It’s important to have clear and consistent communication in every aspect of your business. Companies often see social media as either critical or not important; there doesn’t seem to be an in between. But your customers would likely disagree.
If your brand has a presence on social media, then it’s imperative that it is being put to use. 76 percent of your customers expect a response within 24 hours of sending a social media message, and 13 percent expect a response within an hour! These real-time communication platforms can be a boon for marketing, customer support, and even brand awareness. But you have to treat them right.
Building your social media presence and maintaining customer happiness is a lot easier if you start with some basic questions:
- What platforms do we want to use?
- How will we use these platforms?
- What tone of voice should our social messaging have?
- What do these messages look like?
In this post, we’ll talk briefly about each of these points. But the real payoff comes toward the end. We will give you social media response templates for each of the major services. These will let you answer frequently asked questions more uniformly, and faster than ever before.
Choosing The Platforms
This isn’t the blog post where we dive deep into the pros and cons of every social media platform. There are plenty of options for that, and they’ve done a great job covering the material. Check out our articles on improving your social media presence, and mastering social media customer service. In this post, we’re going to talk about the benefits and limitations that you will encounter, and how best to work with them.
The first thing that you need to do is to decide how you’re going to use social media. How you want to use social media will dictate, to some extent, which platforms you use. If you’re hoping to run customer service from start to finish, some platforms are better than others. But if you’re focusing on answering common questions, almost every one of them works well.
Consider character limits. Not only for the messages that you send, but for the replies that you will get as well. Twitter, for instance, is best served by including a link to send you a direct message. These messages allow for much more than a 280-character tweet.
As a general rule, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re on the platforms that your customers use most. If you’re serving Facebook’s demographic, but you don’t have a presence on the site, you’re missing out. Conversely, if your product is not oriented toward professionals, LinkedIn is probably the wrong choice.
There are pros and cons to every platform. Finding the ones that serve you best is worth your time. But that doesn’t mean that you ignore the rest. It’s still worth peeking in to see if your customers are talking about you in places where you don’t have a presence.
How to Use Social Media for FAQs
Now that you’ve chosen your platform, it’s time to come up with a plan of action. The first step is to decide what kinds of questions you’ll answer on social, versus the questions that you redirect to other platforms. FAQs are a great place to start, because you can usually use a knowledge activation tool like TextExpander to help you answer them quickly.
When setting up Snippets for FAQs, we’ve found that there are some best practices that you’ll want to follow:
First, mind the character count. Nobody wants half of a message. One way to handle this is by prefixing each response with the platform that it will go to. For example, “tw;hours” could send a message about your store hours to Twitter, making sure that you keep the message under 280 characters.
“Thanks for asking! We’re open 7 days a week, from 8am until 10pm. Don’t forget that we are also open on national holidays!”
It’s also important to give the valuable information at the front of the message. If you’ve read any recipes online lately, you know how frustrating it can be to scroll through three pages of backstory before getting to the ingredients. The same holds true for your FAQs. It’s fine to use one sentence to thank the person for their time, or to apologize for unnecessary pains. But then you want to jump into the important parts, wasting no time.
For example, let’s say that someone sent your company a message on Facebook because they weren’t able to log in to their account. They have forgotten their username, and need directions to retrieve or reset it. Here, “;fbunreset” could send a message like this one:
“I’m sorry that this has happened. To reset your user name, please enter your email address on this form [insert link].
The goal here is to show empathy, but to then quickly answer the customer’s problem. Adding a direct link, rather than telling them where to go, eliminates even more friction.
To make your life easier, consider using a platform that combines all of your social media accounts into one interface. Apps like HubSpot, HootSuite, Sprout Social, or Loomly can make it easier for you to manage incoming questions. Many of these apps also include scheduling features so that you can combine marketing messages in between replies.
What Tone Should We Use on Social Media?
This is where things start to diverge a bit. The answer to this question will depend heavily upon the company. JP Morgan Chase, for example, would probably sound a lot different from Ben & Jerry’s. That said, matching the tone of your customers is also important.
Remember that social media has a deep history in conversations. It’s usually best practice to have a conversational tone, regardless of what platform that you use. However, conversations on TikTok sound a lot different from conversations on LinkedIn. Being able to mold your tone to each platform is a combination of art and science.
Understand that, most times, you will need to provide multiple variations of the same answer. This is another area where prefixes come in handy inside of TextExpander. You may have a shared Library of every reply, or you can choose to separate them by platform to make things easier to update and maintain. Regardless of which way you choose, using prefixes for your responses can save you a lot of hassle and potential embarrassment.
Social Media Response Templates
Now that we’ve talked about the why and how, it’s time to put those conclusions into action. As we go through this section, we’ll show you some template examples of responses. But keeping in mind the differences between platforms, each response will have at least two variations.
The goal here is to kick-start an idea for you. While you’re welcome to copy/paste any or all of these responses, it’s best if you customize them to your own company’s voice and needs.
While you’re writing, think about the prefix and Snippet that you’ll use. One way to speed up this process is to come up with a naming convention that makes sense for you. Here’s one that we’ve seen used in the past that works well:
- ; – opening character
- TW – Platform indicator (Twitter, in this case)
- L – The classification of the message. L for logins, CS for support, etc.
- RESET – What the person is trying to do. In this example, they need to reset their login information.
The Snippet would look like this: ;twlreset and it would then output text like the example above, linking the person to where they need to be.
Since you know how to format your Snippets, now we can get into the replies themselves. To start, let’s say that you have a customer who is trying to track down an order, so they messaged you on Facebook. Here’s what a response might look like:
Thanks for reaching out, [name]. You can find order tracking under your Account & Orders shortcut at the top of the page. Please note that we update our system as we receive information from the carrier. If you feel like your order should have already arrived, please reply to this message with your tracking information.
Now let’s assume that this same customer reached out on Twitter, where you have fewer characters. Here’s a response that would work on that platform:
Thanks for the note, [name]! Tracking is found under Account & Orders on the site. If you feel that there is an error, please reply with your tracking info.
While the Twitter response is less formal, and lacks the information that the Facebook one has, it fits the format. Twitter also tends to be less formal, overall, than many other platforms. So don’t be afraid to match the tone.
Aside: It’s a good idea to use the benefits of a platform to your advantage. For example, if someone sends a question via Instagram, don’t shy away from creating a quick video to reply if it makes sense. While you can send videos on Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn, their native format is text. So it’s best to leave video to platforms that include video as a primary form of communication.
What if this same question came in via LinkedIn? The response might look quite similar to Facebook:
Thank you for being a customer, [name]. The Accounts & Orders link at the top of the page will have the information you need. If you find that there is a problem, please send us another message with the tracking information provided.
Once again, it’s a matter of changing the tone slightly to fit the platform. This method will work for most questions, though there will be times when you need something more in depth.
Moving back to the discussion of how you want to use social, it’s important to set boundaries for your team. At what point will you refer a question to the customer support team? We’ve seen companies that take a stance of “be as helpful as possible,” but that leaves a lot of gray area around who is the best person to handle a problem.
Another point to keep in mind with responses is that they sometimes need to be modular. A happy customer inquiring about an order’s status needs a different reply than someone who is angry because their order hasn’t arrived yet. It’s good practice to think of each response as a tiny story where you have an opening, a body, and then a closing.
Some Suggested Openings
- Thanks for reaching out!
- I’m sorry you’re having troubles.
- I’d like to fix this for you.
Once you have chosen your opening, then the body will often be the same. Though you may want to change the language slightly to be more empathetic than excited, for example. Finally, choose a closing that is also appropriate to the mood of your message.
We hope that this guide has given you a solid starting point for responding to FAQs on social media. That said, we’d welcome your questions and comments. Drop them in below and let’s start a discussion.