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The top five party-goer’s tips for how to use social media for business

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Social media is about socialising and, much of what works on the weekend, will also work online.

More and more companies are engaging with customers via social media as a part of their customer service strategies. ServiceRage set out to examine what was being said by customers.

After analysing more than 45,000 tweets to 65 Australian companies, our research suggests that many of the best business tweeters use the same techniques that work at a real-life social occasion. Here’s what we discovered.

1. Be a host

Organising an event is a way to build connections and create a conversation related to your business. Bupa creates a buzz around its health insurance products by organising a weekly discussion of healthy lifestyles. Like a good party host, Bupa sets the time, invites participants and moderates the discussion.

“Welcome everyone! Looking forward to the chat tonight. I’m Lou and I’ll be moderating the chat #healthychat” – Bupa Australia (@BupaAustralia)

2. Ask a question

Twitter is a community, connected with conversations. And just like at a party, there are lulls and awkward silences. Sometimes you need to keep things moving by taking the initiative. Good conversationalists know that asking a question is a great way to restart the conversation and shift the focus away from you. It works on Twitter too. If your tweets are all about you – your customer care issues, your marketing messages – try asking a question of your audience.

It could be inspirational like this daydream-starter from Westpac:

“Where in the world would you rather be right now?” – Westpac Bank (@westpac)

Or, something practical like this one from St.George:

“Which do you use more: computer, mobile phone or tablet?” – St.George Bank (@StGeorgeBank)

3. Be a good listener

At a party, nobody likes to be stuck with a bore who only talks about himself. So on Twitter, make sure you look beyond your own marketing plans and social media strategy; and take the time to listen and respond to feedback from your customers.

EnergyAustralia’s recent decision to end door-to-door sales was a good example of this responsiveness. The company had received many complaints like this one:

“@EnergyAustralia Just had the rudest sales rep knock on my door in Fitzgibbon. Definitely not signing up with that attitude!” – Tyson Jones (@suckaleballs)

So, when it announced the end of the controversial sales technique it doubled its percentage of positive comments, with feedback like this:

“@EnergyAustralia Good job! I think you’ll have a more professional reputation in the community because of it.” – Sarah Odgers (@sodgers)

4. Be a person

No one invites a company to a party so try to personalise your social media presence. Give your customers a sense of the individuals behind your brand. If a team uses your Twitter account, try signing-off with first names or initials.

Despite frustrations with BankWest’s application process, this customer has a great rapport with Lynds in the social media team:

“@Bankwest Lynds – you are awesome, they need a zillion more of you!” – Anna-Lee Bridgstock (@ALB555)

5. Don’t be a wallflower

If you are on Twitter you need to tweet. This seems obvious, but there are numerous businesses with Twitter accounts that simply never tweet. NRMA Insurance (@nrmainsurance) has a protected account with no tweets. Their competitor Allianz (@allianz_au) is also yet to tweet.

It’s understandable that you might want to spend some time familarising yourself the medium before you weigh in but you can’t hang back forever. As soon as you register your account you are at the party: other users can address you directly and mention you in their tweets.

For example, since we began tracking NRMA in July last year, they’ve received 11 positive tweets and 34 negatives ones, despite their lack of participation.

Matt Travers is the founder of service comparison website ServiceRage which monitors customer feedback, via social media, to 65 Australian businesses in banking, health insurance, energy, and general insurance.

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