How a sweet little thing like Facebook changes how we do business
Being on social media is a little like knocking on the gates to the Emerald City. Oh, the wondrous opportunities waiting on the other side. But being on social media comes with a price. As a sales associate, being digitally social with in-store customers blurs boundaries between personal and professional lives and it’s a delicate balance that once tipped, is difficult to set right again.
The good news is that being connected to your customers generates leads, drives sales and allows you show off your crazy awesome customer service skills. Social media, the trust network, works because of the people who use it.
The unwritten “Social Media Code of Ethics”
Are you obeying social media’s rules of engagement? When you connect with your customers online, you’re signing an invisible contract. For their valuable time and attention, you agree to be authentic and honest. You’re an invited guest into their lives, not a salesperson. Everything you learn about them here will help you meet their needs when they’re ready to buy, but it doesn’t give you the right to market to them. There are two simple rules for success here:
- Be respectful
- Listen more than you talk.
Sales Associate Secret Tip => Social media can give you a bird’s eye view of your customers’ lives – and that can help you meet their needs when they’re ready to purchase again. Have they had surgery recently? Are they suffering from back pain? Are they remodeling and need to furnish a new bedroom? This is a long-term strategy and it’s about building relationships – not selling. Ever.
Why the trust network works
Like real life, social media is filled with a smorgasbord of personalities. From weird Uncle Harry who’s always 3 sheets to the wind (even at 7 a.m.) to that frenemy who says she likes you to your face but as soon as you’re not around, the air is blue with tales of your treachery.
Remember those two rules? Be respectful and listen more than you talk….
When the importance of telling your story shifts to actually hearing other stories, you invite more sharing and naturally eliminate conflict. It’s called reciprocity and relationships become stronger because people believe you’re there for them, not using them. When you remain competitive about telling your story, emotions run high and no one wins.
But what happens when someone slips up and breaks that hard-earned trust? Is there a saving grace?
Sales Associate Secret Tip => “Like” what your customers post and feel free to comment when you have something of value to add to the conversations. Ask questions, be interested in what’s happening and post what matters to you – outside of work. Are you involved in a charity? Do you sing in the church choir or volunteer at your child’s school?
If these walls could talk
My dad used to tell me that the bigger person is the one who walks away from a fight and it’s no easier to do it on social media than it was when I was kid on the schoolyard. But I can also tell you, turning away, keeping your back straight and walking with purpose has the same effect now as it did back then.
Dad was right.
When emotions get out of hand, shift your perspective and shine the light on the other person and what s/he needs from you.
- Offer up the olive branch and save the other person’s dignity. It costs far less than you think.
- Pick up the phone and talk. That connection alone has saved many relationships for me personally.
- State your position and move on if they’re not receptive to working with you to find a solution.
Sales Associate Secret Tip => Steer away from controversial topics and NEVER link to your current sales promotion. You are a representative of the company but you’re a real person too – learn how to be both on social media.
Some people feed off of conflict and are happiest when they’re stirring the pot. When you’ve exhausted all other channels – or if the conflict is just not worth the drama – move on.
There is no one single right way to engage on Twitter – but there is a wrong way…
What does your Twitter stream say about you or your company? What are your rules of engagement?
Julia Rosien is the Brand Engineer for Restonic, a leading international bedding company with 29 manufacturing facilities throughout the world, including North America, the Far East, Europe, India, Brazil, Middle Eastand South Africa. She is the official online hostess of all of Restonic’s digital properties. When she’s not tweeting, facebooking or pinteresting she serves as Chair for Withit.org, a non-profit organization for women in the home and furnishings industries. Follow her on Twitter, friend her on Facebook or connect on LinkedIn – she’s always on.