If you think about it, customer loyalty schemes are very clever. I know that my wife Vanessa will search out a BP gas station just to collect a few extra Nectar points, ditto shopping in Sainsbury’s. But in reality, it is the company that benefits far more than the customer. However, the loyalty scheme keeps the customer "locked into" that product or service very effectively!
Social media engagement should be seen is a way for you to create your own on-line loyalty scheme for your customers.
It is a way for you to stay connected with them, an easy interface to engage and let them know your latest news, products, services etc. A way to keep them coming back for more, to remain in the forefront of their mind, to be the first port of call when they need what you are offering.
Think about it:
* How would it be if your customers came to you of their own choice, without you going to them?
* How would it be if your customers remained connected to you 24/7 and you can connect with them and therefore react to their needs in real time?
* How would it be if your customers spoke about you and spread your messages in their own networks – in other words became your FREE brand ambassadors?
* How would it be if your influence extended beyond your local area and onto a global platform?
* How would it be if your marketing budget was zero? (Mine is and has been for the past three years!).
* How would it be if your business had the same influence and reach as a global brand?
* How would it be if your website was constantly up-dating with real-time feeds like Twitter, facebook, blogs – keeping it fresh and engaging? (Mine does …).
Social media engagement, whether that be a blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc, is a two-way channel of communication, meaning that you are accessible to your customers and can have direct conversations with them about what they need, how you can serve them. They in turn can amplify those conversations through their own networks, spreading your messages for you. It enables you to build a community around your business that will fuel your business for the future. The bigger the community, the more successful your business will appear, and the more people will want to know you and follow you. In a "networked" economy such as we are entering now, success breeds more success.
That makes sense, doesn’t it. To quote a fantastic blog "How to change the world using social media":
Social media is all about users deciding what’s worthwhile instead of relying on mass media or advertising to dictate to us. But the real issue is that users often decide to give a message a chance based on initial indicators that have nothing to do with the actual quality of the content.
What we’re talking about is called social proof. Here’s how Wikipedia defines social proof, which is pretty spot on:
Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon that occurs in ambiguous social situations when people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior. Making the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation, they will deem the behavior of others as appropriate or better informed.
Social proof is also known as herd mentality or the bandwagon effect. People tend to follow the crowd without evaluating the true merits for themselves, especially when the merits are ambiguous.
In a more positive sense, social proof can be the proverbial foot in the door. It can be the difference that leads to attention and acceptance, which turns a message into a movement.
A recent survey found that word of mouth recommendations from on-line "friends" was more effective than advertising. In other words, building a strong community around your business enables you to build trust in your network. Where there is trust, business flourishes.
Great examples of CRM through social media are Zappo’s, Blendtech, and Ford to name but a few. Oh, and that chap named Barack Obama.
So, in reality, if you get it right, socialised media can actually turn into a Customer Relationship Management system and loyalty programme all rolled into one!
But be very clear – it is not anything to do with "selling" in the traditional sense. It is about giving value, sharing information, keeping your followers informed of things that might be of interest to them, giving extra value via special offers, being available, conversing with customers, letting them know you care. Humanise your business. All the tools are free to use. All you need to do is invest your time, personality, and share your knowledge in your area of expertise. I think you will find a return on that investment to be very profitable.
At this Sunday’s Guildford ecademy meeting, I will be speaking more about how to build a CRM system via socialised media. Book your place here. I am also offering a free ten minute social media consulting session to any ecadmists who attend on Sunday to help you understand how you can get the best out of social media engagement in your business. Remember that if you keep on doing what you have always done, you will keep on getting what you always got! There are MASSIVE changes taking place in the business world and you need to be aware of them, and take advantage of them. Ecademy is at the forefront of this new thinking and way of doing business, so make sure that you get going with this asap as you are definitely ahead of the curve if you do.
If you would like to understand more about how to use Twitter in your business to help make the right connections, please join us on our Twitter Tactics training in the Surrey Hills on the 5th August. It’s a half day of training followed by a netwalk in the inspiring Surrey Hills. We guarantee to show you how to build your following and connect with your customers. Full details can be found here.