Social media is powerful, but caution is required of those who come in direct contact with customers when using it.
Dear salespersons and store attendants,
What do you think about the following way of using social media?
How should people with customer-facing jobs work with social media?
I want you to teach my staff how to use Twitter.
I want to have attendants at my chain stores master how to utilize social media.
I receive such requests very often.
How people in the workplace should use social media is as important as how an official SNS account is operated when a company utilizes social media. There are many benefits to gain if the staff, who are closest to customers, use social media.
However, you cannot just simply begin with, “I am going to use Twitter and work hard to sell from today!” Even if you tweet freely in your private life, you tend to stiffen with tension when tweeting for your work.
I started writing blogs and using social media, provoked by my personal motives of wanting to do business more easily when I was working in real estate sales. Now I am sharing my know-how with other people, and it is my objective in this article to discuss how people should, in a customer-facing role, work with social media.
The three major steps are as follows:
- Try your hand at social media with your favorite theme.
- Impress with your expertise.
- Occasionally advertise your business.
If you want to try it out, don’t hesitate and let me know. I guarantee you will have positive results. Just so you know, I am a stern teacher.
If you are in management and hope for your staff to learn how to use social media, you may distribute this article to your sales and store staff.
For the corporate customers with whom I have talked directly, please read this article as I have summarized our discussions to enhance your understanding of the issues we went over.
Try your hand at social media with your favorite theme.
The first job for a rookie under my wing is to create a Twitter account. Almost everyone who wants to work as a social media consultant already has a Twitter account, though. Most of my rookies created their private Twitter accounts long before they were hired.
However, what I want them to operate is not a mere personal account. I have them create a new account where. they will provide information every day about a topic and communicate with followers that they have not met in real life.
In doing so, I require just one condition. The condition is:
They should be able to talk about things related to the theme for several hours.
If you feel bothered to keep writing about the theme, to post your opinions when you come across a big news item about the theme, or to communicate with other users about it, then, you cannot continue operating an account. Therefore, you practice using your favorite theme.
- If you like sports, create a fan account for your favorite team.
- If you like karaoke, record and publish videos of you singing alone.
- If you are from outside Tokyo, post, “When people from xxx visit Tokyo, I know they often experience yyy!”
I can come up with more, but the important thing is to aggressively raise the sense of your presence by sending out information about any theme that suits you. Some rookies have become influencers while having a party online, but their experience has not fed back into their real-life work (wry grin).
Sample tweets where people posted things they like.
* Listed with permission from general users.
There are difficulties in doing what you like as your work.
There is a side effect of running an account about what you like.
If you brand your account emphasizing a certain theme, various things happen in real life.
If you are running a baseball fanatics account, you may receive an invitation out of the blue like, “I have an extra ticket for a ball game today. Would you like to go with me?” from someone you’ve never met.
If you are operating a gourmet account, you could be invited to eat, such as, “Would you come and review our restaurant? We will appreciate it even if your comment is outspoken criticism!”
These are the fringe benefits of running accounts. However, what I want you to experience is not superficial merit like the above, but the following five:
- Learn how to become an influencer on social media by trial and error.
- Understand what information to send for the users to respond.
- Become aware that the more you communicate with others, the more trust you receive from fellow users.
- Learn that those who give more information will receive more information.
- Know that it is fun to engage in social media.
The last point is the most important. Once you learn to use social media while having fun and not because you are forced to on the job, then you will know how to behave on social media.
Impress with your expertise.
When you learn how to behave on social media, however vague that may be, the operation of social media as a sales tool starts.
Whether or not you have done the warm-up in running social media described above will make a difference in running a sales account.
If you start operating a sales account without prior knowledge about social media, all your posts will be messages like ads: “A bargain property is for sale!” or “We started offering the product xxx!”
If you are in a customer-facing role and have finished the warm-up on your favorite theme account, you know that ads-only accounts are totally boring.
Even so, if you only say hi or upload “today’s lunch,” actual business will be hard to come by. What you should post is the information only you, an expert who directly come in contact with customers, can give.
If you are selling real estate, the topics like the following can be used to reflect what you see and feel in real life when feeding the social media stream.
- Looking at a property from a professional viewpoint;
- Understanding the charms of north-facing properties that only the staff who have seen them know; or
- Deciding which is a better deal: renting or buying.
If you work at a cosmetic shop, the sure-fire topics are:
- The things customers who used the products say about them;
- Frank opinions or reviews with specific product names; or
- Popular product rankings and rising-star rankings,
to name a few.
You will gain trust from the users for being fair not just by recommending the brands you carry in your shop but also by posting a message after using competitor brands saying, “This product is unexpectedly good.” You can implicitly suggest that you are studying the competitors’ moves.
However, there is one thing you should never do.
You should never write “I am a professional xxx,” “I am most knowledgeable about yyy in Japan,” or “I am an influencer” in an attempt to present yourself as an expert who is familiar with current trends.
If you are an expert, you do not need to say it; people will come to that conclusion themselves. If you explicitely define yourself as an expert, others will think, “You have no choice but to say it yourself because no one else would.”
There are many ways to promote yourself as an expert who knows the business without calling yourself a professional. I suggest that you find your way through trial and error.
For your information, I post images on Instagram every time I travel far or overseas. By doing this, I am marketing myself, indicating, “I will travel anywhere to help you, so please let me know whenever you need my help.” (grin)
These are my own posts. I visit many places, domestic and foreign.
The behaviors on social media and in daily life do not vary for sales representatives and shop attendants who are skillfully utilizing social media. Therefore, they can reply to the questions from their fans on social media in their natural manner.
When I asked the reason, I received answers like the one below:
I always respond just like I talk with my customers.
If you keep presenting yourself as an expert, you will be requested by your existing or potential customers to provide your opinions, or asked a question regarding your post.
In such a case, be sure to answer naturally, just as if you were talking with your familiar customers or engaging in LINE chats with your favorite friends, instead of replying formally to be polite. On social media timelines, where people socialize, your customers will be happy and enjoy your comments if you behave in such a manner.
Occasionally advertise your business.
Despite all of the above, you are still running the account for business purposes, so weave ordinary advertisements into your posts from time to time.
When doing so, the expressions and verbiage should be the same as those of advertisements.
What I want you to consider is the frequency of advertising.
If you followed an account that kept posting ads from morning to night, you would unfollow the account, wouldn’t you? This type of account is definitely managed by a typical individual who does not understand the characteristics of social media. They only look at social media as advertising media; it might be better than nothing, but they would be able to get better results if they invested an ample advertising fee and run a full-blown ad.
As you sometimes promote yourself as an expert, communicate with other users, or post an article unrelated to business, be sure to fold your advertisements into those posts.
Examples where advertisements are posted with the same stance as general posts
The users will think, “An ad again? Super annoying!” if they see ad after ad every time. However, if someone who usually engages in exchanges with other users and provides useful information occasionally advertises for business, people would think, “Oh, this person is doing this kind of job.”
Of course, “He is doing this kind of job” does not always directly lead to your business.
However, whether your message will be considered very annoying or well-received enough to be read has a world of difference between them.
What happens from here?
In this article, I have discussed the way only salespeople or shop attendants can utilize social media.
If you are running your account as described, you will receive questions and inquiries as a reply or message. Among them, you will sometimes find a message like, “I always read your Twitter posts.”
In sales or customer relations, conversations begin from removing customers’ psychological barriers. In the process, you are at an advantage when you have conversations with those who already know you on social media.
Imagine how you would feel if your customer, who came for a business talk, told you:
I saw you on Twitter. You were eating takoyaki octopus balls the other day, weren’t you? I frequently go to that shop myself!
If you have any experience in sales, you know how meaningful this is.
You may already be working closely with a staff member who has potential for being able to utilize social media skillfully. Why don’t you try using social media in your company as well?
This has been written by Tamura.