Customer interaction on social media is an important component of a robust customer service plan for most businesses today. If you aren't using social media channels to engage with customers, it's time to start understanding the benefits and risks — and to create an effective plan to harness the power of social media.

According to Hubspot, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media recommendations. No matter which social media channel your company uses, customer interaction is vital to building a sense of community, loyalty and engagement with your customers. But, as with anything, there are positives and negatives.

The Pros and Cons

On the pro side, social media channels offer an effective way to interact with your customers at low cost. That enables you to quickly resolve problems and answer questions. Social media is also a great, easy way to boost brand awareness and customer engagement. You can use social media tools to share photos, inform your customers about sales and myriad other types of communication.

On the other hand, having social media channels also means that you need to dedicate customer service resources toward monitoring them. With review and comments features, you are facing total transparency, even when it comes to messages or comments that you might prefer remain hidden. Negative publicity can spread just as easily as positive publicity.

Social Media Best Practices

Using social media to engage with your customers is different from using it to connect with friends or family. Think like a customer: What do your customers want and need to know online?

Here are five best practices for social media to help you create successful, positive interactions with customers online:

  1. Dedicate time to your social media channels. If you don't have time, consider hiring a professional or an experienced intern to monitor customer interaction on social media.
  2. Check your social media accounts several times a day. Respond immediately to questions or comments, and thank customers for liking or following your page.
  3. Develop a simple brand-awareness plan. What do you want your social media channels to accomplish?
  4. Include relevant information on your social media profile or page, such as contact information, store hours and an invitation to join your mailing list.
  5. Plan your messages thoughtfully to build brand awareness and loyalty.

Faux Pas to Avoid on Business Social Media

There are also some practices to avoid on company social media accounts. Tools that help you automatically share messages across multiple platforms do save time, but can have a negative impact if sent at an inappropriate time. It's okay to use an automation tool, but include plenty of real-time interactions with fans and followers. Avoid any controversial posts or discussions. Lastly, make sure it's not all about you. Share engaging content related to your products or services that doesn't necessarily push product sales.

Social media interactions are a vital component of good customer services and brand marketing. Enhance your social media skills and benefit from the results.

Tags: customer interaction on social media