Research points us to the obvious fact that showing sales uplift from social media is vitally important but engagement is what matters most. We’ve seen a shift in recent years from customer service, product information and promotional offers being the holy grail of social media to exclusive content, community and conversation being the hottest tickets in town.
This new and evolving chapter of social media reflects a need for companies to reflect a more human, caring and authentic side to what they do.
We all know that life in B2B is more complex than just sales, sales, sales and those companies that balance their marketing to reflect this i.e. stop selling and start engaging will find social media can carry more of a punch than they first realised.
The problem is you can’t just point the ‘engagement gun’ at potential customers and expect great things to happen. Engagement is an art form. As much as social can be a great conduit and channel, it really is about people and insights.
It might be a bit of s shocker in this uber-technology era that we live in, but people are still your customers! While many things have changed, people still buy from people.
What has changed is that if you embrace social media and open up the walls of your business so that your employees have a voice, you will find that your customers also have more people they can buy from! Everybody with an opinion, knowledge or a skill-set is a sales person just waiting to be set free.
Get to know your whole customer
Getting to know your customers better than your competitors is what matters most. And when I say ‘getting to know’ them I really mean above and beyond what you think of them as buyers of your products and services and more about them as human beings with hopes, aspirations, feelings and opinions about the world.
We have to look at the ‘whole person’ and not just the potential customer sitting behind an office desk. Earn their attention don’t just grab it.
- You have to find interesting people (in your organisation) and unique things to talk about that aren’t always directly linked to the product or service you sell.
- You have to create unique and compelling content that makes it obvious to your prospects and customers that you really care and have a refreshing point of view.
- You have to show a real commitment to the sector or category you are in and make it known that you are deeply involved in championing the issues of your customers in a credible way.
- And you have to be fast. Speed matters.
Purpose is the new profit
One of the great ways to engage prospects and customers in this post recessionary world is by linking your social media activities away from pure demand generation activity and towards issues of social responsibility and social purpose i.e. the good things your business is doing to give something back.
Engagement levels for both employees and customers in this area can go through the roof due to the emotional nature of the subject matter.
Showing that you genuinely care is one of the most powerful brand behaviours any company can wish for. It leads to trust and builds reputation in a way that traditional product marketing can only dream of. The irony is that showing that you care can actually lead to an increase in sales as well. Everything has to be joined up. Non-sales activity (fluffy stuff) can actually drive sales – think about it.
Here’s a few pointers that I think are changing the way we all need to think about customer engagement and the role of social media.
- Consumers want to invest their time, loyalty and money on brands that want to change the world.
- Companies that think less about fame and celebrity and more about impact and legacy will win hearts and minds.
- The future of profit is purpose.
- Be remarkable at what you do as transparency of everything means there is nowhere left to hide.
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