Whenever I teach social media or publish courses on the subject, there are always a few people that contact me afterwards with comments like “We don’t use Facebook because it doesn’t generate sales” or “There’s no point to Twitter”. To which I reply, it only seems that way because you simply don’t understand how to use it properly. Social media isn’t a pulpit from which you can simply disseminate your brand message or constantly inundate people with ad-laden marketing speak. Social media is a tool that you should be leveraging to gain valuable insight into your customer base, and you should be using that data to better engage them in conversations, because conversations lead to conversions.
Stop worrying about follower counts, retweets, and likes. Start caring about how you can help your customers solve their problems and better understand your brand and the products & services you provide. I wrote a post not too long ago about widening your conversion funnel by showing your users that you care about them. One of the easiest ways to show you care about someone is to listen to them when they’re having a problem. I’m not saying you have to play a Dr. Phil type role for your customers, but chances are they’re experiencing some pain points in your realm of expertise, and you have the ability to solve it for them… So just do it! Don’t ask for something in return, don’t try to upsell or convert right away either. That’s like trying to score with the homecoming queen on the first date. You’ve got to earn trust, let them know you’re there for them, and the payoff will come in the form of their loyalty and evangelism of your brand in the future.
I am starting to believe more and more that social is a platform for retention, which means it best serves the narrowest portion of your customer base. There are a ton of other strategies for getting people in the door, but social just ain’t one of those methods. Think about it this way… How many times do you actively search for new brands or businesses to follow on Facebook or Twitter? None, right? Now, compare that to how many times you’ve actively sought out the Facebook or Twitter account of a brand that you’re already using its products or services? Different story this time, huh? Seeing as your customers are people just like you, wouldn’t you expect their behavior to be the same? The people who follow you don’t need a hard sell because they’ve (probably) already been converted. They care about you being a thought leader and serving up top-notch customer service to support whatever it is they bought into to begin with.
There will still be times when social is an appropriate platform for marketing to your core audience, don’t get me wrong, but that’s only effective if you’re doing everything you can to keep them engaged with your brand the rest of the time. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and all the other networks you belong to are slowly replacing the live chat/800 number experience that were the norms about 5-6 years ago. When I used those tools back then, I always expected two things from the person on the other end of the line: respect and knowledge. They should be respectful and listen to my problems and/or comments, and they should also have the knowledge to help me solve whatever those problems might be. The same applies to social.
At the end of the day, it comes down to what type of business you want to be. If you want to be the type that uses social media as a microphone, that’s cool, but don’t expect your microphone to be any louder than anyone else’s. However, if you want to be a business that uses social as a hearing aid, then ultimately you will win. With all the noise on these sites it’s impossible to be heard without first learning how to listen. Only then will you truly understand the needs of your users and how you can best serve those needs through these channels.
Thanks for reading!