In the last issue of CUSTOMER, my discourse on boosting post-sale customer interactions included a recommendation to harvest social media. It was one of a handful of bullets for enhancing the customer experience with your brand.
Here, I will give more attention to this important aspect of customer engagement, as social media has become ubiquitous in society and, more and more, in business.
The preeminent qualification for your involvement on social media platforms is that customer service, acquisition, and retention require you to know your customers intimately so you can personalize your messaging to their specific behaviors and preferences. This means, first and foremost, being where they are. And you’ll find them on social: Facebook, Twitter (News - Alert), LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest … and the list goes on.
One of your primary reasons to be tapped into social sites is to keep an ear to the ground on what consumers are saying about your brand. Online forums regarding consumer products and services have exploded in popularity. You can take advantage of these networks to provide customer support, boost brand loyalty, and improve the customer service on your own website and in your contact center.
Your presence on social platforms will also allow you to react quickly to any detractors out there.
In general, though, you want to be on social media to engage more customers and drive more sales. This requires a little finesse and knowledge about how the whole system operates. So, let’s get started:
Your content strategy for social media: Don’t bug people!
Content is the fuel you use to engage your key targets. Where social media comes into play, however, understand that it has a time and place. Force it down your audience’s throat and it’s sure to back up on you. You must not appear too often –and not at all if you’re not bringing value to the table. Even though brands are becoming more visible on social, people aren’t fully expecting or accepting you there. Social channels have traditionally been used to connect with friends and family – not to hear a sales pitch.
To make a positive impact, your content must be interesting and relevant wherever it appears, but especially when it aims to be social.
For example, let’s say you sell pens. The value you share on social might be showing how your pens are enhancing the lives of school girls in Africa. These school girls might have no tools for writing if not for the pens you donated. This sparks in the viewer’s mind, afresh and anew, the power of a single pen to ignite learning and feed the imagination.
Once in a while, if you throw in a soft promotion, your (now) appreciative fans won’t be bothered too much. Some marketers recommend a 4-1-1 strategy, whereby for every four value-added posts you share, you are allowed one mid-level (solutions-focused) promotion and one hard promotion (a demo, perhaps).
Which social platform for your business?
Keep in mind audience expectations for various social platforms, such as these for the Big Three:
- Facebook (News - Alert) is best for fun and entertaining content. You’ll need a mix of lighthearted, ungated (without a form as a barrier) content and more educational, gated content.
- Twitter is used more for breaking news as well as for daily musings on pop culture and industry news. It’s highly interactive, so maintaining a presence here is time consuming, requiring continual “favorite”-ing, retweeting, and responding to tweets.
- LinkedIn (News - Alert) is the premier professional networking site, so postings should share informative and educational articles. It’s also a great recruiting channel.
You want to be where your users are, so do your due diligence to discover the social media sites that your key targets favor. Overall, a good number of consumers can be found on Facebook. In fact, Pew (News - Alert) Research shows that 71 percent of adult internet users are also Facebook users. Globally, there are more than 1.59 billion active users and 1.44 billion active mobile users on Facebook every month.
Twitter had 320 million monthly active users as of December 2015. Additionally, it drove 1 billion unique visits monthly to sites with embedded Tweets. LinkedIn has more than 400 million members in more than 200 countries and territories.
Many of these social media platforms have capabilities that overlap and will continue to evolve to improve the user experience. What’s most important is that they allow existing and potential customers to engage with your brand on a trusted, popular platform, and to see their network of friends and family interact with your business. This creates a scenario for building stronger, more authentic relationships with them.
Edited by Alicia Young