackle the volume of messages, and decide what you’ll respond to.

Pay attention to what customers (and the general audience) say. Are they coming to your page to complain, ask questions, or give you a compliment? These are things that you can easily filter by using smart software and tools (some are even built into the social networks). For example, are a large percentage of your queries around the poor performance of a new product, or subpar service?

Obviously, no one expects you to react or respond to everything. But the key is to have a strategy; a plan of action that will give you an idea of which issues are important enough for you to personally respond to. Depending on your business and industry, these could be:

  • Specific complaints about products/services
  • General customer service issues
  • Suggestions, ideas, or tips
  • Positive feedback (acknowledging this will earn you a lot of customer goodwill)

Find Out How They Interact With You

So have you realized that a lot of traffic comes from your Twitter channel? Or maybe you’re getting a lot of comments through Google+? You couldn’t have found this out without monitoring these channels, which gives you an idea of how many queries you can expect, and when/how you should handle it.

For example, do you have a plan on handling customers in different time zones? How long will your response time be for them, especially if you’re asleep while they’re awake? Does it make sense to hire someone who can monitor and respond to this traffic?

It probably is, considering your response time is key. 53% of customers who ask a questions on Twitter expect a response within one hour of when they tweeted, regardless of what time it was, and this percentage rises to 72% for complaints.

You might lose many precious customers, simply because you took too long to respond. So, plan your resources accordingly — know where, when, and what your customers are asking and complaining.

Are You Taking Full Advantage of Social Media?

Unlike a press release, which may or may not get published, you have full charge of your own social media channels. That means that you can actually publish a piece of interesting news or content and distribute it using your social channels. You are talking directly to your audience and consumer. That’s one of the many reasons social media is so powerful.

Engage with your audience, solicit their feedback, show appreciation, acknowledge their contribution – these small but meaningful acts go a long way to assure your customers that you’re “listening” and that you actually care about them.

Take Important Issues Offline

Sometimes, you have to go the extra mile to sustain and build relationships with your customers. Just like anyone who walks into your store is a potential customer, anyone who visits any of your social media channels is also a potential customer. Therefore, if you feel there are issues that are best discussed face-to-face or over a call, then take that additional step with them.

Did you know that 80% of companies think they offer superior customer service, but only 8% of customers agree with them? This presents a great opportunity for you — by providing great customer service on social media, you’ll stand out from your competitors and create a larger network of more satisfied customers.

Need More Inspiration?

Still feel in the dark? Not sure about how to go from “good” to “great” in social media? Fortunately, there are already a lot of companies who are already doing an excellent job, including these 10 brands who are definitely social media rockstars.

And of course, subscribe to the Contentools’ blog for more great social media tips. You can also get in touch with our Contentools experts, who will guide you towards the perfect social strategy so you can keep your customers happy.