As building products manufacturers and distributors strive to provide educational information for contractors and dealers to keep them informed about industry trends and new opportunities, building a social community with your target audience can be a positive, engaging way to support key communication goals.
Once you have determined the best platforms for your social media plan and have developed your content calendar, you’re on your way to executing your social communication plan and distributing relevant content for your audience.
Now, it’s time to put in place a plan, process and system for monitoring social activity and engaging with and responding to the social community.
Documenting Your Social Policy
You’ll probably want to document a social policy for the communication team, which clearly defines roles and responsibilities when it comes to engaging, sharing and responding with the social community. By having a defined social policy, you can ensure the appropriate approvals are in place and be ready to react in a timely manner.
Also, it’s a good idea to state some of this policy on your social platform in the “about” or profile sections. You can write a simple statement for the community about what types of content violate your policy and you reserve the right to remove content that you deem inappropriate.
Liking and Responding to Comments
Every comment deserves a response if possible. Develop a policy allowing “liking” positive comments or the ability to respond with a simple “thank you” to positive feedback to help with timely engagement.
Of course, if possible, a more engaging response such as “thanks for the comment and, yes, we love sustainability practices, too” is always best. Remember your community wants to engage with you as a human being, and while you are representing your business, you should always engage your social community as a person rather than as company void of humans.
In the customer service realm, social communities are monitored 24/7/365 and responses can be immediate. For most B2B businesses, monitoring activity and responding during normal business hours is acceptable. Customers with immediate needs typically know how to reach a representative and are not likely to use social media for situations that require immediate attention.
Be consistent with responses and align your responses with any other executives or experts visible on social media. For example, if your CEO and sales reps also engage on social media, be sure you share information and provide consistent engagements.
Responding to Negative Comments
Every organization gets negative comments at some time and there will be times when you need to address a negative situation. Each situation is different, but following a few guidelines will help you navigate these waters.
First, listen. Really take in what your customer or stakeholder is trying to communicate. There may be a simple resolution, a misunderstanding that can be cleared up easily or just an opportunity to consider something brought to your attention.
In your response, remember you are a human responding on behalf of your business. Be human and positive. Let your customer know you are listening and don’t be afraid to apologize for any confusion or bad experience to help diffuse the situation.
Respond quickly and let your community know you listen. If able, answer the question or address the issue directly and politely. Be sure to engage your subject matter experts or managers if needed to help you craft a response and follow the normal approval process with your response.
Remember, sometimes you should not engage, particularly if negative comments violate your stated policy or are deemed inappropriate. These comments can be removed or hidden from the community.
If there are comments outside the realm of your ability to respond, it’s OK to let the community know.
Engaging with your social community is a great way to encourage more discussion among your customers, prospects and stakeholders and a great way to listen and perhaps better understand their needs. Don’t be afraid to ask the community questions. Ask them what type of information they would like to see or gather opinions about your efforts. Building a community is one of the best ways to build awareness for your efforts and gain additional insights into the needs of the community you serve.
Need help setting social media policies and/or monitoring and supporting your community? Let us help you get the most from your social media plan with strategies for effectively listening, monitoring and tracking social interactions that inform your communication plan and direct your efforts to meaningfully engage with your audience.
Building a social community is important for APGs and checkoffs because it helps support key communication goals and keeps farmers informed about investment activities and new opportunities.
After determining platforms and creating a content calendar, you can execute your social communication plan and distribute relevant content to your audience.
Documenting a social policy helps define roles and responsibilities for engaging, sharing, and responding to the social community, ensuring appropriate approvals and timely reactions.
Every comment should ideally receive a response, including “liking” positive comments or responding with gratitude. Engage with your social community as a person rather than just as an organization.
Monitoring and responding during normal business hours is generally acceptable for most associations, APGs, and checkoffs, as farmers with immediate needs typically have other means to contact board or staff members.