As a follow up to my post about "couch commerce", I promised a rundown about how to decide what social media is a good fit for your target customers. Here's my how-to.
Create a Human Story
First of all, remind yourself that today represents entirely new ways to cultivate customers. Using social media is one way to facilitate interactions between people online. They make it easier to listen to and respond to people directly.
How can you humanize your company's story? Go deep into your target demographics and discover the people--and what is important to them about you and your industry.
(And be sure not to push your messaging at them--you have to bring value to the conversation. Think of social media as one big holiday party--who are the people you enjoy talking with the most? The ones who listen and ask you great questions about yourself--not the people who just talk and talk to hear their own voices.)
Evaluate your customers' habits
Ask yourself the following:
- Do you know what your customers are doing?
- Do you know if they are active with social media? If so, how active?
People online contribute in a myriad of ways. Here are several categories they might fall into (credit for these goes to Josh Bernoff at the groundswell blog)
- Creators--Create and publish their own content (in blog, video, photo, etc. format)
- Critics--React to the content of others by posting, editing and commenting
- Collectors--Organize content by organizing or voting
- Joiners--People on social networks
- Spectators--Reads and consumes some level of social content
Next, it's time to survey your customers to gain an understanding of their habits. This will give you a starting point--a baseline understanding, if you will. It will let you watch how they engage and behave.
The next steps are up to you and your company. First you need to determine if you have the resources and gumption to open things up for two-way dialogue. At our company, our management team was split about starting with social media. There was a great deal of fear about "what if people say bad things about us?". Now we all understand that a "bad" comment can be a starting point for making something better--or explaining why we did what we did. The point is that social media gives us the opportunity to have a conversation we might not otherwise have had.
Are you truly ready for social media? It takes time and resources internally, but the rewards are worth the effort.