When it comes to Social Media for business purposes, the number one question on the minds of many owners and managers is what is the ROI? What does a Facebook like mean for sales at the end of the day? How many customers will read and respond to a tweet? What is the value of a share in Google+? The fact of the matter is without a significant investment setting up an effective multi-channel attribution model using analytics, associating a dollar figure with a company’s Social Media efforts can be a real challenge.
At this point in time it is better look at Social Media as forward thinking community building. More and more, a company’s website and online presence is the storefront that customers see when they interact with the business. Being an option in the SERPs for all relevant keyword inquiries is a great way to establish trust with potential consumers. Being active in Social Media is a great way to show up in the SERPs for more than just your website. Facebook “likes” have been showing up in the organic results on Bing from other friends. +1 have shown up in Google. There is also every reason to believe that Facebook will be releasing their own Search Engine in the not to distant future to capitalize on the volumes of data that they are collecting on users. There have been a number of articles including this infographic from Wordstream that demonstrate that Google’s adwords is generating over $100 million per day! Given this statistic isn’t it easy to envision Facebook rolling out a search engine for its millions of users.
Implementing sharing schedules for Facebook, Google+ and Twitter of relevant community and business news will get your company on track for a future that certainly will be ever more influenced by Social Media. The key is to participate, find where you customers are and stay one step ahead of the competition!
Today I had the opportunity to talk with a great local small business that has been struggling of late at getting recognition for being the leading local provider of a high-end service. They were one of the earliest local companies offering this service and enjoyed many years of steady growth in sales as well as great placement in the SERPs while outsourcing virtually all Internet related work. Fast-forward to today and things are different story. There is a lot more competition and their strong showing in the SERPs is gone. An obvious question arises; what happened and how do we fix it?
First and foremost, it is time for business owners to take ownership for the online presence of their company. This is not to say the business owners need to take over all facets of a company’s online presence. Obviously, we all need great partners to be successful online. However it is important to hold various parties accountable and create a heightened level of transparency. Which leads to the second aspect, establishing a community building campaign for all stakeholders/employees can share in a united effort to get positive comments and reviews online. Employees are the face of your organization for many businesses – they need to be aware of online company efforts to create community and do their part. Community building can appear to be a challenge depending upon your industry. Imagine you own a plumbing company. No one wants to be Facebook friends with a plumbing company and have their timeline consumed by pictures of recently cleaned drains. Despite this, there are a number of opportunities for a plumbing company to capitalize on Social Media. Every plumbing technician needs to be aware of the fact that every service call is a potential opportunity to win a new community member. There is a huge reward online for great customer service. It is up to management to make their employees aware of this and to incentivize them to go the extra mile and get community involvement from their customers.
Getting back to my meeting this morning, every customer served at this business was handled by one technician and was onsite for at least and hour. What a fantastic opportunity for the technician to build “community” and encourage the satisfied customer to share their great experience with the various Social Media platforms or review sites. This non-interruptive form of suggestion will surely produced for the business long-term. Even if the customer chooses not to participate in the online discussion about the business, a seed has been planted and they will likely be more receptive in the future. It most certainly will lead to greater positive client participation in an industry that has a customer base that historically only reports negative comments and reviews.
Comments and reviews are here to stay – the key is to educate your team to work together and to take advantage of the opportunity to build a robust online community.
As business owners and management become more aware of the company’s online reputation they will likely encounter some “colorful” reviews and comments. The rise of social media and review sites has given everybody the opportunity to become an editor and have a significant impact the reputation of the business. In the past, to reach a community wide audience it would require getting the story on the evening news or in the local paper. Now the playing field looks very different.
An example of the editor mentality taken to the extreme is the release of the latest round of IPads from Apple. There were numerous reports and stories across the Internet in advance of the release of the IPad mini that attempted to predict all of the particulars about the soon to be released device. Expectations were set by people competing for readers and not the company releasing the product. Immediately after the press conference release of the IPad mini, critics and attendees were ready to share with the world their take on the new product. Some initial comments were negative because they felt the price was too high, however the majority of all mentions were positive.
As in this scenario, reviews and comments are often done in real-time. For a company like Apple, the shear volume of comments, blog posts and article balances out the impact of the outlier reviews. For a small local service provider such as a plumber or roofer, the number potential reviewers is very small. Without a large number of comments and reviews, each review can be much more impactful on the reputation of the business.
It is important for every company to have a consistent approach to responding to any online comment or review. All companies should strive to create a vibrant online community and encourage online interaction. Encouraging reviews and comment by your satisfied customers works best when done naturally. Incorporating social media links on invoices can be an excellent way to encourage happy customers to share their experience online. If your employee has done a good job, then this is an excellent time to capitalize. Another example is to follow up several days or a week later with a thank you email that requests that the customer share their experience at the provided link.
When a business encounters a negative review, it is best to communicate with the unhappy customer offline. Some situations are easy to rectify, however some are not and you do not want draw undue attention to bad reviews. Nothing works better for diminishing the bad experience of a select few than overwhelming positive experience of a majority of your customers. Much like aforementioned example with Apple.