Customer Engagement on Social Media Pays Long and Short Term Dividends
Whether your company is a global coffee chain, a national bank, an airline or a small retail store, the potency of social media to make or break your business needs to be taken seriously. The viral nature of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can put a microscope on your business successes and failures in a brief period of time.
Entrepreneurs and executives shouldn't ignore social media, and ensure to have someone to respond to social media comments, questions and anecdotes on the popular social media channels. For example, let's say you are a restaurant. An unsatisfied client who has just eaten a meal in your establishment posts a rant on Yelp, Foursquare or Twitter about:
"Just had the crab cakes at Joe's Restaurant! The meal was great but the waiter was too busy to help! #customerservicefail"
If you have your "Social Ears" perked up, you might be able to pick up on the complaint, react to the customer saying you are working to hire more wait staff, and turn a negative comment about your poor service into more compliments about your product quality. Social Media savvy clients with large followings can seriously damage your reputation unless you are available on social media, and prepared to respond to your clients.
You also want to make sure when you do have your social media channels in place, you encourage your clients to follow you, share your content, and write about their experiences with you on the internet. While many companies have been setting up toll free numbers and web surveys about customer satisfaction, those strategies won't help you because the results of those surveys stay in your company. Having people give their testimonials on social media provides public indication of your customer experiences, both good and bad. Believe it or not, sharing of bad experiences by your customers on social media is an opportunity, not necessarily a bad thing. You get the chance to address a problem publicly, demonstrate your commitment to your clients, and potentially win over more customers.
How can you build an initial following of social media followers to increase your content marketing engagement?
- Some companies, especially those who are new companies without any reputation in their market may choose to buy a small group of followers for "appearances" and then grow the rest of their following organically.
- Having the social media handles on your website, on your print ads, and in your e-mail marketing is a good strategy. Many consumers and business decision makers are opting out of direct e-mail campaigns, and getting them to follow you on social media can help keep your prospects engaged with your content as opposed to losing them entirely.
- Follow your ideal prospects yourself. Follow your competitors, and who they follow. Try and learn from their mistakes as well as their successes. See who is following your competition as well, and work to link them into your group as well. Just don't slam your competitor on social media - that will seem petty and may backfire.
- Find a hashtag, or invent one which your happy loyal clients can use in their posts. Take Starbucks for example. Their #PSL campaign for their seasonal pumpkin spice latte stirs up conversation, not to mention being simple and memorable. Just make sure you check on any previous or existing use of your hashtag in case it might evoke a negative connotation.
Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit, says of branding in the digital age: “A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
Are you defining your brand? Or are you letting your customers, competitors, and others define it for you?
About Mark Burdon
Mark is a Client Success Manager at gShift, a provider of Web Presence Management solutions. gShift is a suite of reporting tools to help you track your social media traction, SEO ranking, & more.