As more businesses and individuals use social media, it is more important than ever to hone your social media tactics so that you can stand out from the crowd. Here are a few unexpected ways that you can use social media to enhance your customer interactions and ultimately grow your business.
While social media is considered an active marketing and engagement tool, one effective way to use is it passively. This means using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites to “listen.” By tracking and evaluating social media activity and postings, you can gain insights into what your top competitors are doing. Observe what they are doing well and not-so-well to create competitive product, service or even marketing offerings.
Listening is also invaluable in terms of your interactions with customers. Follow your top customers and customer prospects to learn information about them. Do they have kids? What’s their favorite sports team? Are they complaining about particular challenges? Whatever telling information they share, use it to build a file that you keep on each customer that you can use in the future. If they have a favorite sports team, for example, you could include a team bumper sticker and a note wishing them luck in your next marketing mailer or invoice. These small gestures help build loyal relationships and set your business apart from others in the eyes of your customers.
Have Some Fun
Another unexpected way to engage with a customer and create some customer loyalty- and ultimately sales- is by using gamification, including contests and rewards programs. For example, my client Regus- the largest provider of flexible workspace in the world- has a social rewards program that is free to join and rewards their customers and prospects for interacting with them on social media.
In the Regus Social Rewards program, you earn tokens by interactions, such as mentions of Regus on Twitter. These tokens can be redeemed for special offers like free hours of administrative support and to earn entries into special promotions (for example, during March Madness, Regus gave away tickets to the Final Four games).
Other companies use giveaways and contests, such as trivia contests, as well as tweet chats to interact with customers and prospects. These interactions build rapport and a positive association between the customers and the company.
If you are going to use gamification for your business, make sure that you get some legal guidance on rules and regulations related to contests or utilize a company that will ensure compliance for you.
Make Your Customer a Hero
People love to be treated like royalty. It feels even better when that royal treatment comes from an unexpected source, like from a business or brand that they patronize.
Strengthen your customer relationship by using social media to make your customer a hero. Congratulate clients or prospects on a job well done by giving them a shout out on Facebook. Promote their business by mentioning it in a tweet. Highlight a project or hobby that they are involved with on your company’s blog. This kind of generosity is an excellent way to stand apart from other businesses and create the foundation of a lasting relationship with your customer. Those relationships create real loyalty.
While everyone else is just pushing their advertising message on social media, shake things up a bit to enhance the results that you get from your social media efforts.
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news, and the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country. Carol multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics.
Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011 &2012) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth