Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections

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He lives in Topeka, Kansas. Toggle navigation. New to eBooks. How many copies would you like to buy? Add to Cart Add to Cart. Add to Wishlist Add to Wishlist. I listed listening first, because this is the very first thing you should do for your business in an online setting. We'll cover listening in more detail in Chapter 5, but let's introduce the concept now — it's that important!

You've probably always listened to customer comments in your business or should have, anyway. When a business creates a new product to sell, someone first does market research to gauge interest. When a nonprofit organization introduces a new service, this is often because constituents have voiced a need. In each case, the organization listens to its current or potential customers, offers a product or service, and then listens to feedback about the offering and adjusts it accordingly.

What about those times when a customer enters a business or restaurant or library, has a less-than-stellar experience, and wants to complain? Same thing happens: You listen to the complaint. Good organizations will cut through the frustration, listen to the core of the customer's criticism or complaint, apologize, and try to make the customer's experience a better one. If other customers have similar complaints, the organization will probably work to fix the issue.

That is basic customer service, right? But it's also basic listening. This type of listening also works great on the web — possibly even better than in-person listening. Because on the web, you have multiple ways to "eavesdrop" on your customers and learn their thoughts about your product or service! Some of your customers are probably using social media tools like Twitter or Facebook, or have created personal blogs.

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Each of these online social tools creates a voice for people. If those people are talking about you, your business or organization, and the stuff you do, guess what? You can easily "listen in" on the conversation taking place and can quickly gauge what your customers think about you — without having to wait for them to come to your store or office space. Simply set up search alerts for your organization's name learn how in Chapter 5. This type of listening can get visual and audible, too, through the use of online photo and video services. Want to see someone unbox your new product?

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Go directly to YouTube or Flickr. Want to see someone complain about the same product he just unboxed, after discovering something he doesn't like about it? Or praise your new product because it's just the thing he needed?

You can see all of these types of things online. Get started on listening by setting up searches, subscribing to some RSS feeds, and creating some email alerts. Your customers have much to say, but they're not necessarily saying it directly to you. When they talk about you, they are talking to each other — to other customers. You need to be in on those conversations, too. After you have created some listening channels, you simply need to respond. But there's a caveat — you need to respond authentically! I like what Taylor Hill at Harkins Creative says about creating an authentic voice:.

Be a giver. Give of yourself by providing good solid information about what you do or the products you represent. If you think it's the same old information that everyone else is giving away then put your own spin to it with a good true story or analogy.

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Don't be afraid of putting yourself and your company out there; sometimes it's the only way to get the conversation going. Be yourself. Everyone is unique, and it's that uniqueness that enables each of us to see something from our own point of view. Giving your take on something should always be conversational even if it is different or even confrontational.

As long as you always remember that this is a conversation with one or more people who are all a part of the exchange, then civil discourse can take place. Taylor defines being a "giver" as providing good, solid information about your products or services — or even your organization's thoughts about the industry.

You're not trying to mask an inadequacy; you're not trying to put a spin on something. Instead, you are merely sharing what you think, how you think a product should be used, or what it is you do.

Face2Face: Using Social Media to Make Great Customer Connections

Taylor also suggests that to create an authentic voice, you should let your unique voice be heard. The unique way we think and how we say things helps us come across as authentic, which makes us seem "more human" online. To start creating an authentic-sounding voice online, you need to develop conversational, authentic ways to communicate with customers and constituents, rather than edit all the quirks and uniqueness out of your organizational communications.

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Don't try to turn your online interactions into corporate speak. When you edit out all those quirks, you have sterilized your message — not a good idea if you want to sound authentic online. This concept doesn't apply exclusively to text-based communication, either. Today's communication paths include everything from text- to image- to audio- to video-based communication. At the library where I work, I've blogged, but I've also created videos to communicate messages. I've been on the evening news. We have a regular podcast to share "what's happening at the library.

I've even made a screencast to show how a new website works.

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The point here? I'm communicating online textually, visually, and aurally — through words, sight, and sound. In each of these settings, I need to create an authentic voice. We'll discuss how to do just that in later chapters. Now that we've covered listening and communicating with an authentic voice, let's take it on the road.

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In other words, take your message to other websites. It's one thing to communicate via your own blog on your own website, where you can control your message — and somewhat control the comments and responses that might pour in. It's quite another thing to jump into an online social network, say those same things, and start participating in an active, online community forum setting with your customers.

Authenticity is even more important in these settings. Because people can and will call you out if you don't get this right. It's certainly happened before. For example, back in , Honda's Facebook Page for its Crosstour SUV received a lot of comments — many negative — about the visual design of the car. During the ongoing discussion, one "customer" named Eddie Okubo chimed in and said, "Interesting design. I would get this car in a heartbeat.