"Do. Or do not. There is no try" ~ Yoda.
This article was originally written for Inside Magazine and was featured as part of our monthly column entitled The Inside On Social Media.
Some of you may remember that a few weeks ago the country was gripped with football fever and we all truly believed (why do we never learn) that “it’s coming home”. It was during this period that the above words of wisdom, from one of cinemas most iconic alien philosophers, came to mind when I tried to book a table at a pub.
My local was selling tickets to watch the match so I decided to try and book. The establishment in question had put a post out on social media saying that tickets would go on sale at midday on their websites events page. So there I was, bang on time, clicking refresh for a good ten minutes, only for nothing to appear. No link, no update, nada. Then the inevitable happened - they posted on Facebook to say it was sold out.
I accepted the loss, but others weren’t quite so forgiving. Other disgruntled people had decided to take to social media to comment on the pubs posts expressing their anger at the lack of communication or clear instructions on how to get tickets. Earlier that day people had posted questions on the pubs social media or sent them DM’s (direct messages) and had, quite rightly, expected to get a reply.
Now, I know for a fact that this pub is a fantastic establishment that offers great customer service and deeply cares about their customers. The issue is that they’ve fallen into a trap that many small businesses also find themselves victim too - they feel that they have to be on social media, but have no idea what they’re doing with it. They don’t actively manage it, and they haven’t outsourced it to a social media manager either. So it sits there only to be occasionally checked by a no-doubt already super busy manager.
Let me put this as clear as possible - it is better to not be on social media at all, than to be on it and not actively manage it! Leaving messages, comments, and questions unanswered is the equivalent of not answering your office phone or emails. Your social media is a way for customers to contact you, it simply has to be part of your customer service. Otherwise, for the sake of your good reputation, delete your page altogether!
I actually ended up working with the pub to help them get on top of this small PR nightmare but others can easily find themselves swamped and suddenly (rightly or wrongly) receiving bad reviews - and this can hugely effect your ability to pull in new customers. Bad reviews stick!
So, my advice? Start treating social media as a customer service tool, not just a notice board or sales method, and it will pay off in the long run. It also has the added benefit of being a far more instant and accessible form of communication with your customers than email, letters, phone etc.
And so we come full circle back to the little green Star Wars aliens famous quote, which I will now slightly edit to make relevant to this article:
“When it comes to social media, do it properly. Or don’t do it at all. There is no try.”
By Jordan J. Whittingham.
The Inside on Social Media.