Being Social Before Going Social

As the head of client services, I realize the importance of being people-oriented, or social, everyday. I am constantly aware that people—not accounts—are reading my emails, for instance. I respond to each with information that is relevant to them. It’s the same with sales; you want to be able to track “leads”, but when you reach out, you are reaching people. Understanding the mechanics of being social or people-oriented in your online communication is important before going social.

Online communication does not mean creating online forms and turning auto-responders on. People are weary of the barrage of auto-responses they receive, frustrated with waiting for a relevant response, or wary of being followed by a chat window after filling out online forms. That is not communication at all.

Email is an effective but underutilized online communication medium that will also pave the way to a Social strategy.Again, by email, I do not mean auto responses. I mean personalized, context-sensitive exchanges, like you would engage in with an acquaintance. We all have been on the receiving end of auto responses, half the time, they are caught by our spam filters (phew) and the others we ignore. They all say the same thing, but don’t mean anything! A social email on the other hand, invites your prospect to continue with the interaction and share more information.

Dealerships may think that the email medium is saturated and that therefore, they must adopt communication via social media aggressively. That is a wrong perception. Studies have shown that people prefer starting with and/or continuing with one-to-one conversations on email.

What is also a fact is that it takes a number of online interactions before a prospect agrees to a phone-call. You’re probably thinking, “My sales team sends emails, but no way can we communicate with hundreds of leads over so many interactions.” That is where artificial intelligence can empower you. It is an automated mechanism that reaches a big volume of leads, but each message is different and appropriately personalized, based on the previous interaction. This in turn prompts your prospect to share more information, which enables a rich and ongoing exchange and saves time for your sales team. After you have your leads’ attention via social-email interaction, that is when you have a higher chance of involving them in social media.

Sheryl Hawk is the Vice President of Client Services at Sheryl has held several client-facing management positions across retail, electronic publishing, and automotive industries. At, Sheryl works with auto dealerships to drive best practices in lead engagement using artificial intelligence.

Sheryl Hawk


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