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3 Tips for Answering Questions on Social Media

 

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I will tell you right now that this post is not for the massive social media corporate teams with their fingers on the pulse of social media’s heartbeat at all times. The reality is that most small-to-mid-size businesses do not have the budget for a roundtable of public relations pros glued to their phones. Many small businesses use social media themselves, or they pass off the task to a little scrawny intern, whose expertise consists of posting pictures from Cabo on Facebook.
So, let’s say you are at the stage where you are trying to use your social media on your own or with an intern. As you might expect, I do not think it is a good idea, for any of the million reasons we have discussed on the blog. Having a team to keep track of your social media is worth the price, and from looking at other contractors across the globe, SMC is a hell of a good deal.
Whether you are working with a team or not, one of the major challenges for many of our clients is how to find the appropriate verbiage to answer questions. Questions and answers are some of the major bonuses of social media, because users can get straight to the source — but there is also an art to the answer.
That is why The White House made this year’s State of the Union one to remember by holding a day-long marathon of discussions online afterward. They recruited senior White House officials, members of the Cabinet and members of Congress to engage with American citizens on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.
They even began to use Snapchat as a way to answer questions about what it is like behind-the-scenes. “At the White House, our digital strategy centers around meeting people where they are,” writes Joshua Miller, director of product management for the White House, in a blog post. “There are over 100 million daily active Snapchat users … In light of the number of Americans who use the service to consume news and share with their friends, the White House is joining Snapchat to engage this broad cross-section of the population in new and creative ways.”
Here are a few of the best strategies I found for answering public questions on social media:
Vary Your Media:
 Snapchat is a different “answer” than a reply on an Instagram question. It is visual, raw and direct, some of the reasons that so many brands are growing to love the platform. How can you respond with a photo, video or link to an email? Can you answer the question in a creative way?
Look at Questions as an Opportunity:
 Think of any time someone asks you a question on social media as a chance to prove your brand outside the traditional, controlled confines of social media posts. If someone cares enough to vocalize something on your page, whether it is negative or wholly positive, treat those questions equally, even if you do not like the question or feel it is unfair.
Jay Baer, digital marketing author, says that those “who complain are your most important customers, but we treat them like our least important customers.” Not responding to complaints is a mistake because it decreases consumer advocacy and tells the complainer that you do not care enough to answer their complaint. Always, whether it is positive or negative, respond to the complaint or question as if it is the most important part of your day.
Take it Offline:
 That being said, if some question is incredibly negative or angry, Facebook and Twitter are not the places to debate about your company mission statement or the actions of an employee. If possible, transition the discussion to email or a phone call. Many times, these questions are from people who just want to be heard, so hear them out and respond accordingly.
You will get questions on social media. Having a team in place to help answer those is a gift, but even if you do not have a team, there are still ways to use those unexpected questions as opportunities for rapport. The way you respond to your customers is a true indicator of your brand, so demonstrate your care, character and consistency accordingly.


Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Valerie_Everett

About the author: Maggie Happe

Maggie Happe is a recent graduate of Creighton University and a contributor to Social Media Contractors.

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