Social media has walked the fiery coals of skepticism and has brilliantly performed as a marketing, customer service and relationship building tool beyond expectations.
All size businesses have taken the polar bear plunge into what felt like an alien way of communicating with their customers. When businesses began using Facebook fan pages, Twitter, engaging on forums, blogging, creating videos on YouTube and more, they realized that being a less like a brand and more human created real long lasting relationships with their customers.
A few things businesses have learned about social media:
It isn't free: Social media costs time - a lot of time. If you have someone that is customer focused, understands how to write headlines and reaches out to the right audiences, then you are starting out solid.
Be Creative: Social media isn't sell media. Be social. Have fun engaging your community, from congratulating them on opening their new business, to commenting on their blog and attending networking events with them.
Have a Team: This isn't a one person show. Just like customer service everyone needs to be trained and have at least a basic understanding on how to help customers, sell the product as well as assist with customer concerns.
Start with Employees: The people that know how to talk about your brand, company and culture the best are your employees. Treat them as family, acknowledge and appreciate and make them feel as they are an important part of your business. Employees are the first to share with their communities and network their experience with your company and brand.
Listen First: Enough with the megaphone blasting your message to customers and employees. Start by spending some time listening to them instead. Reach out and connect with your customers, employees and fans of your brand and make them feel that they are the center of the conversation.
Customers Turn into Marketers: Customers that feel acknowledged and appreciated are loyal, excited to help and eager to be your brand evangelists, at no charge.
Consistency Matters: Have your pixel pixie help you create a Twitter background that matches your website branding, and a Facebook logo that fits, little things that your graphic deisgner can do to enrich
Connect online then in real life: Find ways to connect offline, have an open house, attend a networking event and then share the experience with your social media communities.
Seek Guidance: Look for someone who understands the tools, language, has experience and passion working with social media to give you an hour or two to give you a tour. Learn about social media management tools, ways to monitor effectiveness, help with content strategy and ways to find your audience.
Looking forward to a prosperous 2011 of seeing your business being social online and off.
Do you feel that something is missing? Share in the comments.