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Ways social media can change how you market to your customers

The proliferation of social networks represents both an opportunity and a threat to many marketers. The problem is summed up best with the phrase: ‘We know our customers are there, but how do we engage them?’

Here are some low-cost, high-impact ways in which you can engage customers using social media:

Community-building

Social media networks are useful for attracting, engaging and building a community of loyal followers. This can be powerful for your marketing efforts on a number of levels, including talking to existing customers, building rapport with potential customers and linking them together to increase a sense of community.

Many companies have used Facebook, which currently has more than 350 million users, to set up fan pages and inform their customers of products, services, news and offers.

Product research

Social networks are a powerful research and development tool. The collection of people mixing and exchanging news, information, spending patterns, dialogue and feedback can give marketers a wealth of information for current and future products and services.

This can be delivered through crowdsourcing, or direct, one-to-one contact with established followers of your company.

Customer service

Social media networks can provide a plethora of customer service opportunities, and without an expensive marketing research campaign behind them.

Twitter, for example, has been leveraged by a number of companies, such as Zappos, which set up an account on this social network specifically to deal with customer service queries. Their Twitter account is followed by more than 1.6 million people.

The company has 400 employees, all of whom have Twitter accounts and who contribute to the company’s Twitter feed. This has helped to bolster customer service and provide an excellent point of contact for customers, as well as acting as a showpiece for the firm’s outstanding approach to servicing customers both online and offline. It has also helped to increase revenues over time.

Marketing and promotion

One of the biggest benefits of social media networks can be the speed, ease and global efficiency with which new products and services can be launched. Routes to market, via Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed and blogging, can be leveraged effectively and in a timely manner.

Competitions, product launches, service initiatives, online forums and polls – there are countless ways that social media networks can be utilised to add value to an audience online whilst increasing the buy-in for marketers.

Transparency

At a time when traditional advertising has less impact than at any previous point, and customers are able to voice poor service or treatment instantly across social media networks, the ability to show transparency via social media networks is a great credibility-builder.

The days of purely broadcast messaging for marketers as we know it are coming to an end.

The audience, particularly the increasingly social media-focused customer, now requires a rapid response to queries, great service, information readily available on a company’s offerings, and not to be sold to. In short, transparency wins with the modern customer.

Is your marketing reflecting this?

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