The pros and cons of social media to get customer opinions
Social media is a popular way for companies to engage with customers one-on-one. Many companies use their social media platforms as a way to solicit feedback and learn what “fans” are thinking so they can address potential problems. On the flip side, more and more customers are choosing social media as the preferred method for reaching companies when they have an issue. In fact, a Conversocial study found that 43% of customers now expect social media channels to be integrated with other customer service channels.
However, there is still debate as to whether social media is the best way to solicit feedback from customers. We lay out some of the pros & cons here…
- Get direct and easy access to millions of people.
Social media is widely used by millions. Chances are, you already have followers on the various platforms. They already know how to use the platforms so there is no need to learn anything. There are a number of ways to solicit information, from asking a question about a specific issue on your page to posting a link to a more in-depth online survey, and many of them are free.
- Get immediate, unfiltered feedback.
With traditional polls and surveys, the customer feedback might be contaminated. Often simply asking the question in a poll can alter the results. Social media feedback can be more genuine. These channels also provide real-time feedback, with a relatively low investment to gather useful information that can be analyzed and used to create a better product of improve customer service.
You also have the ability to engage in a direct dialogue with customers to resolve issues. An actual conversation can take place and that is very helpful in providing better customer service.
- Social media tools are less expensive.
Using social media doesn’t have to require a big expense. While it’s true that Facebook and other platforms have made it harder for business pages to reach their own followers without paying something, a relatively small monthly investment can be used to boost posts or target customers with ads and that can pay off in a big way.
- Someone must monitor social media platforms.
If you’re going to ask for feedback online, you must be prepared to monitor social media feeds to ensure comments don’t slip out of your control. You must carefully pay attention to negative feedback to ensure it doesn’t go viral and spread across the Internet. If you use #hashtags, those must be monitored as well, which can be time consuming. You may need to hire an individual or company to manage your social media accounts, which could be add up to bigger expense than if you paid a survey company.
- Everyone sees the feedback.
A private survey can be kept within the company. Social media platforms are completely visible. In other words, users may see glowing reviews, but they might also see a string of negative posts and complaints. This is always a risk with social media.
- It can be difficult to follow up and address issues.
If someone posts a negative comment or complaint, it’s not always easy to respond to that individual. Some social media platforms restrict ways in which you can contact other users. For instance, on Facebook, you can’t send a private message unless you are “friends” with that person. If you respond on the page, the customer might never reply, so you lose an opportunity to do anything to resolve the issue.
The bottom line
Social media can be a fast, simple, and inexpensive way to reach your customers and garner feedback, but it does have its downside. Unless you’re prepared to continually monitor your social channels and address your followers’ comments, you could find your business’ reputation and customer relationships actually suffer from these open forums. As with any other decision you make for your company, you’ll need to give serious consideration to both sides before you dive into using social media as a communication and feedback tool.