Talking to Your Customers via Social Media

“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.” – Bonnie Sainsbury

Technology is a funny beast. On the one hand, it has seemingly made it easier for companies to reach their target audience, while on the other it has given companies the herculean task of managing all the channels for connecting with their target market. Customer expectations seem to have sharply increased – they demand that companies connect and speak with them in the way they want and through the channels they deem appropriate.  Traditional methods of reaching potential customers and other audience are still around, but prove to be less cost effective for companies as compared to connecting via social media. It has become imperative to recognize the utility of talking to your customers via social media, alongside other traditional methods of communicating.

Talking to your customers is now preferred since it is a lot cheaper, has instant recognition, and immediate visibility.  Social media platforms have become ‘smarter and more efficient’, offering companies the opportunity to place their promotional advertisements, thereby affording them with instant visibility with a much larger audience at a fraction of the cost incurred on traditional methods.  However, along with these opportunities, also come greater challenges owing to the same factors of visibility and reach. If your company does not make it a habit of talking to your customers, it can be easily construed as neglect and discourteous behaviour.  However, talking to your customers is not as simple as it sounds.

When attempting to connect and talk with customers, very often the messages that go out are generic and non-specific, which not only dilute the essence of the messages, but also can offend. Such ‘umbrella’ messages do not resonate with any one, and would push prospects away. There is another problem too when talking to your customers via social media – in an attempt to make messages appear relevant, a company could possibly be addressing one specific group of customers, which in turn could alienate a much rather group and present the company as a non-inclusive and unapproachable one.  Before talking to your customers it is imperative for a company to know whom it is talking to, what it would like to convey, and what the target audience would be interested in hearing.

Given what we have mentioned above, it is possible to get talking to your customers via social media, but it requires a shift in approach and a forward thinking mind-set. It is necessary for any company to identify customer segments, which would make it easier to identify their needs, expectations, and pain areas. It is essential to know what customers expect from a company, and the benefits they hope to receive by associating with it. Every company should be able to identify proactively the expectations and problems of their customers, such that it is able to customize its products and solutions to alleviate the pain of customers and live up to their expectations. This may seem like the obvious thing to do, but unfortunately, many companies are not actually talking to customers about their needs, but rather using social media to ‘trumpet’ their offerings and promotions. Doing so is the fastest and surest way for the target audience and other readers to turn away.

Talking to your customers via social media is a real-time conversation – quite akin to speaking with a person directly. If a company were to meet a customer face-to-face, it would be unlikely that it would use this interaction to tom-tom its offerings and products. Rather this time would be spent trying to get the customer to express their needs and expectations, and figure out the best solutions to address their problems. This is exactly what should happen via social media too. Customers expect and want to know that a company understands them, cares about their issues, and would do whatever possible to satisfy their needs. When sending out messages and communiqués especially via social media, therefore, it would be necessary to ensure that you are talking to your customers – not at them. Talking to your customers is about understanding them and offering solutions and benefits through each message. The more a company does this, it would find its relationships with its existing customers deepening and improving. Potential customers too would be more inclined to listen and convert to actual buying customers.

As mentioned talking to your customers via social media is not the same as ‘talking’ to them through other channels. Social media ‘talking’ requires a robust strategy, and a commitment from a company to try new approaches, measure results, and consistently reach out to customers as and when they deem appropriate. The better a company is able to connect with the audience via social media, the better its chances at encouraging positive word of mouth, in addition to the visibility gained via social media. Positive word of mouth from customers not only generates a buzz and excitement around a company, it also builds trust and confidence in the minds of a much larger audience, which in turn could mean more customers and business for a company. It is therefore important for your company to not only do great work, but also ensure that when talking to your customers you give them a reason to speak well about your company. Each message should be something that creates positive experiences for people, which they would love to speak about and feel encouraged to associate with the company.

Are you talking to your customers via social media, and otherwise? What do you believe are some of the best ways to connect with an audience? Customers love to stay informed, and it would be prudent for a company to become the ‘vessel’ through which information reaches customers and a wide audience. Promoting the new products and services of a company via social media would not only reach a wide segment but would gain instant feedback for the company too via views, likes, shares, and comments. Talking to your customers is all about staying in touch with them – so sharing events, news, highlights, achievements, and other such things about your company keeps people interested and curious, which in turn could result in them converting to actual customers.

When talking to your customers and others, it is vital to remember that not every message and communiqué should be about your company. People want information. They want to know what a company does with respect to the community, the benefits a company can offer, and other such interesting ‘morsels’. By giving people what they want to see and hear, a company would be able to build interest and engagement for itself, without constantly talking about its products and services. Another great way of talking to your customers is by letting them know what your existing customers say about your company – share customer testimonials, and if possible add pictures of these happy customers (with their permission of course). It is a fact that people do read customer testimonials and reviews before buying from or interacting with a company. These testimonials are proof that the company is doing something right, and would it be worth investing time and money.

In whatever manner your company does, talking to your customers is extremely important and critical to your success. When using social media to ‘talk’ remember the nuances, and formulate strategies accordingly, such that every message and communiqué that goes out, adds to the reputation and value of your company, thereby building relationships with more people, than just your existing customers.

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