Social media has completely revolutionized the way businesses interact with their customers. Whether we’re ready to embrace this new format or not, customers are already demanding it. In fact, 67% of consumers are already turning directly to a company’s social media pages before trying any other channel.
Simply put, businesses that are not facilitating engagement on social media are missing out on a serious opportunity and we want to make sure that you’re not one of them.
So before we get to social media, let’s start with the basics of why solid customer relationships are one of the most important parts of running a successful business.
Why is it important to build relationships with customers?
While loyal customers are the lifeblood of any business, unhappy customers are basically a lethal injection. 67% of customers (the number of the day) stop using a product because of bad customer experience, but only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers even bother to say anything about it.
This means that it’s not enough just to deal with the aftermath of an unfortunate experience. In order to attract new customers and retain existing ones, it’s important to continually foster positive and trusting relationships.
If you remove the business jargon, a customer relationship is simply about the interaction between human beings. People want to interact with people that they know and like. What’s more, they would definitely rather buy a product or service with their hard-earned money from people they trust.
There is very little that you can guarantee in business, but this is one we stand by – Build meaningful relationships and success will follow.
The impact of social media on customer relationships
Like we mentioned above, customers are seeking out our brands on social media networks whether we encourage it or not.
People spend an average of half an hour on Facebook per day. Since they are already spending time on the platform posting and connecting with friends, it’s only natural that many of them would perceive it as the most convenient channel to connect with your business.
Our customers are leaving the old communication channels behind and not looking back. In fact, 32% of internet users in the US say that the most frustrating customer service channel is the phone, while only 6% say the same for Twitter and 5% for Facebook.
While there are definitely challenges in the new age of social media, the opportunity that it presents for customer relationships is far greater. Just consider that 76% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from a brand they felt connected to on social media than a competitor.
How do you build relationships with customers on social media?
Some would say that there’s is nothing like building relationships through a handshake or a phone call, but we’re here to show you how you can build relationships online that are just as effective, if not more.
Cut down on your response time
Let’s start with the simple fact that interaction on social media has the potential to significantly cut down response time which, as in any relationship, is crucial.
The problem is that it is no longer just a nice option, it’s a must. Thanks to the rise of social media, our customers have grown to expect almost immediate responses. For instance, 85% expect an answer on Facebook within six hours and 64% of the respondents demand an answer on Twitter within 60 minutes.
Your response time says a lot about your brand, which is why your company’s Facebook support response time rate is clearly shown on your Facebook page.
There are a number of ways you can wield the power of social media to address these demanding stats. Just to count a few, you can gather all your questions in one place, you can offer automatic responses for popular inquiries and, of course, you can prioritize according to urgency.
Pro-tip: Buffer Reply lets you pull in comments on your Facebook and Instagram posts (including ads), private Facebook messages and Twitter DMs, and public tweets mentioning your brand’s handle, into a single Gmail-like inbox. That way you don’t have to waste precious time combing through every channel’s inbox to provide timely responses.
Another huge advantage of online correspondence is that it also allows you to document and keep track of all past interactions, making future interactions more effective and relevant.
To meet customer expectations today, you need to keep all past conversations on file so you don’t get your wires crossed and ask them to repeat the same complaint several times, only making matters worse.
Don’t underestimate the power of giving every customer the attention that they think they deserve. In a recent study by J.D. Power & Associates, 87% of satisfied customers said their online interaction with the company “positively impacted” their likelihood of making a purchase from that organization.
Pro-tip: Before you address a customer’s comment or complaint, take a brief skim through your chat history to better understand the context of this specific interaction.
Pay attention to every comment
Other than the private messages reaching your inbox, we can’t ignore the comments on our posts or even mentions across all social media channels.
Sometimes you might feel that social media can be a black hole where people just air their frustrations and grievances. This might be true but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to address each and every one.
We completely understand this feeling, but ignoring comments on your social platforms is the equivalent of ignoring a customer that just walked in your store. Just like you would never do that, you should never ignore comments on social media.
According to Gartner, churn increases by up to 15% for businesses that fail to respond to messages on social media.
By responding to all the customers who provide feedback, your company is showing that they really are listening and then that is a crucial component of building brand loyalty.
They are also some great tools out there that can save you the time of combing through all you social media channels for a brand mention. For instance, Brand24 gives you immediate access to every social mention in real-time, allowing you to follow up on positive comments and respond to any complaints. This is a great way to invest in customer satisfaction.
Pro-tip: Remember that you are actually saving time by responding to public comments. If one person is experiencing an issue, it’s likely that more of your customers are experiencing the same. You’re probably helping more than just the one customer by providing a public answer on your socials.
Less selling and more teaching
If your customers regularly need instructions, troubleshooting, or any form of assistance, there’s a good chance that they are looking for answers on your social channels.
Providing educational pieces about your products or service without necessarily going for the “hard sell”, is a great way to build trustworthy relationships. You’re potentially addressing your customers’ concerns before they even need to interact with your customer service.
For instance, here we shared a blog that teaches users how they can find the right footage for them on our Promo video editor. Any user Promo user who follows our social channel can highly benefit from this piece of content.
Pro-tip: Keep in mind that your viewers don’t want to be sold when they visit your channels. They want information. Therefore, engagement takes the driver seat over any efforts that are simply there to push ROI.
Share content that provides value
The content you post on your socials doesn’t have to be directly connected to your product, but it does have to provide some sort of value to your target audience. Your goal should be to become the authority in whatever field you’re in. If you are able to consistently provide quality content, you’re well on your way to building a solid foundation for brand loyalty.
For instance, if you sell camping supplies, you can share camping tips or recommend hiking trails to become the go-to brand for all things wilderness.
In this case, we shared a piece of content that does not necessarily talk about our product. But it definitely speaks to our target audience of small to medium-sized businesses who are looking for new and effective ways to market their business.
In fact, this very article doesn’t directly relate to our product but we know it would be of interest to existing and potential customers alike. It’s all pretty meta, we know.
When posting these pieces of content you are also starting a conversation with your followers. You are giving them a platform to ask questions, make comments and ultimately contribute to a two-way relationship.
Another great way to share information in a fun and viral way is through video. With Promo.com, you can create professional looking videos to share online in a matter of minutes. Video has a scroll-stopping quality that still images and text simply don’t.
Pro-tip: With each piece of long-form content, make sure to generate a few “shareable” snippets that your followers can share across social media platforms so that people who aren’t following your brand can see it as well.
Let your audience see behind the scenes
You can’t communicate with your social media audience the same way you do on your blog. Employing high levels of professionalism or hiding behind your brand won’t work. People love transparency.
Like we said before, people want to buy from people that they like and that’s why you should use social media to show your human side. Share events that are happening in your office, introduce your team members and show your business in action.
Here we showed our activity at the SMMW conference, so even if some of our customers weren’t able to make it, they can still see our team at work.
Another great way to show your human side is with streaming features like Facebook Live and Instagram Live; you can even deliver an unfiltered view of your company. To demonstrate your transparency as a brand, try using video for Q&A sessions with team members.
By giving customers an inside look at how your company works, they connect with your brand on a deeper level by feeling like they’re a part of your team. They’ll get a better idea of your company culture and whether or not your brand’s values line up with their own.
Pro-tip: People trust their peers more than brands, so post a personal brand story once in a while and ask your customers for their thoughts, opinions, and feedback to make them feel included.
Build lasting relationships
Social media is a place where we celebrate the need to share and thus, is a natural solid foundation for building lasting relationships with your customers. So take advantage and use these techniques and take your business to the next level.