According to the Nielsen Company’s recent Social Media Report, social networks and blogs reach nearly 80 percent of active internet users in the U.S. Social media has not only become a medium by which many people have shared their life stories, but more and more businesses are also using social media to share their brand’s message.
Because social media is still a fairly new medium of marketing, businesses have yet to fully understand how to make a deeper, more personal connection with customers or potential customers via these platforms. It’s easy enough to post company news and blast special deals to people, but if you really want to build a powerful community of people who will happily promote your products or services, your social media strategy must include the following Three E’s:
If you’ve been reading up on social media, you’ve probably seen this buzz word floating around in marketing circles. The word has probably been so overused that it’s lost some meaning, but it remains the No. 1 activity that businesses must do in order to be truly successful in social media.
Engaging with people is the first step in building relationships – whether it’s a personal or business relationship. However, with social media, business is becoming more personal and people are wanting to know more about the people behind a company or brand. What’s the story or message that you would like to share with people?
You can’t build a relationship with your customers unless there is two-way communication. Engaging in social media can include responding to your blog comments, visiting other blogs and making comments, having “conversations” with people on Twitter or Facebook, retweeting posts by people you follow on Twitter, and more. To engage with people means interacting with them and getting to know more about who they are, what they like, and what they do. You invite your customers to share feedback, which in turn promotes trust and well-being.
For most businesses, one goal is to increase sales and acquire new customers. With social media this certainly is possible, but do customers know exactly what your company does? How can your products or services benefit them? What makes your business unique? Have you taken the time to explain this?
You can explain what your business does without being overly sales-y or sounding like a TV commercial. For example, you could feature clients or customers in a blog post and share what you did for them and the experiences they had with your company. You could also feature employees in blog posts to show what role they play in the business.
When you engage with people via social media, explain what your company is about, build trust, and offer great service, you create loyal customers who are enthusiastic and become evangelists for your brand. This is where the fun part comes in because now you have customers who will do the marketing for you. Well, most of the marketing anyways.
You still need to broadcast your message, but because people like your company so much, they will easily “like” or follow you, in addition to sharing your message with all their friends, followers, or subscribers. What would you rather do? Spend millions of dollars on a TV or newspaper campaign or spend mere thousands to broadcast your message to the same amount of people?
An example of a company who understands the three E’s is Zappos.com. Their blog is consistently updated with fashion tips, company news and employee highlights. They engage with customers via the company’s Facebook page by asking questions, conducting polls and featuring a “Fan of the Week”. Their posts on Facebook sometimes don’t even have anything to do with the company. They just share news that promotes good will within the community.
Combine all of that with exceptional customer service and Zappos has created raving fans who blog, tweet and share with their friends how great the company is.
Keep in mind that the three E’s of social media is just a stepping stone to creating awareness, enthusiasm and trust for your business. As alluded to earlier, you still have to offer excellent customer service or else none of this really matters.
About the author: Maria Palma is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Studio 747 Media, a lifestyle blog network. When she’s not inspiring entrepreneurs on the Studio 747 BlogTalk Radio Show, she’s hosting workshops on social media.