This is what social CRM is all about, and it's an incredibly effective marketing tool. To wield it properly, keep in mind the power of each connection you make: Customers generally enjoy social media interactions like retweets, mentions on Twitter and tags on Facebook.
With this in mind, be sure to address any mention of your company, yourself or your staff immediately—whether the mention is positive or negative. If your customer has shared praise for your company, that makes your response easy: You can simply thank them and let them know you appreciate their thoughts.
Responding to a negative mention on social media is more challenging, but it also presents a great opportunity. Many businesses respond to negative feedback by contacting the customer via a private message, but that strategy means you'll miss a chance to publicly demonstrate that you care about your customers' concerns and are committed to addressing them openly and fairly. Generally, when you engage customers who have left a negative comment, they will respond positively because they're grateful that you're willing to engage.
That said, it's important to remember to avoid the urge to argue with a customer who is not responding rationally. Don't take the bait from someone who is flinging insults; keep in mind that an audience is watching, and don't sink to their level. But if you display fairness and a willingness to address reasonable concerns, you'll come out of the encounter in a positive light.
The Bottom Line on Social Media CRM
The bottom line is this: Social media is incredibly effective for marketing and customer communications, which is why virtually all CRM solutions now integrate social CRM tools into their core offering. Social media is integral to modern communications, even if you use it simply to announce store promotions or maintain an online presence. But if that's all you do, you're missing out on an amazing opportunity.