page or a Twitter account.
While it’s a great way to reach potential customers and employees, it’s also a forum
for people to voice their dissatisfaction with the company and research shows it’s becoming increasingly common.
A survey by Impact PR showed that 16% of those aged 18-24 preferred to use a company’s Facebook or Twitter page to air their complaints, while 52% of customers aged 55 and over still liked to pick up the phone and talk to someone.
Impact PR managing director Fleur Revell said that social media was the fastest growing method of communication with companies, yet many businesses lacked the experience to manage it when things went wrong.
“Businesses overlook the fact that social media is a public forum and that is one of the reasons customers often prefer to seek remedy there.”
She said that often, the person replying to customers on the company’s Facebook page had the least experience with managing media and was the least equipped to prevent escalation.
Angela Atkins, general manager training at Elephant HR, said that companies tended to focus on finding someone who knew how to use Twitter or Facebook, rather than finding someone who was the best person to represent their brand or solve issues.
“This is partly because many older managers can be more uncomfortable with social media – it’s incomprehensible to them. So if an employee knows how to use it, they’re made the ‘SoMe’ person or a company thinks they’ll try social media, but don’t understand it’s about sharing information, not controlling your public image. There have been some spectacular social media fails because of this approach.”
According to Atkins, the companies that represent themselves well:
What skills do you think a social media person or team needs?
- Have people who have a portion or all of their role dedicated to social media (watching and responding to complaints, posting interesting articles or offers to followers)
- Make sure those people have the training and authority level to be able to fix customer issues
- Actually provide training on using social media
- Having guidelines in place so it’s clear for the SoMe team about what is appropriate and what’s not and what they are supposed to be achieving
- Understand they are not going to control what people say about them, but can be part of the conversation about their brand (it’s just another way to talk to customers)
Most businesses have some form of social media presence, whether it’s a