Recently, I sat in on the “Social Media for Business” conference call with Peter Shankman (@skydiver), founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO), and Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan), president of New Marketing Labs, as they discussed best practices for using social media in business.
The focus was on three key uses of social media: building your brand, generating and increasing revenue, and providing positive customer service. The conclusion: if at the end of the day you’re not generating and increasing revenue by using social media, you’re not doing your job.
In a world where Twitter followers and Facebook fans serve as statistics to track your company’s return on its social media investment, Shankman and Brogan highlighted three key ways to generate that ROI:
1. Online Interaction
- Quality over quantity – Although big numbers are nice, it’s more valuable to look for engaging numbers – followers who are engaging in conversations and interacting with others online. Ultimately, your company’s customer base will grow through conversations about your company and/or products.
- Engage – Along with your followers, your company needs to be engaged as well. Use social media networks to monitor conversations surrounding your brand, and contribute to them.
- Customer Service – If you’re reading about people having problems, expressing concerns, or making suggestions about your product(s) – address them. A representative from your company can tackle these types of complaints almost immediately using social media, and solve them before they grow into something worse.
- Contests/freebees – Is your company having a great contest or giveaway? Are you currently offering a product discount? Use your presence on Twitter and Facebook to reach out to your follower/fan base and inform them (and potential customers) about discounts and contests directly.
- Switch from “where do I advertise,” to “where do I listen?” Make time to listen to your followers. You can’t listen if you’re always talking.
- Reach out to your followers/fans by doing something personal, such as sending birthday e-mails to those celebrating each day. Facebook provides an application to track birthdays that makes this easy. Use similar applications to find simple, but meaningful ways to interact with your fans, followers and customers.
3. Share Info
- Share relevant, interesting and useful information to enhance your corporate brand. Sharing useful information shows people you have something valuable to contribute, and demonstrates your industry expertise. Sharing also promotes interaction among your followers.
- Sharing information promotes conversation among others, but also encourages others to suggest your company as one to follow.
So, if you’ve already started your company’s social media campaign, have you incorporated these tips into your social media plan? What best practices have worked for you?