How social media can help improve your customer experience and build loyalty

 

Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. LinkedIn. Twitter. Over 80 percent of people in the U.S. use social media and that number continues to grow. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center Report, 79 percent of online adults (68 percent of all Americans) use Facebook alone! What’s more, the majority of users interact with their social accounts on a daily basis (76 percent of Facebook users do), and use more than one social media platform. There’s no better way to reach out to your customers to communicate, show your appreciation and respond to their comments.

Social media needs to be part of your marketing and customer service efforts. At first, that might seem overwhelming. So many platforms … where to go and what to do? The good news is there are a few basic steps a small business can take that will go a long way.

First, determine which social sites your customers are visiting. One way to do this is to search for mentions of your brand within popular sites. You can also use your customer demographics to help focus on specific sites. For instance, if your audience is younger, consider sites like Instagram and Snapchat; a little older, perhaps Facebook.

Facebook remains the most popular social media platform

Next, put up signage, and create website callouts to encourage your customers to post comments online about their experiences with your business. Make sure to train employees to encourage customers to connect with your business on social media, too. The reach and cost-effectiveness of social posts certainly exceeds that of all paid media. What’s more, social media provides a targeted message among people that are connected and likely to have similar interests.

Once your customers start talking about your business, be sure to dedicate time to monitor those discussions. While positive comments are great, you’ll find customers are even more likely to post negative comments. The good news is responding to negative posts — which are often based on simple issues or miscommunications — gives you a chance to develop a long term, satisfied customer, and show others that you care about your customers. Many marketing pros consider solving a customer’s issue the best marketing of all!

Posting relevant comments and special offers on social media is another great way to reach your customers. Remember to focus on those sites you’ve determined are most popular among your customers (a common mistake is putting too much effort into a social site just because it’s popular and not considering if your customers fit the site user profile). And whatever you do, make sure your posts are informative and not intrusive or too “salesy.”

An often overlooked yet powerful use of social media is for customer support. The trendy term for this is “Social Care.” The comments your customers post are a great way to provide customer support, but you can also be proactive and let your customers know they can post service questions on specific social sites (Facebook and Twitter are most popular for this). Of course, as with all social media, you need to be properly staffed to monitor and respond quickly to customer service posts and tweets.

Nearly half of U.S. consumers use social media to ask questions, report satisfaction, or to complain—and a third of social media users prefer "social care" to the phone, according to a recent Nielsen Social Media Report. If your business isn’t using social media to stay in touch and support your customers, you’ll find the simple steps just discussed will go a long way toward enhanced customer satisfaction, repeat business and referrals.

Info provided by Pew Research Center:  http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/pi_2016-11-11_social-media-update_0-01/

 

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