Social media isn't just about making friends, it's also about winning customers. For them, it's an opportunity to sound off with questions, complaints and compliments.
Ben Hemmen, director of marketing and promotions at Werner Park, was getting ready for the next Storm Chasers game. A big part of that is staying on top of social media. "For us, it's an instant way to connect with the fans and it's also a way for us to get instant feedback. In a customer service-driven business that's very key for us."
Facebook and Twitter are a direct line to fans these days and it's truly a two-way conversation. Hemmen says it's important to write back ASAP. "We want to let people know that their voices are heard and that no matter how busy we are, that we take every complaint and compliment in stride and we're continually trying to get better."
The faster response has got consumers with complaints or praise swarming to social media like a bee to honey. At Omaha Steaks, Paul Haskell and many others at the company stay close to their screens. It's the company's goal to respond to all social media users within 30 minutes.
"We want it to be just like someone's picking up a phone call. You don't want that big time delay after someone sends you a question in the form of a tweet. You want to be able to tweet a relevant response back to them."
Unless it's a private message, these posts are public, everyone can see them. Many say it keeps businesses accountable, whether they're getting good or bad feedback. "We want to make sure that what we're saying is addressing a concern. It's adding value for the customer."
One more way social media is changing relationships. Many companies have hired specific positions that specialize in managing social media.