Hints, tips and general musings from the Berri team.
Social Media and other scary things
"I like to say that Twitter is like a bar, Facebook is your living room and LinkedIn is the local chamber of commerce."
Am I the only one that seems to be getting told that social networking is the next best thing in reaching your market and that ‘everyone’ is doing it? Is it like the school playground all over again where the number of friends you have directly reflects your ‘success’ and ‘social savvyness’?
Well the vast majority of us have in some form or another enlisted ourselves into the world of social media. Some of you like me may have had their first foray to purely keep abreast of our own social lives. But increasingly we are being encouraged to use social networking to interact with our colleagues, clients and potential customers and so find ourselves on a daily basis trying to find a creative way in which to make a standard ‘day in the office’ seem engaging to our followers in a bid to improve our profile.
However a study last year by MarketTools revealed that 94% of companies do not yet use social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter even for the most obvious task it’s good for: Getting feedback, despite consumers' growing engagement with these mediums. The study found that the most common ways companies gather customer feedback are email/online surveys (51%), formal phone surveys (28%), and informal phone calls (28%).
So how do you use social media and more importantly how do you get the best out of it? From my research I’ve come up with some suggestions on ways to use social networking to enhance your profile (the options are endless but I thought we better start somewhere!)
- Get feedback from your customers: Social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter provide a great way of getting feedback from your customers. Remember to thank those who leave positive feedback and make sure you tell everyone you’ve received it! Should you get negative feedback then again reply to the user and ensure that, where possible, you can learn from and improve on your product or service, this shows how responsive you are to your customers’ needs, thus turning a negative into a positive.
- Create demand and spread the word: Companies like Apple are great at creating demand for a product or service before it is launched. Why wait for your clients to come to you for something, take it to them! Get people talking and spreading the word on your behalf by utilising tools like Facebook and Twitter to inform people of your products and/or services.
- Build brand loyalty: People like your brand and then buy from it in the future again. Be sure to make them loyal customers by providing exceptional goods and services or provide something for free, be it information via a blog or short pieces of advice via Facebook or Twitter.
- Establish a community: Your target market can go global with social networking and the web. Be sure to encourage those who are loyal to you to interact with other like minded individuals to create your own fan club, treat them well and more will come! If people like you they’ll buy from you; otherwise they’ll get the same or similar elsewhere. Obviously factors like price affect this theory but again offering someone an experience above and beyond the product or service will help gain you brand loyalty. Facebook and LinkedIn allows you to create groups or you could even utilise your own website.
- Answer questions and provide support: This doesn’t have to cover purely what you have to offer but if someone happens to ask a question about something else and you know the answer then by all means let them know! This lets people know that there is a personal touch to you and it’s not all sell sell sell. By providing support to an individual within a community that you’re part of, you are establishing yourself as a port of contact and raising your profile and potentially gaining clients if you can offer them an alternative. I’ve often noticed that when people don’t have an established relationship with a product or service provider they’ll turn to places like LinkedIn to ask for recommendations from their network. These are always worth being followed up. Keep an eye on things like this; by being inactive on these sites you may miss out on potential work.
- Monitor trends: Online tools like Topsy.com allow you to see what is trending on social networking sites so you can keep an eye out on what’s got people talking and use it to your advantage where relevant. Topsy even marks your visitors “influential” or “highly influential” based on their activity and allows you to find out who’s tweeting about you.
- Offer discounts and special offers to those who follow you: What better way to get people following you than to offer discounts via social networking tools! It’s a free way to market your company and draw in potential new clients. Why not run competitions.
Ultimately one of the most important things that you need to do is stay active, relevant and interesting. Don’t be lazy and just ‘retweet’ or add a link to maintain your activity, elaborate on things that take your interest or that you think will be of interest to your followers. I’m sure like me you feel guilty maybe even ineffective spending your time talking about your day rather than doing ‘proper work’, I think it’s especially hard for those who are self-employed, but it need only take a short time out of your day why not use your coffee breaks to make a post and remember things like TweetDeck allow you to manage your social networks even when you’re not there by posting on set dates pre-written updates, so things really can be made to fit around you it just takes planning (did I mention planning is high on my list of new year’s resolution?)
Some businesses we think do it well:
Alexandra House: Alexandra house regularly update their Twitter, Facebook account and blog! They ask people to post feedback on their Facebook wall and all those that do are entered in a weekly free prize draw to win a free back massage! Their blog is regularly updated with interesting and informative articles and updates are emailed out to users.
Humble Bee Farm Cottages and Luxury Camping: Humble Bee farm utilise Facebook where they post regular photos of not only their cottages and Wigwams, special offers and events but also gorgeous photos of the surrounding countryside and their beautiful farm animals.
Cannon Hall Farm: Cannon Hall Farm utilise Facebook and Twitter to keep their visitors up to date with up and coming events, special offers and again photos of their beautiful animals.
Mosaic Virtual Office: Mosaic utilise Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep in touch with their customers and also inform people of their services.
If you feel you need a helping hand with your ‘social networking’ then get in touch.