As companies grow their social media presence and begin listening and engaging with customers (rather than just pushing out corporate messages), it is helpful to remember the words of your mom. Social media teams need to engage in ways that echo these pearls of motherly wisdom.
1. Be polite and respectful
This should be at the heart of any customer communication, and social media is no different. Some brands adopt a friendly or cheeky tone, but you still need be polite and respect your customers' views and opinions (even if you don't agree with them).
2. Speak clearly
Successful social media efforts support goals that require customers and prospects to take action. Make sure it is clear they know what action they should take to answer their questions or resolve their issues.
3. Be kind to others
Social media conversations are shareable, screen-shot-able, and forever Google-able. If you are rude to your customers and prospects, it will not lead to good things. It can be the short term loss of a customer or a sale or a long term reputation as a company who doesn't care about their customers, and neither are worth pursuing.
4. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all
No matter what you think about your competitors, you should never berate them in social media. Either be cordial to them online, or just be quiet.
5. Pick up after yourself
Social media can get messy, especially as brands try to participate in real-time marketing with mixed results. New platforms arrive, companies create profiles, only to abandon to them with little interaction. Audit your full social media presence, review your new activities, and see what kind of message it presents to customers and prospects.
6. Clean your plate
When engaging with customers, make sure you complete every task required. Whether you engage with everyone or just certain posts, be sure team members (or automated tools) are finishing their work on every social media post. This makes later reporting easier.
7. Eat your vegetables
Sometimes you have to do things that you might not like, but are good for you. Every company has vocal, unhappy customers. They always existed and social media gives them an even louder voice. Engaging with them on social media may not be desired or helpful, but you need an approach to unresolvable negative experiences and comments.
8. Walk the dog
This was always my job. I usually liked it, but sometimes it was a pain that I had to do it every day. Everyone has different responsibilities on the social media team. Some of them are dedicated to individuals, while others rotate. Identify the customer engagement activities that rotate among team members to balance the good and the repetitive activities among everyone.
9. Work and study hard
Ongoing training should not be overlooked when engaging with customers and prospects. Even the veterans need a refresher on problem solving, workflow, and messaging. Don't forget to share information about new products, campaigns, and companywide goals.
10. Wear clean Uunderwear
This advice always seems to relate to a car accident, and the embarrassment and shame everyone would feel if you were discovered on the side of the road with dirty underwear. From a social media perspective, always make sure there is nothing in your customer engagement that can be undermined by some other company position or communication. But, yes, you should listen to your mom and always wear clean underwear too.
Photo credit: My childhood (really, that's me and my mom)