Companies are investing time and money into social media, but is it only beneficial for businesses who sell products? I believe there is definitely a place for the service industry within the social media world but a great deal of caution can go a long way.
I use the word caution, because we are referring to the “service industry” and the key here is “service”. If a company has recently received a lot of criticism for a lack of service then they need to be aware that opening up to social media could also open up a platform for customers to complain on. This doesn’t have to be a reason not to utilise social media; in fact, having a platform to air the company’s responses to complaints is more effective in the long term than keeping quiet and potentially letting customers ruin a brand. “OUTsurance” is an example of this; they are an insurance company and with insurance come a lot of emotion, they take a lot of heavy fire on their Facebook page but they deal with it in a professional and timely manner. They definitely don’t ignore the complaint as this would further enrage the client so the key here is to have someone analysing and commenting on that Facebook page almost 24 hours a day. I say ‘almost’ because this is not always possible but definitely do not leave a negative comment sitting on a social media site for days without attending to it.
Something else to take into consideration is that social media is not always about selling a product or service; sometimes it is used as a branding exercise and to keep people aware of a company’s existence. Companies who bombard their fans with “selling” may end up losing their followers. Be clear about whom the company is and what they sell but don’t over-do it with, for example, three status updates a day on different insurance products. The best way to see what your “fans” are wanting is to test it, see how the engagement improves by using different imagery, tone or topics.
I particularly like the “1st For Women Insurance’’ Facebook page, it is fun and light hearted with lots of mention of their corporate and social responsibility. The page is captive in that there are lots of visuals; they use pictures and an interesting cover photo. Their content is engaging and exciting and not only about insurance products. I feel like this is a good example of the “service industry” using social media to its full advantage!