Businesses are being dragged kicking and screaming into the internet’s social arena. Driven by today’s popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, many managers and leaders often wonder social relationships formed online have any business value.
How does social engagement that occurs online provide value for the business?
Look at what businesses are doing socially. In brick and mortar businesses it’s easy to see the value of social engagement. A sales staff will engage customers and provide services that ultimately end in a sale transaction.
How does this work online? How does a business employing social media realize the value of social engagement?
The value of relationships built online may not be as obvious. Interacting with customers socially online will often fall outside the realm of familiarity. It becomes a stretch to see how something can be beneficial without a tangible metric (a sales transaction).
Having a company realize that social media isn’t about “me” become difficult.
Customers don’t “Like” your business or follow your tweets to hear continuous business talk about your product or services. If this is your approach to social media and social engagement, it’s entirely the wrong reason exist in the social arena.
Focuses on what your customers think or want from the relationship. Proper social engagement is about reaching out to those interested in your business. Strike up conversations about why they like or dislike the things your business offers. Don’t be afraid to ask them how you can improve upon what you are doing. Don’t be afraid of them telling you what it will take for their experience to be more positive when dealing with your business.
Treat your customers with respect and realize they know what they want. They have entered your social circles for a reason. Find out why and then build upon it. Turn positive experiences to your advantage and listen to the negative ones.
Never assume they are always pleased with what your company. Adjust your social engagement accordingly to increase the business value of the relationship.
There will be many faces to your social engagement. Customers will have their favourite social networks. Some will utilize Twitter while others will look to Facebook or your blog.
Tailor how you utilize each service to match the difference audiences.
If you are using the same content and same mechanism to reach the various audiences as part of your social engagement exercise you are doing it wrong. What works for one group of customers may not necessarily work with others.
Increase your social influence by doing things slightly different across the various social platforms. However, keep in mind the common goal is to build relationships, establish trust and become credible in your niche.
Add value to what people are looking for when they reach out to connect. People want to be a part of things perceived as positive and if your social engagement is adding to the perception of value in the relationship, you can leverage this to your benefit.
Customers want to believe there is someone on the other side of the connection, someone who will reach out more on a human level. They don’t want to be treated merely as a transaction.
Carry social conversations about things.
Social engagement is about two-way dialogue and if you continually push your products and services on those in your social network you are breaking one of the fundamental rules.
At the end of the day keep in mind social engagement is not a competition. It isn’t about who has the most followers or who gets the most “Likes” on a page. It is about establishing a relationship with someone because it is mutually beneficial.
You want those within your social network to experience real value for their social engagement. You want them to share positive experiences with a friend. You want to listen and address negative concerns directly with them.
Companies that successfully engage socially will see a steady increase in interest people take in your products and services. It sounds simple but it works.
How do you value your social engagement with the people and businesses around you?