Tweet this! Social media gets real
You’ve got your social media strategy in place. Facebook. Twitter. YouTube. A killer blog. But successful social media can only take you so far. You have to ensure the experience you’ve created continues when your customer interacts with you in the real world.
‘What we’re talking about is the end-user experience,’ explains Brownstone’s Dave Jabbie. ‘It’s about more than just the number of likes or followers you have. Of course, these are all signs your social media is working. But businesses need to pay close attention to creating the same kind of experiences when their customers interact with them off-line. It’s no use creating an immersive experience on-line if that’s not going to be continued when your customer walks into your store or phones your customer help-line.’
Solution? ‘Think of your entire business as one vast social network,’ advises Jabbie. ‘Treat everybody that interacts with that network as you would a friend on your personal social media profile – that includes your staff as well as your customers. And above all – don’t confine social media type interactions just to the virtual space. Think of ways you can continue the experience for people when they walk into your store or place of business.’
For example – if you have a brick and mortar location, see how a social media initiative can translate. One inventive Twitter feed campaign inviting customers to post their New Years resolutions spilled over into the store where customers were invited to write their resolutions on Post-it notes and post them on windows and walls of the stores. The stores collected thousands of goals ranging from like “run a marathon” and “get a job I’m passionate about” or (our favourite) “ask her to marry me” which in turn fed the Twitter feed as well as providing a visually engaging and rich experience at store sites.
Another tactic which pays dividends is to make sure your followers get to know your customer service team. How many questions does your customer service team answer every week? For even a small to medium-sized business this can run into hundreds if not thousands of questions arriving by phone, email, Facebook or Twitter. The fact is – followers love you when they get fast answers to their questions. ‘Remember that even highly experienced customer service personnel will need specialised training when it comes to answering questions via your social media platforms,’ Jabbie advises. ‘It’s an entirely different medium that requires a different approach to answering questions over the phone. Communication and social media managers need to bear this is mind when bringing their customers service team up to speed with what’s going on.’
Social media offers businesses an opportunity to get to know their customers better than ever before.
‘You need to take this knowledge and apply it in the long-term,’ Jabbie advises. ‘It’s about relationship building. If you identify customers who are continuing to interact with you on-line in a positive way then single them out and acknowledge their contribution. If you can – meet with them and buy them coffee or offer to make them product testers. Invite them to product launches and special events. Don’t limit your interaction with your customers to one-off comments or engagements. Every user who takes the time to engage with your brand should be acknowledged and cared about. That means answer everything. But more importantly care about everything (and everyone) who cares about your brand. Highlighting the people who champion your brand spreads the most goodwill and usually results in the most ‘Likes’, comments, re-tweets, etc.’
Finally – ‘Make your content social,’ Jabbie advises. ‘It’s not just about your business or product. Comment on what is happening out there that will interest your customers whether it’s the new iPad (even if you don’t have an app to launch), or the latest blockbuster film. Make your comments genuine – authenticity is the key here but by doing so you become more than just your product or brand – you become a social entity to interact with.’