If you have 20 customers who love you, that’s all you need to get your online presence kick-started. According to Ning’s Point of View report, it only takes 20 people to bring an online community to a significant level of activity and connectivity.
The report also goes on to say there is a big shift from just sending out status updates to developing a dialog. Which really means that online, you should be having the types conversations you have with your customers inside your store every day.
Social media is really about community and word of mouth. Your customers are much more influential than you are when it comes to bringing new customers through your doors. So get them talking about you in an organized way on your Facebook page, or start talking with them on Twitter. Just get the conversation started online where your customers can start spreading the good word about you. Here are some ideas about how to get the conversation rolling…
Do you sell anything quirky or unique? A conversation starter? Post pictures of it and invite your customers to comment about it. Or ask your customers what questions they have for you. One caution here: be sure you actually reply. Just like it would be rude to walk away from a customer in the middle of a conversation on your sales floor, don’t leave your customers hanging on Facebook or Twitter.
Pick a topic in your business’s area of expertise and put up a poll on Facebook. People love to see what others think and compare opinions. The results of the poll will be a good update to post later, too. The post will probably get a lot of comments as people agree and disagree with the results.
For service-oriented businesses, offer help with something that you’re an expert on. Your customers will appreciate that you took the time to think about their questions and the personal level of customer service will set you apart. It’s all about making connections with customers and future customers to build loyalty.
Social media is a two-way street – you don’t have to stick to the conversations you start. Do a search on Twitter for some phrases in your business’s topic area and answer questions or offer opinions. Search for your store’s name and see what they’re saying about you. Thank customers for mentioning good experiences, and try to resolve any issues you might see come up. Be helpful and open to suggestions, and your customers will be impressed that you took time out to acknowledge and help them.