Leveraging Social Media to Build Customer Relationships and Brand Loyalty
Many businesses have pushed all-in on social media. In the high-stakes game of customer relationships and reputation, social media can be an excellent channel for building and retaining loyal customers. Prompt and effective responses to requests for product information, praise or feedback about service, or complaints can result in greater brand affinity, improved customer support, quicker order fulfillment and faster lead qualification. Therefore, when using social media as a business tool, it’s important to take strategic steps to ensure you can take full advantage of the opportunity.
Here are some recommendations that can help you leverage the power of social media to build strong customer relationships.
1. Choose Social Channels Wisely – In addition to the old guard of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest are the new channels of digital influence being used for everything from real-time engagement to customer service. Also don’t forget that Google+ has excellent reach to the more technical audience and is also coming on strong with all the resources of Google at its disposal.
2. Use Social Productivity Tools – Use tools that let you quickly identify issues related to your company from the massive pool of updates including blog comments, podcasts, pictures and videos. Take note of more advanced features available from toolkits, including image recognition to identify photographs and videos that are relevant to your product offering. Content is king. Use social tools to push content and generate memes.
3. Implement Real-Time Integration – To provide value to enterprise users (e.g. sales, marketing, customer support), relevant social media content should be integrated in real-time with your CRM and other core IT systems, such as ERP, finance and logistics, creating a centralized enterprise portal. Integration is needed to manage relationships at a 1:1 level as well as to monitor trends. A systems integration platform with interfaces to social media and popular IT systems can provide the needed connectivity. As social media networks go in and out of favor, loosely coupled integration provided by an integration platform means that you can easily add, remove or change social media channels as warranted.
4. Accelerate Social Media Responsiveness through Automation – Information from social media should be made actionable, such as automatically triggering alerts in cases of negative comments so they can be handled as quickly as possible. Although the processes should be automated, the interactions themselves should be personalized. Canned responses are obvious to customers and have a negative impact on the company’s image.
When an angry customer posts a rant on Facebook, there is nothing more impressive to their friends than to see your brand representatives responding immediately and competently to correct the situation. This requires automated business processes that can be leveraged by your social media monitors.
5. Use Social Intelligence to Enhance Business Relationships – With so much data now at hand, there is great potential to better understand and manage customer relationships. This can include using image recognition to identify elements in posts and correlate it with other elements, but it’s also key to being able to actively manage relationships with many customers and potential customers on a personal level.
Customers are already using social media to complain, compliment and make inquiries of your brand. It’s imperative for businesses to meet their customers where they are and address any customer service or support issues as quickly as possible. Fortunately, social platforms provide means for advertisers and non-advertisers to interface and automate their use of social media. But it requires integration and effort on your part. A comprehensive system integration strategy and platform can help support the process and accelerate companies’ ability to enjoy the benefits of social CRM.
Glenn Johnson is Senior Vice President of Magic Software Enterprises Americas. He is is the author of the award-winning blog Integrate My JDE and contributor to the Business Week Guide to Multimedia Presentations (Osborne-McGraw Hill). He has presented at Collaborate, Interop, COMMON, CIO Logistics Forum and dozens of other user groups and conferences. His interviews on software industry issues have been aired on the NBC Today Show, E! News, Discovery and more.