Businesses can’t get away from social media these days. If you’re operating a start up, or managing an established business, you’ve got to have a social media campaign strategy. Many businesses are on board with using Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to promote their brand, attract new clients, and hold contests in exchange for retweets, new followers, Facebook likes, +1s and the like. This is all well and good, but one thing I think a lot of businesses are missing out on is the opportunity to connect with their clients. After all, everyone responds better to being treated like a human being than being subjected to a constant, one-sided stream of advertising.
Let’s talk about Twitter, for example. Twitter has been a smash hit since its launch in 2006, and people have been figuring out what to use it for ever since. Its popularity and social penetration obviously make Twitter a candidate for any business, but using it effectively takes some planning. Besides the obvious uses (posting photos of your lunch, retweeting George Takei) Twitter presents a great medium for providing quick customer service and fostering good client relationships. Many problems a client may have can easily be answered in 140 characters or less. If a bit more explanation is needed, you can always use a tweet to invite your client to email or call for a more in-depth conversation.
Twitter is also a great way to keep in touch with what people are saying about your company or your industry. There are multiple Twitter applications for computers, phones and tablets, and saving a search with a few choice keywords is easy enough. But simply listening in on conversations isn’t enough. Being proactive is a must for your social media strategy. However, it can be a bit difficult to find the right tone of voice. Some companies’ Twitter feeds come across as too stilted, too spammy, or tweet too often or not enough. Twitter is largely an informal means of communication, but you still must take care to represent yourself and your company well. This doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself. Take a look at Zappos’ Twitter feed for a great example of how to combine customer service, personability and brand promotion.
What value does this have? Pretend you’re a potential client for a minute, instead of the CEO of Company X. You’ve heard all about Company X and how its amazing widgets, so you take a look at Company X’s Twitter feed. Which would you rather see? A one-sided stream of promotions, specials, deals and contests, or Company X having conversations with clients in a straight forward, friendly manner? Communication is the key to every successful relationship, and this holds true in business. Twitter isn’t offering anything new – just another way to interact with other human beings. I’m a firm believer that everyone speaks to captive audiences, to one degree or another. And what do we talk to our friends about? That’s right! Last night’s episode of True Blood, and business. If Client A has need of your widgets, odds are pretty good he knows Potential Clients B, C and D, who work in similar fields, have similar needs or are otherwise interested in your widgets. The better you treat Client A, the likelier you’ll convert him or her into a brand ambassador.
Don’t get me wrong: Twitter is absolutely the medium for quick announcements of promotions, but this should not be the only thing your company is using Twitter for. If you’ve ever tweeted about an iPad2, you’ve likely gotten a reply from the worst way to use Twitter: an automated bot. The best way to promote yourself on any social media platform is to be human, be interesting and be worth the trouble of following.
Tyler Moore lives in Indianapolis and works as an SEO consultant. When he isn’t busy trying to cram his hilarious observations into 140 characters, he consults with DocRaptor, a Ruby on Rails application that allows users to convert HTML to PDF or Excel format.