Social media presence was a must even before the health crisis hit, and everything that wasn’t already there had to move online. Being a small business owner, you may feel it is imperative to set up several accounts on various platforms and make sure you post regularly, follow the right influencers and work at increasing your follower base as that is your best bet for the start of a sales funnel for online courses.
The thing about having several points of social media presence is that you also have to communicate with those who reach out. This article will talk about the dos and don’ts of responding to comments and queries on social media as a professional online course creator. Just to get it out of the way: you must respond to all, even if it takes a lot of your time.
Be present and consistent
Unlike people having their walls filled with birthday wishes who can get away with a general “thank you all for your kind wishes, may they return to you tenfold”, you can’t pull that off. Your online course business page is one of your most important calling cards, and it’s a matter of online etiquette that you answer each comment individually and as personalized as possible – so it’s clear that you really took the time to both read and consider what was communicated.
That being said, try to follow the general consensus of the platform. I’m following an author on Twitter, and several times a day, I get a notification about a post of hers saying “@newpersonfollowing, thank you for the follow”. That’s an example of overdoing it.
Encourage open communication
First and foremost, allow people to post on your pages. If it happens to be negative feedback, it gives you a chance to address whatever issue that person has in an open manner. It will show that you have great faith in what you are selling and stand by your work.
Furthermore, you’ll find champions in those who were very happy with your courses. Honest supporting reviews will ultimately do wonders for your reputation and your brand image.
If all your accounts only held praise and over the top positive testimonials, people would be a lot wearier than if they stumble across the occasional negative opinion. Learning is a very personal, subjective experience after all, and it’s obvious that opinions will vary.
Stay away from cliché answers
There is a joke that goes, “the phone company called me today; I told them their call is very important to me and placed them on hold for half an hour”. It’s funny because there are probably very few people who have not heard that line in the suave voice of a robot. Repeatedly.
Using standardized phrases that have little meaning does not make you sound professional, only annoying. You don’t have to go and compose a college-style essay on each answer, just be genuine and personal.
If the comment is written in jargon, however, don’t try to imitate it. You can phrase your reply in dictionary-worthy English without appearing condescending. Attempting slang you don’t really master could result in either sounding hilarious or offending some people, so it’s better to stick to familiar (and safe) vocabulary.
Remember that it’s your business being discussed
Even if your work might seem pretty personal to you, you mustn’t take comments and reviews personally. If you feel that you are getting too passionate about a comment (and it’s usually about the negative ones), you should take some time to cool off before typing your reply.
Another option is to run your intended answer by another party, one that is capable to lend you an objective eye.
Whatever you do, do not erase negative messages (unless they are truly offensive to a group of people, and even in that case, explain your decision) and don’t engage in heated arguments. Even if such a course of action would probably draw a lot of attention, it would not have positive effects.
There is a good reason why big companies employ entire teams of communication and social media specialists. The way a brand appears online has an enormous bearing in any marketing endeavors, and one social media faux pas can have disastrous results. The fact that you are the only representative of your business should not scare you; on the contrary, you ought to feel confident that you’ll project the exact image you want. The key, as always, is balance and consistency.
Raluca Cristescu has over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.