Whether your business or medical practice is a fledgling couple months old or is celebrating its 50 year anniversary, most recognize and agree upon the significant role that social media has come to play in today’s business world. After all, communication is key to building customer and patient relationships and social media opens a whole new door to communicating with them.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that customer communication has drastically evolved. Communication has come a long way from solely face-to-face verbal communication at the point of sale to virtually endless possibilities! How do you choose between email, phone, mail, newspapers, magazines, billboards, email, web, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare etc. to communicate with your customers and prospects? And how do you keep up when the list goes on and on and only continues to grow?
Diving into social media can seem overwhelming, and it’s certainly understandable to be overwhelmed if you’re diving in blindly with no plan or understanding of what you want to get out of social media. But don’t miss out on the opportunity to build stronger customer and patient relationships because you’re unsure how to approach the social arena.
Why go social?
- Social media networks are excellent outlets to deepen relationships and connect with customers and patients on a more personal level. Being active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+ and Foursquare allows you to interact with customers at the same places they’re interacting with family and friends. There’s a personal connection made when your business or medical practice’s message is received in the same manner and location Aunt Peggy’s invitation to dinner is accepted and Sister Meghan’s engagement is announced.
- Social media offers a way to communicate in real-time with customers. Maybe your business is hosting a booth at the local tradeshow. Post a photo of visitors to your booth via Facebook. Maybe your software is experiencing a technical error. Communicate the issue (and when it’s corrected) to your customers immediately via Twitter. Take advantage of the many ways to communicate with your customers – when and where they prefer to communicate.
- You can adapt your social media strategy to your audience. When developing your initial strategy, be sure you include a way to track your success, also known as your key performance indicators (kpi’s). And always keep in mind your social media strategy is a continuous work in progress. Break your strategy down into more manageable phases. Instead of trying to build your presence on every social media network at the same time, try just a couple and allow yourself time to analyze your audience and the way they interact with you. You may find your customers prefer Google+ over Facebook. Or you may find you can build a Twitter following much faster than gaining YouTube subscribers.
- Building brand awareness is just as important as relationship building on social media networks.
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, Founder – Intuit.
The more real estate you have out there on the web, the higher rankings you’ll receive in search engine optimization (SEO) and the better chances of building brand awareness among your customers and prospects. Put your logo(s) on every profile, web page and channel that exists for your business. Then, put all the marketing pieces together by linking all of your social media pages. Include your Twitter handle, Facebook vanity URL, Google+ page, LinkedIn page, etc. on every social media network profile you have. You’ll be amazed at how much traffic doing this can lead to.
You’re Ready to Go Social!
“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.” – David Alston, CMO – Radian6
First, do a little research and listen to your potential audience. Next, engage in meaningful conversation to build stronger relationships with your audience. The stronger presence you have via social media, the stronger your bonds will ultimately become with your customers or patients. And strong bonds result in customer loyalty!