With the rise of social media as a marketing tool, there has been a fundamental shift in the way brands and consumers communicate. In traditional marketing channels, the conversation flows in one direction, but in the social media world, it’s a two way street. Fans and followers want to feel like they have a connection with your brand. This enhanced feeling of trust can lead to customers who prove valuable both short and long term.
Let’s take a look at some good ways to build relationships with your consumers using social media.
Focus and Tailor Your Content
Fans and followers come to your social spots to consume very specific types of content. It’s your job to determine exactly what your audience wants to see and where they would like to see it. Maybe it’s witty posts. Perhaps it an occasional photo or video that relates to your topic. Whatever it is, make sure it offers real value to your audience. In the social realm, you will find that fans and followers are far more partial to useful information than they are aggressive adverting pitches.
Encourage User Interaction
Every comment or conversation you encounter in the social channel is an opportunity to generate a positive experience and possibly even a sale. Whether it’s responding to post feedback or communicating via direct messages, interacting with fans is key if you want to build an engaged community. Positive interactions can help drive user into the purchase funnel by offering a one-on-one interaction with the brand. These interactions also give you an opportunity to address any questions or concerns that may serve as potential purchase barriers for prospects.
User interaction is critical, but keep in mind that building relationships takes time. The social web never sleeps and sometimes users can have unreasonable expectations. That’s why it’s important to set monitoring hours and even list your hours of availability in your social profile. This way, users know when you’re online to interact, and when you’re not.
Provide Great Customer Service
Not all interactions will be positive. Sometimes users will come to your channel with issues that they want addressed in a timely fashion. This is your opportunity to display your customer service skill to your whole audience. Use potentially negative issues to convert angry users into advocates by going above and beyond to solve their problems. They will in turn, spread the word throughout your community and possibly even come to your defense when other issues arise. Advocates can help carry your social media presence to new channels and are often early adopters of new products.
Make It Fun
Let’s face it —- social media can be loads of fun. Take advantage of that in your mission to build lasting relationships with fans and followers. There are many ways to use this channel to keep the experience fresh and exciting for your audience. For example, you can run contests, give away prizes, and even invite users to submit their own content. Just be sure you are respecting the rules of the playground as different social networks have their own terms and conditions regarding promotions. Keep your presence entertaining, and you’ll find your fan base growing in numbers and engagement.
Let them Tell Their Story
Open-ended questions and calls to share stories allow fans to feel like they have a share in your channel. After all, social media is for the user. Try to embrace all stories while keeping a relatively PG-13 feel about the community. You’ll be amazed by the stories you hear your users share and can elevate the best experiences to the rest of the community to further highlight your marketing message. Always remember that consumers are much more likely to trust their peers than they are a brand.
Be Smart In Your Marketing
Fight the urge to focus solely or too strongly on your products. Chances are, your fans are at least aware of what you have to offer. Focus on the lifestyle your product allows your consumer to have. The problems a product solves or the needs it fulfills are far more interesting than the characteristics of the product itself. These experiences create a common ground for users to interact on, making your content much more valuable and approachable in the end.
Nothing will destroy a sense of community and relationships with your audience faster than making them feel as if they’re censored. Try limiting your moderation to only what is necessary, like foul language, vulgar comments, and irrelevant links or content. Anything good or bad posted about your brand should be left on your channel and responded to accordingly.
If you maintain transparency and exhibit excellent communication and customer service skills, you can build great relationships with your fans and followers.
What are your tips for building digital relationships?
Francis Santos is the Marketing Manager for Benchmark Email. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach and holds a degree in Journalism. In addition, he is also the executive editor for separate popular news blogs. Follow him on Twitter.