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?