Why Your Company Needs Social Media: Sales, Retention & Customer Service
There are case studies abound of how big brands such as Zappos, Jet Blue, Comcast, etc. have put social media into action and the success that they’ve had with it. Can small businesses be just as successful using social media? Absolutely! There are many advantages of using social media during the sales process for customer service, sales prospecting and customer retention for small businesses.
With the state of the current economy, social media networks are even more critical to companies, especially small businesses. Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Ustream and Youtube, are all extra avenues that a small business has at its fingertips to increase sales.
Most small businesses aren’t aware that they can use social media for sales prospecting. Using social media networks like Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook can actually allow you to do just that. Each time that you engage a potential customer on one of these social media networks you’re exposing your small business to thousands of other possible connections through the friends and or followers of the person you engage. This could range from hundreds to thousands of people.
About a month ago, I needed some information on direct mail promotional companies and how the services worked. Instead of just trying to google it to see what I could find out, I figured just maybe some of my friends and followers on Twitter would have some personal insight for me. So being the Twitter addict that I am, I tweeted my question instead.
Within minutes I had quite a few Direct Messages from my followers who had contacts that could help me with my search. After a few DMs and emails being sent back and forth, I now knew the answer to my question and I had a few leads to follow up on. I was glad I choose to tweet about my questions instead of trying to just research it myself because I got personal insight from people who have used direct mail promotional companies in the past and I had a chance to engage my followers on Twitter.
However, one thing stood out to me though after all was said and done was that not a single direct mail promotional company like infoUSA, VistaPrint or Experian contacted me based on my tweet.
Triggering sales prospects can now just be a matter of engaging in conversation with your audience. Companies that are not engaging with their audience when keywords related to their products, services or even their company names are mentioned are missing out on potential sales prospects. That is why it is so crucial to monitor social media for mentions about your brand and its products.
So, how do you engage in these types of conversations? One way of monitoring keyword mentions on Twitter is through the use of Twitter Search; another online service called TweetGrid allows you to set up separate search columns using search terms, without having to download software to your computer and allows you to see results in real time. However, using a desktop Twitter application like TweetDeck or Seesmic is very convenient and allows you to set up a column for a Twitter Search so that when someone tweets about certain keywords i.e. “direct mail marketing” or “outer banks” you’ll receive those searches in a column dedicated to that search. Every time a person tweets about your “keyword/key phrase” you’ll be able to courteously engage with them. Thus, you’ll have your sales prospects inquiring directly with you about your small business.
An example of this type of sales prospecting happened to me just before the Labor Day holiday. My wife and I were interested in going to the Outer Banks for the long weekend, but we weren’t quite sure where we should go. Like I said previously, I’m a Twitter addict so I tweeted about my wife and I being open to suggestions on where to visit on the Outer Banks for the holiday.
Soon after tweeting it, a local vacation rental company on the Outer Banks messaged me back and gave me some suggestions on where to go. After a few tweets between us, they had given me some very helpful insights on Corolla and Duck. Notice how they didn’t suggest getting a rental unit with them in the tweet below.
Though they provided a lot information to me, never once did they mention the fact they I should stay in one of their vacation rentals in those areas. Granted, we elected to go to Atlantic Beach since it was closer to us, but if we had gone to Duck or Corolla chances are we would have stayed in one of their vacation rentals. Why? Because of just how helpful they were to me. That ’s an example of just how much engagement matters to your audience.
Other Sales Prospecting Tools
Twitter is not the ONLY social media tool to use for sales prospecting. Other tools that you can use for online reputation management can actually be used for sales prospecting as well. Here are some examples.
- Jive Market Engagement – Is the first to combine buzz monitoring software with the power of Social Business Software, enabling enterprises to strengthen their brands and implement a unified social media strategy.
- Raven Tools – Is the ultimate tool for managing SEO and social media campaigns.
- Trackur – Is a suite of online reputation monitoring and social media monitoring tools.
- Who’s Talkin – Helps you search for conversations in social media, surrounding the topics that you care about most.
- BuzzStream – A new platform for building more effective and more human relationships online, without all the overhead and bandwidth.
- TweetBeep – Enables you to receive email alerts when a specific word or phrase is tweeted on Twitter.
- Google Alerts – Allows you to get email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.
- Facebook Lexicon – A tool that keeps you updated about users are talking about on Facebook.
- Social Mention – A social media search engine that searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, and microblogging services.
- Trendrr – Lets you automate tracking and reporting around social and digital media. Garner real time ROI and actionable data.
Now that you’ve turned those sales prospects into actual sales it’s even more crucial how these new customers perceive you and your brand. Failing to meet their expectations can actually damage your brand. That’s where social media comes into play. From monitoring your online reputation to engaging with your customers to attracting potential customers, social media can assist you in helping meet your customers’ expectations.
One social media network that can be beneficial to small businesses is Facebook. Fan pages do allow you to interact with all of your “fans” but that is not ALL that can be done with it. One thing a small business can do is to turn their fan page into a resource page for their customers. You can share product information, company information, and any specials you may be running currently. The information being provided will allow the customers to create a great connection with your small business’ brand.
Also, by featuring contests on your fan page, it will create not only interaction with you and your fans, but also create interaction between your fans. Facebook fan pages are the perfect place to reward your fans since they have chosen to associate with your small business and its brand in front of all their friends. Make sure if you have a Facebook fan page that you keep monitoring it. If not, you are missing out on a huge opportunity and more than likely doing more damage than good by setting it up and then not monitoring it.
Another great network that is great to engage with your customers is Twitter. If your customers are on Twitter you can guarantee that they will be tweeting about one of two things when it comes to your brand. Either they will have had terrible issues with your products or services and those frustrations will get aired on Twitter or they will be actively seeking information about your products and services.
If you’re on Twitter, you’ll be able to answer those questions as well as be able to assist them with any issues that they have had with your brand. By engaging with them and helping them with any issues they may have had they are more likely to be happy to share information with their friends which will build word of mouth amongst the twitter community. Thus, it will increase your chances to convert more of those sales prospects into actual customers.
So now that we’ve shown you how to convert your social media strategies into actual customers and how to interact with them, how do you get them to keep buying your products or services? Just as there are social media tools that you can use for sales prospecting and customer service, there are tools that you can use for sales retention. One of the more popular tools is Future Tweets.
Future Tweets allows you to schedule a tweet to be posted on a date in the future. Using the Outer Banks example I mentioned above, let’s pretend that we actually stay at one of their rentals. Another way they could have continued the conversation would be to schedule a future tweet for a day or so after the holiday weekend and ask me how my stay was on the Outer Banks.
The same rule applies for a small business who sells products instead of services. If you saw someone tweet that they recently bought your product what better way to retain that sale for the future than to ask what they thought of the product after a certain period of time has passed, say somewhere between 15-30 days. Using Future Tweets not only allows you to create sales retention with clients, but it’s quick and easy allowing for more time that can be devoted to the other aspects of social media.
Other Sales Retention Tools
Besides using Future Tweets, there are other tools that you can use for sales retention as well.
- SocialOomph – Provides you with tools to boost your social media productivity.
- Twuffer – Allows a Twitter user to compose a list of future tweets, and schedule their release.
- TwitResponse – Gives you the opportunity to setup unlimited messages to be delivered to your twitter page when you want.
- AutoTweeter – Is a light weight tweet scheduler desktop application. AutoTweeter can send automatic tweets to your twitter account.
Now can you see why using social media is so crucial to a company especially a small business? There are so many advantages that small businesses can gain from using social media during the sales process for customer service, sales prospecting and even customer retention. It can impact not only their sales, but also their company brand in a very positive way if done correctly.
Casey Yandle, an Internet Marketing Consultant for Creative Daylight in North Carolina, is an experienced Internet Marketer specializing Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Google Adwords Consulting & Thesis Designs. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.