In today’s internet-based marketplace, where one negative tweet can go viral in minutes, and a funny Facebook comment can be shared hundreds of thousands of times, companies who ignore the importance of community engagement through social media platforms are showing a total lack of understanding about the new globalized economy.
A worldwide marketplace means consumers can and do interact with your product at any time, from anywhere on the globe. That means that if you fail a customer in Seattle, you won’t just feel that in the sales department for the Pacific North West, but you will potentially feel it also in the sales performance in Oceania, China or the U.K. Thus, ensuring you have a social media presence that engages with customers on their level is only becoming more and more important.
Where to start
Starting a Facebook site and putting up a few pictures on Instagram is no longer enough. From the Chief Marketing Officer down, you must be customer-focused, actively listening and responding to customers with a personal touch to resolve their problems. Empower your workforce, find those in your company that have a flair for social media, and give them the authority to engage with your market base, then invest in the tech that will allow them to do that effectively.
Invest a ratio of 2:1 in people over tech, because the tech doesn’t develop solid relationships, the ones that not only change the consumers’ cognitive and emotional engagement (thoughts and feelings) but also their behavioral engagement (what they do). Getting personal with your customers, letting them tell their experience, their stories with your product is also an important facet of creating engaged customers. This goes for both the positive and the negative comments.
Allowing consumers to raise their concerns, acknowledging their complaint and making them feel valued while solving that issue will not only solve one customer’s issue, in a world where a negative gets shared significantly more than a positive one, but you will be regarded as a company that is willing to listen and solve issues, rather than seeing customers only as dollar signs. This will help your brand in both the short term, by helping to ensure client retention, and the long term, as your brand will become regarded as one of the “good guys”. A great example of this is the experience that telecommunications company O2 had. By engaging with customers in a light-hearted and personal style when responding to client’s complaints on Twitter, they turned what was potentially a disaster for their public relations department into a telling story of digital marketing and engagement.
Creating “free” advertising
We’re all aware of the adage that a customer with a good experience will tell three people, but one with a bad experience will tell 10. In a landscape where there are 2 billion users on Facebook alone, that “10” can multiply drastically. And we won’t even get into Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and so on and so on. The point being, if you really want social media to work for you and your company, you need to create organic brand advocates. These are regular people who, due to your company taking a proactive rather than just reactive approach to engaging with them, have become raving fans of what you do, and they are telling everyone they know.
Their friends, their relatives, the old high school crush they never talk to but stalk every now and then. Their positive experience with you becomes the next big story in his or her world, and so does your brand. In a marketplace where customers have so much range and where the ease of moving on is as simple as clicking a button, engaged customers reward companies who are actively engaging with them in the social media sphere, not just by spending more, but by becoming proactive advocates for your brand, potentially sharing your brand, your message, and your product with literally thousands of people in an incredibly short period of time.
One of the biggest traps with social media though, and you can ask any millennial and they’ll agree, is that it has the ability to “steal time”. Even the most well versed in navigating the world of social platforms can find themselves at three in the morning watching puppy videos and have no idea where the last five hours went. So, by empowering your staff to engage with customers through social media, you are also potentially creating an environment where valuable productive time can get lost in cyberspace.
So, in order to maximize your staff’s ability to engage, you need to team this expansion of your social media presence with training on the importance of time management. This involves a whole lot of different practices including list making, prioritizing, avoiding distractions and focusing on one job at a time rather than multitasking. Getting your staff to manage their time better will also allow them to spend more time working on social media without other areas of their job suffering, getting the most out of your social media interaction, without losing productivity.
Apart from that, there is no downside to better engaging with your customers through the avenues afforded by social media. The fact is when done correctly and with an approach that makes your customers feel that you genuinely value their input, the sky really is the limit. You will boost sales from existing customers in new ones, increase positive perception of your brand, and can turn any bad PR around into good. Simple as that.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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