It’s no secret: Social media is the most powerful new marketing tool of the last five (or even 10) years. Even just by looking at our past content since January, you’ll see that we’ve covered social smartphone shopping, social vending machines, social media and customer service, social Super Bowl ads, Groupon and more.
But beyond building brand awareness and customer loyalty, how can companies get a bigger payoff from social media?
“Social media, be it weblogging, microblogging (i.e., Twitter), or posting status updates, is a different kind of marketing,” wrote Carolyn M. Brown of Inc.com (May 16). “It's not about creating a sales pitch for your product or service. Instead, it's about generating interest and keeping your audience current on news, events, and the latest product developments.”
Brown tells the story of Starbucks, which launched an interactive website and corporate blog called MyStarbucksIdea: “While some industry analysts doubted whether the site would catch on, well over 100,000 internet users had visited the site by the end of its first week online. The site allows users to submit ideas for new drinks, food items, packages, even store designs. Suggestions are voted on by Starbucks consumers with the most popular ones getting highlighted.
“But Starbucks took it a step further.” The company added an “Ideas in Action” blog that updates users on the status of suggestions, creating an interactive relationship with customers. Customers feel a sense of ownership and connection to a new drink. And they’ll be sure to tell their friends, family and Twitter followers once their suggestion hits the menu nationwide.
About Twitter: “While some industry analysts doubted whether the site would catch on, well over 100,000 internet users had visited the site by the end of its first week online. The site allows users to submit ideas for new drinks, food items, packages, even store designs. Suggestions are voted on by Starbucks consumers with the most popular ones getting highlighted.”
Brown provides the following 8 tips for aligning compelling content and tangible business objectives (i.e. brand awareness and increased sales) using social media:
- Position yourself as an expert.
- Share experiences and information.
- Keep it fresh and mix it up.
- Encourage interaction and feedback.
- Use schedulers and update apps.
- Make your blog the central hub.
- Link back to your website.
- Use a personal touch.
Social media is all about building relationships. In retail, these are relationships with your customers. By making it worthwhile for them to interact with you – and better yet, to identify with your brand – you’re growing your referral network (see Word of Mouth Engine), which in turn, increases sales.
Does your company use social media to interact with customers? Do you use any unique strategies? Please share your comments, below.