Social media’s a bit of a tricky one when engaging with a client for the first time. They’ll probably be familiar with (and keen to hear about) PPC, SEO and site design, but when it comes to social media, they may well lean forward with narrowed eyes and ask the dreaded question, ‘But why do I need social media?’
This is the time to stop wittering about ‘brand awareness’, ‘community cohesion’ and ‘moving forward with technology’, and time to bring out some solid reasons that companies should be on board when it comes to social media. It’s not enough to claim that everyone else is doing it, and it ‘makes a difference’. If you’re looking to impress in any upcoming meetings, the following points are sure to win over clients:
Firstly, there are mind-boggling numbers of people using social media. At the time of writing this, Twitter has over 100 million ‘active’ users (users who log in once a month) and Facebook has approximately 794 million users. These are people that you ignore at your peril – they’re out there, and it’s up to you to try to find them, and then harness their buying power. Refusing to engage with social media users is like knowing there’s a packed shopping centre in town full of browsing buyers, but point-blank refusing to set up a shop there just because it’s new and a bit daunting.
Secondly, you’ll be able to get a better idea of who’s interested in your brand – and you’ll know who to target in the future. Facebook Insights, Sprout Social, Brandwatch and other applications that measure social networking analytics can not only show you the gender of the people engaging with you, but their age, where they’re located, the main languages they speak, and the medium they’re using to surf the web. This is especially handy if you’re wondering why the app you’ve launched hasn’t taken off (users using desktop computers) or nobody’s writing lengthy chunks of text on your Facebook wall (smartphone users).
You can also get inside peoples’ heads. Not many customers will take the time to fill in a review or a long survey, but they may well respond to a tweet or update that asks them what they think of a new design. You’ll also find that you receive both good and bad feedback, and how you respond to this will shape how your customers see you. If you’re able to placate a furious customer with some excellent, speedy customer service, you’ll not only win them round, but anyone else who sees that you’re bending over backwards to assist them. Social media allows a level of transparency not often seen in communications between customer and vendor, so use this to your advantage.
Tools such as Twilert and Tweetbeep can let you know when people are talking about you – and you can set up alerts for people talking about the products you sell. So, if you see a tweet from a local person wondering where they can find [insert your product], you can neatly introduce yourself and politely ask if you can help. These tools enable you to be the butler at the party – you can overhear everyone’s conversations and step in when you feel it’s appropriate. Just be careful not to overdo this side of things, or your Twitter timeline will become a sad pool of desperation.
If you want to be seen as a leader within your field, you have to remember that your opinions are worthwhile – and you should respond to industry developments at the earliest opportunity. It’s far easier to send out a quick update on Google+ or Facebook than it is to draft a blog for your website, and your customers will see your passion for your business. If you’re making a particularly strong point, or one that generates discussion, all the better – your views will get shared, driving more people towards your social media – and your website.
If you’re looking for fresh talent, especially in the social media and online networking sphere, you should be using social media to try to find your next big star. More and more businesses are using their social media accounts to search for employees, as it’s free, the word is easily spread, and it’s a great way to drive people wanting new information to your website. Plus, it’s a very promising sign if you manage to find someone through social media as it shows they have a good understanding of the medium – and its potential.
Finally, don’t forget that the speed of social media can make it behave a bit like Lassie – it can let you know that something’s wrong long before you even have an inkling of disaster. If you receive many messages informing you that the same thing has gone awry with your product, it’s time to stop the production line and start your examination. It’s true that badly-run social media accounts have the capacity to damage your brand irreversibly, but they also have the potential to save it from a sticky end, so value your followers – they may end up saving your bacon.