Why brands should start interacting more on their social platforms.

According to this New Media and Marketing.com, article I stumbled upon in my Social Media News LinkedIn group, 95% of Facebook wall posts go unanswered by big brands. Wow.

I'm really blown away by this percentage.  That's like Facebook suicide for a brand and it generally reflects badly on that brand's customer service skills.

First off, Facebook is an accepted medium in which people communicate daily. DO NOT underestimate the importance of this medium.  People want their post replied to on Facebook just as much as those who are calling or stopping into stores want interaction.  If a brand is not interacting with its users on Facebook, well, it would appear that the brand is seriously lacking the ability to use an important means of communication in the 21st century.

Secondly, customer service aside, to focus on the pure technicalities of how Facebook popularity works, not replying not only angers the person who posted, but also does nothing for a brand's Facebook popularity. Posts that show up on people's news feeds are determined more "worthy" and pushed more towards the top of peoples' feeds depending on how much interaction posts get.  It's true, look at your own personal timeline.  There may be a photo from a few days ago in the first ten posts in your feed.  If you are wondering why, look at how many people have liked the photo and/or commented and/or shared it with others.

Even if a post stars as a complaint, the more brands interact with the initial complainer and get a conversation started, the more popular a post will get and the more beneficial a brand's Facebook will become to the company.  While brands may think, "Why would I want someone's complaint to become popular?"

Well, hopefully, the brand is acting cordially in their responses and ultimately leaving the initial complainer satisfied.  They will let you know.  It's not just the complaint that is getting shared, it's also a brand's response and their exemplary customer service skills.

Finally, the article also talks about how even less feedback is received in reply to customer complaints on Twitter.  Complaints, even more so than positive posts should most DEFINITLY NOT BE IGNORED no matter what social media platform it is delivered on.  To quote the article, "Also remember that these are just the people who have the time to ask a question or post a negative comment, for everyone who does there are probably 5 who don’t have the time."

Brands should not take complaints offensively, but rather graciously as they will help brands address and hopefully eliminate problems that users are finding with their products.

A brand would be wise to gather the most common complaints and address them openly on bigger platforms other than just the Facebook timeline or Twitter feed. The article recommends addressing these issues on the FAQ portion of a brand's website. A sound solution.

Here's another fun idea: brands could create a troubleshooting YouTube channel that they advertise on their website, Facebook page and Twitter page.  This puts a face to the brand and offers a solution.  It's personal and friendly, and most importantly, addressing a problem that most likely other product users are having.  This would be an easy way for brands to quickly respond to users problems.  Brands could take the time to apologize and direct them to their YouTube troubleshooting channel where Lisa will help resolve user issues in a demonstrative video. Response would take merely a few minutes.

Big brands, listen up! Here's my solution:

Dedicate an appropriate amount of funds and/or work hours to responding to social media posts in a timely fashion. Seems so simple. It is. But you cannot cut corners on this. It is well worth the money you will pay this person and the hours dedicated to displaying your customer service. You cannot create a shortcut around this. There are no automated services that will do this appropriately.

Most importantly, you should have someone responding to complaints almost immediately.

This person, or persons if your brand is big enough, responding to posts needs to be completely in line with your brand identity.  They shouldn't need to get permission from the head up in so-and-so department to get the go ahead with the response.  They should be so tuned in with your brand that at all times they are projecting the companies image exactly the way the CEO of the company would want their image projected.

Personal customer service tip to keep in mind: I once had a friend who wrote a bad online review of a restaurant because she received such poor customer service. The owner personally reached out to her and apologized and invited her back and offered a discount. My friend was so blown away with the cordial response and concern of the owner that she now recommends that place to EVERYONE. Word of mouth is still the most powerful promotion tool.

In my opinion, a bad product can be forgiven, but bad service- never.