Most brand promoters on the manufacturing side now have at least a basic understanding of the power of social. So, they’ve started Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and YouTube channels – and many have gathered tons of fans and followers. But what good are one million fans on Facebook if they aren’t interacting with your brand or each other?
Think of it this way – if you set out a bowl for business cards at an event and get 50 cards, but none of the leads will call you back, was the bowl really a success? Earning a like on Facebook or a new follower on Twitter is like getting a business card. If they don’t engage further, what have you really gained?
Sound familiar? Here’s a short list of practices to start engaging your following, to move past counting “likes” and cultivate real relationships.
1. Get ‘em talking! To each other, and with your brand – it’s a conversation, not a monologue. Listen to what your fans have to say, and be sure to respond. Many brands realize their best customers are buried somewhere in the audience. To find them, you have to get them talking. Start by providing a place for people on your site and Facebook pages to:
- Talk about your products. People want to talk about what they like, what they don’t like, what they’d like to see next, etc. In addition to putting the customer at the heart of your business, giving them a platform in which to engage will allow you to glean valuable insights, as well.
- Share ideas. “Why didn’t we think of that?!” Engaged consumers can drive serious product innovation.
- Ask questions. People want to buy your stuff. They just have questions! Answer them and watch sales increase and returns decrease. Answer them on participating retail sites where hundreds or even thousands with the same question will benefit from a single effort on your part, and watch margins increase even more!
- Swap best practices, tell stories, share recipes, etc. Boost this type of engagement by creating interesting, fun, relevant, and valuable content for them to talk about. The key is to keep it focused on your target consumer’s interests. People love to talk about shared experiences, share their own personal stories, and connect with like-minded people in connection to the brands they love.
2. Recognize your brand advocates. Once you’ve got engaged advocates singing your praises, acknowledge them and get to know them to deepen that relationship. Their words recruit new customers on your behalf.
- Thank them for their patronage. Manufacturers are often very disconnected from their end users. It doesn’t have to be this way! Not anymore. Find ways to get their names in your database and make sure they know you appreciate their trust in your company and your brand. A simple, personal thank you will go a long way in creating a loyal customer who will influence the purchases of future customers.
- Make them feel special (because they are!). Give them information not yet available to the larger audience, solicit their opinion on an upcoming product idea, or perhaps even have them test it before it goes to market. Make them an insider to show them how important they are.
3. Analyze the data and use it to improve your business. Engaged consumer advocates provide a gold-mine of valuable information that can improve every aspect of business, from R&D to marketing and sales to customer service.
Invest in people and technology to uncover trends. Trends in what your social followers and people talking about you say reveal exactly where your brand excels, and where there are opportunities to improve. Emphasize the best parts of your brand in marketing. Spread opportunities for improvement across the company to improve every area of your business. There has never been an opportunity for manufacturers to get this close to their end users and learn so much from them.
In today’s ever-changing digital landscape, the social revolution is a game changer. Study after study shows that brand promoters who facilitate and participate in engaging end consumers glean more than just SEO benefits; they can now take a bigger part in creating loyal brand advocates who, through word of mouth, create more advocates.