I find there’s a debate when it comes to social media and its impact on social interaction. We’ve all seen groups at restaurants, more focused on their phones and taking photos of their food, then interacting with the people beside them. I’ve seen restaurants with harsh “no cell phone” policies while dining (which is a benefit and a drawback from a marketing perspective). On the one hand, we may not be interacting in person as much as we used to, on the other, we’re staying in contact and sharing more than we have before. The debate can go either way and on any given day, I can confidently argue both sides.

I’ve told this story to friends many times before, and every time I get a good laugh at myself. My son came home from school, and I opened his communication binder (what the teacher uses to send notes back and forth, noting homework and project due dates). I remembered that I had a question for his teacher and quickly made a note of it in the binder, popping it back into his backpack, and then I waited for a response. Irritated I had not heard back after checking an hour later. The binder hadn’t left the house to make its journey back to school; the teacher hadn’t seen the note yet. We’re so used to instant responses, and being in constant communication, that something as simple as handwriting a note, is like a forgotten communication tool. I still laugh, and I’ve done it more than once.

But the expectation of instant communication is there. Whether its making plans for a Friday night or asking a question of a service provider.

So, let’s extend this to your business.

Your social media channels are your customer service/sales counters. To see your business pages as anything else is missing the mark. If you went into your local retail store and saw they had the same items still on display as the last time you were there, the signage hadn’t changed, maybe they still were advertising 4th of July sales at the end of August, what would you think? I’d wonder if they were closed for a period of time, or perhaps they had staffing issues. If you asked a question at the customer service department and the representative stood with their back to you, or stared at you blankly and kept talking to someone else, what would your impression be?

The same thing happens on social media.

If your prospect posts a question on your page or a customer provides you with a positive (or negative) review, and you don’t respond, while you continue to post content, what does that say? You’re posting, so your customers and prospects know you’re online, but you’re not interacting. We both know that you’ve scheduled content, so the consistency is there, the interaction, however, is lacking.

Every channel where you can interact with your customers and prospects should be viewed as a digital branch of your business and your personal brand.

How can you do what you’re already doing, better? We suggest setting expectations for yourself and your team. How long should any communication sit without a response? Remember a response can be “thank you, we’re looking into it,” as long as its an acknowledgment and a promise that you will do your best to fulfill. But overall, set the expectation that all of the branches of your brand need to have a consistent level of service, whether they’re virtual or in-person.

Remember, your market has more options than ever, and are doing their research about you, very thoroughly, before choosing to purchase. Treat every impression like a first impression.

By Peggy Murrah, Founder of PMA Web Services

Author's Bio: 

Peggy Murrah is a unique combination of web and marketing savvy, along with dependability and resourcefulness. These qualities have been instrumental in her building a successful business that serves clientele across five continents. PMA Web Services provides marketing direction and strategies for entrepreneurs through mentoring, social media marketing, list building and management, and development/maintenance of their online presence.