Through my extensive work with luxury, fashion and entertainment clients over the years it occurred to me that a number of companies are reluctant to talk to their fans through the means that a social channel provides.
One of the most evident and questionable moves has been the closing of company's Facebook wall. This significant and crucial vital feature can prevent a valuable dialogue from taking place on this platform, which it was inherently designed for. When closing a Facebook Wall you are limiting the ability to respond to fan inquiries on Facebook, which is something the modern buyer feels privy to: '88% of consumers are less likely to buy from companies that ignore complaints and questions on social media' Salesforce Blog.
Why could be some of the reasons an organization would choose to take this route?
I imagine one reason it allows the brand to control incoming conversations more closely and to protect brand image through unnecessary inquiries by non-target clientele, as in the case of some of the biggest luxury fashion brands. Another reason is a perhaps lack of staffing or inability to designate appropriate amount of resources to daily conversation with fans. One thing to keep in mind is, your biggest fans can become the voice of your company and answer questions on your behalf around the clock, thus reducing volume of work for the social department. Considering the influence social media today has on consumer behavior and buying power, this is not something to be overlooked and there's a myriad of reasons why this is invaluable: open dialogue, additional retail channel, deeper engagement, advocacy, and an ability to reply to multiple fans inquiries in a single effort.
Closing the Wall appears to be a self-perpetuating trend, everyone's looking what his or her direct competitor is doing, while there's no guarantee that whoever started this behavior is doing it right. It reminds me of 1-800 number days, when all you would get is routed to is an endless procession of prompts that would often lead to no resolve. This is a less than empathetic way for the customer to interact with a company, and the message is this 'We don't want to talk to you once you buy our product nor do we want to hear your suggestions. Thank you very much, please try again later. Goodbye' completely overlooking the enire customer experience process. It's almost humorous to still meet companies that don't allow their users to interact with or provide invaluable feedback about their experience. As Ted Rubin puts it in simple terms 'Use social media to serve, not just to sell.'
Having an open dialogue with your fans is ideal in today's social climate, especially for luxury brands, since custom and tailored are likely top values in your organization. Democratizing the process of inquiry is not always something all companies are pleased to be a part of, however as this becomes more of a necessity rather than a luxury perhaps it should be treated as such. Here are some examples of how to encourage conversation:
1. Opening up Facebook Wall will lead to more questions, which will generate more engagement and produce more organic reach, which in turn will give you more qualified and less costly leads off social. Plus, the quality of the experience and being heard will go a long way when it comes to loyalty to your goods.
2. Boosting already well-performing posts based on highest engagement time and best performing content and vigorously engaging with fans comments, questions plus always giving plenty of love back for any fan interaction. Having a conversation here lets you skip most focus groups all together, as you can get direct and honest feedback from an already existing fan base.
3. Always tag people of interest, venues, hashtag events and create trackable links to encourage conversation and sharing, this will maximize your post's organic reach.
4. Share User Generated Content Use-Generated Content to include your fans in conversation. People love to be recognized and including UGC in conversation opens up a more direct dialogue, which breeds even tighter brand affinity.
5. Always indicate how to best to get immediate response or a place were fans can got to ask questions, as handling customer service on social is cheaper than email and calls, and fans expect it.
People want to be heard and the ability to interact, so the way to appease them is to simply converse. All of the above also contribute to increased conversation including reach, engagement and click-throughs, while enhancing brand image, and generating deeper organic reach in the process. Always remember the golden rule: treat others, as you'd like to be treated.