Question: As a small business we know that being on Social Media is important, but we can’t sit around and monitor the channel all of the time. What is the best way to deal with this and to make sure we aren’t missing important alerts?

This is one of the best questions I have received in some time. Fact is, you are right to be concerned as a small business owner about the need to monitor and respond to your social media channels if people are trying to get in touch.

While every business is unique, it is true that the use of social media is rapidly growing and with that so is the expectation of users to get a quick response to their inquiries and complaints via social media. In fact, that vast majority of people expect their communications via social media to be responded to same day (64%) and of that more than 30% expect to be responded to in just 30 minutes.

So as a small business owner this can make life complicated. If you are a small organization with only a few people, trying to respond within 30 minutes is likely impossible. So here are a few ideas for being open and available on social media channels without having to sit around and man the proverbial fort around the clock.

Set Expectations: One thing that I have seen work is for companies to put an explanation on their social media channels as to a realistic response time. For really large companies with a staff managing their social channels it may be realistic to respond in minutes, but for most companies, not so much. Having something on each of your social pages (public facing) that states when they can expect to see a response will at least set the expectation up front. This is also a good place to say “If you need more immediate assistance,” and provide those details.

Email Is Your Friend: Most social media channels can be set to send notifications to your inbox. You can set up for mentions on Twitter, comments on FB or LinkedIn, or other updates on social channels to be emailed to you. If you spend a lot of time on your email you can get the notifications there and use them as a way to decide what needs immediate attention.

Consider Outsourcing: There are many companies that will handle first level social media engagement for your business. This may or may not be in the budget, however, if your business has a high rate of customer service requests or needs to closely monitor your social channel it may make sense to find a company to help you to identify and respond to first line needs on social from your customers. 

Live Your Word: Perhaps the most important thing a company can do is make sure that whatever its service promises are (see expectations), they live up to them. If you say you will respond in 3 days, then by all means do that and if you say you respond in 3 hours…you get the gist. Service and response on social is much like every other channel; it needs to be taken seriously. In a world where customer complaints can bring a business to its knees, the only thing we have is our word, which is why we must live up to any and all promises that we make.

How are you handling the need to be online and available for your customers around the clock?  

This article was first featured on Broadsuite and can be found here.