Social media has made marketing easier than ever, especially for small business owners.
As a small business owner, you no longer need to spend hours placing ads in newspapers or on TV. No, a simple post on a social media site may get you the traction you’re looking for.
Getting the word of your business out and about has become easier than ever before.
Building a business is about more than just casting a wide net and scooping up new customers or clients.
It also involves keeping those clients once you have attracted their attention.
The best way to do that in today’s instant gratification society is through social media.
Chances are, you’re already using social media to build your business.
Better serving your clients online through social media makes for happier clients. Happier clients lead to bigger sales and referrals of course.
Search for Feedback
It’s impossible to provide good customer service to your customers if you don’t know what that “service” is or what “good” even looks like to them.
They might not even realize that you don’t know what they need, nor do they care. They want what they want, and need what they need.
If you’re clueless to what that is, you’re going to lose them as a customer.
Your client might be telling others what they need, though, if you interact with them on social media.
What that means is, be aware of what online conversations others are having about you.
If your client is talking about you- good or bad- insert yourself into the conversation. Maybe it’s an issue they didn’t know you could fix with a quick, cheerful response.
It’s easy to provide a quick response that other people can see. People who are not clients (yet!) can see how you respond to problems, concerns, or other comments
Letting others see how you deal with issues goes a long way in turning potential clients into clients.
What are you searching for?
When searching for what people are saying about your business, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Searching for complaints and compliments is a great start. It’s also important to determine exactly what’s making an impact in your clients’ minds.
Organize this information so you can get a reading of what your clients think of your services.
The first thing you should look for is the client’s attitude when they’re writing the comment. Are they mad or frustrated?
Be kind and address the issue. Begin by acknowledging how frustrated they must be. A little empathy goes a long way. Provide them with a quick and painless solution if possible. If it’s not possible, tackle the issue offline.
Second, identify if the issue or issues is/are things already addressed on your website. Consider why the client hasn’t used that resource- is it too hard to find or get to or is there a broken link somewhere?
If a lot of clients are having the same issue, perhaps posting the link to the solution will also work wonders.
Third, think about how many comments actually need a response.
If only a few comments need your reply, reply to those and keep on going with your business.
If there are a lot of comments coming in at once that need responses, you should consider hiring outside help.
Once you’ve inserted yourself into online conversations about your business, don’t stop there.
Participating on social media is a great informal way to conduct market research
Notice what patterns are showing up. See if you can either expand upon or correct on a larger scale?
If something isn’t working in your business and causing concern for more than just one of your clients, it’s bound to become evident on social media and networking sites.
There is just no getting around that fact either.
Once you see that a concern is more than an isolated incident, you can take steps to correct it. Then, inform clients what changes you’ve made and how they helped solve the problem. This demonstrates that you care about their needs.
On a positive note, maybe your clients are talking about some awesome thing that you did.
Wouldn’t it be great to get more than just complaints as feedback? Knowing what your clients appreciate you shows you what you should keep doing.
When you see positive comments and feedback, let your clients know you appreciate it and value their opinions.
This will encourage them to comment more. Those positive comments are great free marketing. They’ll act like instantaneous referrals.
Done right, you can find out on what social media site the majority of your clients are spending their time.
Where are their comments coming from? Focus your time on the platforms on where the majority of your clients are spending time.
Social media success also depends on timeliness.
If you don’t respond to a post for several days, the customer might already be trying another company. Clients want instant results. Even when they don’t ask you for them.
Address All Feedback As Soon As Possible
The most vital part of customer care in today’s world is instantaneous feedback. This is where social media excels in comparison to any other medium.
Your success will come from your company’s ability to quickly and accurately address concerns.
Clients want answers as soon as they have questions. Social media is a great place for them to address their questions.
Customer service by phone is great if you have lots of people answering calls. Emails aren’t bad if you don’t mind reading and sifting through them.
But, social media lets you solve lots of issues fast.
Customers who post issues on your Facebook wall, for example, might start to post a question, realize someone else already posed the same question, and then read your response to it.
Instantly, their question gets answered. Perhaps lots of people have the same question or comment.
You can look at your wall or newsfeed or whatever media source it is and see the list of that one question and comment the answer one time to feed the masses.
The magic number here is 60 minutes – clients want answers in that time or less.
It can be a lot to ask depending on the size of your customer care team, but it’s possible if you focus.
Put angry or otherwise disgruntled customers first. Followed by other lesser complaints so you can make your customers happy.
If you can’t find an answer for a client in that 60-minute window, let them know you are aware of the problem and haven’t forgotten about them. Comment that you’re working on an answer and will let them know when you have it.
They’ll appreciate your honesty and it will look great to others reading as well.
Even if a response is lightning fast, it doesn’t help anyone if it doesn’t answer the question. When people have a problem, they get frustrated.
If your solution is quick but not accurate, they’ll wind up with another problem…
…and even more frustrated.
Be gracious, especially when there’s a problem. Clients want to see that you understand that they have an issue and have the time and patience to deal with it.
Start the Conversation
Social Media is a great way to connect with existing and potential clients when they’re talking about your business.
But what if they’re not?
If there’s not much of a conversation going on, you might have to start it yourself.
Add yourself in conversations that don’t even involve your business in particular.
Establish yourself as an “expert” in your field by commenting on and becoming active on discussion boards that involve your industry or field.
This can open you up for social networking success because it shows others like you that you know your stuff. Clients and potential clients will see that and respond as well.
People looking for “your kind” will see your frequent additions to discussion boards. This can help you gain credibility and further social networking success.
The key here is that your goal is not just promotion.
Make sure your comments aren’t just blatant promotional pieces.
Show what you know so both your clients and your potential clients can recognize it.
Measuring Your Social Media Success
Once you’ve started responding to your clients and giving them great customer care experiences through social media, how do you know if it’s helping your business?
Social media success is different for every business owner, because every business is different.
Generally, successful social networking means you’re gaining new clients from the same places you’re providing customer care because it means other people are seeing your helpful interactions with your clients and want to have that relationship as well.
Gaining new clients comes through word of mouth when your existing clients tell their friends or associates about the great experience they had with your business.
Sometimes your clients don’t even need to tell others about your business to refer them to you- they can see what a great experience you provide through your social media interactions.
If you see people “liking” and “sharing” your responses to your clients, they’re noticing the way you do business.
Another measure of your success is the type of responses which come up when you search for your business. If there are still more complaint- or problem- focused comments, you might have some more work to do.
Yet, if your comments start becoming more positive you know you’re on the right track.
The best way of measuring social media success is how your existing clients respond to what you’re doing. When clients are happy, they come back for more, and they are often willing to spend more as well.
Once that successful relationship has been established, clients will prefer spending their money on your products and services because they know they will be happy with the result.