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Back to basics: Social media for business and brands

Sentiment, transparency, variety and zeal – all important aspects of social media. In the final article of a four-part series, Shama Kabani and Jennifer Wilson share their insights on various areas of social media, broken down by alphabet. This week they take a look at the social media basics, from S to Z.


Kabani: Having sentiments (emotional effects) that match your brand’s intended meaning and tone in your social media branding is almost as important as the content itself. Make sure you represent one, clear message. Similarly, sentiments play a huge role in monitoring conversations about your brand, and prioritising responses

Wilson: With social monitoring tools, the sentiment of posts, how negative or positive, can be used for routing the interaction to the appropriate agent. Based on the sentiment score, items can be escalated or routed to a supervisor for follow up as needed. Implement a strategy for ensuring that highly negative posts are responded to immediately. Additionally, take note of the positive items and route those appropriately. In many ways, just a retweet of a customer’s positive post can serve as a great marketing tool.


Kabani: Modern day consumers now demand a certain level of transparency from companies. They want to know what’s in their food, where exactly their donation is going, and who the face behind the brand is. The more details you give out, the more credible your brand is. Making information and “secrets” common knowledge for people helps to build your relationship.

Wilson: Transparency is great when maintaining multiple sites and sources where customers can get information about your company. It helps to create a more personal relationship with the customer. They may feel like they know you better as a company and trust you more. However, when it comes to responding to posts it is important to educate agents on when to respond through a more public channel like social media versus email or text. Too much transparency can go viral very quickly and possibly backfire.


Kabani: Having a common identity ensures that your brand is at its strongest. Especially when you have multiple branches, franchises, or storefronts – keeping one solid voice and message is crucial. Extending your presence into channels that have a global reach helps you make the most of your social media marketing efforts in an ever-shrinking world. Do not ignore or downplay the importance of your identity when it comes to your social presence.

Wilson: Just like your website, your social sites can be great places to promote customer service channels and brand awareness. Create chat, knowledge management tools, and click to call utilities from within your social sites. This allows you to expand your use of the social page, while keeping it consistent with your company webpage.


Kabani: Change it up! Your followers and fans want to see fresh content, and exciting material. Using videos, photos, interactive applications, and other stimulating media can keep your audience coming back to your pages and profiles for new entertainment. Additionally, find new ways to be visible and attractive. You can’t start a social media strategy and not keep it up. Maintain your pages and provide your followers with appealing and consistent updates or they will stop paying attention.

Wilson: Customer service is not just about the customer inquiries that are received on a daily basis. Additionally, great service also includes proactive contact with a customer. Find unique ways for the contact centre to reach out to those customers who prefer social contact. Promote marketing campaigns and company updates through social sites, and not just through traditional mailers and email. Additionally, proactive customer service initiatives are a great sales and satisfaction tool, and are a wonderful way to switch up the pace of your social strategy to keep it interesting. Reach out to your customer to give them updates on their individual services, product updates, or hot news items from your company. When they do not know what to expect, they continue to come back for more.

Words (matter)

Kabani: Keywords and sentiment of words used are important. Set up alerts for industry-related or branded keywords to audit your online reputation and respond correctly. The great thing about social monitoring tools is that they automate notifications based on each keywords spotted, but can also score and prioritise items based on the sentiment used.

Wilson: Just as traditional forms of communication can be assigned based on keywords and skills, the same is true for social media interactions. If a post mentions a specific brand, it can be routed to the appropriate agent serving as the subject matter expert. Furthermore, these keywords can be used to gather analytics on what is being said about the brand, and how this brand is trending.

X Marks the SPOT!

Kabani: Specificity in your social media strategy makes your work easier and your posting/responding more powerful. Pick monthly or weekly themes and keep your campaigns or posted content relevant to them. When your message is clear, your audience bonds more closely with each other and your brand.

Wilson: Recognise that your strategy may change based on your customer base and the requests that you receive. While you may begin with your contact centre handling social media marketing initiatives, you may find a bigger benefit to implementing a social channel specifically for customer support further down the road. Be willing to make this change, and educate both your agents and customers on these changes.


Kabani: People often assume social media is only for the younger generation. However, it’s important to note that although the younger generations may appear to be more involved and more targetable through social channels, it’s growing daily among older generations. What is even more important to note however, is that you must not only understand the demographics of your customer base, you must also research how they are leveraging social media. For many older generations this may simply be to stay in contact with friends and family. On the other hand, younger generations may look to social networking sites for a first method of contact with a business.

Wilson: The frequent changeability and constant introduction of new technology/communication channels make it imperative for companies to find cutting edge ways to appeal to the younger generations. By opening up customer service and support channels, you allow customers young and old to communicate in the best way possible. Additionally, take this into consideration when implementing social support in the contact centre. Recognise that certain users may be more open and familiar to adopting this technology than others. This may help you determine your staffing needs for handling this channel.


Kabani: You have the opportunity through your social networking to make your brand truly stand out. When you are passionate about what your company is doing, it shows through what you post, how you interact, and how you respond to conversations surrounding your brand.

Wilson: Your goal is to serve your customers to the best of your ability, and to ensure customer retention. Whether you do so through the traditional methods or through more unconventional methods like social media, showing them that you are innovative and open to change will only create greater customer satisfaction. By responding to customer inquiries with the same priority and automation, no matter what the channel, you are creating easier processes for both you and your customer.

Sentiment, transparency, variety and zeal – all important aspects of social media. In the final article of a four-part series, Shama Kabani and Jennifer Wilson share their insights on various areas of social media, broken down by alphabet. This week they take a look at the social media basics, from S to Z.

What Now?

Creating social media strategies involve resources, planning, and education. It is important to know what you are doing, as well as what is going to work best for your company and your customers. It is also important to note that not all companies need a presence on every social outlet. At the same time, be aware of what your customers are asking for, how you are communicating with them, and how you could implement social strategies to better position your company and brand to customers and prospects. Now that you know the basics and what to consider, here are the main things to take into account when implementing your strategy:

  • Ask your customers

Don’t be afraid to survey your customers and partners to see how they are using social media in both their personal and professional lives. This feedback can help you determine how to implement your own strategy to meet their needs. Additionally, it gives you a good opportunity to reach out and show you care about their input.

  • Research the competition

What is your competition doing? No different than how you examine their products and brands to help with planning and direction, the same should hold true when it comes to social presence. Be aware of where they are, and make sure you are just as visible, if not more. This not only can help position your brand, it allows you to monitor what is being said about your competition and use the information as part of a lead generation tool. Some of th0e biggest benefits to social monitoring tools come from the ability to capitalize on a person’s anger and frustration with a competitor.

  • Determine your needs

After taking a look at what may be best from a customer and competitive standpoint, determine what makes the most sense for your company. One of the great things about social media is it allows you to benefit across the board from customer service and retention, to brand awareness and essentially free advertising. Figure out what you want to gain from the implementation, and figure out how to get there. Defining these needs and goals also helps your online identity to be stronger and more narrowly targeted, meaning QUALITY.

  • Make a plan

Once you have figured out what works best overall, plan out your implementation. Decide what you will need to implement a social strategy and how you want to position your social presence. Determine whether you are going to focus on the tool initially for advertising and brand awareness, or whether you want to make this an available channel for customer service requests. Additionally, figure out how you are going to manage the channel. How will you respond? How will you monitor? Who will be responsible for daily posts? These are just a few of the questions that you need to take into consideration when pulling together your plan.

  • Allocate Resources

There are multiple ways to manage and use social sites, and it’s really at your own discretion. However, one of the biggest considerations is HOW you are going to manage them. There are several free tools available online, but overall, dedicating time is crucial to managing social media. Remember, an unattended social media presence is worse than an under-funded one.

Remember that social media isn’t just about social networking websites. It is about people becoming a part of the media. Every customer or prospect has the potential to become a brand champion or a critic. And, you have the power to determine which way they will sway. When you combine the ABCs of social media above with a solid way to manage your online communications by leveraging your contact centre, you have an unstoppable combination.

– Shama Kabani is the CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, a digital marketing agency. Her insight into the social media space is based on her experiences working one-on-one with customers to implement social media strategies for their businesses. Jennifer Wilson is a product manager at Interactive Intelligence focusing in on the social media strategies for the contact centre specifically. The overall concepts that both authors share help to outline some basic guidelines for implementing a social strategy, while leveraging the contact centre to better manage these social initiatives.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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