Foster Relationships Online
To foster relationships, you interact with your customers where they naturally congregate. Now that also happens on social networking sites where you can:
- Establish, promote, or protect your brand
- Become known for thought leadership
- Prospect for leads and generate sales
- Conduct service and fulfillment
Typical Business Uses of Social Media Sites
How you best use social sites depends on the specifics of your company, but there are some fairly typical and effective ways of using the most visited sites.
1: Establish, Promote, or Protect a Brand
Let’s face it, Facebook is still key to branding in the social space, especially if your business is B2C and even more so if you sell to a youthful demographic. You also should have content on YouTube and integrate it with your Facebook page.
If you can depict your company’s offerings in interesting visual ways – whether beautiful product photos, fascinating infographics, or insightful charts – it’s worth posting them to Pinterest and its growing user base.
If your business is B2B you need a vital presence you on LinkedIn but it’s likely that you can reduce your Facebook marketing and use the freed-up resources to create it.
Finally you need a social listening capability to hear what is being said about your company and your brand.
2: Become Known for Thought Leadership
To stay front of mind for your expertise, you need to complement your email program and blog with a robust Twitter presence. Linking your Twitter account to your LinkedIn and Facebook pages will help you leverage your tweets for greater impact. You should also leverage YouTube, or an industry-specific hosting site, for videos of your speaking engagements. Finally, consider Tumblr for quick blog posts. It could replace your more complex blogging site, especially if you don’t really solicit or react to comments.
3: Prospect for Leads and Generate Sales
Just like with branding, Facebook and and YouTube are your “go to” sites to get customers into your B2C sales and marketing funnel – ideally as part of rich multi-channel campaigns. Google+ should figure into your search engine optimization efforts as Google considers activity there when determining its search results. If you’re a B2B business, you should establish a presence on LinkedIn, as should your sales reps (regulations permitting). As with thought leaders, your sales reps should use LinkedIn and Twitter to foster relationships and establish themselves as experts with their customers and prospects.
4: Conduct Service and Fulfillment
Your customers are likely talking about you online. Unfortunately, some of are complaining about you too – and right on your Facebook page! You need to intercept those complaints and turn them into service opportunities. Your listening platform will help you uncover other places where your customers are voicing their issues. As part of your fulfillment process you can create anticipation and buzz through Twitter or Pinterest and provide product instruction on YouTube.
A Few More Thoughts
Some innovative companies have been using social sites and crowdsourcing to help them develop product ideas and strategy. Others use them to assist with their social responsibility and community support programs. There are many more social networking sites than those discussed here and some might make sense for your company. Like anything else, what’s important is to set goals, develop a plan, and measure your results.