Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ring-Ring. Ring-Ring. Social Media is the new Ma Bell

One comment from one of the mommy bloggers on a panel yesterday jolted me to attention!  

Asked how she researched products, she responded “after looking at their website, I tweet them if I have questions. Twitter is a better way to get the company than trying to reach them via their toll free numbers ... I hate going to the 800 number and getting lost in all the auto sections.  Twitter usually gets a faster answer and if they don’t answer my tweet, I don’t bother with that company.”

[By the way, this mommy blogger has 37,000 Facebook friends so think about the potential customers you are missing if you don’t answer the question she tweets!]


Sounds as though social media is replacing the phone as a vital connection with consumers/members?!

So, is your association answering the questions you get on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn?  If not, why not?  If you are failing to allocate the resources needed to answer questions (or comments) from members, prospects or others, are you losing them for good?

I’ve had many, many association professionals say “I don’t have time for Twitter, Facebook, etc.” or ask “How do you find the time for social media?”  Or some add “I don’t want to be bothered with all the junk mail or telemarketers on social media.”  Yet, somehow you have found the time to answer phone calls and respond to emails.

I invest some of my day in social media because I see being active on social media as a part of my job just like answering emails or phone calls.  I see it as a way to listen, engage and influence my audiences.

Think about it: social media is a new/additional way for members, potential members, donors, potential donors and others to contact your organization, seek information, ask questions.  

Just as you answer the phone and answer email, you and/or others in your organization need to respond or refer inbound questions to be sure you respond to them on social media platforms.  

If you want to remain a relevant organization, this really isn’t an option.  The question is how will you listen, engage and influence with social media tools.

If you are the CEO, you have at least three ways you can be active on social media and not leave potential members “hanging.”
  1. Do it yourself
  2. Appoint someone to screen inbound messages (as you may for phone calls) and send you the “important stuff”
  3.  Create a “community manager” position that may function in this role for the entire organization

Most of you probably lead or work in organizations that have a receptionist or some person designated to answer inbound phone calls.  Some of you may have systems that permit direct inward dialing to staff.  And, horrors, some of you may use the auto attendant equipment.  (If you do use auto attendance, re-read the quote from the mommy blogger or think of your own experience when you make a “customer service” call to any company using robotic answering systems.)

If you feel you are “too busy” to be active on Facebook or Twitter, perhaps your organization needs to think about inbound social media “calls” the same as you do incoming phone calls.  Maybe you want/need a “receptionist” to monitor inbound social media communications to screen, sort and refer important messages to you or other staff to insure the messages are promptly and properly answered.  

So, how are you managing your inbound questions/contacts from social media platforms?  How do you wish your organization would do it?

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