What’s the one thing that makes social media marketing different from all other kinds of marketing?
Social media marketing is the only kind that invites a conversation. It creates an opportunity to speak directly to customers and potential customers, right where they are.
By now, most of us who work in social media know how important it is to be good stewards of this privilege by creating and participating in these conversations and responding to those who reach out to us.
Whether it’s a question, a comment, a problem or a suggestion, it deserves an answer. That’s the beauty of social media — it can begin that all-important conversation.
But just as important as whether and how quickly you respond is how you respond — what you express to those who reach out to you. Even when the problem is complicated, or they’re the 300th person to ask that question, or they’re actually right and you’re wrong.
It can be tough to answer questions and solve problems in the public eye of social media, where time is of the essence and where any misstep can be seen — and shared — by a potential audience of millions.
But there are a few key phrases that can help. These simple words set you up for success by being friendly, natural, human and empathetic. They facilitate conversation instead of shutting it down.
They’re important because they have the power to increase understanding, strengthen a connection and even change a negative interaction into a positive one.
Let’s look at nine phrases that, when used correctly, have the power to truly transform a conversation.
A note before we continue: These phrases are powerful, but they’re not magic. They work best when you actually mean them, and when they really sound like something you or your brand would say. Use them not as a cut-and-paste solution but as jumping-off point to finding the language that works for you.
1. “I understand.”
This little phrase packs the biggest punch of all when it comes to acknowledging someone’s feelings. It lets a customer know that their thoughts have been heard and processed, even if a change can’t happen immediately. Oftentimes, that’s enough — at least for a little while.
2. “I hear you.”
A sibling phrase to No. 1, this one can be used even if you don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment being expressed. It lets the other party know that you’re listening and empathizing, despite any differences you might have, which paves the way for resolution.
Both of these phrases are also an excellent alternative to the sterile, “Thank you for your feedback,” which we all know really means, “Please stop talking to me and go away.” When you talk to customers the way they talk, you automatically set the stage for a better rapport and a more real interaction.
3. “Can you tell me more?”
It’s almost instinctual to try to quickly shut down any problems or conflict happening in social media (anyone can see your dirty laundry!) but try going against your instincts with this phrase.
Your customers need to know that you’re actually engaged with what they’re telling you, and a key element of understanding others is asking questions like this one, which helps ensure that you have all the facts before taking action.
4. “Let me see if I have it right.”
Repeating back what you heard helps both parties by making sure you are truly understanding one other.
Once you’re on the same page, you’ll be able to resolve the situation more quickly, with less frustration.
5. “Thanks! And…”
Maybe they shared a link of yours. Maybe they paid you a compliment online or wrote a great review about your product.
It’s great to thank outspoken fans and advocates — in fact, it’s crucial. But why stop there? Ask what else they’ve been reading. Find out what other type of content would help them. Surprise them a care package.
Only a small percent of your customers are willing to publicly advocate for you. Continuing the conversation gives you a chance to create a stronger relationship with this all-important segment.
6. “What do you think?”
Social media marketing isn’t like a TV commercial, where you yell sales offers at your audience — it’s about conversations, so create one. Mix “conversation starter” posts about your industry or area of expertise in with your promotional posts.
When folks contribute their thoughts, ask them more questions. You’ll not only be building a community, you’ll also start to see a clearer picture of your audience and get new content ideas from what you hear.
7. “We’ll have it solved by…”
People really, really don’t like waiting — whether it’s in line at the grocery store or online for resolution to a problem.
But studies on the psychology of waiting show that uncertainty makes waiting even more painful — stress is increased when you have no idea when your wait will be over.
Meanwhile, more information (like an expected wait time or periodic explanations for delays) improves the experience of waiting.
Make waiting less painful with frequent updates. Even if it’s not great news, it’s still better than radio silence.
8. “I’m sorry.”
Not “I’m sorry if…” or “I’m sorry, but…” — just those two words, full stop. Say it when you mean it. Say it when your audience deserves it. Say it when someone needs to hear it.
Even better: Explain what happened, why you’re sorry, and how you’re going to fix it. But even those two words are a big start.
9. “You’re right.”
We all want to be a big, bad, infallible brand — but very few of us will ever get that wish.
And when people call us out on mistakes, glitches or screw-ups, it pays to be able to swallow your pride with this phrase.
No need to hide behind corporate mumbo-jumbo or split hairs. When they’re right and you’re wrong, tell them so. They’ll respect you for it.
What go-to phrases help you communicate your best? Share them in the comments.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.