The other day, I saw something unexpected. After a customer issue, my dad’s immediate and first reaction was to get help through social media. He was having issues with a company’s web app and his first thought wasn’t to call their support line, or even leverage their web chat, instead it was to message them on Instagram. We often think social media belongs to Millenials and Gen Z, but everyone is using it. And if you haven’t equipped your business with the technology that enables seamless social media interactions, you’ve already taken on a lot of risk.

Developing strong relationships with your customers is the key to both short and long-term success. Relationships drive brand loyalty, and brand loyalty is what keeps your business growing. Social media is built on the kinds of conversations that create deep relationships. You have to be primed to take advantage of that. But social media is complex. Without reliable, top-tier technology, your teams won’t be able to manage all of the complexity of a sophisticated social strategy. A good tech stack is your best friend in social, no matter what department or function you’re working in.

Keep in contact with your audience

Most businesses aren’t ready to accept that social media is the preferred channel for consumers. But over half (54%) of global customers have a more favorable view of brands that address support needs on social media. Even with stats like that, businesses still want to direct customers to support lines or emails. That’s understandable and certainly much easier to manage. Phone lines and emails are channels we have a long history managing and that we can easily direct to the relevant department. Meanwhile in Social, we don’t have that same luxury because we can’t control how, when and where messages come from.

And that’s because your customers don’t see your business as neatly broken up into sales, customer support and marketing teams. They see your business as one entity, and it’s easy to message that entity on Facebook. As business leaders, our job is to understand and meet our customers’ desires, and right now our customers desire a seamless social media support experience.

customer service and social media platforms

Just like phone and email technology makes it easier for us to route requests to the people who can answer them, social media tech stacks can do the same. Investing in social media enablement technology makes sure that both your teams and customers have a seamless experience from start to finish. Technology can segment your messages into leads, questions and complaints so the right person is always ready to send the right reply. Technology also keeps track of every message you receive, so every message gets a reply, so you are better equipped to help this customer in the future, and so you can use the data to inform your future decision-making.

Reach out in real time

Social media is the only marketing channel that gives you instant feedback. Every view, like and comment is a data point that can tell you how well your campaign is performing. With those results, it’s hard to see how any other channel could beat it. Any campaign you create with traditional media–whether that’s television, billboards, radio or print–should be supported by a social media campaign so you can see the impact and make adjustments in real time.

Social-first marketing strategies give you the power to be truly data-driven. But you can’t harness that data without technology. Knowing that 10,000 people have interacted with your business on social in the past week is nice, but it doesn’t help you make decisions. You need to be able to drill down into those interactions to find their action items. Your quantitative data–like engagement or post metrics–will show you the impact of your campaign while your qualitative data–like the content and sentiment of the replies or mentions–can tell you where you’re succeeding and where you need to shift the course. Without technology by your side to help you interpret it, they’re just numbers.

Connect through conversations

Any relationship is built through conversations. For brands, those conversations have traditionally been one-sided. But social media gives your customers a voice–and it’s your responsibility to listen and interact. Commenting on, liking and responding to your audience’s content is a key strategy for socially sophisticated brands. By showing you care about the things your audience cares about, you inspire brand loyalty and trust. But once again, scaling this strategy is impossible without technology.

As your social media presence and team grows, it’s imperative you have the technology in place for them to succeed. They’ll need a single source of truth to keep track of comments and interactions with customers. That’s not something they can do natively in a platform or with a less sophisticated social media management solution. Being a leader means equipping your team for success. And as the complexity of your strategy grows, they’ll need a tech stack to simplify it.

React to changing conditions

We’re all feeling the effects of market and consumer shifts right now. It can sometimes feel impossible to know what’s going to happen next. But social media can be a leading indicator of what’s to come for your team–if you know how to use it.

Social data is some of the most powerful data we have access to. It’s an aggregation of billions of peoples’ thoughts, opinions, anxieties and joys. Social data holds the answers to your business’s most important questions. Whether your team is focusing on investor relations, sales, research and development or HR, social data can help them make data-driven decisions in real-time.

Teaming up with technology

When you’re facing economic headwinds, you have to react quickly. You can’t do that without support. Sometimes that support comes from your team but other times, it comes from technology that solves the problems you didn’t even know you had.

Social media represents one of the largest business opportunities of our lifetimes. The relationships it builds–and the dividends those relationships pay–can’t be overlooked. Businesses that are ready to take on the challenges and complexity of social media are primed to win, and businesses that aren’t will be left behind.

Want to learn more about the power of social data? Check out this article on how social data can level up your business in difficult times.