Everyone wants to grow their business, right? But, in order to grow successfully, a business needs a firm foundation. While the foundational elements can be disputed among different business owners, at the center of this foundation lies the many relationships that keep the business going. From relationships with partners, vendors and suppliers to the relationships with clients – these drive the business.
Building these relationships is only half the battle. The maintaining and strengthening of them is the challenge. Since the majority of business typically comes from repeat customers, these relationships are even more important.
In today’s world, relationships do not only consist of face-to-face time, or even phone time, but a big part of relationship building happens online. In her book, The New Relationship Marketing, Mari Smith is known for advocating this term in regards to social media. It seems rather basic, but so often businesses and marketers neglect the “social” side of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Relationships and thus, business are built in so many ways across social media. For starters, social media can be used to expand sales. Though there is still a lot of talk and misconception about ROI and social media, social platforms actually do play both a direct and indirect role in driving sales.
The indirect role, of course, comes in the form of brand awareness and visibility. It’s on this side that many leads are generated by techniques including having a presence and sharing relevant content. The direct role, on the other hand, occurs through calls to action, driving customers to your website or your brick-and-mortar store, advertising, among other creative means.
Another extension of growing a business through social media is with customer service. If you haven’t figured it out by now, social media is an incredibly valuable tool for customer service. Although many social platforms are useful in this area, Twitter specifically shines. Companies such as Nike and JetBlue recognize the value and have witnessed success as a result.
Customers are impatient, especially if they’ve received poor service. So, combining this with a real-time platform seems like a match made in Heaven. Businesses can set up notification alerts for high priority keywords on Facebook and can utilize social media management tools to track and respond to needs in a timely fashion.
Brands do take on a lot of responsibility when they put themselves out there for customer service, but the impact could be far-reaching. While the customer is affected by the customer service, his or her friends, followers, and network can see and, in turn, be affected as well.
Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful means in referring a product or service, but product reviews are essentially the equivalent to WOM online. More than 80 percent of consumers go online to research a product before making a purchase. In other words, if your business isn’t doing well on product review and social sites, you could be missing out on some very big opportunities.
If you have bad reviews, try to turn it into something good. There may be some truth in it that helps your business become better at what it does. Or, it could be that you have the opportunity to turn a negative customer experience into a brand advocate for your business.
Also, if you’re not listed on specific review sites or if you don’t have reviews on your social channels, encourage customers to do give reviews by incentivizing them. Customers want to feel empowered, and the outcome could positively influence you.
Above all, businesses need to understand that social media exists for a reason. Many businesses both big and small are using it to grow, so why not join the club?
Image courtesy of EmmoAllen.com.