Social Media can level the playing field. It’s the equalizer between small and big businesses. Even solo entrepreneurial businesses can create a global presence using social media. With a strong website, optimized with the right words and phrases, a small business can make a big presence.
Another benefit to social media is cost. Actually it’s the lack of cost. You don’t need to pay for advertising in newspapers or billboards. You don’t need to hire a media company to buy airtime on radio and television. No, you just need to exploit the free or low cost opportunities that social media provides. And, of course you have to create the content and information that you post.
Here are just a few powerful ways that any company can use social media to engage with their customers:
- If customer service is important to you, and it should be, then have someone (or a team) be part of your social service strategy. Monitor the different social channels like Twitter, Facebook and Yelp. You’re not only looking to react to customers who are posting negative reviews or complaints, you are looking to engage and thank the customers who post positive comments.
- One of the strongest social media strategies is content marketing. You will become a valuable resource to your customers when you post information about your products and your industry. The key is to not be self-promoting. Give value and you will develop a following that looks forward to your insights. Post blogs, articles and create white papers that share information on the latest and greatest happening, not just with you and your company, but in your industry.
- Repurpose content from your blogs and articles. Extract a sentence or two from your content and turn them into Tweets. Take short pithy quotes from your articles and “pin” them to Pinterest. Create a slide show of your articles with cool graphics you can purchase from royalty-free photography sites such as BigStock Photo and post them on SlideShare. There are many places you can place repurposed content.
- An offshoot of content marketing is article consolidation. Create daily Google Alerts for any articles, blog posts, or news related to your products and industry. Read through the alerts for news that your customers may be interested in. Share these articles on Twitter, Facebook and other social channels. Once a week take the top five or ten articles that you’ve read and create a blog post. For example, on Mondays I post an article titled Top Five Customer Service Articles of the Week (and I include the date). My clients have felt this to be one of the most powerful strategies and tactics they use.
- Are you confident enough to feature your competitors on your website? If so, consider having a semi-regular guest post from one of your friendly competitors or colleagues in your industry. This shows that you really are interested in sharing relevant content, even if it is not yours, with your community.
- Participate on LinkedIn. Don’t just have a personal or company profile. Get involved with the LinkedIn groups. It’s a powerful way to engage with your community. And, now you can publish your articles and blog posts to LinkedIn.
- Have a YouTube strategy. Next to Google, the biggest search engine is YouTube. Posting valuable and informative videos is powerful. If you want to get recognized quickly, then start posting videos. Again, I’ll emphasize that you shouldn’t be promotional. Deliver value. However, it is fine to include a promotional line or two at the end of the video or in the description underneath the video. Just don’t go overboard with the promotion. It should be subtle. Some tips that will help you. First, you don’t have to have a professional studio. Believe it or not, an iPhone has a great camera that is more than adequate for a YouTube video. I would recommend buying an inexpensive microphone to plug into the camera or iPhone, as the audio needs to be good. People will forgive you for not having top-notch video, but they will leave you in a moment if the audio is poor. Creating content for your videos is easy. Just go to your articles and blog posts and repurpose them for your videos. If you want to get fancy, get an inexpensive software program to edit your videos. If you have a Mac, you already have the software on your computer.
In almost all of the above strategies it is important to remember that it’s not a one-way street. You’re not posting content and moving on. You need to encourage engagement. That means you interact. You welcome and react to comments. You want to have conversations with your community of customers. It’s about engagement. It’s about connecting. It’s about creating relationships. Social Media is a gift. Embrace it and reap the rewards it will bring you.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and New York Times bestselling author.
Find more information at www.Hyken.com.
Follow on Twitter @Hyken.