You’re a community manager. Or a small business owner. Or a social media director writing process for a large team. You’ve set out a target to respond to your customers on social media within a set amount of time. Maybe it’s 30 minutes. Or, if you’re really on your game, maybe it’s even sooner. However, as you go back and check, there are some posts from several hours ago that somehow got missed. Or worse… what if the posts are from yesterday… or a few days ago!
I’ve got you covered, so you can breathe easy. Whenever you realize that you’ve missed the tweet, or the post or whatever, respond right then. Here are some things social science teaches us. (I’ll skip the nerdy parts that I love and just give you the answers, because not everyone here wants to know all about social science. You just want the answer, right!)
Why You Should Respond to Every Tweet/Post, Even If You’re Really Late.
- Social Should Be Real. First, know that social media got it’s start as a platform where people are real. Pictures are more popular when they’re not perfect. Live streaming video is more interesting when real people are on the subway or at home with their dog and no makeup on and just act like themselves. Horns honk outside. People get interrupted by airport announcements. This is what is attractive to the folks who use social media. The “real” of the digital space. Go ahead and admit your mistake, if you made one (like being late responding.)
- Liking is Important. Second, people vote for people they like. And people like people they know and feel they can trust. Admitting mistakes rather than covering them up, when accompanied by an apology, causes people to feel that they can trust you. And when you show your flaws a bit, you are being honest, so people feel they know you a bit better.
- Give a Reason. Third, when you accompany an answer with a reason, people are more apt to relax and forgive you. Why? Because when someone feels slighted, it’s a natural reaction to feel that you are doing something to them directly. Ever have someone bump into you in a crowded party and spill your drink? Is your first flash of a thought “hey, why are you bumping me!” When the man who bumped you replies “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you standing there,” this changes your focus and helps to reframe the event from his perspective, where you see that it was an accident and not an undue attack. Tell them the post slipped through the cracks, or that a large volume of posts caused you to miss one.
Research in the customer service space indicates that when customers have a service issue that the company then corrects, customer loyalty increases even higher than before the issue occurred. One reason for this is because the customer has had an opportunity to experience how the company responds, and if they do so with empathy and a satisfactory resolution, customers now feel they know the brand and can trust the brand to do the right thing. Prior to the episode, they did not know the brand on that level. But once you’ve been through something together, you are bonded.
Now, it is possible that if you miss a tweet from a customer from last month and you go back to reply, you’re going to get a less-than-glowing response. And, that’s to be expected. But there is an opportunity for you to take that customer from having very negative feelings about your brand, to becoming indifferent about your brand. And it’s easier to move someone from indifferent to fan than it is to get them from very negative to fan. Also, it’s unreasonable to think you can go back to catch every tweet or post you’ve ever missed. And that’s ok, don’t worry about those. But when you have the capacity, and you’re unsure whether you should reach out or not… Reach out. Answering late is far better than not answering at all.