The advent of social media has been a game-changer when it comes to the relationships people form with their favourite brands (and indeed their least favourite ones).
No longer can brands just be brands – faceless, unreachable, with communication basically a one-way street.
These days, brands have to be human. Indeed, they have to be social – because that’s what social media demands.
Setting up a Facebook Page and expecting people to visit it and buy something doesn’t really cut the mustard in 2016. And the same goes for Twitter, Instagram and all the other platforms.
The trick is to leverage your presence on social media to build meaningful, lasting relationships with your followers and customers, and ensure that they keep coming back for more.
And so, we’ve put together this blog post to give you five super-easy ways you can start doing that today.
How to Use Social Media to Improve Customer Relationships
Create Dedicated Channels to Handle Questions and Complaints
Today, when a customer has a query or a complaint, they will turn to social media whether you’re there to handle the comment or not.
It might seem like you will be inviting complaints if you, for instance, set up a Twitter account to handle such things. But consider the fact that a dissatisfied customer is probably going to head over to the network to air their grievances anyway.
Rather than burying your head in the sand, it makes much better sense to engage with the customer quickly and politely, show that you are listening and publicly endeavour to try and fix whatever the problem is that the customer is encountering.
Indeed, by engaging with a disgruntled customer in this way, and by proving to them that you care about their experiences with your brand, you are in fact much more likely to keep them, and of course will have some element of control over what is being said about your service online.
Use Social Media to Solve Problems for Your Customers
Here’s a rather inspiring story I’ve taken from a blog post by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff for CIO.
Schiff quotes Esti Chazanow, cofounder and brand manager at LIV – Swiss Watches who tells a tale about a moment when their marketing team intervened on a conversation that was taking place on their Instagram account:
“We noticed that two siblings were having a conversation on one of our Instagram photos, saying they wanted to purchase a watch for their dad, but just couldn’t afford it. We piped in saying we would pitch in by offering a coupon code. Their response: ‘Wow now that is impressive @livwatches awesome customer awareness and service!!!’”
How’s about that!
The lesson – monitor all conversations that are taking place on social and take the opportunity to solve a problem, make a sale, and grow your reputation in one fell swoop.
Who are your biggest and most important followers on social media? No doubt you know who they are – but do they?
Everyone appreciates acknowledgment and recognition – and saying thank you is sometimes all it takes. It’s something that British fashion house Burberry made somewhat of a name for itself over. Back in 2012, to celebrate its first 1 million Twitter followers, @Burberry sent out 3,000 personalised virtual thank you cards written in the chief creation officer’s handwriting style to show how much the company appreciated the engagement from their most important followers.
It’s a tactic that seems to have worked – today the company has over 7 million followers.
Everyone loves a bit of competition – and your most loyal following will certainly appreciate the chance of winning something for nothing from their favourite brand.
But of course, a good “like and share” contest is a great way to spread the word about what you do beyond your existing following, and you will be particularly successful if you make appropriate use of hashtags.
Beyond “like and share” comps, however, a good way of increasing engagement is to get your audience actively involved and commenting on what you’re doing. For instance, if you’ve got a new product on offer, then why not give everyone the chance to invent a name for it, with a prize going to the winning nomination.
If it’s a service you’re offering, no worries – how about naming a new company mascot?
Another sure fire way of making your social audience feel special is to make them offers that they can’t access elsewhere.
Create special offers that are “For our valued Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/etc. fans only”.
You’ve built up these relationships on these platforms, so it makes sense to nurture them there, too.