It's almost 2014, and more people than ever are using social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook as their primary way of communicating. Social media has revolutionized the way people converse on a personal level, and it has profoundly changed the way businesses communicate with customers—today, social media tools are an integral part of virtually all professional CRM solutions. But many businesses are missing out on an incredibly powerful marketing tool by forgetting to make customer communication on social media a two-way street.
How your business approaches social media can have a major impact on your marketing success. An effective strategy can attract prospective customers and generate repeat business. But ignoring social media or making a serious misstep in an interaction can inadvertently put up a "Keep Out" sign. These days, people aren't shy about sharing their experiences with companies with their friends and followers in real time—both positive and negative experiences.
Real-Time Experience Sharing
Say you run a men's clothing store, and a customer comes in looking for a specific item that you don't carry. If you help him locate that item with another retailer, the customer may decide to send out a favorable tweet about how helpful you were—and return to your store when he needs an item that you do have in stock. On the other hand, if you were dismissive, that customer may form a negative impression and share that with the world.
The principles of good customer service haven't changed: It's just that social media has amplified the effects. As a business leader, you have to be ready to create a two-way conversation with your customers—on the platforms they use—to benefit from customer kudos and turn criticism around to your advantage. It all starts with a conversation.
Turn Tweets Into Conversations
Many business owners use social media to alert followers to upcoming sales or announce availability of a new product. These kinds of announcements tend to be top-down, one-way communications: You're simply using social media to send out information, as you would with a direct mail piece. A tweet can be an effective, inexpensive way to reach out to customers. But the real magic happens when social media turns into a dialogue—when you use Facebook, Twitter or blog comments to have a conversation with your customers.