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28 2012

Timing Online

Syndicated from: Getting Connected

Today’s column below …. What is your identified best time to reach your customers? Do you adjust your online networking to reflect this reality? Thanks to the new digital landscape, one of the most significant changes that businesses have to contend with is the expectation of 24-hour access. We’ve become a “now” society. Questions posed today need to be answered today. If you don’t answer when your prospects ask, the risk is your competition will. It’s the same with comments on platforms such as Twitter. Joining a conversation seven days after it happened loses the power of engaging in the dialogue altogether. Once the delayed response finally arrives it seems irrelevant as most of the time people have long since moved beyond that conversation. While real-time response rates on social media are ideal, it may not be realistic for companies, but in today’s changed reality, companies that want to excel in the digital space need to find an answer that works for them and their target demographic. The opportunity for companies is that their prospects and clients are engaging online. The conundrum is determining how you become part of that online activity in a way that strengthens your brand’s relationships. Authentic engagement would equate to engagement when your customers are talking about you or using your service. If you can’t manage real-time responses, which is a mistake for some segments, then make it a policy to respond within 24 hours. Simple techniques such as sending Google alerts to your mobile device and changing your settings so alerts and direct messages are forwarded to you when they occur can help you keep an eye on the conversations during all hours. Though it’s fair for the average businessperson not to want to respond on a Saturday night, if you’re operating a bar or restaurant and have decided social media is a marketing strategy, then you don’t have a choice but to be online, monitoring and engaging, on Saturday night. Saying “Hey, hope you had a great night” to your followers on Sunday morning when they’re hungover doesn’t have the same value as chatting with them while they were having a good time. The morning after is not when you can monitor the dialogue to see if there are prospects who should be partying at your bar instead of your competition’s. The opportunity would be lost. Real time is required, and in a case like a bar or restaurant, it’s predictable. Some hotel chains have become really effective in their online approach. It’s another segment that requires a real-time monitoring and response policy. A person who comments on your hotel may only be staying for a day, so getting a response two days later, which happens often, is irrelevant. The best example of completely missing the timing boat is my experience with a high-end vacuum company. For months, on the weekend, I would complain about the $600 waste of an investment in this supposed high-suction vacuum. My disappointment gave product fans the chance to be ambassadors. Unfortunately, while the company was responsive, they were only responsive on Monday mornings at 9:30 a.m. How many people, aside from fortunate stay-at-home moms, are cleaning their floors on Monday morning? I know I certainly wasn’t thinking about floors at that time so the responses became distractions. So, while 24/7 may not be possible, at least consider the most likely and relevant time for your end user and be ready and willing to connect, engage and respond online during those times. When determining your social media strategies and how you will accommodate 24/7 expectations, think about your end user. When are they most likely to be using your product or coming to your establishment? If it’s the mommy market you’re after, be sure you’re available at night after they’ve put the kids to bed. If you’re looking to encourage people to come to your patio for a beer after work, focus your activity in the late afternoon. So many segments are so obvious and yet people aren’t making the common sense arrangements to match their social media efforts to the natural ebbs and flows of their target demographic.

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