Social media engagement is vital to help brands build and maintain positive relationships online, but how does a brand earn the trust of its own organization? Trust and relationships exist in symbiosis, taking advantage of one another. Seth Godin pointed out that if people don’t trust you, they will not listen to you and do what you say.
Trust is obtained through leveraging great product and service, thought leadership, and strong relationships with your community. We call this "External Trust."
But it doesn’t stop there.
Social media engagement can also earn the trust of your entire organization by adding context and connecting data at your disposal. We call this "Internal Trust."
Here are five steps to drive smart engagement and establish trust with social media communities that exist inside and outside of your organization.
1. Tap into the source
When listening for brand mentions, the first thing to do is to determine who is talking. When a customer engages a brand through a Community Manager, the latter should treat this person knowing that he or she is a customer. The same should happen when it’s a prospective client, brand advocate, competitor, etc.
External Trust: By tapping into the source, every person will be treated uniquely. Every customer and member of a social community is important, and knowing who these people are is the first step towards earning their trust.
Internal Trust: Hear out every person separately, and find out what each person means to your business. Tim MacDonald defined Community Managers as “connectors.” To connect people with the right part of your organization, you must first know who these people are.
2. Recognize the context
What are people talking about? Linking context to social media mentions help with planning a relevant response. Context can also indicate who would be the best-suited person or team to respond.
External Trust: Maintaining the context of the original mention, or even past mentions, will give a brand a much more intelligent voice online. People appreciate intelligence, but they also expect it.
Internal Trust: Internally, being relevant means being helpful, while supporting your company’s business initiatives. If you need to push out content or drive someone to a lead form, then take the context of the conversation and link it to the value your company can offer. This can make your brand sound less pitchy, and more helpful.
3. Understand and adjust sentiment and prioritization levels
Is the mention positive, neutral, or negative? Can you determine a priority level for each post? How do you prioritize your incoming posts?
External Trust: Acknowledging the sentiment of a social media mention can help determine the right tone to respond with. It can help you craft a more accurate and sensitive response, and can also help set the level of urgency that is required for engagement.
Internal Trust: What is creating delight or irritation? Sentiment can separate positive feedback from negative, and this segmented data can be shared with other internal departments. Feedback of the online community is vital, as they are a rich source of business intelligence for any organization.
4. Start engaging
Now that you’ve got some background, you can engage on behalf of your brand and respond to your community.
External Trust: Social media is real-time, and people expect a brand response immediately. Set a time limit for responding, and don’t forget to use your own voice! Your community is your best ally, so your engagement can determine the depth of your relationships.
Internal Trust: Other than simply being present, smart engagement earns the trust of your entire organization to keep a customer focus. People in your company should know that your customers would not be ignored, and that all of your sales, marketing, and customer service efforts are being supported.
5. Tag the outcome
After engaging, it’s important to specify the final outcome of an interaction. Was the issue resolved? Did the salesperson follow up? Did it generate more conversation?
External Trust: Tagging is crucial for growing, maintaining and nurturing relationships. This gives you the ability to grasp the nature of your past interactions with whoever engages you, or to add tags or labels after new interactions occur.
Internal Trust: Tagging might seem like additional work, but it makes things a lot smoother when building reports to measure success. For instance, someone may want to see how many leads were submitted, how many direct interactions took place, how many cases were sent to Customer Service, how your competition is being perceived, or what features people wish to see in your next product launch.