Social media networks have been pulled in all directions by every business function since its widespread use by consumers and other businesses alike. The marketing guys use it as a channel to push product information and advertise new offers. The design department looks at it as a tool for innovation and an opportunity to capture the knowledge of the masses so that they can design products based on the actual requirements. The recruiters see it as an excellent channel to attract and find new talent for the organization. So we all have our fingers in the social media pie for one or other reason.
If we look at the way the social media networks are designed, it is nothing more than a meeting place for like-minded individuals. We have Twitter lists, LinkedIn groups, and Google Circles organized around subjects and products. These networks, then, are ideal for customer engagement above everything else. I say so because our goal in customer engagement is to facilitate connections among customers themselves and between customers and the organization to build loyalty and spread the good word.
There is no doubt that the rules of engagement are changing as we move from the traditional Interrupt and Repeat advertising model to online customer engagement. The early adopters who spent nearly a million dollars on social media seem to reap the results of this new medium. According to this research by Bain and Company, customers engaged over social media tend to spend 20% to 40% more with the organization they are engaging with.
Small businesses have much tighter budgets and restricted access to resources compared to large organizations. However, as you move from traditional methods of customer engagement to engagement over social web, it is important to avoid these common mistakes.
Engagement Mistake #1: Don’t have enough time to respond
We are all strapped for time, but if you decide to leverage social media for customer engagement, this is one mistake that you should avoid at all costs. Research by International Data Group shows that 53% of online tech buyers want the product organization to respond to their questions and comments.
[quote]An efficient social media strategy will factor in this time in your schedule. Answering customers’ questions should have higher priority than posting new content.[/quote]
Consider that any one taking the trouble to post a question is a lead, and is already part of your sales funnel. So treat any query online with the same urgency as you would treat them in traditional channels.
Engagement Mistake #2: Don’t think it is necessary to respond
As the above research shows, more than half the consumers want you to respond. Now that is not a small number and it will be very wrong to assume that it is not necessary. Customer engagement means engaging your customers in a dialogue. To create a community where they can come up with suggestions and voice good and bad opinions.
[quote]If you fail to respond to your customers’ posts and comments, they will soon lose interest in participating in any discussions.Silence is certainly not an option![/quote]
Social media is not just about pushing content all the time like an electronic ticker board.
Engagement Mistake #3: Spread the net far and wide
Build as large a following as you can – spread a wide net and someone will bite, right? Wrong! Customer engagement is all about relationship building. You can announce new products every now and then, but the dialogue should be about the users and their experience with the product.
[quote]Whenever possible, engage individual customers and answer their questions or help them solve a problem. This way the customers know you are there to help and you earn loyal customers and a product advocate.[/quote]
But engaging customers is easier said than done. Many small businesses find it difficult to answer questions posed by their customers or are not sure how and what to reply to a comment.
What your business needs
As we saw in our earlier post about Social Media DIY myths, you are already spending a lot on your social media plan – either in terms of time or money or sweat equity – or even if you have hired a consultant. The ultimate goal of this effort is conversion. At the end of the day, you want more customers and higher revenues.
[quote]It is imperative that you have engaged and loyal customers through this effort, and not just eyeballs! This is only possible if you have a tight feedback loop and really care about what every current or potential customer thinks about your business.[/quote]
Are you flummoxed with these kind of scenarios? We address these issues almost every day for our clients. Contact us to set up a free consultation and we will be happy to discuss a social media strategy for your business.