It was my dog’s birthday a few months ago, and because my wife and I are those kind of dog owners, I headed out to buy some gifts. I always love being able to support local businesses as opposed to the Petco’s and Petsmart’s of the world – not that there’s anything wrong with those – so I found a little shop here in Pioneer Square and popped in to pick up a few things.
The guy at the store was really helpful, and chatted with me a bunch about my dog and what kind of stuff he liked. I picked out a few things, and as I was checking out, the guy grabbed a few extras – some snacks and treats – and threw them into my bag, no charge. I thanked him and left.
Now, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about that interaction, but it meant a lot to me that the guy cared enough about his business and me, as a customer, to make that gesture.
This is the exact kind of thing social media managers should be empowered to do.
No matter the size of your business, your social media manager is the guy working on the floor, interacting one-to-one with your customers. You want that person to be likable, helpful and memorable, and sometimes that means giving out little perks or remedying bad situations.
If your social media manager is empowered to do those things, the exchange is seamless; it functions like that in-person exchange I had in the Pioneer Square pet store. But if your social media manager has to run through five different people to get a simple gesture approved, the customer is left hanging while you figure things out. Imagine how awkward it would have been if the guy at the pet store had said, “Hold on here for five minutes while I go in the back and ask my manager if I can give you some free stuff.”
It’s especially bad if the customer in question is angry or has made a complaint – you want those things solved ASAP.
The reason you do this is that it makes customers happy and it costs you virtually nothing. I still go to the Petco right next to my house, but I’ve made a point to visit the mom-and-pop pet shop because they created a good experience and made me want to come back.
That’s what you want with social media. Not Likes, not retweets, not more followers. You want people who love your brand and will evangelize it to others. That’s the social part of social media; it’s where real life and social networks intersect, and it’s the difference between numbers and a community.