Wrapping up today, I have one last social media blog post, this is from the Customer's Rock Blog:
This blog’s main focus is on customers and how businesses can grow organically by building their success on their customer base. I have written posts on customer experience, customer service, and customer-focused marketing (no, not all marketing is customer-focused!). Since I have been teaching my class at UC San Diego, “Marketing via New Media”, I have been spending a lot more time speaking about where social media fits in to all of this.
Social media is the big buzz right now. Everyone wants to get their business on Twitter or Facebook without really thinking about why. Usually, it is because their manager or client read an article in the Wall Street Journal about who is using Twitter/Facebook/fill-in-the-
Part of the Customer Experience
How customers perceive your company online is part of their experience with your organization. Whether your customers are consumers or businesses, many of them are spending time on social media regularly in order to keep up with friends, make connections, or learn new information. According to a recent study by Cone Research in September 2008, Americans using social media also want to engage with their favorite organizations and brands in that space (emphasis is mine):
- 93% believe a company should have a social media presence
- 85% believe a company should interact via social media
- 56% feel they have a stronger connection with and are better served by companies where they can interact via social media
The study goes on to state this:
“…Americans are eager to deepen their brand relationships through social media.”
Customers definitely view their experience with a brand/organization via social media as an integral part of their relationship with that brand.
Connecting with Your Advocates
While many organizations are currently using social media as a way to increase awareness and do online PR, the sweet spot is in connecting with your customers and empowering them to interact with you. Per the book Groundswell (which I use as my class textbook), companies can use social media to listen to customers, talk with (not AT) customers, energize customers (especially evangelists), support customers, and embrace customers (co-create with them). These uses can all be applied to improving customer relationships.
Anyone who has heard me speak about using social media for marketing knows that I first encourage organizations to listen to what is being said about them online. Unless you first listen to the discussion, you will look a little silly jumping in to the conversation with your own agenda. It’s similar to going to a party and interjecting yourself into groups which are already talking amongst themselves. Your words will be out of context, and you may be seen as rude! However, if you listen first, you will be able to add value to the discussion by being relevant, and you will probably be a lot more interesting.
Once some listening has taken place, the stage is set for planned interaction. You can do this by having your own “party”, and inviting your customers to come and join you OR you can find out where your customers are already “partying” and go meet them there. In other words, you can invite your customers to come to your site or social media property and interact with you, or you can go and engage with them wherever they are already interacting around your brand. Either way can work, depending on your business and your customer relationships.
Companies that have well-established relationships with their customers will discover that social media is a great tool which complements their existing interactions. Companies that have only been using one-way communication with customers will have a little work to do to get them to engage, not just once in a social media campaign, but on an ongoing basis. They should find their customers are eager and ready as long as the conversation is relevant to their needs!
Social Media and Customer Loyalty
Over the past 6 months, I have had the opportunity to talk face-to-face with a number of well-respected people in business about social media marketing. I asked them each the same question:
“How do you think social media can help with customer loyalty?”
I captured their responses with my Flip video camera, and I will be featuring different videos over the next few weeks here on Customers Rock! Please let me know what you think about social media and customer loyalty, as well as about the videos in the comments below, on my Facebook page, or via my Twitter page.
Here is one of the videos, which I have previously posted on Customers Rock!, to get you started.
Frank Eliason, Comcast (@comcastcares on Twitter)