There isn’t anything sadder in the hospitality social media world than posting about your positive experience with a winery or restaurant on social media, or commenting on your favorite winery’s post, to see your message go completely ignored by that business. It’s as if whoever manages their feed is unaware that you can see when they’ve “seen” the direct message (DM) you’ve sent them, or the story you tagged them in. And it looks SO RUDE when they’ve clearly been online or viewed your message and haven’t responded.
Even though, in reality, it probably isn’t rude. Or at least, the person managing that business’ social media didn’t mean to be rude. More likely? That winery or business probably hasn’t developed a responsive, interactive social media plan – or hasn’t dedicated staff time to doing so.
Boy, has this blog post been brewing in me for a while. And first let me say that I know firsthand how much time it takes to acknowledge and respond to messages for a business on social media in a timely manner.
I manage multiple social media feeds for multiple winery clients – all of which receive notifications from enthusiastic followers, customers, and would-be guests seemingly all day long. And I’ve made it an integral part of my social media strategy for ALL my clients that we not only acknowledge engagement from our followers, customers, and communities at large – but that we go above and beyond in responding to them and making them feel appreciated. And I think other businesses could be a lot better about this, too.
So what do I mean, specifically? I’m talking about, at the very least, “liking” comments that followers and would-be guests leave on your posts. Perhaps even commenting back if it’s appropriate and there’s a conversation that can be developed. And when a guest or follower posts their own photo about my clients’ wineries and their experiences with them? You can bet I’m there, liking it (again, at the least!), commenting on it to thank them, and perhaps sharing their post to my client’s Instagram Story (if the post occurred on that platform).
And what am I NOT doing? When I see a message notification in Instagram that a follower mentioned my client in their story, I’m not just opening that message (which, again, people can SEE that you did!) – but I’m also “liking” the story, responding and thanking them, and letting them know I hope they enjoyed their experience with our business. I’m also not letting more than 12 hours go by (maximum!) without making sure I’ve acknowledged all engagement of this nature from our communities and responded in a timely manner. Because no one likes to feel ignored – especially not a customer you hope will return!
By now, you’re probably wondering how to fit this responsive engagement into your already busy social media routine, which may not even be managed by a dedicated staff member, if you’re like many wineries and restaurants in the world. You’re stretched thin as it is. Pro tip: with this kind of quick social media task – time blocking is your friend! Set a calendar alert for yourself – at the same time every morning (or whenever you get your social media work done), and spend 10 minutes responding to your notifications. Once it’s built into your routine, it will begin to feel natural. (and if you don’t have time for social media strategies like this in general… it might be time to hire a social media manager to help you!)
Long story short: social media is a SOCIAL tool. It’s not a one way street where you can dump your latest promotions and then not log in again for a week. It’s where your community is eager to connect with you, and you should stop leaving them on “read.”
Meaghan Webster is a wine and food photographer, marketing consultant, and results-based social media manager for wineries in Washington, DC, Virginia, and New York. Learn more about her services at meaghanwebster.com or see her latest work and tips at instagram.com/meaghanwmarketing.