Social media and Web 2.0 forever changed the way we consume products and services. Instead of simply buying and consuming, the next generation of fans buy, consume and then share their experiences on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare. The proliferation of smart phones and mobile apps has only increased the speed of this phenomenon, making social media for business a critical area to manage in 2012.
With the tap of a few buttons, people can “check-in” to places and let others know where they are. Some share photos of what they are doing. Others might Tweet or post a Facebook status about their experience.
In 2010 alone, popular check-in service Foursquare had over 380,000,000 check-ins. People even checked-in from locations such as Whole Foods Market – a place that might seem too insignificant or mundane to share.
What does that tell you?
People want to share.
As a business owner, you can take advantage of this…
Be on these popular social networks, especially Facebook.
One study showed that 51% of consumers said they are more likely to buy from a brand they are a fan of or “like” on Facebook. Radio Shack reported that Foursquare users spend 3.5 times more than its average customer. There is serious value to being on these social networks.
But if you must pick one social network to use, pick Facebook. Consumers interact with brands more on Facebook than they do on any other network.
Leverage these social networks for your marketing
You can reward customers for checking in. Foursquare allows merchants to “create a special.” For example, one local gym gives you and a friend a free one-day pass for checking in. And you get $25 off a phone for checking-in three times at the Verizon store.
But what’s the big deal about check-ins? Think of it as a form of social proof – seeing that your friend is at a certain restaurant has much more credibility than seeing an ad from that same restaurant. And every time someone check-in, hundreds of their friends could potentially see it.
Create a marketing campaign based on the fact that the new generation of fans often Tweet, check-in, post statuses and take pictures of the places they are at.
Social media as a listening and sharing tool
People are sharing, which means you should listen.
What are people saying about your business? Is there something people want that your business can provide?
Using social media for customer service is one part of listening. You can respond to complaints and answer questions. JetBlue and Wingstop are two great examples of this. Not only do they provide quick responses but they also show off a human side of their business.
You can also start conversations on social networks. Ask customers for their input. Take a look at this screenshot my friend shared:
When you demonstrate that you value your customers, they feel valued and love you more. And that leads to even more sharing about you. It’s a snowball effect.
What it means for you, the business owner
Social Media has revolutionized communications and the relationships consumers have with businesses. It also allows customers to share their experience with others like never before.
So be where your next-generation customers are: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and wherever else they may be.