We recently published an article on customer engagement strategies for social media. In the article, we covered how to overcome a corporate fear of using social media, developing an online personality, and a few social media customer engagement tips. In this article, we’re going to expand on those engagement tips.
1. Finding your customers
The first thing you need to do before engaging customers via social media is to find them! While most of your customers will probably have profiles on several major sites, odds are they either spend most of their time on one site or use them for different purposes (social vs. professional). Knowing which site(s) they frequent makes it easier to engage them.
The most effective way to know which site your customers come from is closed loop marketing, which is tracking your customers from lead source through customer. You might think the site that generates the most leads is the best bet, but this isn’t always the case. As an inbound marketing consultant I often saw instances where one social media site generated the most leads and traffic while another site generated many more customers. Fortunately, it’s easy to close the loop these days as most major marketing software packages provide this service.
If you are unable to close the loop, then you can ask your sales reps to find out from their leads which social media site they use the most. You can also survey your customers if you don’t have a high-touch sales process. Lastly, if all else fails, the general rule of thumb is if you’re B2B, then use LinkedIn. If you’re B2C, use Facebook.
2. Adding Customers to Your Network
After you find your customers, you’ll want to add them to your network, which makes it easier for you to engage them. Unless you have an army of interns that can personally send invites to all your customers, you might want to take a more scalable approach.
One of the simplest ways to do this is have your sales reps and customer success managers promote a social media account in their email signatures, business cards, etc. If your customers are friends with your employees and your employees share the company blog posts and updates as well as promote your company pages, then it’s easy to reach your customers. Of course, this isn’t always possible, as your employees may be uncomfortable doing this or you may not have 1:1 relationships with your customers.
Some other options are to create your own group and promote it to customers on your website and in product documentation. Just let them know what the group will help them with, for example major news and announcements, strategy guides, customer conversations, feedback, etc. If you don’t want to run a group, then you can always promote your company pages on Facebook and/or LinkedIn. Anyone who likes or follows your company will be in your network.
3. Share Great Content
When trying to engage your customers, don’t just share company news or promotions. Make sure you provide valuable content. If you provide content your customers want to read, they’ll keep coming back. You can then work in some marketing messages on occasion, much like a blog. Some examples of content you could create are:
- Tips to using your product
- Industry News
- Strategy guides or a methodology
- Customer case studies
- Benchmark reports
- Great blog articles you find
Mix it up and try to share something at least weekly. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your content by seeing what kinds of content generates the most click throughs to your site or upgrade opportunities. Once you know what works, double down on that. Just don’t forget to test the waters every now and then to see if your customer’s tastes are changing.
4. Actively Engage Customers
In addition to sharing content, you also need to engage your customers. If all you do is share content, you’ll still grow your network and you’ll get some readership. However, to really develop customer loyalty, you need to engage your customers so they feel special.
This doesn’t mean sending them messages and posting on their wall like your great friends. However, you do want to communicate with them. If you have a group or forum, don’t just answer questions but try to ask some of your own and generate discussions. Follow your customers and occasionally promote a great blog article they write or retweet something they post. Monitor social media in general for any mentions of your business so you can respond.
5. Stick With It
One of the more frustrating things about using social media and content marketing as a way to engage customers is that, more than anything, it takes time. You need to find your customers, get them in your network, engage them, and get them hooked on your content. This doesn’t happen overnight. In the end, the benefits will be well worth it, but you can’t stop a few months in. If you’re not getting the results you want, try changing tactics, but don’t stop. If nothing else, think about how your competitors are doing the same thing. So unless you want them having more loyal customers than you, stick with it.
6. Don’t be SPAMMY
This one is pretty straight forward, but it’s very important not to forget it. If you continuously post ads, promotions, upgrade reminders, and so on, you’re customers will quickly grow tired of following you. Even worse, they won’t pass your content onto others, which is a great way to generate new leads. So while the occasional marketing message is OK, don’t over do it.