Social media deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T...

Tell me you didn't sing out loud a little when you read that title! I channeled my inner Aretha!

I had a nice meeting today with a new client who was having a difficult time grasping how to “treat” social media fans. It occurred to me while having this conversation that a very large percentage of companies utilizing social media for marketing have it all wrong. Social media needs to be respected as more than a media push like a billboard, magazine article, or even a website.

Social media has earned its seat right next to barbershops, water coolers, and tee-ball game bleachers as a place where people go to talk about “stuff.” Social media isn't an “item;” it is a “destination.” Facebook is a place where people go and hangout to exchange ideas, learn something about their neighbor, or ask how to get their kid to eat vegetables. We as businesses need to treat it as such.

Customers who are engaging and interacting with you via Facebook, Twitter, etc. need to be treated with the same level of respect as someone who walks into your brick and mortar business. Do you ignore people browsing your aisles? Do you put a big picture of a cat meme in front of your receptionist’s desk? Then why do you do these things to your customers on social media?

Social media is a second show floor for you. Everyone who walks in needs to be greeted and their questions answered. If they have a complaint, it needs to be addressed and handled courteously and in a timely fashion. You need to engage in pleasant conversation and create a relationship which will give your brand an identity.

The next time you see a question on one of your social media sites, see how quickly you can address it. Seize the opportunity to “wow” someone who isn't expecting to be treated like they are in your business, credit card in hand. Do not ignore it and think it will go away, or that the answer is common sense, or that someone else will answer it. Each interaction is your chance to form a relationship, no different than a handshake at the ballgame.

Just because social media is technology does not mean that it should not feel personal. Not everything that CAN be automated SHOULD be automated. We aren't assembling widgets in social media; we are creating relationships between consumers and brands. Please treat it as such, you will be rewarded.