The kinds of interactions that build really valuable relationships — as opposed to canned or forced marketing messages — between brands and their followers require a real connection to the people behind the brand. At the very least, that means that the people whose fingertips are typing out tweets and responding to users in forums and other online communities need to have the power and autonomy to respond as directly and effectively as possible to your customers on the web. In a more ideal scenario, it means the CEO should be one of those people, monitoring the socialverse and representing the brand through direct engagement.
Cross Department Lines
Realistically, though, executives can only do so much, and your CEO can’t tackle the social web alone any better than that one intern in Marketing can. To ensure social responsiveness, you need to get people involved from all areas of your business and empower your social listening team to enlist help from anyone — absolutely anyone — within your organization.
Rather than simply leave social response to the social media response team, Dell empowers its social team to call in engineers, sales people, shipping and fulfillment workers, and even executives to respond to issues as they arise on the social web. So if a customer has a strange problem with their laptop and doesn’t get satisfaction from the tech support line, Dell can intercept that customer’s complaint on Twitter and bring in an engineer who actually worked on that laptop’s design to respond and solve the problem. It’s a sound strategy that acknowledges how disgruntled customers use social media, and helps the company respond intelligently to inevitable gripes on Twitter and other social forums.
You don’t have to be a $40-billion company to execute a strategy like this. Even if your social command center is really just one person listening watching for brand mentions on Twitter and the web during the course of their workday, you can empower that person to call in the big guns from across your organization whenever a customer needs attention. The cost of doing so is almost certain to be small — usually just the time it takes for a department head to read a tweet and type a reply. The cost of not doing it could be (as dozens of blundering brands have already demonstrated) days of lost productivity for your leadership as you scramble to make up for an otherwise avoidable mistake.
Business is inherently social, and business in the online age demands a strategy for social media. If your business isn’t already going social from top to bottom, it’s time to get your leadership up to speed.