Social media is the new age power that the internet offers. It is free, easily available and targets a huge section of the population. Now brands have started to take notice of this wonder-hub of free market research, direct customer engagement and product launches. Most of the world famous brands, whether they are automobiles, watches or phones have a strong social media presence.
The most important aspect of social media presence is that you can directly interact with your customers and address their queries; this becomes more instrumental in case of product services and the like. Also eliminating the need for an elaborate PR system, social media can establish your product as a carefree friendly brand or as a responsible veteran.
But there are a few important aspects that a brand needs to keep in mind before jumping into the social media milieu. It might seem easy and it indeed is easier compared to traditional PR mechanisms; however it comes with its own set of responsibilities.
Let’s take a look at the key factors governing social media presence.
1. Interact, Answer, Ask
Really, it couldn’t have been simpler. When you are establishing an online presence, it is your duty to answer every query of your customer. Praise and complaints should be dealt with equal ease. Also if your customer has any query, don’t ignore it. Be active; participate in your profile discussions. Recently InSites Consulting conducted a survey that showed about 83% of US Companies deal with customer queries and complaints through the social media. Make sure your company is one of them.
Do not hesitate to ask for help from your customers. What do they want, what do they like? What product innovation is currently missing in your niche market? Your customers will provide unadulterated and honest feedback in a fraction of the time taken to conduct elaborate market research.
Take a look at how HTC encourages customer interaction on its Facebook page.
2. Be a Storyteller
The most successful brands are those that tell stories. Remember Nike? Or Volkswagen? They capture the spirit of the people and embody it through their brands. So why should you lag behind? Having a brand does not mean only talking about your products or services.
A brand is more about the people who make it. Your customers, your employees are your real strengths. Share success stories. May be one of your customers has liked the product and shared pictures on Facebook and Twitter. Great news. Share their story. But don’t be limited to only what they have shared.
Karen Lyon, VP, Brand Marketing of IdeaPaint says that they do not just share or tweet customer photos. “We are much more interested in talking about who our customers are and how they use the product than we are in just talking about ourselves.”
3. Give Time Limits
A major flaw with most company profiles on social networking sites is that, they forget they have one soon after they make the account and only use it to announce the launch of their product. Why should your customers bother if you do not bother to keep in touch with them or address their queries?
Automated responses such as “Your query will be dealt with shortly” is enough to irritate the hell out of an ordinary customer who has paid a part of his hard earned money in order to buy your product. Take note of that, make a to do list and offer customized responses. Give them a time limit; 1 hour, 4 hours, 1 week, tell them clearly how much time you need to address their complaint.
4. Integrate Social Media in Business
Your social media should not only be run by a bunch of social media experts. Make it a point to make your social media presence an intrinsic part of the entire organization. This enables better communication between your employees and customers.
Say a customer has a complaint about the delivery of a certain product which can only be addressed by the customer services team. Or some query about the product function which can be answered by the R&D team. Make sure the complaints reach their designated addressees.
If you have a social media presence, make it a point to integrate that presence throughout your whole business. This will be by far the most clever business decision you make.
An example from the HTC page is given below.
5. Separate Pages for Separate Brands
If your company has more than one brand, it might be a good idea to have separate Facebook and Twitter pages for each brand. Cadbury can be a fine example in this regard. Kraft Foods has separate Facebook pages for each Cadbury product. Below are snapshots of three of Cadbury’s most favored chocolates.
Not only does this sort of separation avoid confusion, it also helps in better integration of customers and interaction.
6. Forget Numbers, Figure Out the ‘Why’
You might have heard time and again that numbers are very important. From sales team meetings to social media presence, numbers determine EVERYTHING. Wrong. While a large number of fans and followers may create a good first impression, remember that the end is always about customer engagement. There are a lot of brands online churning out newer, wittier content than yours, so what is the point of your numbers if customers are not engaging on your platform?
Remember, customers inherently are not inclined to join your page, so there must be some darn good reason why they would interact there. Social media and content strategist and co-author of The NOW Revolution (http://nowrevolutionbook.com/), Jay Baer says, “It’s about rationale. Companies that can create compelling reasons for their customers to connect with them will succeed on the social web. And those that don’t emphasize helpfulness and relevancy will fail”.
See how HTC seeks to do it.
7. Evolve your Content Strategy
In this internet era, time moves fast. Archaic sales and PR practices have become as vintage as the companies who followed them once. To keep in pace with your customers, you have to be on your toes. Therefore a sales strategy that you formulated 3 months ago cannot determine your social media presence for the rest of the year. If you do not update your online presence regularly, someone else will. Therefore visit your content strategy time and again and be very flexible about what, when and how to post.
For instance, see how Quick Heal does it on their Twitter page.
These are the top factors that brands should keep in mind while aiming for a social media presence. Remember, social media is a valuable and profitable resource when used efficiently.
This post was sent to us by Lior Levin. Lior works for a company who created a shopping cart abandonment solution for ecommerce websites. Lior also consults to a company that developed a Passbook solution for monitoring credit charges.