Is Social Media a Customer Service Channel?

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

OK, ‘fess up. How many times have you tweeted in anger or frustration over a brand, complaining about a long wait time, defective product or other issue? It happens. And probably not nearly as often as you complain to your coworker or friend about your of-the-minute issue. But is social media just a place to vent, or should you expect a response from companies?

Many consumers take to Twitter or Facebook to give a play-by-play of their day, including gripes about “Brand X.” The good (and bad) side is that Brand X can easily see what they are saying on Twitter–though not as easily on Facebook, unless the customer takes the extra step to post to Brand X’s page as well as their own private profile.

While this allows brands greater insight into customer service and product issues, it can also magnify issues. For example, Brand X might have consistently shipped out their products a day later than promised, but until social media gave customers an outlet to complain on (without calling the dreaded 800-number), Brand X didn’t know how big the problem was. And while they are now given the listening tools to paint a clearer picture of customer satisfaction, what they do with it is up to them.

It’s a tough job either way. Brands that say social media is not a customer service channel are forced to ignore customers or spend all day telling people to call their 800 number instead of tweeting. Those that opt to utilize Facebook and Twitter for customer issues are faced with a myriad of challenges, including the timeliness of responses, privacy concerns, prioritizing issues and more.

There are countless ways to handle customer service on Twitter, and even the most conservative industries are starting to come around. But is it enough? In a world of 24/7 communication and various measures of online influence, consumers are demanding a higher level of service–and taking to Twitter when they don’t think it’s been delivered.

What do you think? Have you ever received customer service via social media? And do you like that as an option? Share your opinion in the comments below.

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To Tab or Not To Tab? That’s the Question for Facebook Page Admins.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The (now-not-so) new updates to the layout of Facebook pages for brands, bringing them in line with the Timeline format, has brought about a lot of changes for marketers. And while the new larger photo and ease of advertising opportunities are major changes, it’s some of the smaller tweaks that brands really need to pay attention to. Namely, the shift away from Facebook tabs, and how this could impact pages down the line.

Likegating Content in Timeline

The Timeline layout for Facebook pages mandates that the Wall be the default landing page for anyone visiting a brand’s page, whether they are a current fan or have not yet “liked” the page. Previously, pages could set special landing pages to drive new fans with incentives to “like” the page or promote timely campaigns, whereas Wall posts could be overshadowed by fan comments.

The practice of “likegating” content to drive more fans has certainly taken a hit with this shift; however, there are still ways to “likegate” with reveal content in conjunction with email, advertising or cross-promotional social campaigns. However, new data has shown that Facebook tab engagement is down 53% since the switch to Timeline, leaving marketers to wonder if it’s still worth designing all these extra tabs. Look at Facebook’s own page; they only use 6 tabs, 2 of which are required for all pages. The other 4? All business-related.

Predicting the Future of Facebook Tabs

Coming on the heels of Facebook’s wider tab design (81o pixels across) it seems unlikely that Facebook will do away with tabs completely, but it’s clear that page admins need to think outside the box to make building and maintaining Facebook page tabs worth the effort. Once again, Facebook is making site adjustments to earn themselves more money, not more fans for pages. So while it’s easy to buy ad traffic to your Wall, it’s not quite as simple for tabs.

My advice? Build a few key Facebook tabs but don’t go overboard: historically, page tabs have been the business feature to get the most revisions on the site and the specs or functionality will likely change again.

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