From Twitter to Facebook, Bebo to Orkut, social networks entice users with their random names, quirky style and the shear volume of potential customers does not dissapoint with Facebook amassing 400 million active users and Twitter surpassing it’s 10 billionth ‘tweet’ in March. The amount of networks available can be a little overwhelming and there are always going to be new trends but before some other new service comes along to distract your customer base why not start interacting instead of waiting for ‘Zoot’ or some other crazily named band wagon.
The recent e-commerce website Playing Cards Only has been making great use of their Twitter feed for promotional offers. Not just focusing on their own offers but linking in with relevant popular culture such as the upcoming World Cup or last night’s TV. Now we are not suggesting talking for the sake of talking, inane drivel is not something anyone wants to read but a little self promotion has never hurt. Whether you’re trying to sell bicycles to a Dutchman or lettuce to a farmer you’re always in need of exposure. Rather than seeing social networking as a separate project we like to think of it as part of your whole online profile and it doesn’t just need to be about promotion. Any interaction with your customers can be taken in a positive light; from fixing problems to offering advice, they all help to remind your customers you’re still there and you know what you’re talking about.
For years companies have adopted a secretive persona where their latest product or service is developed behind closed doors until a big marketing splurge effectively dangles the carrot in front of you. This obviously works well for certain industries but as Google and others have time and again demonstrated, constant communication through forums, blogs and now social networks not only helps improve the customer’s impression of you but also opens your organisation and puts trust in your brand. Unlike traditional media, social media is not just a one way street but can also provide ideas for improvement to your products and hopefully your cashflow all with a simple bit of feedback. Although fully fledged feedback sites such as Get Satisfaction exist, a simple question to your customers could be all that is needed to improve your service/product and their perception of your business and everybody knows that a happy customer is more likely to come back or provide a bit of free word-of-mouth promotion. It doesn’t have to be another boring management speak exercise, adopting a natural tone not only creates a relaxed atmosphere but gives your customers the opinion that you care, which hopefully you do! Don’t worry about trying to be seen as a huge monopoly, customers don’t care how many people you have working for you, they do care about the service they receive and once you see social media as a means of customer interaction it’ll all make sense.
With Twitter constantly improving their service and recently announcing annotations (hopefully removing the need for services such as Bit.ly or TinyUrl) and with the amount of tweets still rising, it might be a good time to get your face out there.