That typically cheery, smiley and absolutely friendly Italian deli owner that you know and love has, especially recently, become overwhelmed with work. That’s good for him, but bad for your relationship. You’ve been dying a little bit on the inside because although you still visit his restaurant a few times a week, it has become an impersonal and often alienating experience. You rarely see the owner anymore and, when you do, he nods and says hello, but little beyond that.
Unfortunately, for many small businesses, there simply isn’t enough time in a day to speak with customers on an individual level. And, even worse, that may result in good, loyal customers becoming lost in the shuffle. Abandoned, so to speak.
That would have been tragic and potentially damaging to a business just 10 years ago.
But now, with the rapid, unadulterated growth of social networking and social media, businesses have a much better medium for communicating with their customers.
And, even more importantly, social networking has been able to inject fresh life into swamped businesses, granting them to new routes to reconnect with their customers. And it’s doing so in a few, simple ways…
1. Social Media Provides an Effective Means To Connect With Customers
Arguably the most important aspect of social media is the way in which it has revolutionized brand and customer engagement. On the large scale, it has provided brands like Coca Cola and Starbucks a way to effectively leverage their often mind boggling levels of brand recognition.
But for smaller companies, it has provided a means to interact with and speak with their customers. It grants those businesses an opportunity to have one-on-one chats with particular fans of their company, while simultaneously broadcasting that conversation to hundreds, if not thousands of other potentially interested parties.
2. It Provides An Opportunity to Quickly Respond to Customer Feedback and Crises
Through the brilliantly efficient and immeasurably effective wonders of social media, businesses can now respond to customer feedback in a way that would have been earth shattering not too long ago. Using Twitter and Facebook, businesses can help to easily solve consumer problems that particular customers might be having. Jimmy John’s, the sandwich delivery company, not only communicates directly with individual customers through Facebook and Twitter, but also, in some cases, offers those with complaints about dining experiences free sandwiches or a refund through their Facebook fan page.
Just don’t ignore your customers. As Airbnb has discovered, that can be very damaging to a company’s reputation.
3. It Grants Businesses Ample Opportunity to Reward Loyal Customers
With the proliferation of social media and social networking sites, opportunities and avenues with which businesses can reward their customers have also increased dramatically. Foursquare alone provides businesses with an insanely diverse array of ways to reward customers. On the other hand, promotional campaigns run through Facebook or Twitter allow businesses to reward their fans in unique ways that would have once cost thousands upon thousands of dollars in marketing.
4. It Allows Businesses To Be More Personable
With social media being an entirely new medium with which businesses can communicate with their customers, many companies have also used that opportunity to explore an entirely new or hilarious voice. Not only does doing so grant businesses an opportunity to make their customers laugh or smile, it also grants them a more accessible appearance. By appealing to customer’s emotions, businesses can form a much tighter bond among their customers.
But again, social media will not instantly transform your business into a dwelling for happy and overly enthusiastic customers that are in love with everything about your business. That takes time. But if and when that day eventually comes, you’ll be all the more happier that you decided to stick with it. Trust me.