MONTREAL, Que. — Instagram has more than a billion active users. Facebook, more than 2 billion. Now more than ever, social media is a powerful communication tool that can not be ignored. Forget sharing cat images and wacky videos. Make room for business relations, promoted events, and even recruiting.
The trucking industry itself has been home to several success stories.
The Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), for example, has been on social media since the spring of 2011, and it is widely recognized for the way it managed Facebook discussions surrounding a 2015 campaign to share the road.
The campaign sparked a flood of negative comments on social networks, particularly when it came to cyclists.
“We, the community managers, were expecting the campaign to take this turn on Facebook,” said SAAQ media relations and community manager Gino Desrosiers.
Emotion often trumps reason when it comes to discussions about sharing the road.
“I often have to remember that all opinions are welcome, but we ask for a minimum of respect and courtesy when it is time to express them. I sometimes point out that respect and courtesy are values that are appreciated just as much on the road as on Facebook,” he said.
“We’re asking our content specialists to be available in the early days of a campaign so they can respond quickly if community managers need to refer to them to answer questions and comments from the community,” Desrosiers added. “We try to answer the clear and precise questions that concern our subjects. If a comment allows us to provide additional information, we may respond to this comment. If a comment conveys false information that can be denied with facts, we might answer. ”
When it comes comments that are less respectful, the community manager says interventions are generally appreciated. Other users feel they can express themselves without someone jumping all over them.
Then there were a few comments that had to be removed outright.
“When we delete comments, we refer to our netiquette,” said Desrosiers. “This is not a common practice. If you look at the comments on our Facebook page, you will see that we leave a lot of leeway to [those] who wish to express themselves. Our goal is not to bully them, but rather to promote exchanges. ”
He has one advantage over some of his peers. Managing the community is his primary job, so he can quickly respond in a short period of time. And the approach is part of a winning recipe. On social media, you have to be benevolent without being judgmental. You have to be quick-witted, informative, transparent, even funny or tongue-in-cheek, without being disrespectful or too daring. “In addition, we personalize our exchanges, which makes them less cold,” said Desrosiers. “The last thing I want to mention is the level of autonomy left to community managers. When I reply to people on Facebook, I do not need to validate the answers I give. This room for maneuver allows us to react quickly.”
Addressing trolls and haters
Every company with an online social media presence should be to assign responsibilities for monitoring, and listening – whether the task is handled internally or through an externally managed service, said Catherine Gratton-Gagné, the content marketing team leader at the Adviso consulting firm.
When things go wrong, it’s best for community managers to avoid sensitive topics if they are unable to defend their positions or actively participate in any discussions that might follow.
“Some brands sometimes wait too long before answering a problem and can leave a hole of information that will be filled otherwise… We face a crisis by quickly drawing a picture of the situation, identifying the solutions and important messages to communicate, and then offering a version of the facts as soon as possible. ”
Many of those problems emerge because of trolls, who look to generate negative reactions and even chaos rather than participating in a constructive exchange. The demands or expectations they place on a brand can be unrealistic as well. Then there are the haters who always seem to speak negatively about a subject.
“In general, we recommend our customers not to feed the trolls,” she said.
A social medial policy that incorporates a “climbing” process can help to address the situations. For example, if a user violates an existing code of conduct rule, the community manager can hide the comment and forward a warning to the user.
“However, we must be authentic and transparent, and not hide or ban if a user asks a question based on real practices or business issues,” Gratton-Gagné stressed.
Different platforms, different approaches
Groupe Guilbault has been active on social networks since 2013, and it approaches different platforms with different strategies.
Most of the fleet’s Facebook page is devoted to news about the carrier and job offers, and the company uses the platform to highlight the quality of employees and various events, said Pascale Lizotte, the fleet’s communications manager. It’s also used to develop and maintain a sense of belonging among employees, complete with the chance to forward private messages to the management team.
LinkedIn, meanwhile, requires more of a formal approach. “The page has to be really pushed by the people who work in the company,” Lizotte said.
Instagram – expected to become a tool of choice when communicating with an emerging generation of employees — requires ready access to beautiful photos.
No matter the platform, however, the carrier enforces a zero tolerance policy when it comes to rudeness or racism. “In addition to responding publicly, we contact people in private, and we sign our name,” she said. “The exchanges of a human to a human, it often restores respect. It is important to ensure a good follow-up. Sometimes we invite people to leave the page. Another person from the company, such as a security officer, may be involved if his department is affected by the comment.”
She suggests companies should spend at least an hour a day on social networks at the very least, committing to being polite, arguing intelligently, and excusing themselves when necessary.
Said Lizotte: “It’s better not to have a page than to have a page you do not care about.”
Quotes in this article have been translated from original comments made in French.