Your social media phone is ringing. But are you answering it? Do the right thing by listening and engaging with your customers says David Alston, VP of Marketing & Community for Radian6.
What should we be listening for? Alston says that he listens for ideas, compliments, memes, crisis, complaints, competition, crowds, campaign buzz, and needs. Treat the conversations as if you are at a cocktail party. Don’t just jump in but look for the point of need from a customer. Listening first and then engage has been the common theme throughout many of the NACCM presentations today.
Alston shared the 5 C’s for engaging in social media. They include:
Content – give content because people don’t want your promotions.
Community – you want to create a place where your fans, customers and even critics can live together.
Conversation – they build the relationships that build your business.
Collaboration – because the consumer is more and more in control, it’s best to collaborate with your community than try to control it.
Connections – you can’t be a hermit. You must actively and consistently connect with your community.
What do you do if there are no conversations about you? Find people who share your passion and join their conversations. Eventually these relationships will evolve and bring you more exposure. The ultimate is to have customers share their positive testimonials about your business using tools like Twitter. Alston shared how he files positive tweets about Radian6 as “favorites” which he calls “twestimonials”.
Alston listed several reasons why some companies hold back from using social media to engage customers. They include restrictive policies, culture, bureaucracy, lack of momentum, concerns over window dressing, lack of top level support and lack of resources. When it comes to your culture, Alston says “if you suck in real life, you will suck on social media.” Make sure it’s right first.
In his Social Media Maturity Model, Alton talks about the various levels of engagement. We all should begin at the bottom and work our way up. That way you build credibility with each step.
Contributing - Contributing value through content and helping customers achieve goals
Sharing - Tell your own story. Share your brand’s passion & personality
Participating - Adding on and sharing your knowledge
Responding - Answering the “social phone”
Listening - Monitoring and analysis
For those still hesitant about getting engaged in social media, Alston says “find your path, and get started NOW!” Consumers want to connect with your brand. You’ll make mistakes but you will survive. Alston’s advice is to “have fun”. With over 11,000 followers on Twitter, you can bet that he is having tons of fun!