Communicating with your customers: don't forget Facebook

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Communicating with your customers: don't forget Facebook

Bank robber Willie Sutton said he targeted banks "because that's where the money is." Businesses should take a similar approach to Facebook.

We're noticing more and more businesses spend time responding to customers via Twitter. In fact, more than 75% of organisations are using Twitter, according to social media consultancy Fifth Channel.

But what is the social media "channel" Australians choose when they want a response from a business?

That is Facebook, which is Australian consumers' number one choice for customer service engagement, according to Fifth Channel.
 
Along with LinkedIn, Twitter is among the least popular options. Fifth Channel states more than 70% of consumers rarely or never use either for customer service purposes.
 
We're not saying you shouldn't spend time on your businesses Twitter feed. But it's another reminder that Facebook is a site that shouldn't be ignored when it comes to communicating with your customers online.
 
And the expectation that businesses will provide customer support via social media is apparantly growing, or so Fifth Channel claims.  Nearly one-third of consumers say they already use social media often for this purpose, and one-third expect to increase their use, according to a press release from the company.
 
The level of use varies with age, but by less than you might assume.
  • "Generation Y" currently accounts for 46% of customer service enquiries via social media.
  • "Generation X"  accounts for 39%
  • Baby Boomers account for 24%.
  • Those born between 1925 and 1942, which Fifth Channel calls the "Silent Generation", contributed 16%. That might put paid to any thought that you should ignore social media if your customers are largely seniors.
 
According to research recently published by Telstra, only 24% of small to medium businesses have "embraced" social media, with most saying it neither helped nor hindered their activities. 12% actually indicated it was counterproductive.
 
Telstra offers the following social media tips for small to medium businesses. Note that they are general in nature and not specifically related to customer service:
 
  • Be the real you. Being authentic and representative of who you are and the values your business stands for is essential.
  • Know why you're there and be relevant. What would your customers like to see from you online?
  • Ask (and search) for feedback. Facebook's new search tool and searching Twitter is a gold mine of insights into what you're doing well and how you can improve.
  • It's a two way street. Joining the conversation is essential. Stories or photos of your business can generate engagement from both current and prospective customers.
  • Choose the right social places for your business. Look beyond Facebook and Twitter to services such as Yelp, Foursquare and Instagram.
  • Don't forget to protect your turf. Choose a simple social media name for your business - avoid underscores and tricky characters, they're not friendly on mobile devices.

Interestingly, Fifth Channel notes that while social media is increasingly popular among businesss for providing customer service, it's much less popular in general with the public.

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