How Social Media can Secure Customer Relationships 04 Dec 2014

How Social Media can Secure Customer Relationships

Social media is becoming a cornerstone of marketing for many businesses. Services like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all are used to engage customers and even provide a higher degree of service. While it is a critical point of engagement for most businesses, an organization is too often believed social media is not important in their business. However, customers are increasingly expecting a social media presence and the lack of one can hurt the credibility of a brand. In addition, it is even important in areas outside of marketing, especially to recruit new talent into the organization. Social media can help build long lasting relationships with customers for business that use it to engage on the next level.

Importance of Social Media and Where to Engage Customers

Social media increases its importance every day. It is now the number one internet activity for Americans. They spend more time on social media than email. 60% of engagement is from mobile platforms, so mobile friendly content is important.

Facebook is the number one service in terms of engagement, closely followed by Instagram and then Twitter in third. In addition, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Pinterest are all also of some importance. While Facebook is the leading service, engage your audience one the devices and services they use. When deciding how to engage customers, understand your customers. For a consulting business, Facebook is probably not all that important, but Twitter and LinkedIn probably are. A consulting business may get traction and raise awareness by publishing to its Twitter and LinkedIn feeds. Management companies publish frequent articles on social media that improve brand awareness and develop a dedicated subscriber base. It provides some value to prospects and clients for free.

While that approach is great for a consulting company, a consumer product company may be better off using Facebook, placing ads on social media sites, and using other forms of engagement. The key is to explore options, engage your customers, and develop lasting relationships.

Higher Level of Engagement

A few years ago, there was a well-publicized story on Morton’s Steakhouse. A man named Peter Shankman was flying from Tampa Bay to Newark when he tweeted to Morton’s that it would be great if they could meet him at the gate with a porterhouse steak. Much to his surprise, a man in a tuxedo from Morton’s was waiting for Mr. Shankman with the porterhouse upon his arrival. Shankman was shocked and the story went viral online.

It probably helped that Mr. Shankman has over 100,000 Twitter followers and is a social media entrepreneur that focuses on PR stunts. He is also a frequent customer of Morton’s, and this gesture probably secured Mr. Shankman as a customer for life.

From a marketing perspective, Morton’s received a lot a visibility from making this simple gesture. In this case, the social media manager was actively engaged, checked who the tweet was from, and understood the power of someone with 100,000+ followers. Morton’s entrenched the relationship with Mr. Shankman, and also probably further solidified its relationships with other customers. People want to buy from companies that treat their customers this way. Everyone wants to get noticed, especially in an online world where it is easy to become just another person.

Value of Social Media Is Hard to Measure

Social media is incredibly hard to place a value on for an organization because its reach is much wider. It is not as simple as measuring purchases based upon ecommerce transactions that started with social media. Research form Altimeter Group indicates that 56% of marketers list the “inability to tie social media to business outcomes” as the biggest pain point around social media. Often customers learn about brands and companies they buy from based up social media, but it is hard to measure that.

The previous example with Morton’s is another example of how hard it is to measure. What sort of value is placed on reaching all of Mr. Shankman’s Twitter followers and eventually everyone that read the story? It is clearly high, but hard to place a dollar figure on. Companies cannot afford to let this stop or slow there level of social media engagement.

Other organizations can learn from the Morton’s case. While it is not always possible to respond to every tweet or message, staying engaged and looking for opportunities like this can pay off. Organizations should engage closely with social media followers and “friends” that have wide networks. Through some simple acts, the business can find and use champions for their brand. This builds off of the old idea of getting referral business, but now with social media, it is possible to for one person to refer products and services to thousands or even millions in some cases.

– Research Optimus

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