It’s Customer Relationship Management Silly
Like it or not, your customers just got collectively louder. You can’t go anywhere these days without some form of social media bombarding your senses. Company billboards, collateral, ads both online and off, begging you to “Like” their Facebook page. Twitterheads tweeting their entire lives and their consumer experiences, moment by moment to the world. Everyone with an Internet connection now seems to have something to say, and quite often, it’s about the products and services that they like. Worse is when they don’t like something because then, they tend to get really vocal about it.
How do you even begin to get a handle on all these networks, let alone manage them effectively? Maintaining an effective, up-to-date and proactive online presence is critical in today’s business climate. Engaging with customers where they live, work, play and shop is key to success and growth. Those “places” are all increasingly virtual, i.e. online, and these virtual spaces have gatekeepers that aren’t you.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) though, it can make or break you.
What a Tangled Web We Weave
What to do? First you need to understand that social media is a term where you as the business interest, may only participate in a way that is just a little bit above the average user of these social media sites. What you must begin to embrace is CRM, or Customer Relationship Management.
As social media experts, we can tell you it isn’t always easy, and at times it can be a real pain. Just like the movie star that can’t possibly answer all her fan mail, she must find a way to communicate with fans, and speak to them collectively as a group so she can convey general information about her and her career. Retaining and ultimately growing her fan base are primary goals, and interacting personally with others to manage perception and more is critical. Being seen as a company that communicates with its’ customers today is actually more important than satisfying everyone. If you remain silent online and allow the chatter to define you, then the collective opinion of the mob is the image you’ll have, true or not. Speaking of the mob, click the image to the left and you’ll get a decent idea of where these people hang out. Some idea anyway, that’s just the biggest networks.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts: DO
- Have a site that you can aggregate fans, customers, and future prospects into a social CRM solution of your own.
- Engage people online and try to solve problems or issues with your company and/or offerings.
- Promote your business using established social networks when useful to drive them to your CRM solution.
- Use contests and creative competition to help market your business in social media.
- Create strong connections between your site and the networks by giving people a chance to share anywhere on your site.
- Provide people with the tools (logos, artwork, etc.) to properly advertise for you through social channels without giving explicit permission.
- Understand that today, the people who decide to choose your business take a sense of ownership in that. Encourage it.
- Project strength, a sense of pride and an air of authority about your business in every possible way.
- Understand there are some people you can never please, but if you engage them politely and make an attempt, you will win the public perception battle.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts: DONT’S
- Never admit fault or take responsibility when it’s not warranted just to defuse an issue. It will come back to bite you later.
- Don’t spend too much time with one disgruntled customer if thirty others in the same place are happy.
- Remember that the Internet has a long memory. Don’t write anything you wouldn’t stand by for years.
- Don’t forget that someone somewhere is copying everything down. It cannot truly be erased once you submit it.
- Don’t expect that social media outlets will provide you with the analytics and data you really need to make the most of your ad spending. Directing the outcome to your CRM solution is critical to success.
- Never give product or services away to quiet someone from complaining unless it’s really your fault, and if so, make sure you inform everyone how the problem is resolved and will never happen again. This reduces expectations of recalls, free stuff for yelling, etc.
- Do not assume everyone is inherently honest and fair. You may have to send legal notices to cease and desist to real problem people.
- Don’t let social drive your business. It’s a fuel additive (or sugar if done poorly) not the gas that powers your engine.
Social Networks Will Come & Go, but Social CRM is Here to Stay
Will Facebook suffer the same fate as MySpace? Maybe, maybe not. The point of that question however, is not to try and anticipate which social media netwrok will sand the test of time. It’s to make you aware of one simple truth; If you’re not in control of your social profile and connections online, someone else is. Ultimately that’s not a good thing, and almost any business should be able to harness more power from social media than the established networks are ever to going to give you. At least for free. They’re happy to provide you with some data as long as you’re paying for it in the form of advertising or other services they want to sell you.
Don’t take that the wrong way, sometimes advertising using FaceBook or Twitter can be a very good thing. The problem lies with a few factors though, and they all revolve around control. Where are you sending people? If you say to your website, what happens when they get there? Are you making a sale, and either way, are you signing them up for something? To be part of your own community? If you’re not, you’re wasting valuable ad dollars and time by thinking of that one sale only. The future for your (or any other) business is being able to build your own social network, with the big social sites acting in supporting roles. Not as arbiters of your data, making decisions based on how much you spend with them as to what kind of analytics and other forms of data you receive.