A question I received this week was, “How do you balance the 24/7 of social media with an 8-to-5 work day?”
“Always on”, 24-by-7 is kind of scary. I live an area that, this winter, has lost power about 7 or 8 times in the past 2 months, so “always on” is kind of relative, but I digress…
The availability of the Internet is terrific when you need to do that search, find that restaurant, message your friend, research that project or notify the world of some truly significant event. However, if you’re a business owner, it can be intimidating. Since the Internet is always there, you may feel you need to be, too.
Well, maybe not….
When discussing this with business people, I start by asking where and who their customers are. Any number of organizations have a global audience, which places them in a place where they need to consider expectations and resourcing on a different plane. There are, however, an enormous number of less international companies who work primarily as regional or local services….maybe one or two time zones, if they are located near one of those boundaries. In these cases, their ‘customers of attention’ are a lot more likely to operate on the same kind of schedule they do. Still, there are expectations set around availability and responsiveness, but these are pretty easily communicated. My experience is that clear expectations and reasonable responsiveness are more than satisfactory for most people. While there are monitoring duties and processes you should undertake to ensure your customers are served on social media channels, these are less onerous than you might think.
Something else to consider is what your business goals are for engaging on social media. In his excellent book “No Bullshit Social Media
“, Jason Falls
lists seven things that social media marketing does for your business. They are:
- Enhance branding and awareness – The image of your product in the market. Its perception to others (and not you)
- Protect brand reputation – Upholding a positive perception of the brand
- Enhance public relations – Building and maintaining relationships with various audiences, or publics, which reflect positively upon the company, organization, or person
- Build community – Growing an audience of consumers (of product or content) to serve as an advocacy or word-of-mouth marketing channel
- Enhance customer service – Facilitating customer needs through proactive and reactive communications ( on- and offline)
- Facilitate research and development – Idea generation, improvement creation, and market research
- Drive leads and sales – Sales of products or services or leads which produce them
If social is a key component of your customer service, for example, then you will have to spend a bit more time monitoring and responding to comments or complaints. Certainly, most social has a customer satisfaction aspect, regardless of your unique goals around it. If your customers want to reach out to you about anything, social is a great place for them to do that, and a great place for you to be in conversation and relationship-building with them.
If your purpose is more around enhancing awareness, branding and discoverability, along with reputation building, the speed of a response may be less critical. There’s nothing wrong with an asynchronous conversation, much like most e-mail. Of course, you shouldn’t ‘go dark’ on a question or comment, especially in the middle of a conversation. Not responding can be interpreted many different ways, and almost all of them are bad. Keep the thread moving, inviting further discussion.
Each of the things that social can do for your business, when considered as part of a strategic plan
, can help define what you actual implementation looks like. Your implementation plan will further define what expectations you should communicate to your audience and help you in figuring out the resources you need to meet them. With upfront planning and training for the people in your organization who will be participants and champions in your business’s evolving digital presence, you will be able to effectively accomplish your business goals, really help your customers, and have some fun.