The predominantly online retailer may never physically meet their customer. A pop-up retailer may need to continue momentum between events. Using their personality to build rapport and keep their customers returning using social media is the key, says Rowan Grant, author of this blog.
People like people, businesses must treat people well…
The basics are people like people. And people like businesses that treat them like a real person. As many businesses become predominantly online or home-based to reduce running costs, the personal interaction between business and client or customer can often become overlooked. But with the many options of social media available – there are so many ways to engage with the customer online when face to face is not always a possibility.
Here are my top tips for using the most popular social media platforms to build yourself an online personality and engage with your customers:
Do be personal:
Don’t just update about business. No one would subscribe their telephone to a cold caller. As people use Twitter or Facebook in leisure time, they don’t want to just know what products you have added or new service you’re offering. Is the boss taking the team out for drinks? Preparing to run a marathon? Kids first day at school? They’re all things that make your online business ‘human’ and not ‘faceless’, don’t be afraid to update on them!
Do keep your voice consistent with your brand:
If you run a joke shop, you could be as silly as you want! But keep it professional if you run a professional service.
Don’t use logos as your main avatar:
Users of social media sites are more likely to interact if it’s with a person they can see – and therefore you need a face. It will increase their trust in you if they know what you look like!
Don’t limit yourself to just one platform:
If you can, try using a variety of platform to network. Many of these link up so you don’t have to do too much work to manage a few. I really like Instagram as it has its own users but also links really easily to Twitter and Facebook and is a smart way of quickly updating with photographs of your current whereabouts and doings. YouTube, Linked In and blogs are also great places to make your personality present.
Don’t be negative:
This really is key. Keep it professional and don’t use your business’ social media platforms to rant or whinge. Pity updates will alienate your customers so if you have the sniffles – keep it to yourself!
Social media is a two-way conversation. It is not just about your updates, but also listening to the updates of others and responding to the ones you find interesting – or even funny!
Do be polite!
If you are recommended by a tweeter, or your page is shared by another business, if you’re retweeted or given a Follow Friday – make sure you say thanks!
Do encourage participation:
By asking relevant questions you can start to have conversations and discussions with your customers and followers. Encourage them to leave feedback, comment and perhaps even upload their own photos and videos you can comment on (make sure you use an identifiable hashtag on twitter!). By creating a buzz around a particular subject and getting involved in discussion your presence will become more genuine and trusted.
Give something back:
This is doubly beneficial to you – find other brands, services and companies that offer products and services that are interesting and useful to your customer group. By retweeting and sharing them and giving a personal recommendation you are showing your customers your interest in the area and also promoting other companies who will likely return the favour.
Don’t over sell:
Constantly updating about your product or service is like walking into a store and being given the hard sell from a pushy salesman, and no one would subscribe to that in store, so no one will out of choice on a social media platform. Mix your virtual sales pitches up between more ‘chatty’ updates!
Do use a variety of media:
If you can, try to use sound and video as well as just updates. Allowing your customers, clients and followers to hear you and see you talk will build much more trust and will create a much more engaging mix for them to want to come back to your page for more.
Don’t stop… be patient!
Updating a couple of times and then disappearing for weeks in the virtual world appears like a shopkeeper only opening once a month in the real world. It takes time to build up a rapport, so just keep at it!
Do use your online contacts for real-life opportunities to network:
This is golden rule! If you ever have an opportunity to meet your online contact in real life, use it. If you are promoting at an exhibition tweet an invitation so your followers can meet you. Perhaps organise your own tweet-up. If a contact is hosting an event, make an effort to go. Always use real-life opportunities.
And finally… Let your own personality really shine!
Rowan Grant is an independent jewellery designer from West Yorkshire under the brand ‘Kitschen Sink’. Kitschen Sink is the result of quality time with Grandma, a fascination of colourful branded toys, and a desire to re-purpose mass-produced materials into handmade, wearable fashion treats. Designs have been worn by Eliza Doolittle, Russell Kane and featured in national fashion magazines. Rowan also runs social media workshops for start-up creative businesses. www.kitschensink.com