We can look at social media first by focusing on traditional methods of communication. Traditional media including radio, television and magazines implemented one-way, static messages ideal for viewing and not responding. Traditional advertising methods required the business to get space in newspapers, magazines or create a television commercial. These were expensive and their impact could not be easily measured.
Web and mobile technology has made it easy for anyone to create online content and distribute it to audiences online for free. This reduces the cost of advertisement as you, as a company, do not have to part with large sums of money to have your ads published. What’s more, distribution is almost instant.
Social media comes in many forms: reference sites (Wikipedia), blogs, micro blogs (twitter), social networks (Facebook), discussion forums, social bookmarking and voting sites (Digg), virtual worlds (Second life) and media sharing sites (YouTube), which are vital in enhancing the customer experience. These are visited by millions of people around the world every day and your business is sure to reach many people in a short time. As we speak, it is very probable that your customers and competitors are already using social media.
The first strategy to focus on is monitoring. Customers and competitors are out there on the web talking about your business or products. Giving a response or taking part in the conversation will build a sense of trust and confidence they have in you. Before you respond to any questions or provide information, you need to know what they are talking about, where it is being said, and who is talking about it. Tools abound on the web which search for your name, business name or product. Set up an account on your RSS feeder reader and monitor the feeds daily. Such tools include Technorati search, Google news search and Social Mention just to mention a few. Through this, you will be able to get complaints about your products, get suggestions on how to improve and what they love about your products. You can also find out what people say about your competitor products. This will put you ahead of competition, while providing customers with what they want.
Once you have discovered the information, you will need to respond. The response must be well timed and planned. Responses will show the potential customers that you are concerned and you can listen. This goes a long way to make them build trust in you.
In summary, posting information through social media portrays the human side of your business. It also allows for two way conversations between you and the customer thus encouraging interactivity, connection and feedback from potential customers. The use of social networking sites enables customers to connect directly with the people in your business making them feel recognized, respected and welcomed. After all, isn’t that how we want to feel?