Big brands need social media. The medium provides an opportunity for them to interact personally with a broad base of their customers in one place. Using a social platform they can broadcast to all of them, a segment, or just one person. Customers love to communicate using social media because it’s quick, convenient and transparent. People DO spend a lot of time on social media and they have the platform with them on a device almost 24/7. This direct connection is incredibly valuable and it provides an open communication channel for brands to leverage.

Connecting through social media is different to sending an email to customerservice@brand.com. Email contact is perceived as stagnant and slow – because it usually is. What makes social media so fast is that when people post messages for the world to see brands have to act quickly, a brand can be subject to negative feedback and PR that can hurt and spread fast. Knowing that social platforms are monitored means customers are more likely to send direct messages there than anywhere else. People would prefer to interact with a social community that is active with events happening in real time. This perception that customers have is key and their expectations are high.

Lithium Technologies released survey data about customer behaviour when communicating with a brand across Twitter. Customers that are responded to quickly are:

– 34% are likely to buy more from that company
– 43% are likely to encourage friends and family to buy their products
– 38% are more receptive to their advertisements
– 42% are willing to praise or recommend the brand through social media

Data like this suggests that brands need to respond urgently and effectively to take full advantage of a social platform. The same survey revealed that 53% of people who Tweeted a company expected an answer in under an hour, and that grows to 72% when it is a complaint. If brands fail to measure up then 38% of customers feel negative about the brand and 60% will do something about it. So businesses need to work hard to keep up with customer expectations; and if a brand has multiple social media pages across multiple platforms the only way to manage this is with a social media tool.

Social media tools offer one place to manage all a brands social media profiles. This is a much more convenient option than multiple logins to multiple platforms, and obviously saves a lot of time. Most tools have the same features built into them that the platforms have so there is no loss of functionality. Social media is extremely time consuming and the ability to publish to all your profiles at the one time saves staff time that can be appropriated for higher level work.

The right tool can provide a customer care solution so brands can responsibly track and manage all their incoming messages. Messages can be assigned to team members, searched, and archived. A great tool will also track the customers sending messages and create CRM cards so your brand can get to know them and build up a personal profile automatically. Valuable data can then be generated to ensure that response times are within a satisfactory range and customers are being cared for. Messages can’t go missing and there is a robust accountability.

Most tools have a social listening (or monitoring) function built in. This allows businesses to automatically search social media for mentions of their brand, or anything else relevant to their success. Listening can be set to search for phrases that point to sales opportunities and then search entire social platforms. Results are returned in real time and deliver valuable sales leads or PR opportunities automatically without the need for wasting sales staff time.

A social media tool has the power to generate data from a brand’s social platforms and present it in an easily digestible format. This information can be used to improve engagement with customers, boost sales, and compare with other brands in the sector. Social data can tell business what customers think about their products or services, and give feedback on new ones without the need for costly market research. Analytics can tell you about your customer’s likes and needs, as well as geographic and demographic data. Social data can reveal who your brand’s biggest (noisiest) influencers are on social media too. Best of all social tools make this data available easily.

What social media tool are you using and why? If you need advice on how to implement a social tool in your business let us know!