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Stop being buffeted in social – and thrive

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The social web is the natural environment of your customers and prospects. It’s an environment you need to enter, become familiar with, and use to your advantage.

Whether you want to discover, engage, influence, sell or support, the social web gets you closer to your objectives, faster, because it connects you directly to the individuals you really need to care about.

It’s an exciting ride, one that can still buffet social newcomer and social guru alike.

Here’s how to start, then thrive, in social.

Discovery is about finding out and understanding how people really see and experience your brand. At the core of real discovery are data. Analyse what they actually say about you, and you know who to engage with, and start to understand what actions you should take next.

Most importantly though, you now know the identities of every individual of interest to you. The social web connects you with people, on a very large scale.

The result? Respond better, faster, with the best-possible content.

Leads are about using the social web to feed your organization’s sales funnel. Individuals are using the social web to send everything from the most subtle of hints to downright demands for products or services.

The market and sales intelligence are there for the taking. To do that, you need to analyse the intelligence and then engage with these individuals to create a mutually beneficial result: their needs are met, and you get the sale.

Insights become clearer when you view your market through the lens of your choice, just as a prism lets you view different wavelengths of light. And as each wavelength reveals different insights into the source, so the social web provides insights into your customers, prospects, influencers, segments, partners and competitors, companies, and what each is saying about you, your products, services, solutions, and brands. Insight feeds engagement, and engagement feeds sales.

Social engagement means connecting and influencing those who are expressing needs or desires right now. You can achieve a better ROI by targeting active audiences.

Use social analytics to help you identify, engage and cultivate true brand ambassadors – those who promote your company without being on the payroll.

Drive greater engagement and deliver more valuable content that talks to the passion points of your customers. Use the social web to inform the content and conversations you must have to be effective.

Content is the material, propositions, offers you make to fulfil the needs of your new social audiences. What’s different is, because you now understand the best-possible content, because you’ve understood your audiences and their needs, the offer (whatever its foundation) hits home. You’re aiming at the right target, and you’re delivering content at the right moment.

Next steps: a quick guide

  1. Analyse the social web: consider what you want to discover, be clear about the objectives, ensure both fit within your organization’s broader business strategy.
  2. Identify, follow, listen to, connect to those who really matter to your organization.
  3. Engage; strike up social conversations; start to provide value back to your audience, ahead of seeking to sell to them. In short, earn permission to engage.
  4. Consider your actions, then create content that will move your audience closer to your objectives.
  5. Listen to the feedback. Input that feedback into this social engagement loop to create a virtuous circuit. Repeat.

(Stock photo by Garry Knight via Flickr Creative Commons.)

Alan Smith: Alan is Head of Customer Engagement at DIGIVIZER.