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SOCIAL MEDIA: What It Can Do For You

Finding it hard to grasp just exactly what social media can do for you? It may seem a challenge to draw a concrete line between Facebook posts and bottom line results, but it’s easier than you think to attach real business goals to social media tactics.

Drive Traffic
Your Facebook fans have already invited you into their world, so when you offer up engaging or unique content within your postings that links back to your main website, you keep the connection with your customers while showing them something new. And remember, a more engaged customer is more likely to buy from you, refer their friends to you and stay loyal rather than jumping ship to the competition.
Listen and Connect With Customers
No. You can’t just assign an admin with the task of creating your company’s Facebook page, then just sit back and hope something good happens. That’s not how it works. Social media demands two-way communication, which means that you not only must be committed to monitoring your social media, but you have to be actively listening and responding to your customers. This is how you create a community, build customer trust, reinforce loyalty and learn how to affect purchasing behavior.
Launch a New Product
Want to launch a new product and not break the bank? Consider launching it via social media. It can be a cost-effective way to test a product and fine-tune it before investing bigger dollars. Heinz Ketchup is currently launching a new version of its ketchup made with balsamic vinegar rather than the traditional white vinegar. Rather than taking it directly to store shelves, they are offering it only via their Facebook page this month to their fans.
Reward Customer Loyalty
The instant access that social media provides allows you as a company to engage your most loyal customers on a dime. Did the latest collection just arrive today in your store? Tweet about it to your loyal customers—they’ll feel like VIPs for the insider information.
Give them a behind-the-scenes look or invite them to a store event. They feel special. You build a long-term customer relationship.
Check Your Reputation
Sometimes who you think you are, isn’t who your customers think you are. Do a quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp and find out just exactly what your reputation is in the marketplace. When a Denver-based salon found user reviews on Yelp that suggested a negative customer experience, they were able to respond with improved customer service. An abundance of monitoring services such as Radian6, socialmention and Trackur can help you stay tuned in to the conversation across the Web.
Turn a Negative Into a Positive
One of the scariest elements to social media is the idea that we as marketers lose our control over the communication. What if a customer has a bad customer experience and posts it on our page? What if somebody hates the product we just shipped? Think of these kind of situations as opportunities to build your reputation. This is where you can shine as a company in your response. An immediate response that acknowledges the problem and how you are going to make it right shows that you care about your customers and deserve their business.
Target Your Online Advertising
Both Facebook and LinkedIn allow businesses to run ads targeted at specific groups of users based on information within their profiles. With the ability to “bid” what you’re willing to pay per click, you can experiment with what target works best for you.

There’s one thing about social media that’s certain: it’s constantly evolving. So don’t feel intimidated because it’s new territory. Just dive in and see how social media can work for you. Feel a little more comfortable if some social media experts had your back? Start with a social media workshop.

Sallie Burnett
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