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Social media management in practice: The digital etiquette guide – dealing with people on social media

Social media management in practice: The digital etiquette guide – dealing with people on social media

More and more, consumers and companies are getting into contact with one another via social media. To make this successful, however, rules need to be observed.

Roughly 2.5 billion people are currently using social media worldwide – Statista estimates this number will be as high as three billion by 2020. For companies to be able to proactively respond to these social media users, they need a fine touch. On the one hand, they can then give their customers information precisely when they need it without having to contact a customer service representative. Ideally, that can make a negative scenario into a positive customer experience and prevent a small problem from escalating into a big one. On the other hand, in worst case scenarios, these users can also perceive a company’s proactive initiative as an unwanted intrusion.

The proactive response – positive and accepted

Two Dutch studies examined the reaction of social media users to proactive responses from companies. The first (Van Noort & Willemsen, 2012) concerned customer complaints. It came to the conclusion that users only accept proactive responses when they take place on the brand’s corresponding channels, because it’s expected that the company will react to posts there. By contrast, users do not accept contact on non-company channels. The second study (Van Hooijdonk & Liebrecht, 2015) concerned neutral customer inquiries and positive posts – and came to the reverse conclusion: The public orientation of social media, especially Twitter, sees to it that a proactive response doesn’t surprise users, and they reacted positively to them. Whether the type of customer post – complaint vs. question/positive feedback – actually determines whether users accept a proactive response or not is still yet to be studied.

Social media management for Schiphol airport

The example of Schiphol airport shows what active social media management can accomplish. Their goal is to become Europe’s preferred digital airport. An Arvato team takes care of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp on behalf of Schiphol. It isn’t just about helping customers, but also about getting into contact with them. The proactive response is aimed towards positively surprising passengers, making them smile, and giving them the feeling that one of Europe’s largest airports is welcoming them personally. And they do this successfully, since more than 25 million people are reached this way in one year – a rising trend. It also has an effect on brand awareness. A brief Twitter exchange between the Dutch DJ duo Pep & Rash and the Schiphol team, for example, was shared with more than 12,000 of the musicians’ followers. A humorous Tweet with a passenger from Ireland even reached more than 500,000 followers.


Four practical tips

What does communication via social media come down to now? Based on practical experience, the Arvato team has put together four tips for successful social media management.

  1. Be personal and relevant
    A user’s public profile, their most recent posts and more information help you to understand them and communicate with them appropriately. Use the right information to start an authentic and relevant communication – that is the key to successful, proactive discourse.
  1. Choose the right channel
    An answer via a public tweet will be construed differently than an answer to a post, which may be publicly visible but originates from a private Instagram account. Thus, the communication channel is a deciding factor. This especially applies for forums and ratings sites which are animated by the users; companies can be perceived as unwanted. The proactive response in a public forum will only be successful if the recipient is open to contact – which can be difficult to assess in practice. In forums offered and moderated by a company, it’s typical for the company to become involved.
  1. Decide whether an answer makes sense
    Not every user wants or expects a reaction to a post; in some cases, they may even see it as an invasion of their personal privacy. Find out what the customer wants by first listening to them, and if you answer, offer them the information they need, a reliable solution to their problem, or another added value.
  1. Stay on top of things
    It doesn’t make any sense to get involved in a conversation without knowing what it’s actually about. You need an overview of the situation, the context, and your dialog partner. You’ll get this with efficient social media monitoring which will provide you with all important posts on your brand. Don’t just fixate on the mention of your brand name; you should also consider posts on your products or services, event, and campaigns.

Author: Editorial team Future. Customer.
Image: Melpomene – Fotolia/Adobe Stock

Tags for this article CRM (108) Customer Service (108) Digitization (167) Social Media (22) Tourism (5)


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