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JOHN BONNEY: Social media for small businesses

By Herald Express  |  Posted: February 27, 2014

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BEFORE the age of the internet, word of mouth was simply that, word of mouth. However, with the rise of social networking, the new word of mouth is now social media. With 35 per cent of Andriod/iPhone users checking their mobile phones before they even get out of bed, digital media has become heavily ingrained in our society.

If you aren't involved, you're being left behind.

Social media highlights both the good, and the bad you do. Take British Gas's open forum earlier this year. They promoted the hashtag #askbg and quickly realised it wasn't going the way they had planned. As well as receiving many positive tweets, they also got many disgruntled customers airing their issues. British Gas ignored the unhappy tweeters, which only fuelled the fire.

A Zendesk study predicts that 62 per cent of consumers look for support via social media. Yet only eight per cent of people feel fully satisfied

A company's reputation is quickly judged on its ability to handle and turn around negative feedback in such a public setting. Many consumers choose to use social media to air grievances with companies; most consumers think if they make contact on a public forum, they are much more likely to get better service.

The majority of large UK companies have a Twitter account, but fewer have another dedicated Twitter account for support. Asda does, employing a constant support team to monitor and respond to all queries and aiming to respond within the hour.

No matter how efficient your business, unfortunately complaints can happen. It's how you deal with them that shows off your company's best assets.

Social media is doing wonders for businesses tackling feedback. It's transparent, honest and it shows you can tackle and resolve problems. It gives others faith in your company and shows you care. The best way to respond to an unhappy customer, is to firstly apologise, offer to reimburse the customer, and then move the conversation to a more private forum. Never ignore, or delete comments, or it will seem like you have something to hide. Honesty is always the best policy.

Some 27 per cent of consumers state that if they don't get a reply to a complaint they would no longer buy their products or services, it is so vital to monitor and respond to any forms of feedback.

REGISTER HERE to attend the Herald Express Free Online Marketing Seminar at the Palace Hotel in Paignton on Wednesday March 26.

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