Hi, my name is Sabrina and I’m a social media junkie. There, I admit it. Anyone who knows me knows that I am truly passionate about social media’s impact on society. On a personal level, I can’t imagine heading to a new restaurant without first reading its review on Yelp. I also rarely make a purchase on Amazon, eBay or other Web sites without first reading the User Reviews section. By the way, perhaps now would be a good time to mention that I grew up with computers. I’m what some call a Millennial.
On a professional level, I’ve witnessed the power of social media when combined with passionate consumers. In my former life as an in house public relations manager, the company that I worked at had a very loyal group of users. We had an active user community on the company Web site, leaving comments on blog postings, and creating user generated videos. We actually found that our product did better in online sales as opposed to in store sales.
So that’s why I wasn’t shocked to read that a recent study published in PR Week found that consumers are turning to blogs and social networking sites to make purchasing decisions. According to the article:
"Not only are people using commercial shopping sites more - the figure has more than doubled since its 2006 study - but they are turning these into places to gather information from peers. Of those who visit shopping sites, 44% said they read consumer reviews and comments posted there, according to the "2008 US Media Myths & Realities" survey."
Let’s break this down. Consumers like to consult social media when making purchases. Companies like making sales and having happy customers. So, how can you, dear reader, get from point A to point B? Embrace the changes that are going on with your consumers! Don’t be afraid of Social Media. Jump on in, the water’s fine! Here are a couple of quick tips to help you put this study to use…
1. Don’t just observe, participate. So you read blogs every morning with your cup of coffee? Great! Don’t forget to leave comments after the blog posts to engage the other readers. Also, consider writing your own blog. It’s a great way to get a conversation going with your customers and potential customers.
2. Monitor customer conversations. Yes, the blog postings are great, but I think the comments section in blog posts and customer reviews are gold mines. Think of it as impromptu consumer research. If you see a common thread of issues, address them quickly. If the customers were frustrated enough to voice their complaint, they’ll be equally grateful to know that you read their comments, valued them, and responded to them. They’re also likely to comment about your commitment to your customers and customer service. That’s a win for you!
3. Find a trusted guide. Whether it’s a friend, coworker, or a consultant, find someone you trust and ask them to introduce you to social media. My friend (and former coworker) Chris introduced me to Twitter. He taught me the basics, gave me some tips for success, and answered my questions. I learned my way around in no time and now I’m doing the same for others.
4. Empower your customers. Encourage them to share their positive experience with others. Based on this study, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a captive audience. Use it!
Have you witnessed social media’s impact on your business? Put tip #1 to work and tell us your story below.