If you don’t engage your customers – and fail to create two-way communication – what’s the point? You’re simply using social media as an advertising channel, not a relationship-builder. Social media is like email marketing. Can you reach a new audience with your email marketing? Likely not. But email marketing nurtures and engages with your existing audience. Sure, an email may get forwarded or shared with someone new, but that person likely isn’t going to engage with you and instantly become a customer.
In the latest A.T. Kearney Social Media Study, looking into the social media practices of Interbrand’s Top 50 Brands for 2011, 27 out of 48 companies did not respond to a single customer reply on Facebook. What reason do any of those customers have to return, or what reason would I, a potential new customer, have to try the service? When you decided you wanted to implement social media marketing into your company, you probably did so as a means to contact as many people as possible, right? Well, even if they are already a customer, people need reasons to remain loyal and keep returning to your company.
The only way to ensure you’re not just jumping on the social media marketing bandwagon, and you’re really do this with your company and customers best interest is to consider these few things first.
First, you must determine the value of your customer. To do this, you need to figure out the total lifetime profit of an average customer. How much do they spend? How much of that is profit for you?
Next, determine the value of a prospect. Then, think about how much would you spend on your prospect to convert them to a customer. Let’s say the average customer is worth $800 and costs you $20 through advertising or marketing. Worth it? I think so!
You should also consider the value of capturing existing customers’ information. Doing this allows you to continue to market to them in order and get them to come back.
Choose your platforms carefully
Not all social media platforms are right for every business. Sure, Facebook is great for most — from local businesses to big brands. Twitter is also a great real-time microblogging tool for many different types of companies. But only you can decide what’s worth your time and where your customers are.
Beyond the big networks, which platforms are right for your business? Check out what they have to offer (and who’s doing it right) to determine where to spend your time. Here are a few examples:
- Foursquare: Location-based social network that helps users discover what’s nearby, check-in at their location, unlock deals and more. Great for businesses like restaurants or local shops. Check out their case studies page to see how its being used by brands and merchants alike.
- Quora: A Q&A platform that connects you to topics you want to know more about. Ask questions or answer them based on your knowledge. An optimal way to position company leadership as thought leaders in your industry or field. Also a great way to “identify topic conversationalists, firestarters, thinkers, early movers, upvoters, upvoted,” as one user points out, in order to engage them on other networks.
- Pinterest: A virtual pinboard that lets you organize images found on the web into different boards and share them. Although relatively new, companies like Whole Foods and BuzzFeed have already found interesting and unique ways of using Pinterest to connect with their audience (‘90s nostalgia, anyone?).
- Tumblr: Blogging platform where you can share photos, videos, text, quotes, and more. Easy to use and highly customizable. Used by organizations like NPR and ModCloth. Sesame Street even has an account!
Imagine you arrived early to a movie. You’re watching the advertisements, and one comes up that says, “Like us Facebook now to get a free popcorn for your movie!” Would you do it? Likely.
Or perhaps you’re in a restaurant and see a message on the wall that says, “Like us to get a free dessert.” Either way, you’d probably take a few seconds to whip out your smartphone and “like” their Facebook page in order to get the coupon.
Whatever the reason — discounts, coupons, a contest, etc. — get your customers (or potential customers) to engage so you can re-market to them to later.
Most large agencies will tell you that I’m wrong. They will show case studies (and even awards) they received from Facebook themselves for campaigns they’ve done. Well, guess what? They aren’t going after you as a client. The entire case study world in social media today is built around the big clients. Sexy clients that will drive large marketing dollars through an ad agency. Sexy clients that Facebook loves as they drive millions of revenues to their books.
Are you using social media to reach your customers? What platforms and strategy have helped you truly engage your customers?
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: FORBES