Trust has become central to consumer-brand engagement.
Social platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are where consumers hear about the latest brands, and discover whether a product has been socially validated by their friends – reminding us once again why social media should form a key part of your business strategy.
The loudest voice and influencer is the customer – this means these platforms have become the network through which trust is gained or lost, says startup incubator Pollenizer’s chief executive Phil Morle. Here’s how social media can benefit your business.
Who is your target audience?
While there’s no simple rule, establishing confidence starts with understanding your customer, says Morle. There’s no point spending hours developing a social media presence when your target audience isn’t clearly understood.
Spend quality time across each of the networks you believe holds some of your customers, advises Morle, and examine the characteristics and demographic information of your users, such as their gender, age, location and interests – this will help you form a critical understanding of a typical user profile and only then can you communicate effectively with potential customers in the online space.
Occasionally targeting smaller, more niche networks can work best for a business looking for improved engagement, so you could turn to ‘super-networks’ like Facebook and Twitter to try and find targeted sub-groups to communicate with, says Morle.
Rewards and digital discounts
Getting people to hear your online voice is the biggest challenge, so try different kinds of offers and conversations in order to get noticed, says Morle.
People are hungry for discounts and have begun to expect them, so by rewarding loyal customers in a way that’s meaningful to your target audience will also make you money and build your business in the long run.
By following their favourite brands and retailers, people want to feel they are getting an insider’s view into your business and your products, as well as a first look at new releases and giveaways. Therefore, give users something exclusive – for example images or content that’s only available through social media platforms.
In addition, reward customers for referring friends to your site – it’s a common startup approach to acquire new followers. This has the advantage of populating your account with social circles, which is a stronger way of making users stick around.
Ditch the sales pitch
“Don't just sell what you do because people will turn off,” advises Morle. “Consider how you can make their day better without asking anything from them.”
Focus on engagement, not self-promotion. Post topics that your readers are interested in, strive to form an authentic online relationship and let sales become a natural by-product of your content strategy.
People can smell a sales pitch a mile off and they don’t want their private spaces invaded with marketing speak, so follow the etiquette unique to your chosen social platforms.
Simply take the chance to use your influence to provide customers not only with a great service, but a means of inspiring and connecting them to others.
“Don’t over-think and strive for perfection. Just start the conversation and earn the right to be listened to,” says Morle.
Do these simple things and customers will soon sense that you prioritise relationships above transactions.