Using social media is a great way to show customers another side of your business. While it’s important to always be professional, a social-networking presence is an opportunity to have some fun and be less-formal. When building a brand, it’s important that customers connect with you on a personal or even psychological level so that your business is part of their lifestyle. Social media helps with this task, especially when you get your customers to interact with you rather than just view your page. Here are some great strategies to help create a vibrant, active social media presence.
- Checking in-One new trend that has become very popular is the online check-in. A customer uses their phone to update a social-networking profile regarding their current location. Facebook uses this feature, and sites like Foursquare and Gowalla exist solely for the purpose of checking in. Offer your customers a “check-in, check-out” special, which means a discount they can redeem for checking into your business. When they check-in at your location, their social network is introduced to your business and influenced by their friend’s check-in-this could bring you more customers! Many of these sites use QR codes for their check-ins, so make sure you order one on a window cling for your store entrance so that customers can easily check-in.
- Customer reviews-Another way customers are interacting with businesses is by reviewing them online through websites such as Yelp!, CitySearch, and Google Maps. Encourage your happy customers to leave a review on your listing, as many potential customers check these sites to determine the value and credibility of a business they are considering. Don’t be afraid if you get a negative review-use this as an opportunity to show your customer service skills by making that customer happy. A negative review with a positive result makes you look more-credible. As with check-ins, you’ll want to display something in your storefront window (a vinyl decal is a great choice) asking customers to review your business.
- Online videos-Online video sites like YouTube are great for a quick laugh and building “viral” campaigns. Your business can take advantage of these sites by creating instructional videos, commercials, customer profiles, etc. Keep in mind that to build a loyal following, the video needs to be useful in some way (informative, instructional, funny, etc.). Videos give customers a view into your business and your culture, so don’t be afraid to have fun with them.
- Event promotion-If your store is having an upcoming event (sale, seminar, party, etc.), use social media to promote it. You can create an event listing and invite your followers to it. This is a good way to gauge attendance, which your event planners will appreciate. In addition, it helps build buzz and awareness for your event in a much more-affordable way than, say, TV and radio promotion. You’ll still want to have banners or signs outside your business promoting the event so customers know they’re in the right place, but social media does a lot of the work for you.
- Customer service-When you encourage customers to interact with you online, be prepared for whatever they’re going to say. Some will be thrilled with their experience with you, whereas others won’t be as happy, and they’ll more than likely have something to say about it. Let this customer know that you’re aware of their concern and you want to rectify the situation. Encourage them to contact you directly, however, rather than getting into a back-and-forth online that all your followers can see.