Once upon a time small business owners had a corner store in the neighborhood where they saw a daily influx of their neighbors shop day-in, day-out. The business owner got to know their customers by name, knew their “usual” order and even knew when to expect them based on their weekly shopping routines. Talk about personalized attention. Their customer was a loyal one, not only because it was convenient to go to the corner store, but also because they had a relationship with their neighbor and the trip to pick up some food for the week also became a social outing.
REPEAT: Their trip to [buy something] also became a SOCIAL outing.
Not so much has changed.
Now people go online to shop but they have options. A lot of options. So, who do they want to talk to?
I hope it’s you!
I used to manage social media for a large yoga company and can’t tell you how many times students would profess their love to us on our Facebook wall. Often, they would also plead that we open a studio closer to their home because they were driving 40 minutes out of their way just to go to yoga. It’s not like they had to go to our studio 40 minutes away; they definitely had options closer to home. Thing is, they built a relationship with the people at that particular studio that was important enough to them that they continued it off their yoga mats. No matter where students requested new studios, we ALWAYS wrote back to them and thanked them for their devotion to yoga and their new studio location suggestion. We wanted to let them know they had been heard. The personalized attention, all the way from the studio to Facebook, made them come back.
Now back to the how. Not just how to gain new leads and increase sales, oh no, it’s so much more than that! Here’s how you can build your own powerhouse corner store on Facebook Street so that people know where to go, no questions asked.
It’s more that just creating a Facebook page and Twitter handle, saying “Hi, I’m here.” and then leaving. Who are you? Not your business, you. Someone is creating the Facebook page. Someone owns the business. Who is it? Remember that corner store on Main Street? People knew the owner and the employees. Don’t be afraid to show yourself – this isn’t The Wizard of Oz. The more personable you can be on social media, the more trustworthy you appear. Your customers know that you care. So they’ll take the time to care too.
So what’s your story?
Everyone has a story. How did you start your business? Why do you do what you do? The more you can share about your business, the more your customers feel like they’re a part of something and the more they’ll want to keep coming back to check in on you. You can see a great example of a company creation story on the Applegate Farms Facebook page. The CEO’s wife and daughters created handmade drawings to represent the CEO’s journey creating what is today Applegate Farms. The company then uploaded this as a photo album on Facebook, although it wasn’t widely marketed and they chose not to draw much attention to it. Still, it’s a brilliant example of how you can show yourself (see above) and share your story in a compelling way that will have people wanting more.
This ain’t no one-way street
And it’s not a drive-by either. If you’re going to invest time in social media, you need to account for the amount of time it will take to have conversations with your fans. Like I said before, people want to be heard. There is nothing more frustrating than picking up your phone to call customer service and 1) not getting through or 2) getting an automated messaging system that is impossible to navigate. One time I was live tweeting an event and got an angry response from one of my followers. She thought I was being a little overzealous with my tweeting so I tweeted directly back to her and apologized for clogging her feed, explained what I was doing and why and thanked her for her feedback (all in 140 characters!). She was a little surprised that anyone took the time to acknowledge her and immediately tweeted back a much softer, more supportive response. Customer saved. Had I ignored her, she would have gone on steaming.
Help each other out
In the marketing/PR/advertising world, we often argue about who owns social media. Truth is, social media is a mish mash of all of it + customer service. The lines are starting to blur between all of these functions and I like to think marketing is really becoming Relationship Marketing. But building relationships doesn’t just stop with your customers. Who else in your online neighborhood do you want to associate with? Choose a few companies that you want to help out and who could legitimately help you through audience sharing. Maybe you are a natural product who could benefit by supporting other local natural products in non-competing sectors. When your peers have something good to say, share it with your audience and direct traffic their way. Chances are, they’ll do the same for you, and if you’re not sure that they will, reach out via email and see if you can build a sharing strategy with the companies you want to collaborate with. I’ve seen this work superbly, especially when you play the local angle.
Are you still open?
There is no good reason to leave your your Facebook page dry for more than a week (and even that’s stretching it). If you aren’t making an effort to come to work, then why would people want to show up? I can’t stress enough how consistency helps you build your fan base and increase engagement. According to a recent study done by Wildfire, a leading industry platform, the more time you dedicate to your social media communities, the more rewarding results you will see.
So now you know how to do business the old-school way with new-school tools!
And you’ve got yourself some Facebook street cred.
Do you have any ideas for ways to make social media marketing more personable? Share your success stories and questions below. I’ll answer them.