I have worked with clients in the past, typically smaller businesses with less than 50 staff. They know the buzz around social media and realize it’s not going anywhere. They have used it personally, read Facebook, but have not approached it on the professional side of their lives. Many are late to the game, but know they need to get there. Some may have setup company accounts and profiles on Twitter and Facebook, but little has been done. I can think of larger companies that have also failed to execute on social media, which is unfortunate because transparency can really help their public image, provide insight to the company, attract talent, and be part of the community. Just think of a secret government business – imagine how someone would talk about them.
When consulting with past clients I’d often start the conversation with, “so you want to be doing social media. Ok. What are you trying to achieve?” It’s the marketing person’s first question. Brand awareness is a good one. Spreading the word, similar to brand awareness, is a good one. I think we need to be there, etc.
But what about interacting with your client base?
Knowing what people are saying about not only your company but your products and services can allow you to be a better company, provide better products/services. You provide more value. The days of 800 numbers and email are still around, but I don’t have time to be on hold or wait for a response. I’ll throw my complaint on Twitter for everyone to see. Like many social media experts, you can’t control the message, but you can help steer it in the right direction. In the past people could complain about your company and you didn’t have to care. Why? Because their reach was severely limited. They tell their friends and family. Now, they can tell the whole world and wage an online war against you. They can create parody websites domains, YourCompanyNameSucks.com. They can put their disgust on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Friendster (does anyone still use Friendster?), etc. People can be very vindictive if they feel slighted. Ensure they don’t.
So what do you do? Well, be active in social media. Have the proper accounts, but be sure you aren’t just blasting stuff out there. Be sure you’re interacting. Recognize those that recognize you, especially if they like your brand and company. Thank them for retweeting and sharing your info. Respond to people. Put keywords into the tools you use for social media so they can alert you to those talking about your company, product or service. Your goal is to have ears all over the world tuned in to as many conversations that has to do with your industry, your company, and your products/services. This is a cocktail party that happens 24×7 all over the world. Attend it.