By Kate Milton
When most businesses look at social media, they only think about it from the business point of view. But put yourself in the position of customer – which we all are at some point. What makes you want to buy from one brand over the other, and what keeps you going back?
For me, social media plays a big part in my purchasing habits. I like discovering new brands, but I also like to know that their products are good quality, and that the company aligns with my personal values. Social media is a way for me to do all of these things. But in the end, it’s a brand’s customer service both online and offline that will decide whether I buy from them.
Get Talking, Get Discovered
If brands are clever, they’ll do the footwork to find potential customers on social media, especially Twitter. You can search for keywords to help you find usernames and tweets related to your product.
For example, I sometimes ask questions on Twitter to see if anyone can recommend a brand or product based on what I’m looking for. A few times brands themselves have replied directly to me, and I’ve discovered and purchased this way.
While you don’t want to be creepy or overstep boundaries, being helpful and interacting with people is a good thing.
Reviews And Responses
When I’m looking at a business that I’ve never purchased from, I look to see what other people are saying. This means both the good and the bad, but don’t worry. Sometimes the bad helps make up my mind to buy, as what someone else dislikes could be what I’m looking for.
When there are bad reviews, if the company can respond to that person and try to help them, I know that they want the best for their customers. If a brand cares about their customers and responds to questions, complaints, and compliments, it moves me towards purchasing.
When looking to buy a product, a big part of the decision is whether a brand has the same values I do. If they don’t, I won’t buy from them. If they do, I’m getting out my credit card. If I can’t tell… well, I probably won’t buy just to be safe.
The best way of finding out if a brand aligns with your values is through social media. That’s where a brand’s personality can really shine.
Don’t hide who your brand is online. You’ll find people who agree with you and those who don’t, but if you have chosen company values that you truly believe in, be confident in standing behind them and letting them guide what your company does. This will help you find the right customers and sometimes convince those who are unsure.
Take It Offline
It’s great if you can find customers and keep them happy online, but that service needs to carry over to the offline world.
Small gestures can go a long way. Nice packaging, a little thank you note, or even a free gift make online purchases that much more special (and Instagram worthy!).
If you have a call centre, customer service department, or physical store, make sure your staff are friendly and willing to help. If they’re not, your unhappy customer will take that complaint online, and you’ll have even more unhappy customers.
You may provide a fantastic service or product, but that doesn’t mean people have to buy from you. So let your customers know you appreciate them.
If a customer posts about your product or thanks you online, don’t ignore them. Reply to them and thank them in return. This small action can make their day, and make them a loyal customer for life.
Your product may be the basis of your business, but the way you treat your customers is equally as important. Social media provides a way to show current and potential customers just how good your customer service is. Try it and see what a difference it makes to your sales.
Connect with Kate on Twitter.