If you’re still using social media mainly as a marketing tool, then you’re probably doing it wrong, according to Tamar Weinberg. The owner of Techipedia and author of The New Community Rules argues that the focus should be on customer service. She shares her thoughts on brands, social media tools, and community engagement in our interview.
With twenty years’ experience in the online marketing world, what do you still find surprising about social media?
I find it surprising that companies that have gone on the social media bandwagon are still thinking about it as a marketing channel.
It is very much a customer service channel, and I’ve brought so many concerns to social media that aren’t adequately addressed by traditional company social media channels, which is unfortunate.
If companies can’t get their customer service right, people will use social to bitch and moan about companies, thereby hurting reputations.
Some businesses are casual on Facebook and more formal on Twitter and LinkedIn. Do you think a brand should be consistent and use the same style and tone on every platform, or adapt to the environment?
Absolutely not! You should mould for your environment. People won’t respond to you as well otherwise.
LinkedIn commands specific levels of professionalism. Facebook commands a casual demeanor. Twitter commands a combination. If you’re asking about the food you’re eating for dinner and posting it on LinkedIn, that’s simply not the place for it. Be consistent with your brand voice, but you also need to consider what’s appropriate for each individual network.
Is there a less known social network you would recommend to a small business? Maybe some country-specific networks?
Yes and no, but it depends on your business. I don’t recommend any specific social network: I suggest forums that may be relevant to your business. I also think that Facebook groups are pretty good at this, but they are niche and not so easy to find!
The right person for the job sees social media interactions as an extension of himself or herself. It should not feel as if it’s a job. If you’re exuding this level of passion, you’ll easily find those niche communities because you’re socialising among so many other people who are already there!
Which social media tools would you recommend to businesses looking to get closer to their customers?
There are a variety of tools I’d recommend depending on the task, but I think HootSuite does a good job at capturing streams so you can monitor social media mentions of your brand.
I also like using Rapportive with Gmail so that I can read more about people I email and find out what they are doing online. It’s a great extension.
How do you see the relationship between technology and social media? Can a lack of technical skills affect a business’ online presence?
Yes, totally. If you don’t know how to leverage social media online, you’ll look foolish and no one will want to engage with you. It’s best to work with someone who has deep familiarity in the space, and as mentioned earlier, is truly focused on living the passion of social media versus seeing it as a job!
When it came to me and handling social media clients, I would say no to the clients who represented industries I just couldn’t get my head around. If you’re hiring a social media consultant just because they’re known as being good, that may be true, but if they don’t have any interest in your business or industry, they aren’t going to be good marketers. You can’t market products or services you don’t believe in.
Of course, this goes beyond technology, but is a very important aspect. You could have a firm grasp of technology and social media and still fail because of other factors.
What are you looking forward to most in social media in the following years?
I hope more companies get on the social customer service bandwagon. This is a significant area that needs improvement, because a lot of the traditional customer channels are not people centric. They’re script-focused with the goal to get the customer off the phone as quickly as possible as a cost cutting measure.
Social customer service is the future, and I can help!