A colleague of mine recently posed a question to the group – “what is the brand or company for which you would least like to work as a social media community manager?”
Our answers ranged, but a few themes emerged including political institutions, cable companies and airlines. The subtext of the question and its answers, of course, is that working as a social media community manager is not always glamorous. In fact, being on the front lines and communicating with a brand’s audience on social media can be downright stressful and often thankless.
Ann Coulter recently took aim at Delta Airlines, publishing a stream of complaints about a flight via Twitter. While Delta did refund her $30 preferred seat charge, the airline was also sure to communicate that her barrage of comments regarding Delta customers and employees had crossed a line.
@AnnCoulter Additionally, your insults about our other customers and employees are unacceptable and unnecessary.
— Delta (@Delta) July 16, 2017
Upon seeing Delta’s bold response, you could almost hear community managers everywhere yelling, “it’s about time someone said it!” It’s not every day, after all, that a company calls someone out so publicly.
Social media makes it easier to voice complaints and often allows for improved customer service – but it’s also important to remember that community managers are not punching bags, and communication via social media should include the same level of mutual respect and civility as any other forum. So before your next angry @mention on Twitter, message to a company on Facebook or comment on a brand’s Instagram post, remember these three things.
- We didn’t cause the problem.
The person on the receiving end of your complaint is more than likely not the reason you’re having trouble. Delta’s social media team, for example, was not the reason Ann Coulter didn’t receive her preferred seat on her flight. Remembering this simple fact will typically cool you off a little bit, and ensure your tweets and posts are less aggressive.
- We want nothing more than to help resolve your issue.
Community managers look at vocal complainers not as problems but as opportunities. Helping to solve their problem and improve their experience could not only turn that customer around and make them more loyal to the company in the long term, but also generate great visibility and positive word of mouth.
- We aren’t always the best equipped to help you.
While social media has become one of the most preferred ways to reach out to a company with a complaint or issue, not all companies have yet adopted to this new reality. In fact, one survey found that only 21% of businesses use social media primarily for customer support. So be mindful that contacting a company via social media might not always generate the fastest or most effective response.
Social media community managers are a frequently-used bridge between company and customer. The channel will continue to be effective in resolving customer issues and improving customer experience, but only if we treat those on the other end of the tweet more positively.
Author: Jim Mignano
Jim Mignano is a consultant at Text100 global marketing communications, working with Fortune 500 brands in public relations, social media and content marketing. A recent graduate of The College at Brockport, State University of New York, he serves on the board of directors for PRSA Rochester and the board of advisors for the National Institute of Social Media. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or say hello on Twitter.