I recently came across a couple of great posts by Jeff Bullas in which he shares compelling questions and information he uses to convince CEO’s about the efficacy of social media marketing.
A few of the questions that he poses to these social media skeptics highlight the changing behaviors of the general public when it comes to searching for and evaluating products and services:
In the last few months have you either professionally or personally…
1. Answered or responded to a direct mail letter or brochure? (Current research shows only 3% have responded to those types of marketing)
2. Did you follow up on a mainstream media advertisment on TV, Radio, Newspaper or Magazine? (22%)
3. Did you use the Yellow Pages to look up a company to buy a product? (3%)
4. Did you use Google or other online methods when looking to purchase a product or service? (97%)
5. Did you use your online network via Facebook, Instant Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn or other Social Media to get a URL to a website for a product that you were looking to buy? (80%)
And the “clincher” question…
6. So why are you still using marketing for your company that you yourself have not used?
We all know that it is hard to break long-established patterns of practice, especially when faced with an alternative that’s new and seems to be ever-changing. The good ol’ Yellow Pages and postcards have been around for a very long time and are easy to implement in the marketing plan.
It may be a long time before we finally see the death of the Yellow Pages. Direct mail is still very common (and apparently has seen a bit of a comeback). But both professional and anecdotal evidence has shown that we are using and responding to these forms of marketing less and less. And we are going online more and more to look at reviews, find local products and services, and ask our networks about their experiences and advice. Yes, using online and social media marketing for your business can be time-consuming, confusing and difficult to measure.
But you have to ask yourself- are your habits so very different from your customers’?
According to a study published by eMarketer in October 2010, consumers who are active on social media sites expect certain types of interactions when with dealing with companies and brands online. 77% of respondents expect to be offered incentives such as discounts, coupons or free products and services. 46% expect that they can receive product or service information, solve issues or file complaints. And 39% look for the ability to give their feedback on products and services. Only 21% looked to be marketed to in the form of banner or targeted ads.
You might be thinking that your business isn’t actually online because you don’t have an e-commerce site and you only have your brand up on Facebook and LinkedIn. You may also believe that those statistics do not apply to you because your typical customers aren’t that active in social media. And maybe they aren’t… yet. But remember that as consumers become more used to something, they are going to be expecting those types of interactions from every business that has an online presence. And that can be a great thing because the best customers are the ones who had a great experience with you and want to share with others.
Social media can be a great avenue for customer service- the kind that gives customers the positive experience that sells. Here are some ways that you can enhance your customer service through social media:
-Answer product or service-related questions
-Make special offers to your followers
-Invite customers to give feedback; share feedback from customers
-Give customers a way to contact you besides the phone or email
-Show your human side
-Give public (very public!!) apologies for missteps
-Share tips or valuable information related to your products or services
One of our favorite examples of a company that uses its Facebook page for customer service is mygofer.com.
If you hunt around, you’ll see plenty of other companies, large and small, that are using their social media accounts to provide customer service.