As the use of social media grows more prevalent among consumers, business owners have had to step up their use of this powerful communication tool to maintain their competitive edge. Initially presented as a way for people to stay in touch with one another and to develop new connections and relationships, social media has become an essential aspect of marketing, customer feedback and retention as well as a new way to recruit promising job candidates.
Instant Feedback from Customers
Your business may have once relied on response cards for customers to fill out to evaluate the goods and services you provide or fielded complaints and praise in person or over the phone. It takes a lot of effort for customers to give you feedback, however, using traditional means.
With an established social media presence, however, your business can obtain instant feedback from customers. What’s more, other people can easily see this same feedback as they do research about your company.
An unhappy customer might post a comment on Facebook about a faulty component in one of your products, which all of his or her friends can instantly see. Or, a customer could take to Twitter to praise your staff and the excellent service it provided. Every person who follows the customer on Facebook or Twitter would take note of these comments.
Companies Must Be More Responsive
It’s not enough to simply post updates about your business on social media, such as announcements about product rollouts or a new service. Companies need to be as responsive as social media will let them.
Prudent business owners will designate at least one person to stay on top of social media, posting and reading feedback on a regular basis. This means that if a customer posts a question or complaint via a service such as Twitter, your business needs to stay on top of the situation and craft an appropriate response as soon as possible.
Otherwise, without a response, other social media users might chime in, complaining that your company isn’t listening to its critics. If you do demonstrate responsiveness, however, it can go a long way toward healing your public image. On the other hand, accepting compliments gracefully via social media will show that your company has a sense of humour and is grateful for customer feedback.
One of the most useful aspects of social media is how it gives businesses new opportunities for marketing and promotional efforts. Because so many people use smartphones with GPS capability to access the Internet, you can harness social media to create geo-targeted promotions. When someone checks in with a service to indicate their current position, you can issue a coupon, such as for half price off of a service or a discounted meal at lunchtime when your customers are near your location.
You can also encourage interaction by running contests via social media, prompting your customers to enter contests or to post pictures of themselves using your products, for example.
Recruiting New Employees
When it comes to finding new workers, you need to do everything possible to find promising candidates where they are. So many people rely on social media to communicate and do research these days, businesses need to make sure that they have a social media presence to reach job seekers.
Potential employees may learn about your company by searching for keywords related to your industry and location, for example, or they might simply run across your business because one of their friends has “liked” it on Facebook or tweeted about it via Twitter.
Social media has become a disruptive force in the business landscape. Companies that learn to effectively harness this powerful communication medium should expect to gain an advantage over competitors, engage consumers and potential customers and even improve their efforts to recruit new talent.
About the Author:
Matt Smith is a Dell employee who writes to help raise awareness on the topic of Social Media Technology and other network management subjects.