Business owners talk to their customers all the time, right? Well…not always.
I am continually surprised by how many large companies do not respond to their customer or potential customers on social media. WHY? If a customer walked into your store or called you on the phone, would you ignore them? I would hope not! If you are not going to engage with your audience on social media, then maybe that is not the right channel for you to communicate.
Don’t be like those big companies. You are in a unique situation as a small business to engage with your customers at a personal level.
Here are some common queries that customers ask and how to respond to them:
Logistical questions: What time are you open? Do you carry a certain product?
Response: Always, always answer these type of questions. As quickly as possible. If you use Facebook, you can even set up standard responses. Or develop a list of answers to common questions so you can easily respond to your customers. These are no-brainers.
Compliments: They love your products, had a great experience with an associate or want to share your generosity.
Response: Some businesses think they don’t need to respond to these type of messages. But that is wrong. By responding (particularly to a public comment), you elevate these brand-boosting messages. If it is a really good comment, you might even think about asking the person who made it if you could use their comment (or image) in your marketing. This is called UCG, user generated content.
Complaints: They had a bad experience with you, your staff or your products.
Response: It may not be comfortable, but you need to acknowledge complaints. Do not just leave them hanging out there without responding. Show empathy. Make it right (if you can). There is no excuse for not responding to a complaint, particularly when it is public. Responding shows everyone else that you are paying attention and make things right if there is a problem.
Does it matter if the messages are direct to you or public comments? In most cases, no. If you don’t respond to public comments and questions, everyone will see that you are not engaged with your customers. If you don’t respond to direct messages, you are ignoring customers who are actively seeking you out. They took the time to find you online to ask a question. You should take the time to respond.
Have more questions about engaging with your customers, contact me for a free 30-minute get acquainted call.
Using social media is easy, right? Just set up a Facebook page or Twitter account and start posting. Sounds easy. Unfortunately, for businesses, it is not.
“Doing” social media is one thing. Being good at social media is another. Consider this: on most days there are more than 1,000 job postings on monster.com with ‘social media’ in the title. That means that companies are willing to pay for people who specialize in how to help them reach their customers on social channels. People who know how to craft a post so that it gets the most likes, shares and clicks. People who know whether your video post should go on Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat.
Aside from developing a strong strategy and creating content, you also need to monitor your page for comments, messages, tags and other notifications. That can be a lot of work if you have a large following. Certainly not something that a small business owner should be spending their precious time doing themselves.
Lastly, social media is not really a free marketing channel anymore. Do you know what the best advertising structure is to reach your target audience? How much money should you spend? Should you boost posts or boost your page? Or both?
This post just touches the tip of the iceberg of the considerations when you embark on social media. Needless to say, feeding the beast may be the least of your challenges if you really want to be GOOD at social media and use it as a tool to increase customer loyalty or sales. You wouldn’t try to fix your furnace yourself if you weren’t trained to do so. So why are you still trying to do social media by yourself?
Social media has been on an almost vertical trajectory for the past 5 years…booming faster than most people can keep up with it. But many social media sites are experiencing slowing or flat user growth. And companies can no longer rely on ‘organic’ social media engagement. Paid posts are almost always required when attempting to reach customers via these channels.
Does that mean that you should not utilize social media as part of your marketing strategy?
For small businesses that have a very targeted customer base or have a retail location that they are looking to promote, social media is still a good option. The caveat is that you need to be dedicated to keeping up with it. If you have a strong, loyal following that is willing to help share your content, it is even better. After all, it is socialmedia!
However, social media should not be your only channel for communicating with your current and potential customers. It should be part of an integrated marketing approach that fits your business’s needs.
And you also need to keep up with social media trends. What are the latest features on Facebook Pages? Is there a social media site that caters to your typical customer? If you need help figuring it all out, contact me.