There used to be a time when you planned to reply on social media. Now, our challenge, however counter-intuitive it may sound, is to figure out how to plan to be real-time on social media. That’s because the over 2.3 billion active social media users are being drowned in no less than 293,000 statuses and 130,000 photos every single minute. That’s huge!

Now think about the chances your 3-4 posts a week have to reach, not to mention engage, an audience with an already-fading attention span. Today we’re looking at the instances in which, without real-time, those chances floor to zero.

Social media customer support

If you have a Twitter account or Facebook page, there’s no hope whatsoever of getting away with not providing customer support. None. Zero. In fact, the more engaging you are, the higher the chances that people will seek customer support directly on these accounts rather than traveling all the way to your website. So the more effective your campaigns are, the less avoidable customer support on social media becomes.

Not only is it a must but users expect quick responses and effective solutions. Statistics show that 78% of people who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour.

You can look at it as a challenge or an opportunity. Specifically, an opportunity to fix problems and turn an angry, unhappy client into an appeased, returning customer but you need to act quickly or a small snag can quickly spiral into a full-blown crisis.

Events & conferences

Have you ever not been to an event but were fascinated to see that your connection was? Have you ever given two dimes about a post that gave you a vague overview about a random someone employed by a brand you barely know, a week or two after the event? Then why in the names of sanity would you assume anyone else would?

If there’s one place real-time social media is non-negociable, that’s events. That’s because the audience who would engage with these posts is a lot smaller than your regular one. The reasons range from lack of awareness or interest in the event, the fact that there are only a handful of CTAs you can realistically include, not to mention that your reasons for attending (lead generation) might have nothing to do with your audience’s interests.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be posting about the events you organise, sponsor or attend. It does mean that you have to accept that you’re speaking with a smaller audience on a very focused topic.

Your content has to be insightful enough to be meaningful for the people not listening to the 25 minute long keynote.  Your pictures have to be not only high-quality enough to compete with the others in the user’s timeline but their composition has to mean something to your audience – your odd employee standing in front of <insert random backdrop> won’t cut it. Most importantly, you need to figure out how this is in any way useful for your audience. Is there a link to a presentation? Great, include it.

Current news and events

A great way to add some variation in your topics is by chiming in on news and events. Now, there’s really no way to accomplish this than through real time. It might seem like a big hassle but integrating news and events you know your audience is interested in into your communication strategy can significantly improve the number of topics you can approach.

Not only that, but the chances of sparking a conversation with your audience are a lot higher as you’re not the one trying to boost the popularity of a topic, you’re joining an existing dialogue, which you know for a fact is of interest to your audience.

Online conversations (you have to monitor and reply in real time)

There are several ways to connect with your audience and one of the most effective is through conversations. But this isn’t email. You can’t expect to be communicated to and then take your sweet time to communicate back. Social media is a dialogue and it does’t wait. Couple that with people’s ever-diminishing attention span and a significant delay in your reply can translate into your competitors poaching your customers.

If your customer were standing right in front of you, asking you a question, would you answer or begin fiddling with other things and have him wait there for hours until you decide to take notice? It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there are real people behind the thumbnails you’re looking at.

The only way you’re ever going to build a strong relationship with your customers is though real-time conversations and that means you have to set aside some time every day to monitor conversations and reply.

The Bottom Line

There are many reasons to start factoring in real-time into your social media strategy. From giving you more resources and allowing you to provide a much more human and personal experience to solving problems and making sure they don’t escalate, real-time social media should become a serious consideration for any business and professional who wants to be relevant.

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