Is your company social media page a whinge magnet?

Is there really any corporate value in Facebook? Or is it a double edged sword that’s more likely to wound your reputation than advance your cause?

Working with many corporate clients in workshops, strategy facilitations and in helping them to set up their own content marketing programmes, it’s become very clear that company management is leery of social media – in particular Facebook – and with good reason.

Overwhelmingly, management – senior management in particular – are worried that having a company social media account (particularly on Facebook and Twitter) – is an invitation to the complainers and whingers out there who are inevitably attracted by the opportunity to vent.

The fear is that this isn’t a good look for the company. While its true that people who are brassed off enough to go public will do it anyway – via their own social media accounts – actually creating the opportunity just creates an extra vulnerability. All this is true…

Social media evangelists will argue, however, that companies cannot afford not to be on social media.

Both positions are driven by fear. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

From my perspective, social media offers a powerful opportunity to engage with your target market – provided you are relevant and adding value.

According to AC Nielsen and Colmar Brunton, 90% of New Zealanders aged 18-39 are on Facebook. The social network reaches 75% of 35-54 year-olds in a typical month; 70% of 60-64 year-olds, 66% aged 65-69 and 58% of people over 70.

Besides being a good platform to communicate with customers and prospective customers, Facebook gives you invaluable information. For example, the age, education level, income and preferred brands of your customers – it’s hard to get past the value of this data.

However, if you do not have something relevant or meaningful to say, don’t say anything.

Don’t even have a social media presence.

I for one don’t have time for inane and vacuous chatter, and neither do customers.

An empty presence is like a plastic bag waiting to be filled with hot air – it is a whinge magnet.

By taking the initiative and populating your social media interactions with meaningful content – relevant, topical, informative, opinionated, meaningful, value-added – you are essentially setting the tone of the conversation.

People will appreciate it and even reciprocate by rising to your defence when the trolls comes along.

Should somebody have a relevant complaint they will most likely not air it unless they have experienced frustration in trying to get through. This will happen, but make sure your other customer service systems are as efficient as possible so you can nip the problem in the bud.

For the ones that slip through, bear in mind they are at a point where they will most likely vent anyway, so better to know about it and be able to address it rather than catching on after its gone viral.

The following formula will help you to handle complaints via social media with aplomb:

1. Listen – ask questions (message them if you have to)

2. Seek to understand – clarify

3. Show a willingness to help – address the problem, take ownership

4. Act promptly – speed is essential

Everybody understands that everybody makes mistakes. How we respond it what sets us apart.

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