If you think your company is not involved in social media, you’re wrong. Your company may not be actively engaging users on social media platforms, but I guarantee your fans and your non-supporters are there. As a result, it is the company’s responsibility to create a social media experience that can turn a dissatisfied customer into a raving fan. In this article I will try to outline some of the best practices in how to use social media for business.
Here are several ways to create a memorable customer experience using social media:
- Give your customers a place to talk
- Use social media as a customer service tool
- Activate Your Existing Customer Base
- Be Proactive
- Reward Influencers
- Create Compelling Content
- Stand Out From the Crowd
1. Give your customers a place to talk
Some companies are afraid to set up Facebook pages because they allow customers to comment, which means someone might write something negative. It seems counterintuitive, but you should actually want customers to complain on your company’s Facebook page. If your customers are complaining about you on their personal Facebook profiles you have no way to know if they’re complaining, much less reach out to them and make it right.
When customers complain on your brand’s Facebook page, you can respond and resolve issues. If you do it right (and get a little lucky), unhappy customers will turn their opinions around and recommend you to friends because of your fantastic customer service. Even if they don’t turn around completely you can still help to the point of preventing negative reviews later on.
2. Use social media as a customer service tool
Neglecting your social media properties when they’re full of customer complaints is suicide for your brand. It’s like publishing a customer service hotline phone number that no one ever answers. (Except worse, because the whole Internet can see your negligence.)
Don’t open up the floor for complaints without a plan to handle them. Predict the complaints you may get and construct policies for replying to them. You should also plan on responding to fans who compliment you. At the very least, you should thank customers for the compliment. But if you really want to make customers happy, show happy customers your appreciation with coupons or other rewards.
3. Activate Your Existing Customer Base
Most brands have more customers than they do Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Start building your social media fan base by reaching out to your current customers — after all, they already “like” your brand in real life.
Think about how you currently contact your customer base and how you can use those communication channels to draw customers to your social media properties. For example, you could run a contest or promotion on Facebook and then include that promotion on your product’s packaging, in your next email, and in any touch point you have with your customers.
4. Be Proactive
Don’t just wait for someone to post on your wall or tweet your account. It’s especially easy on Twitter to monitor for mentions of your name and reach out when someone has a problem, even if they haven’t mentioned your account. Set your brand apart by proactively interacting with customers who are talking about your brand, whether you’re thanking them for a compliment or helping them solve a problem.
Think about why your customers use social media sites like Twitter — it’s because they want to “connect” and to have a voice out there. Make them happy that someone, most importantly your company, is listening to what they have to say.
5. Reward Influencers
Find the social media influencers for your audience and give them extras. This could be as simple as giving them advance notice of a special promotion, or complex as giving them a free trip and tour of your facilities. Making people feel special will help turn them into advocates or “ambassadors” for your brand. Reward your brand ambassadors when they least expect it and you’ll see some pretty phenomenal results.
6. Create Compelling Content
Give your fans something of value on your page. If you’re a movie producer, post behind-the-scenes photos, and if you’re a dog trainer, write simple training tips. It’s hard to get people to engage with your brand when you don’t have anything interesting to say. Every brand can (and should) create quality content.
Social media can be a channel to make customers or followers feel special, like they’re in an exclusive club with your brand because they follow you. Make them feel this exclusiveness whether you have ten social media fans or 100,000.
7. Stand Out From the Crowd
Some of the most memorable social media experiences are created by going beyond text. This can be as complex as Starbucks’s Pumpkin Picture app, or simple as using voice applications to let your brand’s spokesperson actually speak to your fans. The more interactive and engaging your social media presence, the better. In part, social media is a little anti-social because there can be a lot lost in plain text. By giving your fans a true voice on social media, or encouraging participation through photos and videos, you humanize the experience that much more. You’ll be doing so when most of the other companies out there aren’t really participating effectively this way.
Learning how to use social media for business can be extremely tricky and time consuming. Check out our social networking service if you don’t want to deal with the hassle.