Social Media is the big thing right now. If you’re not involved in it, you’re just not one of the cool kids, plain and simple. Everyone tells you that you need a Facebook fan page, aaccount and all of this other stuff that you really don’t have time for. They got you thinking though…if everyone is doing it, there might actually be some major advantage to it that you must be missing…right?
Well yes there is, but only if you do it right. The majority of businesses that use social media are going about it the completely wrong way, and sometimes they do more damage to their business then good. If you don’t already have your accounts set up around the web, see Social Media in Business – How to Get Started to walk you through the process. Once you have the accounts set up, this article will walk you through the top business uses in Social Media.
#5 – Building Relationships with Customers
The most critical aspect to sales is the relationship and the rapport that you build with the customer prior to the purchase. Some business owners know this from sales 101, some have never heard of such a concept before in their lives, but either way, relationships are a requirement for sales these days.
Notice I did say building relationships, not generating leads. As far as benefits goes for Social Media, lead generation was Captain Obvious from the beginning, I know, but with social media, it tends to happen indirectly. Instead of constantly trying to get your community to buy your stuff, focus instead on getting to know them and building a *TWO-WAY* relationship with them.
Before you know it, they *WILL* be buying your stuff, and they’ll be telling their friends too. It’s a great way to really get in touch with your market or customer base, get to know some cool people that can benefit from your knowledge and maybe even make a little cash while you’re at it.
#4 – Networking
Networking is similar to building relationships with customers, except that you are building relationships with those that will be beneficial to you in external lead generation, expansion or growth. It basically amounts to getting to know like-minded and similar individuals that may have a mutual interest in a business relationship. And what better place to do it then from the comfort of your own home right?
Forget going to mixers, fundraisers etc. to get to know people. These things still happen, but social media can be so much more effective if you do it right. Firstly, when you network with someone using Social Media, you STAY CONNECTED to them, meaning they see your timeline, your status updates, your tweets etc. If the relationship is beneficial, Social Media will make it happen.
Secondly, people get to know the real you, so it’s a much more genuine relationship. People often put on personas when they go to events, they become someone else. Overtime, it is really hard to fake who you are, things just come out. Pictures, events, check-ins, people, places and things – if you can fake all of that, maybe you’re faking being a fake to be someone else? (
#3 – Building a Fan base
Building a community, gathering or fan base is a great way to get your business out there. Now this doesn’t work effectively for all types of businesses, but for those it is compatible with, it works fantastic. If you sell cream for toe fungus, chances are there aren’t going to be super enthusiastic raving fans out there telling everyone about how awesome your stuff is, that’s just how the world works.
If on the other hand, your product is the next generation of gaming, or even just a really cool and unique shop for everyday stuff, people can get excited about it…you just have to give them something to be excited about.
Building a fan base has many benefits, too many to list in fact, but the main one is just having people that talk about you, share your links, pass on your blog posts and generally getting the word out there. You don’t need thousands either, if you got just 100 dedicated fans, your stuff would be all over the internet.
#2 – Customer Support
This is an up-and-coming alternative to the typical email or call that takes forever to actually get a response. The majority of the general public is on social media, so if your company is too, its really easy for them to quickly tweet you a problem and have tweet back a solution.
A lot of the larger corporations are adopting this philosophy and take on the platform instead of the typical use, and its growing rapidly. It is a fantastic way to help out your customer and keep them loyal at the same time. It’s also worth noting that if your support is amazing when they have an issue the first time, they could very well be on their way to building a relationship with you or adding to your fan base.
Everyone needs a good solid customer support system, and Social Media reaches the target audience where they already are. It’s not agonizing like a phone call, or lengthy like an email response, its quick, simple and easy.
#1 – Market Research
This is the most UNDERUTILIZED and MOST BENEFICIAL way to use social media, hands down. Twitter and Facebook both provide a wealth of data for everyday business owners to collect and connect with. Twitter for example shows you what people are talking about up to the second. It shows you what kind of people are talking about a current word or subject, and it lets you follow them.
You can get in touch with any market, industry segment or type of customer using Social Media as a tool. Not only can you observe though, you can interact. If someone mentions a product you sell, you can ask them a question about how they think it can be improved. You can get their thoughts about faults or perks of the product, and maybe even develop a new one based off of customer feedback.
Social media helps you do that like never before, and it really is sooooo easy.
The best use of Social Media though really is a combination of all of the above. You can segment your strategy and go for any one of these and still be successful, but the best thing to do is try them all out and find a combination that works.
Remember, Social Media is meant to be social…not static, not blank and boring, not a big bad corporate logo that looks down upon the puny followers. You’re on their level, interact with them and act like it. Jump in the conversation and join in on the fun, you won’t regret it!
So what about you? Have you ever used any of these tactics?