Having a presence on social media is all well and good, but just sitting there, like a wilting wallflower at a rave is no way to go about attracting customers to your local, online business.
Cast off the the paralysis of doubt and the cloak of inexperience, and dance your way to the centre of the dance floor – because if you are on social media (and let’s face, who isn’t and who cannot afford to be…?), we need to talk.
You may have read in previous posts (Part 1 and Part 2) concerning your online and offline marketing activities, that being on social media is a little bit of a must for local businesses; with exciting opportunities around the corner with Twitter and CardSpring, soon enough the social media platform will be following suit.
This presents one danger – that companies will just use social media to sell, sell, sell. Consumers are a little savvier than this, finding such gratuitous marketing not only off-putting but frankly, shallow.
And so, companies and businesses, including you, are told/advised to use social media as a platform for conversations.
We need to talk about this because, in a recent survey by Socialbakers, on a small proportion of customers have done this (13%) but – and this is the bit we need really talk about – is that only 67% of this very small group respond… eventually.
Your physical business
OK, you sell flowers. You sell them in a high street shop and online with a fabulous website. You invite comments and questions about creating the ‘perfect wedding flower posy for your big day’. You have 4 brides asking questions about everything from ‘hand ties’ to the flowers that will be available for a January wedding… and you don’t bother answering.
If they were in your shop, and you didn’t answer their questions – this is, by the way ignoring them! – what would happen? Yup, they would leave, probably in a huff and make their way to the next nearest competitor who may just have a conversation with them, both in the shop and online too.
Why would you treat a question from a customer or fan of your product any different online, as you would offline?
The idea of being on social media is to connect with customers; and to connect you need to interact, hence this means having a conversation.
A really good example…
On my personal Facebook page I have a liked a page to do with garden sheds as next spring, I will have my own writing shed in the garden. It will restore my life/work balance and I will have to walk to work (67 steps. I’ve counted) hence, I will have twice daily exercise – there and back.
The company regularly posts photos of garden sheds, potting shed, work rooms, summer rooms etc. that they have completed that week or fortnight so people can see their work. I like every picture out of jealousy but this is what I really like – people posts comments and questions and the company respond every time, to each individual comment or question. Sometimes a straightforward thank you to a positive comment, or they respond with prices etc. to questions but without the BIG sell, sell, sell!
I like them. I will buy a writing shed from them. Because I know that if I ask a question, they will answer. They are interested. They are interested in my writing shed and they will build it with the same care and passion with which I will use it.
Lessons to be learned in the art of online conversation
- Respond in a timely fashion – I think this local shed company has the right idea; they post every fortnight or so with a series of photos and a short status. People respond and they comment immediately. None of this waiting 24 hours (another thing this survey found was the speed to which people responded was also s-l-o-w)
- Post at times you know you can be online and active – so shoving a few photos on Twitter, asking a question or input from people as you are about to serve Sunday lunch to 12 people or enter a board room meeting for the next 4 hours are two examples of when it is NOT the right time to post…
- Monitor what’s happening on some social media platforms; get up to date statistics and data from https://www.socialbakers.com/twitter/country/united-kingdom/
Did you know…?
53% of customers expect to hear back from a company or business within an hour – see how important it is to pick your time?
Of these respondents, 38% also said that they formed a negative opinion of companies that did not respond in an hour, with 42% (of which I am one) saying that this quick, swift and friendly interaction created a favourable opinion… however, the study stops here; there are no figures about how many people then went on to buy from this company, although a guesstimate would be that the figure would be high (think ‘Me and My Writing Shed-To-Be’ scenario).
Companies and businesses from local to global say that they plan on doing more of this social media interaction lark – 80% of American businesses said they planned on doing it in 2013 but it never quite materialised…