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Sure, They "Like" You. But Do They Like You?

Are you making this surprisingly common--and devastating--social media blunder?

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Confused about the value of Facebook “likes”? Consider the following: You spend a ton of money with a social media firm. After 60 days, you see that you have 1,500 Facebook likes. You’re thrilled! How cool! You went from two likes to 1,500 likes in just two months! This stuff pays off!

The following week, you post an offer to your Facebook page: 40 percent off for anyone who clicks the link within 24 hours.

Then you and your social media team wait with great anticipation for the social media magic to happen. The next day, you look at your sales numbers with shock. No one--not one person--has clicked from Facebook over to your Web site to take advantage of your offer.

You have no idea what went wrong, but you know that this isn’t what you’d hoped for when you hired that social media firm.

You’ve fallen victim to a belief that Facebook “likes” are equal to being likeable. And that’s not true.

The number of “likes” or “followers” your business has simply does not matter. Look at how many followers the guy who didn’t win the Presidency had.  Likes and followers are not what drive action, growth, or most importantly, revenue.

So what does drive revenue? Being likeable.

Being likeable isn’t just restricted to the online world. Being likeable has to be a concept that runs throughout the company, from the CEO down to the entry-level employee. If a company is likeable, they promote good customer service, super-fast reaction time, and immediate fixes. Among other things, likeable companies empower employees to fix problems in real-time.

When companies embrace being likeable, they understand that most of the time, a customer who has been wronged is not expecting massive corporate change. They’re simply looking to be recognized as a customer with a problem. 

Even if the problem is beyond the company’s control—say an airplane is delayed by the weather--the likeable airline understands that a simple acknowledgement is usually all it takes to fix a problem. Something like, “Yes, we hear you @joetraveler152. O’Hare is shut down because of a blizzard and we are doing everything we can to be first in the air as soon as it passes.”

The airline cannot fix the weather but they can show that they are listening to their customer and that they understand that the customer is upset. The responsive airline is allowing the customer to feel like they matter. They’ve been heard. That’s often enough to defuse the issue.

One way to guarantee that angry customers will continue to be angry, and that they will tell everyone they can exactly how angry they are, is to be unresponsive on social media.

Giving customers a way to connect with you (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and then not bothering to connect when they reach out, is even worse than not engaging them at all.

Think about it: You spent money to build an 800 number for customers to contact you. You have hired customer service staff to man those numbers. Can you imagine if you just didn’t answer the phone? How ridiculous would that be? Why would you do the same thing with other forms of engagement? If you take the time to build alternate ways for customers to connect, why wouldn’t you respond?

Unfortunately, that’s what a lot of businesses do. They create social channels, but don’t bother to use them. This is a huge mistake. There’s nothing more annoying to an already-annoyed customer than getting ignored after finally finding the time to ask for help. Don’t cause a double frustration. Make sure to monitor the communication channels you’ve built.

Remember: These channels are public. One quick reply can calm an angry customer down and bring them back to being a fan of your business. Who knows how many other people are influenced by their reaction?

It’s not about getting likes. It’s about being likeable.

Last updated: Jan 15, 2013

PETER SHANKMAN is vice president and small-business evangelist for Vocus. He is the founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), which was acquired by Vocus in 2010.
@petershankman




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