Ignoring social channels will be considered rude by 2014, Gartner says

In two years, will ignoring a tweet be seen as rude by your customers as ignoring a phone call would be today?

That’s what the Egham, U.K. division of consultancy firm Gartner Inc. is predicting. By 2014, customers will expect that your business is monitoring Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels to address their needs (i.e. complaints). That could lead to customer frustration and a loss of sales, analyst and vice president Carol Rozwell says in a Gartner press release. So it’s important to start paying attention to social media now.

Luckily, businesses aren’t on their own when it comes to scouring social media channels for potential mentions of their brand name or products. Vancouver-based HootSuite Media Inc. is an example of software that can connect with multiple accounts on social channels including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and more. Monitoring features allow you to filter incoming messages from those networks so you won’t miss a mention of your company, or even an opportunity to jump in on a discussion of interest to you. It also allows multiple users to manage the same accounts, with a Teams feature that helps you manage the workflow.

Even free tools like Twitter’s TweetDeck can help a business keep better tabs on its social media activities. Trying to keep up by visiting your accounts on individual Web pages can quickly become laborious.

Once you’ve tuned in to all those messages concerning your business, you’ll have to decide how to respond. The U.S. Air Force has created a useful flow chart for its social media decision making and unlike some of its aircraft, it’s not in stealth mode. Take a look at the chart below and think about how it could apply to your business. Notice the first step is to establish the general sentiment of the post – positive or negative?

The Air Force’s social media response decision tree (click for full PDF).

For it’s part, Gartner recommends one more step beyond just responding. Keep records of your interactions and analyze the interactions to learn from them.

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