You Need to Start Responding

Feb 22, 2013

black holeIn a recent study, only 14% of customer tweets sent to a brand received a response. That is like not picking up the phone when a customer calls, or worse, hanging up on them.

Brands everywhere are missing an opportunity to use the power of social in the way it was intended. This reality is underscored by another study that showed 50% of people would no longer consider buying a brand that didn’t respond to their feedback on social media. However, in a study published in 2011, 83% of people who did get a response from a brand after a complaint said they loved that the company responded.

What a missed opportunity. If you simply respond, you are likely to get a brand advocate. Not responding will cost you customers.

Knowing how to respond to a complaint is a challenge that most brands are not even addressing. They are using social media as they use all other media: as a megaphone, or as I referenced recently, one-to-many marketing. This is challenging to brands because they are very comfortable in one-to-many land. They understand it and know how to do it and know what result to expect. Except with social media, the audience has a megaphone too. In fact, each member of the audience (or the “many”) has a megaphone and when used, it can scare the daylights out of a brand.

It is very easy to come back from a stumble because the premise of social media is to have a dialogue. And the challenge with this is that the thought of having a dialogue with a brand is awkward. You tend to feel like you are talking to a bar of soap, and that’s weird. But this isn’t the case with an employer brand, because an employer brand should be about the people. Employer brands are all about the people who develop, make, design, and package a bar of soap. It should feel more personal and human. This is where employer brand has a big leg up on consumer brands in the social sphere. Yet, in many cases, employers are not taking advantage of this at all.

Today, employers are far too frequently using social media as another avenue to post jobs and perpetuate the post-and-pray mentality.

By regurgitating job postings on social media, it makes it difficult for candidates to learn about the organization and their culture — the very things people are looking to do on social channels. When I see this in my work, I go slightly insane because I know these companies are investing a pile of money on traditional broadcast (job boards) mechanisms.

The beauty of social media is that it is a place where you could really develop and grow your employer brand. But too few employers are using social in this way. Social media is an opportunity to educate the audience about your employer brand and also to build and, if needed, repair relationships.

The inherent challenge here is obvious. It is easy to talk and it is easy to listen. What is hard is responding.

It is not about what you have to say; it is about how you respond. So, you may ask: How do you respond? That is a little more complex, but anyone can develop a thoughtful response model. Having written a few of these myself, the key is threefold.

  1. Understand your audience. Study who might be responding to your posts in either a positive or negative light. Look at your current social channels and see who’s saying what. Identify them so that you can then…
  2. Focus on that audience member’s motivations. Take a mental walk in their shoes and try to understand why they would be posting something on your social channels. And finally,
  3. See how potential responses might fit in your brand. Understand your brand tenets and what makes your employer brand unique. Work to craft responses that fit within your brand.

For example: If someone is angry about his or her black hole experience, think about what is motivating this person to post. Chances are they are curious about their status and just want to know what’s going on. They want to talk to someone. By not responding, the brand continues to perpetuate the feeling that it is, in fact, a black hole and no one is looking at his or her resume. But, by responding as a human being, you can dispel that myth and help a candidate along the journey. You might win a fan for life.

As we all make our way in this new age of social recruiting, remember that we are in the people business. There are thousands of ways to post jobs, but there are only a few ways to engage in a dialogue about your employer brand. Socialize wisely.


photo from Aurore Simonnet/Sonoma State University/NASA

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