With just a little bit of focus and strategizing, businesses of any size can turn one-time customers or casual fans into influential advocates and repeated customers.
There are in principle, four ways companies can better leverage their social-media presence into an effective marketing tool:
Fostering wide scale awareness on social media in the same manner as huge brands isn't economically feasible for small- to medium-sized companies.
Instead, companies with more modest budgets should spend their time and resources on the customers they're most likely to convert.
"With the right tools you can monitor keywords and phrases related to your business" and respond to what customers, fans and even detractors are saying in real time.
Mention, for example, is a simple program that lets users track mentions of their brands across Facebook, Twitter, RSS and the web at large. Tagboard is a similar program used to monitor hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Google+. Based on the query, the software puts together a curated display of content from various social platforms.
2. Let your fans know you're listening.
Unlike other mediums -- like print and broadcast -- social media isn't a one-way channel, it's a conversation and brands have an obligation to be responsive.
Brand advocates and brand loyal customers want to know that you're there and that they're heard. If they took the time to share a blog post you wrote or to give you a positive review, be listening for it and thank them.
Some companies take it a step further by using their strongest brand advocates as a source of ongoing marketing content by asking fans to write testimonials or guest blog posts. Customers think that if this company actually cares, and they are listening to me, then I'm going to go tell more people about them.
The customers who already sing your praises on Twitter and Facebook sometimes need a just little nudge to keep them coming back. So as you thank them, consider offering them an incentive, such as a discount, to visit your business one more time.
It lets customers know you're listening and that they're valued, turning them into an even stronger advocate and a repeat customer.
4. Curate compelling content.
One way brands can develop meaningful relationships with their fans and customers on social media is by finding and sharing interesting content around a specific set of topics. Larger brands are expected to publish content on par with quality magazines. As such, any company of any size can develop an effective content-marketing strategy.
Companies have to understand that building relationships with people and engaging them based on common interests are the cornerstones of building a long term brand loyalty relationship. The sales effect won't take much time after to come.