Today, we’re going to talk about how turning up the transparency volume on your social media channels can help your business get and keep more customers. After all, that’s why you’re reading this blog. (It’s OK… We know that’s why you’re here. Full disclosure: That’s why we’re writing it.)
It all boils down to one word: Authenticity. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and blogs may be unique platforms, but they’re all part of the social media movement, which is about consumer-to-consumer interactions rather than top-down messaging. Sure, you have some static content on these channels, but the great majority of the work your company does on social media is via interactions with customers and potential customers. You’re mostly answering to them rather than pushing out information. And that key difference is what sets social media apart from other forms. Word of mouth, ratings and comments play a huge role in this part of the world, allowing potential customers to feel as though they’re getting the straight scoop. Social media also provides a public forum for your company to get credit for the amazing customer service you do, day in and day out. (You do have an amazing and transparent customer service platform, right? With eighty four percent of consumers telling Nielsen that they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from people they know, and social science proving that customers who have a bad experience will tell five people but those who have a good experience only tell two, it’s clear that the cost of going the extra mile to make a customer happy is far less costly than not doing so. If you don’t have such a system in place, see to that first and get back to us.)
Transparent social media interactions also are key to establishing personal relationships with potential brand ambassadors. Let’s say you manufacture dog toys. Your Facebook wall serves as a platform for your brand enthusiasts to spread the love (Fido LOVES his toy!) or report a problem (The toy broke). The first case is easy: You thank the fan for their enthusiasm, throw in a specific reference to their post so they don’t feel like they’re getting canned corporate speak, and everybody goes home in a limousine. The second case is slightly harder — but it has way more potential for converting that customer into a true brand believer: When a customer comes to you with a complaint, resolve it above his or her satisfaction in a polite and straightforward manner. Treat them like people, because they are (and you are, too). Simply doing this sets a company apart from its competition faster than any Olympically-expensive advertising campaign can. Solve their problem and reaffirm their belief in the human race and suddenly you’re buddies! They’ll do anything for you, including help you build brand awareness among their inner circle.
One last word for those of you still not using social media (or only occasionally checking in as an afterthought): As more and more traditional and new media advertising vehicles get filtered, spammed, do-not-call listed or otherwise avoided by your target market, businesses have fewer opportunities to inform their publics. If you don’t have the kind of time necessary to devote to relationship-driven, transparent social media practices, hire someone who does. Full disclosure: We just happen to know a few.