Forrester and MarketingProfs administered a survey earlier in the year where we saw that a majority of the organizations responding are ramping up or currently running some sort of Social Media plan in 2010, with 55% stating they use Twitter for marketing purposes. Great for Social Media, but is it actually great for your business?
The challenge we have as businesses is to understand where our customers are and use those outlets to engage with them to build stronger relationships. Social Media is extremely popular for so many reasons – For companies, it gives them access to key insights from customers that they would have had to work much harder to obtain in the past. For Customers, they now have the ability to have their voices heard without the prior restrictions of power and money. However, if your customers have not adopted Social Media as a part of their repertoire of communications tools, you will need to do some pre-work before depending on your Twitter profile, Facebook Fan Page, and Corporate Blog to be the glue in your community.
Integrating Social Media Into the Standard Customer Interaction Model
If your customers are primarily offline and prefer to pick up the phone and call their regional sales rep to ask questions, a good first step for your organization may be to understand where Social Media can be integrated into a standard Customer Interaction Model. The Customer Interaction Model is somewhat variant across verticals, but for the most part will look something like this:
|Image borrowed from mycustomer.com|
Know Thy Customer
Understand what your customers expect at each interaction point, and how you deliver on that expectation. If this is your first time running through this kind of activity, start by asking yours team questions like this:
- Target: How do Customers find out about us? How should they find out about us? How do we find prospects?
- Acquire: What paths does a Customer take to buy our products or services? What do they want to do?
- Support: How do our Customers get help? Have Customers asked for something else in the past that we haven’t been able to offer?
- Retain: How do we know that our Customers are happy and will continue to use our products or services?
Know Your Opportunity
Then take a look at the various types of Social Media outlets targeted in your strategy and understand which tools are most effective at what point in the customer interaction:
Depending on what your goals are, you might now have a clearer picture of how to use each channel (if at all). Many organizations tend focus on these kinds of activities:
Build Your Strategy and Go
You won’t be able to do everything at once, so pick what’s most important. Perhaps Customers have already asked about being able to use Twitter for support. Start there. Or, maybe they’ve asked about being able to leverage other Customers’ knowledge to use your product better. Research how feasible it is to execute.
Whatever your Social Media Strategy ends up looking like, make sure it’s going to enable you to engage with your Customers more effectively. If you’re going to have to bring Customers along to use Social Media as an entirely new tool, you are walking into a learning curve that you will have to factor in to your plan.