Social Media is modern marketing. It’s not about who can yell their message the loudest, who can plaster the biggest billboard, or who can beat the most people over the head. It’s NOT a megaphone. It’s about conversations, relationships, transparency, and interactions.
You need to think about Social Media as an extension of you. How do you network? What conversations do you have with potential customers? How do you talk to your customers? How do you handle unsatisfied customers? How do you talk to people about your company?
Let’s break these down a little more and see how these conversations apply to Social Media.
When you’re at a networking event, how do you interact with other people at the event? And, more importantly, how do you want others to interact with you? Do you want some random person to come up to you and tell you how awesome they are? What if they never shut up about themselves, and they just keep yapping away about their new product or about the amazing review they just received? They don’t let you get a word in edge-wise and when you do finally say something, they don’t even listen or respond to you… How long would you stick around “talking” to this person? I know I’d be high-tailing it outta there!
Think about Social Media the same way. You want to meet new people – that means getting to know them just as much as them getting to know you. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about your company or your new product or your great review. It just means you need to do it conversationally and in appropriate ratios to the rest of the conversation. When you get new followers or follow new people, don’t spam them with a link to your new book or new product. Say hello and ask them how they’re doing. Find out why they followed you – do you have similar interests, are they in need of your service, or are they looking for a deal? Once you have the conversation started and know why they’re here, then you can provide them with advice or services that best suit them.
Engaging Potential Customers
Someone walks into your store for the first time or happens across your website – what do you do? Do you shove every product in their face or do you show them around? Giving them the opportunity to see what you have to offer is a great way to ensure that they’ll stay and browse and likely come back again.
Your “About” section or profile description is exactly what this is on your Social Media platforms. This is how potential customers will decide if they want to stay around or jump ship for the next option (and there are a lot of other options out there!). Make your profile and cover photos relevant and appealing. They should represent your brand while inviting the customer to want more. Your description should be a reflection of you and your company – are you quirky and fun or serious and professional? Make sure the tone of your description reflects this and is targeted towards your market niche.
Talking to Customers
When your customers enter the store, send you an email, or call you on the phone, how do you address them? Do you immediately go off about the newest and greatest you have to offer? Or do you say hi and ask them how their day is going? Do you ask them how their week is going or if they have big weekend plans? Do you ask them if there’s anything you can help them with?
Customers want relationships with the companies they work with. They want to know that their patronage is valued. They want to know that you are there to help them solve their problems. Use your Social Media platforms in the same way to garner those relationships. Include posts wishing everyone a Happy Monday or asking them what they have planned for the weekend. Use polls or questions to see how better you can serve them. Engage in the conversation that tells them you hear and value them!
If a customer is unhappy with a product they purchased or with the service they received, do you try to fix it? Of course! We don’t want to lose a customer over something simple. So you apologize, you find a replacement or alternative, or you offer a discount on their next visit. You offer explanations but NOT excuses. You try to make them happy.
In Social Media, your response to conflict is not only directed to the one unhappy person, it is public to everyone else! Make sure that you are handling your responses in a calm, collected manner. Do not fly off the handle. Do not hide behind your computer and think your anonymity makes you invisible to them. The way you handle conflict online will set the tone for how your company does business and how the public perceives you. We’ve all seen the horror stories of when bad customer service posts go bad.
Talking About Your Company
How do you respond when a stranger asks what you do or about the company you work for? Do you tell them the lunchtime drama or do you tell them what a great company it is to work for? Do you tell them you don’t like your boss or do you tell them you rank in the top percentage of satisfied customers? I’m hoping you said the latter in both examples! We all have bad days at work and we all have things we’d like to change but the reality is you are a direct representation of your company. You may gripe and complain to your family and friends but publicly, you should be advocating for your company.
Social Media is the paramount public forum to discuss your company. There are no take-backs, do-overs, or forgetting. When you post something, it’s out there forever. Even if you take down the post, there are screen-shots and the memories of those who have seen it. Remember that you are on display and tailor your posts accordingly. When in doubt, don’t post it!
Your company is a lot more than just the company. It’s you and the people around you. Make sure that you show this personality on your Social Media platforms as well. You don’t have to announce everyone’s birthday but you can show photos of the employees at work or behind-the-scenes photos of products in development. Finding ways to talk about the pieces and people that make your company great is a good way to engage your audience on Social Media. They start to feel like they know more about you and the brand and they’re more likely to become loyal customers.
So remember to use your Social Media platforms as an extension of you and your conversation. Represent your company through Social Media the same way you would represent it to strangers and potential customers. Engage in genuine conversations, not one-sided message touting. Show your audience that you are grateful for them following you and that you value their opinions.
Treat people online the same way you would treat them in person.