How brands can use social media: A platform-by-platform guide

Social media
Each social media channel should be monitored and responded to differently.

Having an overall social media strategy is necessary, but not entirely sufficient. Retailers and brands need to carefully consider the different platforms—Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and more—and map out a game plan for each that accounts for their various formats and demographics.

“You do need a multiplatform strategy,” said Jonathan Barouch, founder and CEO of Local Measure, an Australia-based business-to-business cloud software firm. “You need to have active strategies to stay on top of what customers are saying, and where. When customers are angry, they don’t necessarily use the right social media handle or hashtag. Brands need to be a little cleverer in how they pull data, and how they monitor and respond.”

Each channel should be monitored and responded to differently.

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Twitter

Given Twitter’s 140-character maximum, it’s difficult to have an in-depth, engaged conversation on the channel, said Ross Moser, SVP and GM of Portfolio Businesses for SurveyMonkey.

“It goes back to having the right conversations in the right places,” he said. “But through all of that, it’s very important that you don’t leave the person who is not that customer guessing whether you handled these things poorly.”

Therefore, it’s imperative to respond publicly in some fashion. To keep its Twitter account from being littered with customer complaints and other feedback, SurveyMonkey created a separate customer support handle, @AskSurveyMonkey, where it attempts to direct conversations—if not start them in the first place.

“It’s so that one, we reinforce that we are watching this [feedback], but in a different place than company-related information; and two, if people are following SurveyMonkey, they don’t necessarily want to be bombarded with support questions back and forth,” Moser said.

Facebook

Companies and brands need to pay particular attention to Facebook because customer reviews show up “above the fold” on the Facebook “wall" and front and center on search, which makes them very visible, noted Barouch.

“It’s important that the brand is seen as proactive in responding to each of them,” he said. “It’s probably just as important if [the review is] positive to go back and thank the person. Whereas on Twitter, it’s unlikely that all of your followers are going to see it.”

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Instagram

More and more brands are monitoring Instagram and even using Instagram ads that take advantage of the vivid visuals provided through the platform.

“It’s so impactful because so many people see it,” Barouch said. “If a customer takes a photo of a cockroach leg in your coffee, that causes massive brand damage because it gets shared.”

Sarah Burke, content manager for Spokal, a marketing automation platform, sees Instagram as primarily targeted toward and used by millennials, a critical and key demographic for retailers and brands. “The photography is very high-quality content and appealing to the audience,” she said. 

Pinterest

This channel is well worth monitoring if your target market skews female, younger and/or higher income. “If you have a target audience and a majority of them are women, you have to be on Pinterest,” Burke said. “The highest referral rate is on Pinterest and the highest purchasing power, as well.” 

LinkedIn

For SurveyMonkey, LinkedIn fulfills a thought leadership function with industry information and a forum in which customers engage with each other around thought leadership topics, Moser said. “There tend to be less time-sensitive support cases because of the kind of conversations that exist in that space.”

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