Are you taking full advantage of engaging with customers via social media channels?

 

Successful consumer engagement -- what does that look like? True consumer engagement is about enabling contact, understanding a customer’s or prospect’s context, delivering rich and relevant content, providing convenience and, last, but not least, communicating with the consumer across all available touch points.

Effective engagement with customers and prospects can help to formulate new products or services, shape and reinforce an opinion someone has about your company or offerings, and drive sales and customer satisfaction. Key in the success factor is being ready to communicate whenever -- and however -- consumers determine they would like to communicate with you, whether that communication happens via the phone, online or in-store.

And with the rise of social media, communication via Twitter and Facebook is commonplace now, too. Managing all of the communications channels can be a challenge -- but it can also be an opportunity. And nowhere is that more evident than in the social media realm.

Capitalizing on the Social Customer

Recent statistics tell us that Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do on any other website, to the tune of over 53 billion total minutes during May 2011 alone. In addition, 70 percent of active online adult social networkers shop online, which is 12 percent more likely than the average adult Internet user. So how can you capitalize on this large group of potential buyers?

Software to Optimize the Customer Experience

There are software packages available that will not just allow you to push out the occasional marketing message to your Twitter or Facebook followers, they will also provide you with tools that help your internal sales or customer relationship management personnel to listen and engage with customers and prospects as well as integrate with various social networks, maximizing the power of them. For example, by understanding your customers’ “likes,” you can leverage social data to make shopping a much more relevant, consumer-centric experience that reaches beyond the basic personalization that is available, yet under-utilized, today.

Mood or Sentiment Analysis

In addition to the mountains of social data available to companies, there are also tools that mine social media to provide mood detection, such as by Viral Heat, or sentiment analysis from a company like Sentiment Metrics. Mood or sentiment analysis looks at social media articles, responses and noise for key words such as “terrible,” “horrific” or “nice” to determine a rise or dip in sentiment in a given social graph, in a specific geographic location and other clever new ways to find out what people are thinking about brands, retailers, recent purchases, etc. All powerful knowledge that can be used to drive positive consumer engagement.

Social Dating Mining: Make It Truly Work for the Customer

When it comes to social media and the information it can provide, the stakes are high for businesses. Many retailers are ready to invest in social data reporting, but finding your way through the choices and settling on the right plan is tricky. Then there is the integration of what is hopefully a very fluid reporting method into your daily business process to allow you to become an expert on who is talking about your company or brand, influencing others, buying and reviewing. And with the immediacy of social media, gone are the days when a retailer or brand could afford to be regimented in the way they interact with their customers and prospects.

Consumers may be able to bear the thought of the data they generate being used to predict trends, and even possibly tolerate being followed around after “liking” something. But they will want something out of all this data mining, too, and it’s more than a retailer knowing someone bought a similar pair of shoes from a competitor because the price was better. That consumer could tell them that for free.

Consumers want to be treated as valued customers. They want to see personalized product lines that marry their specific tastes to the rapidly changing fashion or home trends. They want to know that their data is going to make their particular experience better regardless of how or where they are shopping. This speaks to the characteristics of successful consumer engagement mentioned earlier. Make all of the data and analysis work for the consumer, and your business will reap the rewards that will deliver.

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