social media trendsBusinesses are flocking to social media at an unprecedented rate. Many businesses are growing their following and brand popularity because they are doing things right. Some brands, however, are like those birds that don’t really know where they’re going and slam into a wall or window unexpectedly.  Like the birds, brands can “miss the mark” if they are not focused on how social media works best.

The key to growth on social media is to offer what your market is most interested in interacting about.  Before your brand gets active online, start “listening in” on the conversations that are happening with regard to your industry. You might want to use SocialMention.com (a free tool) or some more sophisticated monitoring tools to help you analyze what your market is doing online.

Once you are clear on what your audience values, the problems they need solved, the way they like to spend their time on the social networks, you can design your presence and strategy. To best impress your customers by incorporate these three things into your social media activities:

Monitor and Respond

If you’ve made the plunge and have a brand presence on social media, it is important that you monitor your networks, the social web and the internet for mentions about your business and your brand. The biggest mistake businesses make on social media is to ignore or not respond to the comments, questions, and needs of your customers. Some may post right on your Facebook fan page or comment on someone else’s profile. They may tweet about you or comment on a blog.

Makes sure you are monitoring your social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Yelp, Foursquare, etc.) and engage with those who are talking about you. Reply to their questions, offer solutions or means to get a problem solved. Google Alerts (www.google.com/alerts) can be very helpful in monitoring the web at large for your brand mentions and industry news.

For example, Mashable did a story about one sports bar employee was monitoring twitter and when a customer complained on twitter about a warm beer being served, she had a cold one delivered without the customer asking the server.

Exclusive Offers and First to Know News

Now that you are familiar with customers, what they respond to, think of special ways you can reward them for being your fan, follower, or subscriber. Fan Only offers are a great way to make them feel special and entice them to spread the word about your brand.

Likeable media reports on how brands like Heinz Ketchup made a new product available to fans only prior to its public availability, and Yankee candle released a candle fragrance exclusively for fans during the holiday season.

Add Extra Value

Is there some way you can add value to your social media community by educating, entertaining or touching them emotionally. Recipes, inspiration, invite them to ask questions and answer them. Answer questions that have come in to your offices publicly (without naming names). Shout out to fans who made a difference. Feature a fan of the week. Ask them questions. Get them involved and do market research.

Implement these three social media strategies for impressing your customers, and your brand visibility will grow exponentially and customers will flock to you. Please share what you have done to create raving fans on your social networks.

Other social media customer service tips and examples are discussed on these posts:

http://mashable.com/2011/08/17/customer-service-tips-small-business/

http://moonlighthk.blogspot.com/2012/04/social-media-customer-service-making.html