What is Social Media and Why Should You Care?
Many of the traditional sales and marketing techniques converters have practiced over the years are evolving. While the techniques are changing, the fundamentals are not. “Relationships matter” is one marketing slogan that still rings true. Customers want answers to questions like:
• Who are you?
• Can I trust you?
• What do you value?
• What is your relationship to others?
Sales and marketing techniques converters have traditionally relied on are sales calls, direct mail, and trade shows.
I remember one trade show where we stood for three days in a high traffic area. The giveaway items attracted attention. We presented traditional products and new ideas that generated good questions. And we shook hundreds of hands – some we knew and most we did not. We were prepared, and received positive feedback at the show.
When all was said and done, all that mattered were results. What were the sales results tracked by a promo code? A few phone calls referenced the show and approximately nine orders used the promo code. We formed a relationship with what became a large customer 18 months later. Was it worth it? At the end of the day, yes. Would I do it every week? No.
Fortunately, we don’t have to. Thanks to widespread internet use, converters have more sales and marketing options.
The new kid on the block is Social media, marketing campaigns that target not only the prospects and customers you are already associated with, but everyone who is associated with them through networks like Facebook and Twitter. What do you gain?
• Highly targeted marketing
• New audiences
• Brand awareness
• Ability to listen and respond to customer feedback
In short, converters should participate in social media marketing because it gives them what they have always wanted from sales and marketing, but at a lower cost with the ability to reach larger, more targeted markets.
Your customers use social media
Social media is very similar to word-of-mouth marketing, but occurs within online communities like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
The most popular types of social media are:
• Tweets – Twitter posts limited to 140 characters or fewer, and can include links to videos, photos and web pages.
• Facebook updates – similar to Tweets, but longer.
• Blog posts – brief articles, videos or photos posted to online journals.
• Videos – the king of content. Cellphones with video cameras have made video production minimal and availability widespread.
• Photos – most social networks let users distribute photos.
If you're nervous about using social media, the fear is reasonable. If you post an article on Facebook, anyone who has liked your page can easily share the article and their opinion of it with their friends. Sometimes they will say unflattering things about your business, and some people have more than 1,000 Facebook friends.
Guess what? Even if you aren’t participating in social media, your customers are. And if you’re lucky, they are talking about your products.
The second worst thing you can do when someone references your business on a social networking site is to ignore it. If it is positive, you will strengthen your brand image by acknowledging your customer’s kind words. If it is negative, you have an opportunity to repair the customer relationship. Listening and responding is a cost-effective method of crowd sourcing and enhances customer service.
The absolute worse thing you can do on a social networking site is to pick a fight with a disgruntled customer.
A couple years ago, someone tweeted about the poor service he received from a waitress at a cafe in a tight-knit Texas community. When the cafe owner saw the tweet, he responded by calling the customer a liar and a jerk in very strong terms. Before he knew it, his profane rant was being retweeted across the “Twitterverse” and discussed on the street.
This incensed the business owner, so he started fights with everyone whose tweets disparaged his business. Within a month, the cafe went under.
What might have happened if this business owner had extended goodwill to the first unhappy customer he encountered on Twitter? How far might a public apology and a free cup of coffee have gone towards repairing that relationship?
James Lowry is the general manager of Lightning Labels, an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is a 25-year veteran of the printing industry with experience in digital, flexo, offset, and commercial printing. Christy Correll is the online marketing specialist at Lightning Labels, where sales are driven primarily through eCommerce activities.