Help Desk Hangouts: Engaging with your customers using social media

Friday, April 20, 2012 | 9:30 AM

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we discussed how your business can benefit from engaging with customers via social media. A few of Google’s community management superstars — Jacky Hayward, Sarah Price and Brian Rose —  shared best practices for building great content, collecting feedback and communicating with frustrated customers. Miss it? No to worry: You can watch the full hour-long Hangout on the Google Business YouTube channel:


Check out the video description on the YouTube page for a minute-by-minute breakdown.

Some of the questions we answered during the Hangout:

Why spend time using social media?

First, think about your goals. Sarah, who works on the Gmail team, says she doesn’t see social media as “an end in and of itself,” but rather as a tool to help her reach her goal of connecting with users: “I want to help users learn more about Gmail, [so] I use social media as a tool to share information. I have a goal that I want to have relationships with the users, that they have a relationship with the company and each other, so I use social media as a tool to facilitate those relationships.”

How do you attract new followers to your social media content?

There’s no trick or gimmick. Post interesting, useful content. Be real, honest, genuine, open — and the followers will come!

What kinds of content work?

Don’t underestimate fun. Eye-catching rich media (photos, videos) are always engaging. Be mindful of time zones and when you’re sharing (do you usually get more engagement in the morning, at night?). Also, people love having a connection with you and your brand, which you can do with something as simple as highlighting or resharing content by a customer.

Why is identifying influencers important?

Whatever your area of expertise, research who's producing great content and starting conversations among that field’s community. Find out what your customers are interested in and get involved in those conversations. Figure out who the people are that drive those conversations and build relationships with them. Connect your customers to other customers when you can — engaging them with each other will help them learn more and engage more with your product and brand.

Any time management tips?

The stream of social media content being produced every minute is infinite, so again, be sure to focus on your goals. Ask yourself what is most important for you to do first and start there, rather than trying to do everything at once.

Be sure to join us for next week’s Hangout at 11 a.m. PDT Wednesday April 25, when we discuss how to get started with Chromebooks. We’ll be collecting your Chromebook questions early next week on the Google+ Your Business page.

Posted by Vanessa Schneider, Google Places community manager