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5 Ways to Effectively Utilize Social Media on Your Online Community

August 20, 2012

There’s no doubt that the advent of social media has changed the way we communicate in our personal and professional lives. But in the early stages of social platforms, many businesses were slow to adapt, questioning whether the benefits were in the best interest of their end-goals. However, that was until the social aspect was added to customer relationship management (CRM) and completely transformed the way organizations interact with customers today.

With customers engaging on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter (News - Alert), blogs etc., on a daily basis, it makes it effortless for companies and brands to hone in on what their customers are saying and take the feedback they receive to enhance their customer service offerings. As social media is increasingly becoming a more seamless part of our interactions, the opportunity for organizations to capitalize on the repository of feedback that these platforms provide is invaluable.

Here are five surefire reasons why adding social media elements into your current CRM processes will not only benefit your online community but your business as a whole.

Start the conversation

By default, we have become accustomed to referring to social sites like Facebook (News - Alert) and Twitter as “social media,” however, the basis behind what social media really encompasses is the interactive dialogue that is created using these tools. By starting the conversation with focused questions or statements, businesses are able to open up the floor for discussions that normally may not have been sparked otherwise. Since consumers today are so apt to speak their minds using social sites as their soap box, the chances of getting honest and constructive feedback are much higher than the traditional practices of cold calling or providing a suggestion box. It’s important to be creative with your social streams and discussion boards since you are ultimately in charge of what direction the conversation goes. These platforms provide a new forum to actively engage and reach your customers on a higher level by creating a repository of information for your marketing and sales team to refer back to when targeting customers.

Generate maximum traffic

Remember the age-old rule sharing is caring? Social media tools provide an unlimited opportunity to share and re-share content to not only expand your audience, but to reach users that you normally may not have had access to. Whether you are promoting a great featured article that was written on your company or a link to your latest campaign to build your subscriber base, the chances for maximum exposure are increased by utilizing platforms that are separate from your company website. Don’t forget that page views equal prospective leads and the more users who see what you are sharing, the better chance your company has for success. Providing focused content increases the number of eyeballs that will be driven back to your site, which will in turn increase the amount of potential business generated.

Show personal involvement

Depending on the level of involvement your company has in its social media platforms, your organization has the chance to set the stage regarding if its feeds are automated or personally created. By adding that extra level of personalization by alluding to the fact that there is an actual person behind your content, customers are much more apt to engage with the status updates and discussions you post. Think of it like meeting a colleague face-to-face for the first time after only emailing each other for months. Your relationship may have been built on the limited correspondence you’ve had up until that point, but the personal interaction you were able to gain by meeting helped to solidify your relationship.  By adding that personal element on social tools, brands are able to build relationships and enhance their customer’s experience. When customers think of a brand as being supported by a team of people rather than just the company, they are much more likely to engage in a conversation and provide more in-depth feedback.

Reach a targeted audience

Like any service provided by the Internet, there is bound to be a slew of useless information, or in this case users that a company will have to sort through in order to get to who or what they are looking for. And while it may take more time and effort to weed through what is considered valuable customer feedback and spam, the juice is certainly worth the squeeze. By eliminating the fluff, organizations have the opportunity to build on the client feedback that will ultimately be the most beneficial in streamlining campaigns and products/services to best meet the needs of their customers.

Search engines take social elements into consideration

We would all be joking if we said we didn’t want to rank high on Google (News - Alert). Let’s be honest, unless you are paid to do Internet research or an editor like me, the chances your online audience is clicking on the seventh page for results are slim to none. Social media platforms create a new level of search that was not before available, allowing users to obtain their content all in one place. Twitter, for example is one social platform that has basically created its own search engine of information thanks to hashtags, which streamline how users search for subject matter. On the other hand, Facebook allows companies to create brand pages and focused groups to bring all of their valued customers to a central meeting place to discuss the topic or brand at hand. Search engines like Google now count social sharing as ranking, which explains why your company’s Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn (News - Alert) page displays at the top of the page when you do a search. Ranking on the first page of Google not only shows that you are a reputable brand, but it also suggests that you are one of the best based on your past experience with your customer-base.

If you are not utilizing the five tips above, or failing to make the most of your company’s social media platforms, take the time to sit down with your online community team to revisit the processes you currently have in place and make room for new ones.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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