Many organisations rely solely on social media to provide a sense of connection and community with their customer base without understanding its limitations. Are Facebook and Twitter enough to create a bond that will result in sales?
While most companies use social media as a way of connecting with their customers, there are still many who lag behind, intimidated by the new technology, the strange # and @ symbols and the fear of embarrassing themselves in front of the faceless millions who will see their tentative updates.
Whether your customers connect with you on Facebook and Twitter will depend to a large extent on what you’re selling and your customers’ demographic profile. These days, Facebook use is declining with Millennials (those born between 1980-2000), but growing with the sector labeled by Clem Sunter as ‘Silver Foxes’: the older generation who refuse to retire.
Here are some of the channels you should be focusing on to augment your social media strategy, or even instead of a social media strategy:
1. Face-to-face events
Since you rarely visit customers any more, you might have lost touch with the coal face…your customers’ likes, hopes, wants and frustrations. This could be the death-knell for your company, as losing touch with who you are serving is not the path to success.
What to do: Set up monthly customer sessions, workshops, free training: whatever you want to call it. Invite all your customers and give them the opportunity to learn, grow and above all else, fall in love with you and buy more from you!
Incorporate social media: Invite people to these sessions via Twitter and Facebook and send out photos of the event encouraging people to like or share them with friends.
Email newsletters still work, despite the fact that most people’s inboxes have been reduced to spam filters for unwanted marketing solicitations. If used correctly, customers will get an idea of why they need you and hopefully buy whatever it is you’re selling.
What to do: Make sure you are addressing a ‘point of pain’ in your email, something that is annoying or irritating your customers. If you are solving a painful problem for them, they will be more likely to buy from you than if you’re are simply selling solutions.
Incorporate social media: Use your social media channels to send out the newsletter as well, remember not everyone who follows you on Facebook will also be signed up for emails, so publish your email on your website, under News or Newsletters, and send out the link on social media to reach a wider audience.
3. Create a website forum
Forums are a great way of getting customers talking. When used properly, you could find that customers leap to your defense and put trollers (posters of offensive comments) in their place on your behalf, this will reduce the need for moderation and increase credibility and a sense of community with your followers.
What to do: Add a forum to your website (there’s free open source software for this), or create a group using LinkedIn and invite your customers or staff to join. WyseTalk.com has fantastic software that is dirt cheap and will actively increase conversations between staff, suppliers or customers – taking communities to another level by removing silos in your company.
Incorporate social media: Facebook is a type of a forum, as is Twitter. YouTube comments are too. If you don’t have the money or know-how to create custom forums, then use what’s available and free.
4. Write a blog
Blog writing is a really good way to connect with your customers. You can share your thoughts in a space that is genuine, approachable and builds a sense of relationship and credibility.
What to do: You are a subject matter expert in what you are passionate about. Every time you rant about something, turn it into a blog. The more you write, the better you get. Sign up for a writing course and just practice, practice, practice.
Incorporate social media: Once you’ve written your blog, post it out on Facebook and Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
The closer you are to your customers, the better you will understand and satisfy their needs. Make sure you aren’t only using social media to connect with them. There are other ways, that when combined with social media, will go a long way to increasing your customer loyalty and sales.