Developing a Response Model in 5 Easy Steps

by · January 16, 201410 comments

We live in fast times, my friends. Things in the social world are evolving and changing daily, actually by the minute. Algorithms change constantly. New products come to market every day. Marketing technology and tools are being developed as I write. And these new tools and services are being pitched to us all the time. Nearly all of these new, emerging technical solutions promise to solve all of our problems, and they may, in fact, solve them. But, before we find new ways to beat an algorithm or push more tweets at a time, I have an analog solution that every brand should have, but sadly, few do…it is the lowly social response model.

We all talk a good game about social media being about a dialog with customers. And we are really good at saying hello. What we have yet to master is the rest of the “dialog” or worse yet, when the customer says hello first. Last year, Lithium Technologies published a report that says customers will punish you for not responding quickly on Twitter. And by quickly, they mean within the hour! So a response model is just good business!

RespondStep One – Define your audiences

To do this, take a look at your current social channels. You probably have a few ideas of who these folks are. Some of your followers are trolls, plain and simple. Some of them are unhappy customers, some a raving fans. Create buckets for each of these segments.

Step Two – Determine the response

Each of the audiences you identify in the earlier phase will have different needs and motivations. You should develop a standard approach to handling those. For example an unhappy customer might just need to be heard and understand. So, the associated response might be to engage the person in an effort to revive their trust.

For example, not too long ago, I had to alert a brand to a failed QR code on a direct mail piece on Twitter. Instead of ignoring me (yay!) they responded quickly with a sincere apology and were accountable to the mistake. I was immediately won over simply because they responded.

Step Three – Find your voice

You have a brand and probably beautifully designed style guides. But, I bet you have yet to take those guides to social and put them into practice. This must be done. This is where the rubber meets the road and how you can differentiate your brand. There are far too many responses in social now that are clearly bots. And even when they aren’t bots, they sound like them because they are so darned generic.

Let me explain. In the above scenario, a brand should respond to an unhappy customer with an effort to revive their trust. So, the bot response is: “Sorry you are experiencing a problem. DM us with your account info.” Um, no… Big, big NO. First of all, asking for account info during hello is not cool. Second, no one thinks you’re sorry.

Instead, put some brand around it. Recently, we had a snafu with one of my posts (truth be told, I turned in the wrong version) and one of our readers pointed it out…Instead of saying: Sorry you are experiencing a problem. We responded SME style:

Well color me embarrassed! Let’s get that content up there. We can fix the G+ too. Thanks Mike for brining this up. Our motto is results through truth. And we are all about bringing the truth when we make a mistake.

The brand voice is how you stand out when you stand out enough to respond.

Step Four – Define how you handle praise

When people get excited about your brand, that is awesome. It feels so good and makes the team that manages and monitors social so happy. It is like a big virtual high five. But, how should you handle it. Do you comment and say thanks, do you just let it stand. This can be a simple decision, but one that should be thought through and documented.

Step Five – Define how you handle trolls

On the flip side, trolls…sigh. Trolls are both inevitable and troubling. They are upsetting to the team and the brand. Sometimes they can really rattle a cage. But, regardless, there needs to be a documented way of identifying and handling them. This is a brand-by-brand decision and should be made and documented.

Social is so powerful as it stands today, but it isn’t even close to living up to its potential. There is so much more that it has to offer people and brands. Now, we just need to learn how to talk to one another.

Happy responding!

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About Tracey Parsons

Tracey Parsons

Since 1995, Tracey has been developing digital solutions. Currently SME Digital’s lead strategist, she continues to be dedicated to bringing cutting edge, thoughtful and measurable solutions to marketers. With more than 15 years in digital, Tracey not only brings vision, but the tools and strategies to execute against complex next generation concepts. She has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands to develop and devise cutting-edge social, mobile and digital marketing practices.

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Comments & Reactions

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://indispensablemarketing.com/ Patrick McFadden

    Tracey, a theme resonated with me through your article. It’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do. As in your example they just didn’t say to themselves we’re really sorry about this, they responded quickly with a sincere apology. Thanks for sharing!

    • Tracey Parsons

      You are spot on Patrick. The challenge I have is that too many brands are not looking at responding as an opportunity to really build trust.

  • http://www.gmrwebsitemaintenance.com/ GMR Website Maintenance

    Nice post. As we are living in the world where social media is working
    with so much dominance, we should be up-to-date with all the latest
    trends of it. Thanks for the information.

  • http://www.kizi1.org/ Kizi 1

    everything takes place in a nice way and I hope that you will be as good as what you bring to

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  • Eric Kirsche

    This is a great model for any company trying to start up a new social media presence or just looking to revive and kickstart a current one. A personal response to a problem makes all the difference when some one is upset or frustrated. No one wants to feel like they were brushed off to be dealt with by some robot. More companies out there need to implement plans like these in order broaden their social reach and gain a loyal following. Great article Tracey!

    • Tracey Parsons

      Exactly – it’s social for a reason. Some groups just need a little guidance along the way and a response model provides that guidance. And it makes legal feel good too. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://referralcandy.com/ Samuel @ ReferralCandy

    Hi Tracy, these are very good tips for making brands sound more human!

    We are now at a stage where successful business transactions are not seen as that, but as interactions. Companies who are more willing to engage their customers not as a brand, but more as a friend, will come across as more relatable, and customers will feel more comfortable sharing and interacting with you.

    Customer satisfaction is a crucial factor in a successful business transaction, and it can sometimes be more important than the product itself!

    As Eric Kirsche mentioned, no one wants to talk to a robot.

    • Tracey Parsons

      Oooohhh! I love the idea that we are transitioning from transaction to interaction…GREAT insight!

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