One of the hardest tricks of social media is balancing the amount of time you spend on it. It’s addictive, as most people on Facebook will likely attest. It’s easy to keep logging in to see if anyone has commented, and before you know it you’ve spent all day just logging in and out.
But just as bad is to not check back regularly and miss an important post from a customer. Customers may not respond to your posts for hours or days after the fact, but let one of their questions go unanswered too long and you may lose them forever. It’s not fair, but it’s true.
That’s why to maintain a successful social media effort, businesses need to develop a habit of regularly checking for customer interactions without getting caught up and distracted.
Oddly enough, your best friend is an “old” technology: email. Most social media platforms can be set up to send you an email notification when someone posts a comment or question. This allows you to monitor you social media channels without actually logging in and getting sidetracked, or having to jump back and forth between channels.
Once a customer does interact with your channel, don’t wait too long to respond. Most people don’t expect near-instantaneous responses, but more than an hour or two could be seen as being unfriendly–at least during your normal business hours (here is where a brick-and-mortar store may have a bit of an advantage, as people expect online stores to be open 24-7-365).
And never, never let a question go unanswered. Use your judgment , but err on the side of responding too often rather than let a comment directed to your business go unacknowledged. Your customers may be wishing to interact with the community of your fans rather than you directly, but make sure you’re never entirely out of the conversation.
It’s true that effective social media requires time and effort (my company’s Facebook page, for example, took three or four months before customers began regularly interacting with us, but now we regularly field questions and customer service issues through our company profile). But with a little discipline and balance you need not let the rest of your business suffer from lack of attention. It’s possible to effectively build a social media fan base without spending most of your day checking your channels.
Vigilance, not obsession.