News & Events
A growing number of companies are jumping on to the social media bandwagon, with Facebook Pages and Twitter streams helping them reach out to worldwide markets and supplementing traditional blogs and media handouts, with a community of followers that can be reached quickly and cost-effectively. Companies are also discovering the risks of outsourcing the “engagement” bit of their social media strategy.
There are several pitfalls to be avoided with social media, and we will cover them in detail soon. When it comes to engagement, however, with social media usage being a relatively recently phenomenon, it is clear that there is no single established “best strategy”, but rather, a collection of strategies that work together while approaching the medium in different ways. A recent Forrester Research report delineates the most important steps companies can take to better engage their social media audience:
…In 2011, success and differentiation within social channels will come from distinctions in strategy and not just tactics. Being present in your customers’ preferred social channels may be a best practice, but superior social media marketing results will only be delivered by:
Brands are moving from simply being present on social networks to taking a more active role on social media. Here are three recommendations for businesses to effectively leverage their social media assets:
Get your current and prospective customers involved in providing feedback or improvements to your products and/or services. Take advantage of the interactivity of social media sites by conducting opinion polls and actively helping your fans use your products and/ or services better. Crowdsourcing, or involving large numbers of people to generate ideas, suggest improvements,
According to social media strategist Robert Ball, “Study their behavior, listen to their thoughts and comments and learn how your products and services can help solve a problem they have. This will determine how you will engage. Good engagement leads to sales or improved customer service, everything else is just noise and clutter. Remember: Customers don’t want to be “messaged,” “pitched,” or “positioned.” The days of “spray and pray” are coming to an end. There’s a reason it’s called interactive advertising.”
Everyone can appreciate a company going the extra mile to provide a superior experience with your brand. Examples:
Whether it is a simple discount coupon, a rebate on a new product, or some other benefit offered to loyal customers and future prospects, everyone loves to get a good deal on a purchase, and such offers can keep a customer coming back for more.
According to a recent survey, when asked what types of interactions new media users look for when they engage with brands and companies online, the response breakdown was as follows with a single tactic far exceeding the rest:
A few examples where brands have seen success using incentives:
Firms must try to become more open in their interactions with customers and the media, rather than being secretive. If there is a problem with a product or service, they need to own up to it and get in touch with affected parties to resolve the problem. This will increase trust in your brand and improve customers’ experiences with your company, which will inevitably propagate via word-of-mouth and affect your bottom-line down the road.
According to Gartner, Inc., many social media efforts are failing because some enterprises just don’t understand how to employ social media to facilitate collective behaviors. The study concluded that “Enterprises can employ these collective behaviors as the link between business value and social media technologies. They can use them to examine a target community and formulate new ways that people can interact to achieve enterprise value. By understanding the most prevalent technologies, collaborative behaviors, business use cases and business value for six collective behaviors, enterprises can more effectively plan for successful community-based social media initiatives.”
“Social media is not an end in and of itself– it is an enabler. Social media technologies are tools and, like any technology, it is how people use those tools that delivers enterprise results” said Anthony Bradley, group vice president at Gartner.
It is now only a matter of time, indeed inevitable, for businesses to have a social media presence. For many companies, though, much of the current engagement efforts barely consist more than the occasional product update. There are exceptions to these generic business “follower” pages, of course, proving that enlightened and interested business owners and managers can successfully engage with their prospects and customers.