Social Networking Lessons of 2011
I like to call 2011 “The Year of Social Media.” Small businesses, franchises, nonprofits and entrepreneurs all got into the social-media game — throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what stuck. To many, it probably seemed a chaotic mess of apps and gadgets flooding the market. Businesses had a lot of options to try to connect with customers, and some clear lessons emerged from the chaos.
1. Loyal customers are your best channel to new business.
A lot of marketing energy is spent on branching out to find new customers. That’s fantastic and necessary. What 2011 showed us, though, is that a loyal customer is still your best customer and ultimately your least expensive path to new customers. Loyal customers are more likely to engage with you and your brand community — and connect you to their networks on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social destinations.
Your raving fans share your enthusiasm when they “like” your page, retweet your post or click the social share button on your e-newsletter. Happy customers make word-of-mouth referrals to their friends and networks and share kudos on review sites and in local online business directories. The social engagement of your happy customers is visible to their connections and to prospects visiting your social sites. Your best customers will help bring you more customers, so don’t forget to engage them as you seek new business via social media channels. [more...]