Social media is all about being part of the conversation. Businesses love to automate communication so that they have more time for normal business operations while still participating in new media channels.
The fact of the matter is that internet users have become jaded and skeptical. We’re tired of advertisements. We’re exhausted of spammy jaunts for our attention. We’re always ready to tune out more and more noise.
At the same time, more and more businesses are vying for the attention of their local customers, and their media of choice are social and free. So how, then, are local marketers ever going to reach their customers? Easy–just be a real person!
We’re used to tuning out spam, but we still pay attention to real people. Don’t get me wrong, though–social media is definitely harder work and takes more time to be real, but it’s the only way you will be heard. Mass blasts don’t work anymore (unless you’re giving something away for free).
Monitor the Conversation
How do you start being a real person? Follow Dale Carnegie’s advice: Listen at least twice as much as you talk. See what people are saying about you, your area, and your industry. You know more about your business than they do, so engage them. If your customer receives a direct response from you, they know you are real.
Who knows? You might even find missed opportunities when you are listening to what people want. If you tweeted that you were looking for some good Italian food, and a local Italian place responded directly back to you, wouldn’t you be more inclined to visit?
Respond to your Customer
When your customers speak to you, they aren’t expecting a direct response back. When you do, in fact, respond with answers about your company, product, or service, you are already exceeding their expectations. You also produce other great results:
- Solve disputes before they waste the time of your support crew and escalated attention
- Give customers a response, and they are less likely to smear your name across the Internet
- You get instant feedback
If no one is paying attention to what critics are saying, they will likely keep saying it. There are always 2 sides to every story, so if you express the company’s point of view, more people will understand differences.
If you haven’t already, get a dedicated person to handle your social media. Make sure it’s someone you can trust because what you say is very public, and very permanent. Set aside some budget for it. Building a relationship takes time and effort, and it can definitely be facilitated by goodwill activities, such as contests, giveaways, and other fun interactions.
Remember – the relationship is EVERYTHING, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.