In one form or another, marketing is all about customer engagement. Many consumers wrongly associate marketing with paid advertising, but it has always been about so much more. In the days before the internet, accepted knowledge was that networking and word of mouth was the best way to get new clients. Today, social media is making that true again.
Communicating with your clients is the most important thing your company can do to create a positive brand image and grow your customer base. When the internet became popular with businesses in the late 1990's there was a firm line drawn between “real life” and “online” engagement, but now that delineation has all but dissolved.
While it may seem like there are two sets of communication rules for social media and real life, there are actually many overlapping ideas that will help in both spheres. It is true that there are some major differences between the two forms of communication but the most important things will always be maintaining a positive image, and remaining true to your company's core values. Here are some ideas about how to do that, so your company can grow naturally in the social media sphere.
Social Media Is An Interactive Arena
To some degree every interaction between your company and the public is interactive, but social media is changing the level at which people can connect with the brands they love. Unlike real life interactions with customers, when you interact on social media those conversations are there for the whole world to see. This also allows potential customers to share conversations they aren't involved in, and this can act as a powerful way to build your brand image.
Online Communication Creates Publicity
Prior to social media, businesses had to rely on word of mouth for positive information to spread. Now that people everywhere can see conversations happening in real time on social media, the publicity generated acts as a very personal form of marketing. People identify with conversations and an entertaining interaction can spread widely in a matter of minutes.
The distance between your Twitter account and the front page of Google isn't very far anymore. This sort of dynamic doesn't have an analogue in traditional communication, so taking advantage of this new means of image building can make a big difference to your company's recognition. The key is being active on social media and putting clever content to work where it counts.
Use Negative Reviews To Your Benefit
People love to hear great things about their business and it is easy to see why. On the other hand there is a natural tendency to avoid engaging with negative feedback, but in most cases this aversion is misplaced. In fact there is an entire industry dedicated to covering up negative online content – called Reputation Management - but this approach isn't always your best move.
When it comes to unhappy customers online, in most cases your company should confront the problem head-on and use the problem as an opportunity to create some great content. We all know that mistakes happen, but companies that actually take care of their customers will build up a positive image in the public eye for public service.
Just because all of your company's dirty laundry is being aired out online, there is no need to panic. Bear in mind that negative feedback frequently reflects as badly – if not worse- on the person making the comment as it does on you. Make sure your social media team knows how to create solutions and present them publicly. People love to see a company that cares, so negative customer content isn't necessarily bad news. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your flexibility and commitment to customer care. While it isn't always easy to satisfy a disgruntled customer, the work will be worth the effort on social media.
Message Comes First
In real life interactions with the public, image is delivered via professional staff and attractive locations, but with online interactions the content your company creates will define its image. The need for a well-groomed team is replaced by the importance of well thought out messages and a well thought out marketing strategy. Creating a positive image with killer content will get your company noticed, and help you engage with your target market.