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Social Media: Engage with your customers

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As someone who spends most of his day looking at how social media impacts small and medium‑sized businesses, it’s always interesting to talk to entrepreneurs who are resistant to using social media to speak to their customers.

Although I try to walk a mile in their shoes, it takes me a while to remember that:

  1. They don’t check Facebook/Twitter/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn all day long.
  2. They don’t follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s or Seth Godin’s social channels. (Feel free to Google)
  3. They don’t dig into their website’s Google Analytics on daily (sometimes hourly) basis.

Where’s the ROI?

Of course they don’t; they’re busy running a business. That’s probably why, over and over, we hear them say: Why bother? I don’t understand it! There’s no ROI!

For someone not in the social media space, those statements are understandable. But you shouldn’t be too quick to judge social media. Instead, think about how you acquire new customers.

How do they find out about your brand/product/service? Most often, it’s through what’s being said about you and the first impressions they get about you when they make contact.

Understanding how social media works

It’s no different online. You need to understand what social media is actually used for… and this is going to be a doozy.

It’s for being social! (Mind blowing, I know)

Traditional marketing is still relevant. But it’s 2013. You have the opportunity to use the digital space to tell customers a story about you and your business, give them something that will make them see your brand positively and, hopefully, share the news with others.

A value exchange with customers

The challenge of social media is this value exchange. Customers are more likely to follow brands in social channels that offer them something (i.e. info / entertainment / discounts). There’s always the “What’s in it for me?” element.

For them, it’s meant to be fun, not work.

Consumers use social media as a place to interact with others about things that interest them. That could be their friend’s trip to Machu Picchu or maybe the latest technology trend in their line of business. But, by in large, they’re not there to buy anything. It’s an escape for some and a place to do research for others.

Approaching it the right way

What entrepreneurs need to understand is that social media really can work, if you approach it in the right way. Coming to social media with a, “SALE! SALE! SALE! Everything Must Go!” attitude will absolutely backfire.

This is the place where you build your audience by listening to what others are saying and putting your two cents into the conversation.

Engage your audience and sales will follow

You add value to your brand by just being nice and helpful. That’s right, just open, grateful, and supportive. It’s about using interesting content to engage with customers and potential customers, not about landing that big fish client who ‘Liked’ your Post or ‘Re‑Tweeted’ you. That’s like going right for dessert before the appetizer has arrived.

Patience, Grasshopper. Establish the relationship and be open.

Don’t sell first. Instead, follow the 3 E’s: Entertain. Engage. Educate. The sales will come in time.



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