Every day, millions of conversations take place on social media networks referencing brands, products and services. These conversations represent a huge opportunity for organizations to engage with potential (and existing) clients and win their business. If you are looking for red hot sales leads, social media should be your first port of call.
Technology will of course help you identify these potentially lucrative conversations. But what is the best approach to effectively engage with this social media chatter? While these conversations are “public” you should always remember the general population (people who don’t work in marketing) are not always aware of this fact and might be a little “creeped out” by a business suddenly butting into a “private” conversation.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. The best approach will vary depending on the nature of the conversation, the people you are targeting and your organization’s brand personality and available resources. Here are 4 tips for engaging with potential clients via social media without “creeping them out”.
- Direct Engagement via Social Media: If a conversation features your brand name using either a hashtag (#) or your Twitter handle (@) or someone has asked a question (perhaps looking for a product recommendation) then you have essentially been invited to join that conversation and you should be prepared to jump right in. How you handle this engagement will depend entirely on the nature and sentiment of the conversation. If it is a question, you will want to provide a clear and concise answer, perhaps directing the prospect to an online resource or customer services agent where they can learn more or even make a purchase. If it is a complaint, you will want to acknowledge that complaint and then attempt to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible (until it is resolved). Remember, a complaint, when resolved, can quickly turn into a sales opportunity or positive customer testimonial. Conversely, if someone is praising your brand, you’ll want to publically thank them. This might also be an opportunity to reward them with a piece of insight or another offer (note: not all rewards need to be monetary).
- Engaging Influencers: You might not want to engage directly with individuals online and instead focus on the people who influence their buying habits. These influencers could be bloggers, journalists, authors, celebrities or other highly visible professionals.Understanding who your prospects and clients are influenced by will help you plan and execute more targeted and therefore successful media outreach and advertising programs.
- Traditional Sales Outreach – Social media can provide incredibly valuable information to any sales professional by helping them to identify new prospects and steer conversations which will ultimately help them close more deals. This works even when your organization has had no previous relationship with the prospect. For example, an individual making a comment on Twitter or Facebook that is relevant to your business could be cross-referenced on LinkedIn and highlighted as someone with the need and authority to make a purchase from your organization. This research could then be followed up with a telephone call to start the sales process. The client may never know that you initially tracked them down via social media. Essentially you were in the right place at the right time – how very clever of you.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Perhaps you already have a relationship with a client or prospect. Integrating their social media activity into your CRM software (such as Salesforce.com or Sugar CRM) will help your organization better manage your relationships. Understanding sentiment to your brand can help identify opportunities or highlight concerns before they become threats. Knowing what your clients and prospects are talking about via social media can help you tailor more relevant and therefore engaging email and social media marketing campaigns as well as steering conversations with account managers, customer service agents and sales teams, creating new and up-sell opportunities
This post first appeared on the Viralheat blog.
Photo credit: zeifaenger.at