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When Do You Need To Take Conversations OFF Social Media?

Joshua March
By Joshua March on Oct 28, 2011 6:08:00 PM

Over the last couple of days, we've been at the Social Media for Customer Service Summit in New York City. 

It's been a phenomenal event packed with real practitioners sharing their insight and best practice into how they are managing social customer service in their companies. We'll be sharing some of the highlights here on our blog over the next week.

When and why you should take a conversation off Facebook or Twitter to the phone or email is an important consideration. In our research, we've found that most companies are far too eager to get it off Facebook straight away (to email or other tabs) - upsetting customers and increasing costs.

First up in our series is Kip Wetzel, senior director: social media servicing and strategy for Comcast. He spoke on the best practice rules for taking conversations offline from social:

1. Be Conscious of syntax

It's challenging to convey tone and empathy in 140 characters - and multiple tweets can be taken out of context. Think about when should you link to a longer blog posts or separate article, or need to switch to email or other media to get across more information.

2. Private conversations are public

Be aware of what's default public and private (for example the difference between @messages and DMs). But more importantly, taking something 'offline' now doesn't mean it will be private! With Twitter and Facebook and blogs, anything private - whether a DM, a posted letter or a phone call - can very quickly get posted publicly online. Everything is public now.

3. Everything can be taken out of context

Remember that everything - whether a tweet, or a private letter, or a Facebook reply - can be taken and shared by itself. Keep mindful when you're saying anything that it can be taken out of context!

4. Be Yourself

To be successful in social, you need to use a human tone of voice. If you need to go from social to email or elswhere, don't suddenly switch back to corporate speak.

5. Respond promptly and accurately

People expect a super fast response in social - Comcast aim to get a first response to everyone within 2-5 minues! BUT - it's better to be slower and accurate than go too fast, and say something wrong - which can be spread far and wide very quickly.

6. Walk the line - but walk it carefully

Align with your customers - be transparent, and acknowledge fault where the company's made a mistake (although being aware of the next point...)

7. You are the representative

Remember you are an official voice representing the company with everything you say in social - even if you tweet from your personal account and you're named as working for the company, or responding to a company issue.

8. It's always a conversation

Social is a two way conversation. If you do take it offline to email etc, make sure it stays a conversation; don't just switch it to one way messaging because you're in another channel.

9. Follow up online

When appropriate, take it back online - e.g. you've got private info in a DM, now switch back to @replies so that the reoslution (and thanks) are public. Don't force them into another channel like phone or email unless really, absolutely needed - then switch it back to their preferred channel as soon as you can. Other channels can be more expensive for the company, and upset the customer!

10. Offline conversation doesn't mean social failure

Sometimes they have to happen. BUT - learn from the offline conversations. Could you keep it all online next time? How you handle the offline conversations is now part of your social straetyg, as they're connected and as (2), anything offline can be shared online quickly and easily. It's all connected.

Stay tuned for more insights we've learnt from the great speakers at the summit!

Follow us on Twitter here.

Topics: Best Practices, Industry News

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