Friend is no longer a term saved for interpersonal relationships between two human beings. Follower no longer exclusively represents a fanatic watching every move of a favorite celebrity. Your business can have a friend and your business can have a follower, but what exactly does that mean?
A New Realm of Relationship Marketing
In the territory of social media, friends can be strangers, long-lost acquaintances or customers and businesses. Anyone can follow the page of a celebrity, newspaper or local business, to name a few. Launching a social media marketing campaign is a great strategy for your business to improve sales, customer relations, and SEO, if the tool is used correctly. Social media marketing is not just a contest of how many Facebook fans you can get, or how many people follow your Twitter page. When you create a profile on the social web for your business, you are entering the cyber world of relationship marketing.
Relationship marketing refers to a business strategy of creating long-term relationships with customers, beyond individual transactions. Relationship marketing involves understanding the wants and needs of your customer and developing your business accordingly. The goal of using the social web for relationship marketing is not to plaster your brand onto everyone's newsfeed; the goal is to build relationships with your consumers in a setting they are familiar and comfortable with.
Finding the Right Platform
How can this type of marketing be effective for your business?
Today, many oral conversations have been replaced with instant messages, texts and wall posts. Facial expressions have turned into smiley icons and body language and tone of voice are characterized by capital letters, exclamation marks and one-word responses. This is not to diminish the importance of face-to-face contact with your customers, but social media allows your business to connect with many different customers at the same time, with the click of a mouse.
The first step in making these connections is finding your target audience. Choosing the right social media platform to use in relationship marketing depends on what's most popular with your customers. Finding a platform used by a majority of your target audience will increase the efficiency of your campaign. Even though there is a good chance- with a little digging- that you will find them among the upwards of 800 million Facebook users, it never hurts to do a little research.
Spreading the Word
Once your profile is created, be aware that it will take time for your business' profile to connect with your entire target audience. The majority of your fan base will be a product of word-of-mouth. Once you connect with customers who are already close with your company, the next step is extending beyond that close circle of clients. To do this, you want your customers to talk. Not only is building a strong, trustworthy reputation important for word-of-mouth transactions, sparking conversation is essential as well.
One great aspect of relationship marketing through social media is that the beginning of one conversation can turn into a group discussion that has an endless capacity to spread. These conversations can start on your profile with a simple question, or can start on a satisfied customer's profile. Because you are connected with your customers, you will be able to see what people are saying about your brand, about you, or about your competitors. Tailoring specific questions to the hot topics of the day will generate more feedback than will simply asking questions like "what do you think of our brand?" You will be amazed at how far simple conversation starters can go.
In the realm of relationship marketing, your customers have now become your friends and your followers. This is not to diminish the importance of interpersonal relationships between company and client, but social media platforms allow you to reach a large part of your customer base with the click of a mouse.
By listening and communicating with your customers through social media, the opportunities for spreading the word, starting conversations, and encouraging feedback are endless. When your company and brand start to pop up in more conversations on the popular social media websites, the impact on your sales alone can be astounding. Building relationships with clients via social media is not only a great way to increase your sales; it can also boost your reputation and customer relations as long as it is used with careful strategy.