Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image
Chris LoCurto

By

March 23, 2012

Using Social Media To Grow Lifetime Relationships

March 23, 2012 | By | 38 Comments">38 Comments

Here’s a another great post on social media by Joel Fortner. Joel’s company BlueBridge Communication specializes in helping entrepreneurs effectively market their business. Follow Joel on Twitter. You can guest post as well! Read how to here.

Switching your focus from getting new customers to fostering lifetime relationships to create repeat business is critically important.  Marketing does not stop once the first transaction with a customer is complete.  Actually, it’s just begun.

The ability to stay in touch and nurture long-term relationships is a top benefit of social media, but first you need to build a following of people you want to have relationships with.

As you’ve probably experienced, it’s quite common for people to find and follow your business after they’ve done business with you, especially if you really blew them away.   But don’t leave their following you to chance.  Here are three easy ways to build a targeted following.

  • Be deliberate and ask customers to follow you on your social media sites.  A great time to do this is immediately following the transaction.  Why then?  Because they will never have a better opinion of you than they will immediately after a great experience with your business!  Leverage that.
  • Display your social media presence everywhere, especially in your business, on your website, on your blog, etc.  That’s enough for some people, but others will need a better reason, so make sure you give them one.

Incentivize your customers to follow you on Facebook or Twitter with access to exclusive content, sneak peeks, and the ability to speak with other customers or an expert from your business, etc.

  • If you have a newsletter, electronic or print, for current customers, provide links to your social media sites and the reasons why they should follow you.

As your following grows, here are some great ways to use social media to foster lifetime relationships.

  • Follow up after the sale – Social media is a great way to follow up with someone after they’ve spent money with you.  Simply following up will score points with customers. But doing it via social media makes it visible to others and puts your customer service on display for others to see.  If you’re thinking, Yeah, this sounds great, but what if the customer wasn’t happy and they respond saying so? Now people are going to see that?  This brings us to “way” number 2.
  • Stop the bleeding – It’s human nature to share good and bad business experiences. So if someone is unhappy with your business, you want to know it so you can do something about it before you start bleeding customers. Social media gives you the chance to find out, fix it, keep the customer and go on to build a long-term relationship with them.

Handling a customer complaint online is your chance to turn a business-killing situation into a business-generating one—especially if you blow the person away with excellent customer service.  And, again, other followers get to watch it transpire.  Now, sure, you’re not going to please everyone but most people will applaud your honest effort to do so.

  • Ask for opinions – Everyone likes to be asked for their opinion, especially about things they care about.  Social media is a great way to seek your customers’ advice and opinions about appropriate aspects of your business.  For instance, if you own a restaurant with a seasonal menu, ask your social media followers to recommend dishes to include on an upcoming menu, and report back on what you decided.

Question:  What other ways can you use social media to grow lifetime relationships with customers?

StumbleUponEmail
  • Lea

    These are all excellent tips for promoting customer loyalty online…but what about your offline customers? The business age we live in now allows us many new opportunities with technology advancement to communicate with our customers on a social-media level, but it is important to remember not all your customers will be interacting via the internet. It’s important to make sure the staff you have in place to answer incoming customer calls is a well oiled machine, as well. Using services that provide call tracking and evaluation help you to keep an eye on these staff members…and provide you real-time reports via the cloud that you can access. Some providers like http://www.callcap.com will even listen to your call recordings and grade your staff based on a combination of criteria you provide and their own customer service expertise. 

  • http://www.epreferreds.com/ preferred stocks

    I think it is important – as Joel pointed out – to not just be using various social media for the sake of using them – but having an objective – that is what I fear I fail to do.

  • http://www.crystalimagesinc.com/desk-name-plate1.html custom desk name plates

    The post is very informative and useful for me.Thanks for sharing the post..

  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    Great post, Joel! I especially like “follow up” with clients after the sale. Although many times, I connect at the beginning with SM – I ususally use other means in the followup. I will definitely implement social media as on of our actions after we close.

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      You’re very welcome and glad you’re gonna try that!

  • http://www.indueseason.net skottydog

    It is impossible to not harness social media, in business or otherwise. As a small business owner, a blogger, a representative for an existing major corporation, or even a retired grandmother…you’ll find yourself left behind the pack if you don’t utilize the ever-changing world of social media.
    Companies that have been around for decades (the “blue chips”) are incorporating Twitter, Facebook, etc. to not only stay afloat, but to stay ahead.
    It is detrimental to anyone who wants to have their voice heard or their presence known in the world of business and not be tapped into the resources available today with Google+, Twitter, etc.

    As a writer/blogger, I have spend many months with my head in the books on anything to do with WordPress. These days, I find Twitter (and learning how to harness its full potential) is taking up most of my time.

    Thanks for the post, Joel!

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      You’re very welcome. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s a great guide to Twitter. It covers the basics and then goes deeper. I’ve picked up a few tips going through it. http://www.scribd.com/scottmonty/d/67972411-Twitter-Business-Guide

    • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

      I think it is important – as Joel pointed out – to not just be using various social media for the sake of using them – but having an objective – that is what I fear I fail to do. I know many people who actually ARE in business but not tapped into the online resources or are using them without a purpose. But you are right – they will be left behind unless they get onboard the Social Media train.

      • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

        I read an article today reporting 13% of marketers don’t effectively measure social media. From my experience, this is because they don’t have any objectives for it at all. You don’ t have to go objective crazy but at least come up with one, be it lead generation, customer service handling, etc.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Joel! Though I do not use use social media to grow my relationships with customers, I use social media to connect with different kinds of thinkers. As a result, I am now part of various vibrant online communities. I am able to learn a lot like never before.

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      That’s awesome, Uma! I’ve done the same and continue to use social media like that.

  • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

    I love this blog. Truth: It’s not what you know that counts. It’s your ability to learn more and apply it that makes the difference.

    I just came across this fascinating and short interview that I think is relevant to the conversation: Why Relationship Marketing Is Important to Business. [ http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/why-relationship-marketing-is-important-for-businesses/
    Fav takeaway: It’s not B2B it’s P2P (people to people.)

    I think that’s what Joel is also saying here. Business is not one office building connecting with another.

    It’s a person connecting with another person. Sadly, most businesses seem to be machines trying to connect with other machines. Cold and inhuman.

    Joel, I will take your advice of intentionally asking clients to connect with you on FB /Twitter/Blog etc. That’s great. Most of the ‘companies’ I work with are not on Facebook or Twitter. But the PEOPLE who work in them….they are on there.

    Every time I go to Walmart to buy groceries, I get approached by a salesperson for one thing or another. The last time I went, the sales person didn’t even look me in the eyes. She just held up her brochure, babbled off what it was, (not even looking at me) and when I said ‘no thanks’ she just walked away.

    I thought…that’s what’s wrong with sales. You can’t just throw yourself at people and expect them to buy from you. You have to build relationship with PEOPLE. Over time. Build trust. Build credibility. Walk away if you discover your product/service doesn’t fit….or stay with the person until they are ready to buy from you.

    Sorta puts a different spin on sales.

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      You nailed it on all accounts here! I can’t emphasize enough the point about marketing to the WHOLE person. There’s no such thing as marketing to the business part of their brain. This is why targeting markets is so important. The more you target the better you understand those people, the way they think, their interests, fears, conversations they have in their head, etc. All of this is human stuff, not business stuff.

      • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

        Yes yes yes! I’m having this happen this week. I’ve been trying to reach out to a prospect who showed interest in our company’s services back in January. B2B. Nada. Started to connect with one of the people in the company. Emails were exchanged. Slow to little progress.

        I started exploring their website, and noticed they were on Facebook and Twitter. Connected and followed both accounts.

        Noticed that my main contact had a personal Facebook, and so I requested to connect with my personal facebook account. The prospect accepted.

        Traded a few comments – just trying to connect on a person to person level.

        A few days ago, I got a FB message from the person connecting me to his new training manager (email addy.) And inviting me to connect with this new person, and offered support if I needed it. (Yeah!! Progress!)

        — Fast forward – Today: Reached out to the new guy via telephone because I haven’t heard back to the email I sent last week.

        He thanked me for calling, mentioned he had lost my past email and could I email again. A few hours later today: 4 emails were traded back and forth with both my original contact and my newest training manager contact – momentum is building!

        Why? I think it’s because of investing in the people to people.

        What do you think?

        • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

          Sounds like you’re making it happen Aaron!! I think Joel will agree, I have no doubt that’s why you’re getting this kind of interaction.

          • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

            Chris, you’re exactly right. While your persistence is key, Aaron, you’re interacting well. Social media allows for an acceleration of trust building at times because people are able to see you on a more human level and vice versa.

            • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

              Thanks Joel! Appreciate that ‘acceleration of trust’ idea. I think you’re right.

              So vital: people 2 people. :)

          • http://www.epicenterlanguages.com.mx Aaron Nelson

            Chris – thank you! I’m certainly doing my best to make it happen – It’s do or die time. I’m a motivated relationship developer. (To avoid saying salesperson. ;) ) Have a great weekend!

            • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

              Oh, I like that. :-)

      • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

        I agree with Joel – you nailed your response! I like “what you learn and APPLY”….!

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Alright, incredibly unrelated question, Joel: but do you know anything about running facebook contests?

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      Totally related if you’re running contests as part of your plan to nurture lifetime relationships! =) Yes I do. What’s on your mind, my friend?

      • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

        For a business page I manage:
        I’d like to get likes – not targeting really deep engagement at this point, just getting likes. Have things related to the business (tickets, special priveleges at events, etc.) I’d like to give away to people who like the page, perhaps share the page – something like that.
        Ideally, I don’t want people to have to give permission to an app in order to enter the contest. I don’t care about super-deep branding, but it would be nice to at least be able to put our name/logo/photo on something having to do with the contest so people know it’s us. And lastly, hoping to of course keep the costs low.
        Any ideas?
        (Oh, and of course one that abides by facebook policies so we don’t get our page deleted, haha).

        • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

          What’s the objective? In other words, why are you trying to get people to like the page?

          And so I’m clear, you’re wanting to do a Facebook contest but not Facebook? Your wanting to promote contests somewhere else and drive people to Like the page and participate in the contest? Is that right?

          • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

            I’ll just shoot you an Email so we aren’t cluttering up Chris’s page :)

            • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

              Sounds good! I’ll look for it!

            • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

              Actually, I think you’re helping others!

  • cabinart

    Joel, do you use Google+? Does it qualify as ‘social media”?

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      Yes it’s social media. I’ve had a G+ account since it start but haven’t invested time with it yet. Like all other social media platforms, a key to G+ is using it deliberately. For instance, are you using it to find, identify, educate and motivate people to do something? Are you using it to drive people to your web site? Are you using it to nurture lifetime relationships? Are you using it to orchestrate referrals? There’s much you can do. My point is just be clear on why you’re using it, don’t pressure it to make the sale and focus on relationships.

      • http://twitter.com/epicenterone Aaron Nelson

        Brilliant. It’s so important to start with the ‘why.’ Thanks for the reminder on this. My G+ account and Facebook is pretty much without said ‘why.’ I will take time to figure that out and act on it.

        • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

          Good deal. Go get ’em!

      • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

        Joel – I think I have to get more “deliberate” with my use of social media. I like the questions you ask – this could help me to identify my “why” for using social media. I think too many times we hear this is what we are suppose to do – but do not get specific with our own purpose and why – we just wantto be “liked” – but your questions make it pretty clear that that is just the beginning! Not the end. Thanks again for a great post.

        • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

          Oftentimes, we, the users, get conditioned by the tool, such as Likes followers or even web traffic. These are all worthless measures unless you can cause people to take the next step. We have to learn to think beyond the tool and what it tells us to do and make the tool work how we want it to. I’m working on a small business guide to marketing I’m going to give away for free that will address this.

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    Great info! Social media is NOT optional anymore! I’m on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress DAILY… and I don’t even own a business :)

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      Depending on your business, it should definitely be your marketing mix somehow.

  • http://twitter.com/hollyhall22 Holly Hall

    Great advice, Joel! One way that I try to keep in touch with clients on Twitter is to send them articles or resources that are helpful to them. Twitter is much more “fun” than sending emails. I find that I can often get through to clients faster through Twitter.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Wow…that’s a change in times!!

    • http://www.bluebridgecomm.com/ Joel Fortner

      Excellent example anyone can do!