So you’ve probably heard all about the importance of having a Facebook page or Twitter account, adding videos to YouTube, checking your Yelp reviews and running a special on FourSquare. These suggestions are constantly being pushed by PR firms and the media (along with new entrants like Pinterest, Google+, Gowalla, etc) with little explanation as to why your organization should actually be concerned with building your brand through these outlets. So you know you should pay attention to social media, but why?
There are plenty of reasons that brands are a part of these emerging networks, but only a few are truly important.
1. Connecting With Customers (Both Current & Potential)
This should be the most obvious reason to join a social network, but do you really have to sign up for all the sites out there just to stay in communication and keep your clients’ attention through more and more mediums? No! These sites are all great in their own way, but do you need to be using all of them for your brand? Not necessarily.
There are lots of fun, creative ways to use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare to run contests or promotions to keep your fans engaged with your brand, to raise awareness about new products or events, or just to show your fans/followers that you appreciate them. The important part here, though, is to know which social networks to target. More on that in the next paragraph. Search through some articles on sites like Mashable and HubSpot to see what other companies around the world are doing with their social networks, and get creative to come up with some ways that you can get fans involved with your brand and your product.
2. Handling Customer Feedback
Social media is primarily used for staying in communication with your current and potential customers through the networks they’re using. This is not only useful for broadcasting what’s going on at your organization, but also for responding to customer feedback.
Say a dissatisfied customer at home doesn’t feel up to calling your offices, so they send you a tweet complaining about your product or service — should you be using your Twitter account to monitor this feedback and respond? Absolutely! But if your organization does research that shows that none of your market is on Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, etc — do you need to be on those networks? In many cases, the networks where you’re having trouble connecting with people are networks you don’t need to spend much time on! There’s no need to be checking both your Facebook page and Google+ page multiple times a day when only one or two potential clients are subscribed to your Google+ posts (especially if they’re following you on Facebook too!).
Do the research — ask your customers which networks they’re using and find out why they prefer these networks, then cater to them. There are even great tools to notify you when your brand is mentioned on a site you might not pay as much attention to, like Google Alerts and NutshellMail. Don’t ask your clients to follow you to networks they don’t use when you aren’t paying attention to them on the sites they already use.
What else is going on in your industry and your community? Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social networks are a great way to find out how other brands are interacting with their fans/followers, and how you can use these ideas to build a better connection with your customer base. Use your presence on social media sites to follow or subscribe to your competition or the store across town you frequent, and stay up to date on what they’re up to and how they’re communicating with their followers.
4. Boosting Reach & Increasing Revenue
After you’ve developed a strong brand presence on your social media profiles, use these networks to increase revenue! Social media is comparable to a new form of advertising — the reason I started Taylor Modern wasn’t to run Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for businesses, but to teach those companies how to integrate social media into their business model.
Once your organization has determined which networks are worthwhile (aka wherever your customers are) and established a strong brand following, use these networks to get your fans and followers interested in new products, upcoming events or other aspects of your business. There are plenty of articles across the internet about proper etiquette when it comes to ‘selling your brand’ via social networks, but it is mostly important to know that you should get customers engaged by posting relevant content, being personal (and not constantly post just about your product), and connecting with customers to find out their opinions about your brand, product, industry and any other interests you might have in common — even if that means just posting about your company’s favorite sports team or local restaurant.
It’s all about being transparent and connecting with customers in a way that a billboards and television commercials will never be able to. More tips on how to do exactly that coming soon.