Ask Not What Social Media Can Do For Your Company

12 Social Media Tips to Help Your Firm Support Its Community

Many firms enter the social media ecosphere in hopes of expanding their customer base and increasing sales. On social media, these organizations often act as they do on other media by using it as a one-way broadcast platform. In doing so, they miss the key element of social media engagement—it’s social. Social media goes beyond idle chatter to focus on the community. Every marketer should therefore ask what their organization can do for the social media community.

If you’re thinking of using social media as just another way to distribute your marketing promotions, get ready to keep competing on price because this is the main reason customers follow companies on Facebook. But understand that this may not be a good long-term strategy since it’s sure to erode your margins! Instead get your organization to actively participate in social media to support the greater good of the community that includes your target market.

To help get your company on course, here are twelve tips.

  1. Play by social media’s rules. This means being open and transparent. While this can be scary for many businesses, it doesn’t mean disclosing confidential information about your firm or its clients. Define what this means for your business and let your employees, customers and the public know. At a minimum, create a set of social media guidelines. (Of course, it helps to be prepared for a PR Crisis.)
  2. Offer a human face with human emotions. Face it, no one likes dealing with a faceless organization. They think of the person in your store. On social media platforms decide who or how you’re going to present the human side of your company. Is it a spokesperson, executive or customer service representatives?
  3. Add a dash of personality to your corporate image. On social media, your company and related brand has to step out of its shell. Consider what traits you want to highlight. Understand that social media requires having a 360 degree brand. (Here’s help developing your brand on social media.)
  4. Tap into your organization’s wealth of knowledge. Every firm has its share of in-house expertise. Take advantage of your employees’ storehouse of information. Provide them with the tools to engage with your target market’s community.  Think about your product development team and others who may not usually be in the spotlight.
  5. Answer customer questions related to your product. Don’t just stay within your own media or Facebook pages. Let your employees and experts answer questions related to your company and products on Q&A sites. Use Yahoo Answers, Quora and LinkedIn.
  6. Provide customer service. Extend your customer service department to social media. This means having representatives who are trained to answer customer questions at every step of the purchase process. Realize that requests may come from customers on-the-go who need quick responses. Don’t overlook the need to get a customer’s geolocation.
  7. Allow customer reviews. For many firms this can be a major hurdle since they’re concerned about what their customers might say. Get over it. If you don’t provide this information, your prospects will seek them from your competitors or third party sites.
  8. Supply product usage information. Think beyond the user manual. Give owners the extra help they need. Use a combination of text, photographs and video where appropriate.
  9. Encourage customers to share tips and techniques. Break down the geographic barriers between your customers and fans. Get them to show others their shortcuts and improvisations with your products.
  10. Educate prospects and customers. Skip the reading, writing and arithmetic, think in terms of fun stuff related to your products such as makeup and cooking. Use videos and photographs.
  11. Give prospects, customers and fans the spotlight. Part of the reason people participate on social media is to show off their awesomeness. Feed this need by having a customer of the day or project of the week.
  12. Offer your space for Meetups and other live customer events. Of course, this requires having a physical office or store. Encourage community among your customers and give them a reason to stop by your business. For example, Lion’s Brand Studio, a yarn store in New York, has a movie the last Thursday of every month with a knitting scene in it.

For businesses, often the most difficult step in social media is to break down the organizational walls to enable human relations between employees and customers. Remember, at the heart of social media is the principle that people like to deal with people.

What other social media steps to support community would you recommend for your business and why?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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