We’ve blogged before about the benefits of social media for your small business here at BizSugar.com or using other social media sites.
But as Anita Campbell, founder of Small Business Trends observes, using social media simply as a tool to market to potential new customers is missing a huge part of what social media can do. Use your social media efforts not only to acquire new customers and clients but also to find ways also to increase your connection with existing customers.
Another way of looking at this idea is to say that you should use social media to feed or nourish your existing customers in a way that keeps them coming back for more and that makes them want to continue the relationship with you.
Here are 10 ways to feed your customers with social media:
1. Share information. Providing valuable information not only in your niche but in theirs is an excellent way to feed your customers through social media. Find success stories, how-tos and other articles to share. Make your social media profile more than just a place to re-broadcast and publicize your own articles and blog posts, but also a place for sharing the latest relevant information in your niche or industry from a variety of sources.
2. Share tips. Don’t stop at articles and the latest info. Tips that can improve your customers’ business and your own will help you chart a path together moving into the future and of sharing knowledge with your team, partners and other customers and clients (or pretty much anyone linked to you via social media.) More than the latest news, you can be a source of professional improvement and education in both your own industry and those dominated by your clients.
3. Introduce them to friends. Some business leaders believe that introducing their clients, partners and customers to others in their network would be a mistake allowing others to bypass them on projects and form leveraging networks that do not include them. This is a shortsighted view of what social media networking can do. Introducing you customers and clients to others in your field and theirs will first establish you as an important networker, authority and connector in that field, and second, leverage new opportunities not seen before with new partners, clients and customers potentially benefiting everyone in the network.
4. Educate. Teach your customers, clients and suppliers what to expect and where your industry is heading. This will give you an opportunity to introduce new products and services that are available to your customers, clients and community but also to explain the benefits of these new products and services within the larger framework of your niche and industry. As a result, educating your community puts you in the position of helping your clients and customers prepare for trends while making them aware of the tools and services you offer to assist them with future challenges.
5. Take an interest. Knowing your niche, your industry and the products and services you offer is one thing, but knowing something about your customer or client and their needs is also imperative. Of course, your success depends on their success so use your social media channels to explore the niches and markets important to your them. It will show that you understand their business and help you gain insight into their market and how it is changing.
6. Empower. Providing your customers and clients with new information in their field or niche can open new opportunities and new vistas into which they and you can expand. Growth for your customers and clients means growth for your business as well, so focus on sharing information that uncovers new ideas, products, services and new markets, not just the same old tips for the same old markets your clients already dominate.
7. Spend some time listening. Social media is a telephone not just a microphone. By building connections not only with your customers and clients but with others in their niche or industry, you can monitor what’s important to those you serve sharing innovations and trends and pointing out new directions for their business that will in turn strengthen your authority in their niche or market and brand you as an expert, eventually drawing more business from existing clients and customers and others in similar industries.
8. Give a little more. Social media content is a great way of giving more to existing and prospective clients while eventually attracting more business from both and from others following you. Social media is one of the best ways to give more to your existing customers while at the same time branding and marketing your business. Using the tools of social media will allow you to streamline and combine your marketing and customer service efforts and boost your visibility all at once with others in your industry.
9. Strategize for the future. Using social media to follow trends in your own industry or niche and those of your clients will also help you and them forecast the future. Almost like mini-consulting sessions, social media allows you to share information on new directions and new ideas and share those ideas with clients and followers in a way that allows them to be assimilated and acted upon in the future forming a road map for future growth while establishing yourself as a thought leader.
10. Add a little magic. Links to special features and posts, video content, your own original blog posts, original interviews with industry leaders: all are ways to add some extra magic and an exciting dynamic to your social media channel. Be aware that retaining followers, including existing customers, is the key. Focus on material that will keep your readers coming back again and again and referring your content to others.
Are you using social media to set a banquet for your loyal customers? How are you using social media channels to feed your customers and yet keep them hungry for more?
(Shawn Hessinger is chief moderator and blogger for BizSugar.com, a social media site providing news and information to the online small business community. For more on BizSugar community how to submit your own small business content to the group, check out our “about” page or visit our BizSugar signup page to create your free account today.)