Using social media to engage in the conversation

picture-1Smart marketers are spending more and more time in the social media space. It is inexpensive, highly targeted and gives businesses the chance to build a personal relationship with their consumers like no other medium offers. Social media allows businesses to interact with their audience in a two-way conversation that builds brand affinity, and most importantly, trust. People will buy from people they trust.

At this stage of the game, it is not enough to just have a presence in the social networks, you must facilitate that conversation by encouraging your audience to participate in the discussion through blogs, discussion boards, Tweets, groups, etc. Get involved with your consumer and find out what they think about your industry, your product and your competition. Let’s face it, before you even sat down at that desk to write your marketing plan, people were talking about your product or industry. Why not get involved in the conversation?

Recently I pitched a potential client and offered them my services in social media.  Aside from maintaining their Facebook page with fresh content, I proposed that I would monitor the web and find out what people are saying about their product, make comments, add to discussions and report back. This can be time-consuming (which is why I pitched this client – to take the burden off their plate), but can be well worth the trouble.

First and foremost, if you haven’t yet enabled Google Alerts, please do so immediately. Just type in your keywords and email address and Google will send you updates when those keywords are picked up by the search engines. This is a quick and easy way to find out what is being said about your product online.

Other ways to monitor what is being talked about online is to spend some time in discussion areas, groups, pages and user rating and review sites such as Trip Advisor, Angie’s List and Yelp, to name a few. This is a one stop shop in finding out what people are saying about your product. It’s like surveying your audience without actually surveying them.

Finding out what your customers are saying is only half the battle. Taking that information and using it to make your business stronger is the other half. For example, if you’re a restaurant and you notice on Trip Advisor that people are complaining about your service. You can address it accordingly.

There are many other tools and sites to help you monitor and get involved in the conversation. Find which ones work best for your business. The point is, to get out there, embrace user-generated-content and use it to make your business more successful.

Building your brand through social media does take time and energy and sometimes hours online, but as with anything, you get out of it what you put in.

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