Why you should never forget your online customers are real people

In my last 
post, I discussed how I had broken up with Facebook and the importance of keeping your personal and business pages separate. But the other interesting take-away from my experience was the reality of my online relationships.

Within a few hours of deactivating my personal account, one of my closest friends texted me asking how I was. Two days later, another close friend texted and two girls I went to school with, one I hardly know, contacted me via my business page. Out of 100+ friends, that was it! (Blow to the ego or what!)

Now this wasn’t a test on my friendships, but it was a very sage reminder of how in today’s world of social media it is easy to believe we’re connecting with our friends by liking few posts and pictures.

Social media is a wonderful tool for businesses to connect with their customers/clients, but just as with a personal page, it is sometimes too easy to get wrapped up in our own selves – our posting and measurement of success for our business – that we forget the whole point is to build relationships with real people. 

I have always had one golden rule for all my online marketing:

If someone has taken the time to make a comment (regardless of the social media platform), I respect them with my time with a response back, even if just to say “thanks”.

Yes, we are all busy and, yes, customers cannot understand the pressures and chaos of being a business owner, but it’s not their job to know this. Customers aren’t obligated talk to us online; so when they choose to do so, why would we be dismissive of their time and goodwill?

Ultimately, communicating with your customers online should be no different to if they were in front of you – where I would assume (hope) you would never ignore a customer’s comment or question.

So never forget: It is not your customers, business networks or even friends/family’s job to help your business and its marketing by adding comments and increasing your online persona. When people do, feel privileged, not complacent. Really, all it comes down to is good manners and basic customer service skills.

Why should you never forget your online customers are real people?

Even if we just talk bottom-line, remember it’s very easy for someone to unlike or unfollow you; no different to walking out of a shop for bad service. And an unlike or unfollow could just as easily mean that person not contacting or returning in “real life”. But my kumbaya-self would hope that you recognise it’s less about dollars and more about being grateful people care about your business.

This article first appeared in Australian Businesswomen’s Network on 27 July 2013

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