Social media is obviously an integral part of any marketing campaign. Whether you invest money in promotions or rely on organic growth, it’s an invaluable way to connect to your target audience.
A few years ago social media marketing blogs would advise on at least “one tweet per day” or “one update per 48 hours” but now the focus is on the real-time management as this is what delivers real results.
The Benefits of Real-Time Management
Managing any marketing aspect of your brand in real time is proven to produce incredible rewards. This is because you can take action while your customers are present, when a subject is still in mind and when a person is ready to act.
Following a customer around your store online can produce real opportunities for retention and engagement, while giving extraordinary insights.
Customer RetentionI always wax lyrical about the importance of going back to basics with customer service. As technology has advanced many brands have moved away from what made their products great.
As customers we do adore shopping online; we love the convenience, we even enjoy the faceless facility as we can shop without much effort required. Despite this, we’re also nostalgic for the good old days, the era when we’d walk into a shop, be greeted with a smile and asked questions about how we are. When money became tighter in 2008, many of us became a little pickier about where we would spend. The consumer regained control and those brands that failed to listen, failed to grow.
Now there are tools that ensure you cut out the middle man and connect directly with your customers, like dashboards for real-time analytics so you can act from the store to the social media tools at your disposal. Retaining a customer is five times cheaper than attracting a new one, and if you do it right, the customer you retain could become a mini ambassador for your brand.
How to Retain Customers through Social Media
The key is to listen, to use social media to see what your customers are talking about and to share content that’s interesting, relevant and most of all beneficial to their needs. When customers believe you are taking the time to deliver a personal service, they will automatically develop a bond with your brand. Mention them in comments, reply directly to tweets, and keep information about them so you can always carry on conversations where you left off. Use Twitter and Facebook tools for business so you can segment your followers and fans, enabling personalised marketing based on age, location or lifestyle.
Customer engagement in real time requires a little more skill, it calls for a management style that can adapt instantly to change, embrace passing trends and create strategies on the fly. Although many brands observe social media activity in real time to exploit engagement opportunities, it’s those that actually start the conversation that enjoy real success.
Examples of Effective Real-Time Engagement
Over the past year there have been many great examples of how to connect directly to consumers and fans in a language they understand. For real-time marketing, there’s no better tool than Twitter as the fast paced environment produces some ingenious campaigns.
Take Elan Day, he’s a renowned producer at ABC. He has nearly 200 thousand followers, a figure many of us would like to see. His following received a huge boost recently as he tweeted in real time about an argument he was having with a fellow airplane passenger about her selfish and rude attitude towards the staff.
Posting pictures of the exchanges written on napkins, he tweeted her every reply along with the reactions of others on the plane too. The exchange ended with him receiving a slap and his Twitter account grew by thousands overnight.
Others have turned the old idea of brand identity on its head, giving their company a real voice with sarcasm, wit and comebacks that make most people laugh. Tesco recently did this with a tweeter that insulted their mobile network by tweeting, “when you ring a friend and their voicemail is @Tesco mobile loooooooool”
Instead of ignoring the insinuation that Tesco mobile was simply not cool, the social media manager replied with, “when you realise your friends are ignoring you, loooooooool”
This could have gone one of two ways, Tesco could have received many complaints on their flippant sarcasm and be forced to take down their reply, as their followers found it hilarious and it raised their reputation to no end.
Top Tips for Retention and Engagement on Social Media in Real Time
To ensure your company enjoys the rewards of real-time social media marketing, there are a few rules to follow to maximise your potential.
It’s not enough to have an identity, when conversing on Twitter and Facebook you need a voice. Is your brand sassy and bubbly, serious yet sarcastic, kooky and belligerent, happy go lucky, or witty and wise? What celebrity would your brand be if it were a person? Who would it look like and what friends would it have? It sounds silly, but if you can picture your company in this way, you develop a deeper personality with layers, and have a much better chance of your customers embracing you as a friend.
It’s Not All About You
The best real-time tweets, comments and updates focus on the consumer. They don’t brag about services or simply roll out offers and ads. To keep the conversation going you must appeal to everyone’s ego by making it all about them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Of course there are huge failures that have circled the web, showing ways in which big brands have got real-time social media wrong. The main reasons include:
- Promoting products on the back of bad news, disasters, tragedies, crime etc.
- Spamming, repeating offers again and again
- Robotic replies when every question or enquiry is answered with the same phrase
Even with failures like these some can be rescued depending on the sincerity of the apology. Unfortunately many forget just how important sincerity is.
If your social media team has common sense the biggest fail they’ll experience will be zero retweets or no comments. This is absolutely fine as social media moves so fast you can put it down to experience and try again.
There are applications that allow you to post and reply automatically, these are supposed to make you look like you’re responding in real time but they simply highlight a low budget, amateur attitude. If you don’t have the budget to employ a social media manager fulltime, make sure you stay around for twenty minutes after you post to respond to any comments or replies. Then set up alerts so you can easily respond in real time from a phone, tablet or PC when someone mentions you or posts on your wall.
Don’t forget the more involved you become in social media, the more potential you have to take your products and services viral.