Energize your Business Strategy with Social Media
By: Amy Jo Martin, founder of Digital Royalty and author of Renegades Write the Rules (Jossey-Bass, 2012)
Project Manager. Accountant. Sales Person. Inventory Clerk. Marketing Manager. Creative Director. These are just a few of the many possible hats that entrepreneurs wear, sometimes simultaneously.
It seems there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So, how and why would you want to add Social Media Manager to that list?
Because it’s the single most important thing you can do to grow your business.
Start with the Why of Social Media
It may seem overwhelming to jump into the social media space. But it’s actually easy to get started. Think back to the beginning. Why did you start your business in the first place? Or begin to work with a small business? Whatever that story is, your customers want to know.
As Simon Sinek so wisely says, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Social media can be used to expose your ‘why’ and to shed light on the people behind the brand. After all, humans connect with humans, not logos. Show some skin and let a little personality shine through. People will appreciate your authenticity and end up being more loyal customers.
Better communication also enhances company culture. A company that embraces social media and gives employees the freedom to communicate and experiment with it has happier and more productive employees.
Through social media, people can expose their ‘why’ to co-workers and connect with others who believe what they believe. Through our online platform, Digital Royalty University, we offer classes to help individuals with personal branding and how to use various social media platforms.
Save Money on Research
Once you have established relationships with customers, the next phase of dialogue can begin. You can tap into your consumer base in real time and ask for their opinions and ideas -- for free. You can skip the costly formal research study to determine what it is that your customers really want.
Starbucks realized that many of their customer’s tweets contained great suggestions on how to create a better overall Starbucks experience, so they created a separate Twitter handle specifically to address and respond to all the incoming ideas.
From new coffee blends to improving the recycling process, Starbucks considers all suggestions and when one is implemented, the person who submitted the idea gets credit on the Starbucks blog.
Your customers are happy to tell you what they want. Just ask. Then listen and respond. Then listen again. Listening and responding are key because the more genuine interactions you have with your customers, the more likely they are to give you honest and continuous valuable feedback.
Provide Quick and Amazing Customer Service
The immediate nature of social media makes it an extremely efficient customer service tool. Within a few moments, you can help a customer with a problem, or answer questions.
All most people want is just for their voice to be heard. Issues that could potentially have a negative effect on your business can be dealt with right away, instead of becoming a brand-damaging PR fiasco. The good, the bad, and the ugly can all be handled in a timely manner via social media.
Big retail brands such as Zappos use Twitter around the clock to respond to questions, complaints and satisfied customers. Southwest Airlines, which is legendary for providing outstanding customer service, uses Twitter to alert passengers of flight delays and to learn of customer complaints.
Crowdsource your Product Development
As your brand and company grows, new products, services, and ideas can be tested and refined based on what your customers think. Engaging consumers pushes them farther up the loyalty ladder. Asking their opinion about your new product instills a sense of ownership and pride in what they’ve helped create.
When it came time to give my new book a title, I turned to my social media followers and asked what they thought the title should be. They helped me come up with a very appropriate title, Renegades Write the Rules.
Crowdsourcing your idea also lets you take advantage of the collective wisdom of your audience to create a better end result.
Interact in New Ways
Social media allows companies to interact with customers in new and different ways. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
Tactics that bridge the virtual and physical worlds are the most engaging, whether it’s a product giveaway for the first response to your tweet, or using social media to localize your marketing efforts.
Nike and Whole Foods have separate Twitter handles for each store, enabling employees to address and get involved in their community’s issues and concerns.
On a smaller scale, local food trucks that tweet out their whereabouts make the eating experience more fun and memorable because it keeps hungry customers on their toes and gives them the chance to meet up with other loyalists while waiting in line.
Don’t get caught up trying to chase the numbers. One thousand completely loyal followers are worth more than 100,000 followers that have no real affinity toward your brand.
Impressions don’t convert, but influence does.
Amy Jo Martin, founder and CEO of Digital Royalty and Digital Royalty University, teaches brands, corporations and individuals how to measure and monetize their digital universe. Her book, the New York Times Bestseller Renegades Write the Rules, was published in October. Follow her on Twitter @AmyJoMartin.