The world of social media can seem complicated but it’s as simple or as complex as you choose to make it. Olivier Blanchard, popular brand strategist, outlined ways to increase customer interactions and loyalty through social media in the first keynote event of the 2010 July Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market.
Starting with keeping it simple, he outlined competitive advantages of having a social media presence including driving traffic and enhancing the name recognition of your business. But, it’s important to keep the business objective first; having a zillion followers on Twitter of friends on Facebook is worthless if it doesn’t help achieve a business goal. Social media is a tool — it isn’t the final objective.
Start with the way you engage your customers. In the past, businesses advertised and reached out via mail and maybe a website. It was a vertical channel between you and your customer. Now, your best promotion will come when your customers talk to each other, which is more lateral marketing. You become a forum for their interaction.
Of the 400 million Facebook users, 50 percent log on every day. The average user has 130 friends and belongs to 13 groups. But most people are only invited to three events each month. As a small business, you can take advantage by using the event feature to promote things going on in your store. Don’t overwhelm people, but let them know what’s going on. Facebook is personal. Most users only send eight friend requests per month so people tend to trust those they associate with and their recommendations. Facebook recently changed their “fan” option to a “like” option. It’s the same function but a less intimidating term that people are more likely to select. Remember that when inviting people to be part of your group.
Twitter is a smaller community with 106 million users but it’s growing by 300,000 people per day. Twitter is second only to Google as a search engine, which is why it’s important to have a presence – people will find you and learn what you’re doing. There are 600 million search queries per day on Twitter. Don’t you want potential customers to be able to find you?
When people find you, what will they see? Most social media users don’t produce content; they use the outlets to find information. You can become a trusted source for your customers. And, it’s not nearly as hard of as much work as it might seem. Transfer your posts between all the outlets – and link back to your website. For example, a blog post can automatically link to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Cross-leverage all the channels for most impact.
Take advantage of tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to manage all your accounts so it doesn’t become overwhelming. It’s crucial to do more than set up accounts. If you have a presence, you absolutely must be engaged. You don’t have to become obsessed, but stay active otherwise you miss opportunities to communicate and get feedback. It’s called social media for a reason – it’s interactive.
The bottom line is that tools are available. Take advantage of them and reach out to your customers – while encouraging them to talk to each other.
* Stay tuned for more from Olivier Blanchard’s keynote presentation.