BY Scott Levy March 27, 2013| Entrepreneur
By now, if social media isn’t a critical element in your online marketing
strategy, it should be. Having a presence on sites like Facebook,
Twitter and LinkedIn can add value to your product, to customer service
and ultimately to your brand.
But simply having an account and broadcasting company news isn’t
enough. To attract and keep customers — and to build a strong brand
online — business owners need to be active on social media. They have
to provide valuable information and engage with their followers.
Your customers are engaging with your brand wherever they are —
including over social media. Don’t miss this opportunity to listen to
what they’re saying to and about you, and to provide the best customer
Why is this so important? Responding to customer questions and
resolving issues over social media shows everyone who’s following you —
and potentially anyone who is online — that your company cares about
its customers, potential customers and goes the extra mile for people.
Tools like Hootsuite and Tweedeck
can be handy for monitoring mentions of your brand over social media.
As for when and who you respond to, set the tone early. If you reply
often, people will expect it. If you don’t reply a lot, people will see
that as well and might stop engaging with you as often.
2. Crowdsource ideas.
Use social media as a marketing research tool. Just as people can reach
out to you, follow you and stay connected with you, business owners can
do the same with their customers. Social media is a two-way street.
Say, for instance, you’re getting ready to launch a new product. You
can ask your fans and followers what they think about specific details
like which colors they prefer or what types of features they want. Not
only can you get real, valuable market research at no cost, you’re
involving the consumer in decisions. Asking customers for their opinions
can help show that they matter, and when they see their ideas become a
reality, ideally you create brand and product champions.
3. Keep an eye on the competition.
Remember the old saying: Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.
When it comes to business, it’s good to know what your competitors
and other companies in your market niche are doing. By keeping an eye on
their social media feeds, you can learn a lot about a company — what
it is doing differently, what it’s good at and what it’s bad it. Use
this information to implement things in your strategy that you might be
missing such as contests, giveaways or forms of content that their
followers respond to most.
4. Establish yourself as an industry expert.
Nobody can know what you know unless you share your knowledge. By
sharing information like tips, advice and answering questions about your
industry, you can position yourself as a valuable resource.
Develop a content-sharing strategy where you respond to questions
daily, provide unsolicited tips and share your perspective on industry
news. Over sites like Twitter and reddit, also consider scheduling
events such as question and answer sessions. Let your followers know
that you’ll be hosting the session, set the date and time, and determine
the theme or topic you’d like to discuss. Then let your followers know
that you’ll try to answer everything they ask.