Social Media can consume a lot of your time.
Before writing your blog, chatting on forums, pumping out emails, or building your Facebook, Google+ and Twitter following you should answer one killer question:
“How will my activity increase my profits?”
Social media is about deepening your relationship with existing customers and building trust and rapport with potential customers.
Trust is the biggest prize in business.
- People buy from businesses they trust
- People often pay a premium to buy from businesses they trust
- They return and buy again from businesses they trust
- They recommend businesses they trust to their friends
Frustratingly trust is earned one customer at a time. But each of your customer’s could become a “Trust Catalyst”. A potential customer, hearing one whisper of recommendation from them beats a torrent of communication from you.
Word of mouth, from one friend to another is the most powerful way to spread trust. But it’s slow and relies on your service cropping up in their conversation.
What if they shared their experience with anyone who was interested in your service? Some of them do and you might not even be aware of it.
78% of UK internet users search for products and services online. Many seek out reviews and online ratings as part of their buying decision. Do they find you or your competitors?
Amazon and Ebay built their business on customer reviews. Both encouraged their customers to rate the products and services they bought. “Early adopters” shared their positive experiences and helped to persuade others to try them out.
Some customers are painfully honest as this review on Amazon shows. It’s from “Andrew” and shares his experience with Veet, a hair removal gel for men (excuse the language):
“Being a loose cannon who does not play by the rules the first thing I did was ignore the warning and smear this all over my knob and bollocks. The bollocks I knew and loved are gone now. In their place is a maroon coloured bag of agony which sends stabs of pain up my body every time it grazes against my thigh or an article of clothing. I am suffering so that you don’t have to. Heed my lesson. DO NOT PUT ON KNOB AND BOLLOCKS.
(I am giving this product a 5 because despite the fact that I think my bollocks might fall off, they are now completely hairless.)”
On Amazon reviews are everything. They are the number one reason why people buy or not. People want “social proof” from other people that the product is a good buy. Amazon knows this and allows customers to sort their searches by Average Customer Review.
What’s really interesting is that only a small proportion of Amazon’s customers bother to write a review. Yet these reviews determine a product’s success.
Your customers can leave their comments, ratings and reviews on forums, blogs, Facebook, Google+, Google+ Local, Google Merchant Ratings, Twitter, LinkedIn and endless other “social media” you’ve never heard of. And as with Amazon, a tiny proportion of your customers will determine your online reputation.
I believe that just about every business needs to systematically encourage and facilitate online ratings and reviews. They need to build their “social proof”.
Those who build social proof will be visible.
Those who don’t will be invisible. And invisible businesses don’t survive.
The shrewdest business owners will take “social proof” a step further. They’ll seek to engage with their customers and potential customers online. They’ll answer their questions, respond to problems and educate; all the time building trust and rapport.
The key question for any business that intends to invest time and money in developing their social media presence is…
“How will my activity increase my profits?”
This answer to this question should shape your approach to social media. And to properly answer it you need to dig deeper:
- What service or product do you offer?
- What do you want to say about your offer?
- Who will be your messenger?
- Where are your existing customers?
- Do they read your blog?
- Have you got their email address?
- Do they hang out on any forums?
- Are they on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn etc?
- Where are your potential customers?
- How receptive are they?
- What compelling value can you give them to persuade them to engage with you?
- How will your activity increase your profits?
Most businesses dive in without considering these questions and waste hours of their time. Many even manage to alienate their existing and potential customers with incessant promotional messages. They don’t listen and respond to their customers, they fail to add value and they just talk about themselves.
The best deliver relevant messages, at the right time to people who are interested in their service. The messages are tailored to the platform being used. A blog post may be amended for Facebook or rewritten for Google+. Forum posts must be in keeping with the spirit of the forum or risk being pounced and ridiculed by members.
All contributions should add value, inform or entertain. Only rarely and appropriately should they promote a service or product.
Engaging with social media can become an incredibly powerful means of communication, building loyalty, respect and advocacy. It feels personal, but it’s usually publicly available to all. Have a look at 3 examples in this blog post by Danny Brown – Businesses Doing it Right