There are so many tools available to small businesses today, it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming and make you long for the good old days when all you had was a land-line telephone, a bottle of whiskey in your desk drawer, and sturdy walking shoes. As far as we’re concerned, the positives about the modern social networking age far outweigh the negatives – as long as you have the tools and support to take advantage of all the opportunities out there.
Social Media: Being seaworthy on the vast ocean of information
One problem that arises for many businesses is that they concentrate, at first, entirely on building up their list of contacts – friends, followers, likes and connections. This is, naturally, the essential first step; you can’t implement a marketing strategy if you don’t have anyone to market to! But it’s just Step One, and all too often businesses don’t have a Step Two. The exciting possibilities of social media can soon become insurmountable challenges if you don’t have a plan. What do you do with it all once you have all of these leads?
The obvious: lukewarm calls
If you’ve gotten a like, a friend request, a follow, or some other voluntary connection from someone on the social media platforms you utilize, it doesn’t take a brilliant intuitive leap to suggest having a sales rep contact them. One advantage here is that the psychological barrier isn’t as high as it is for cold calls: the person may not necessarily be thinking about getting a sales response from you when they click “Like,” but they clearly have warm feelings towards your business. In addition, social media users have become conditioned to expect reactions to their actions–you won’t be committing a faux pas by following up.
Keep in mind that when you contact someone you’ve gathered via social media, you have a lot of information about them. Use it! Your sales reps can quickly get some idea of why they like your business and what their needs might be before they make that first outreach.
The less obvious: lead farming
One of the most powerful aspects of social media is, unsurprisingly, the “social” aspect. When one person invites you into their social media circle, you have access not only to one person who is at the very least interested in the type of business that you do; you also have access to their circle of friends, followers, or professional contacts. This is a perfect opportunity to spend some time looking through profiles and identifying other people in their circles who might be interested in your services or products.
Contacting people who have liked your page or made positive comments about your business and engaging them can lead to spontaneous,public endorsements of your product or customer service – public endorsements that are instantly transmitted to a wide range of people. This can be more powerful than simple advertising; in today’s world people are very aware of advertising and very distrusting of it. But personal recommendations by people they trust and admire remain absolute gold.
On the flip side, the social media contacts you have acquired are also perfect opportunities for some active customer service outreach. Monitoring social media for complaints or comments about your company allows you to reach out to any customer having a problem involving your business, or to contacts having difficulty getting in touch with you, or even people singing your praises. Instead of passively waiting for customers to contact you when they need something, you can foster a conversation. When customers think of your business as a friendly, problem-solving entity instead of simply a service, they will be inclined to spend more time (and money) with you above other businesses.
The term analytics is becoming one of those buzzwords that everyone throws around to sound smart – but the fact is using analytics on the social media contacts you’ve built up is one of the best ways to make that data work for you. Analytics can be used in a variety of ways: You can analyze the contact list itself, looking for patterns. You can search through profiles and Twitter streams of contacts looking for keywords that apply to your business – if your service or product is in their conversation, they may need your help! You can also look at patterns in your contacts list to see where your new customers are coming from so you can narrow your outreach, or analyze which groups of your contacts do the most business with you, so you can concentrate on the groups you get the most back from. The information is there, it just requires a discerning human mind to leverage it.
Use social media smarter, not harder
No matter what you choose to do, the important takeaway is this: Once you’ve done the hard work of building those social media contacts, you have to integrate them with customer relations management strategies and tools to get the return on your effort.
What are your thoughts? How have you used social media conversion to improve your business?