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Like this article? We recommend Tip #3: Use Social Media for Customer Retention and Recommendations

Tip #3: Use Social Media for Customer Retention and Recommendations

The big buzz in online marketing is social networking – using sites like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter to socially interact with your customers.

Here’s the thing, though – social media is effective for only part of the B2B buying continuum. For various reasons, you probably don’t want to use Facebook, Twitter, et al to try to reach new customers; other activities are more effective in this regard. (It’s because people have to know you before they can socially interact with you; potential business buyers don’t go trolling Facebook when they’re looking for new suppliers.)

Social media marketing is more effective in the retention and loyalty faces of the continuum. Facebook and other social networks are uniquely suited to building customer communities, forging strong relationships with your most loyal customers, and encouraging those customers to recommend your company to their colleagues. With these dynamics, using social media to turn existing customers into advocates – which is what social media does – can pay big dividends.

The key here is establishing your online presence (via company pages and feeds), posting regularly with information of value to your customer base, and then actively engaging your customers in the community. That means using your posts to start conversations and then following up with your customers’ replies. You want customers to feel that you’re listening to them, and that they’re important members of your corporate family.

Obviously, part of retention marketing is encouraging customers to make repeat purchases. To that end, you can use social media to let customers know about new products, upcoming specials and sales, and so forth. You can even offer exclusive deals to your social media subscribers – items or discounts only they are aware of and can take advantage of.

As to loyalty marketing, you need to encourage your social media subscribers to enlist other colleagues and businesses to subscribe to your pages and feeds. It’s a matter of actively promoting your social network links and “like” buttons, so that customers get their friends and colleagues to sign up. Of course, you have to offer information that your customers think is worth sharing; if they don’t like what they’re seeing, they’re not going to recommend you to others. But any new subscriber a customer brings to the social media table can become a viable lead or paying customer sometime in the future.

Done right, today’s social media represent the ultimate in word of mouth marketing. You provide the forum for customers to gather and talk about you, then let the word of mouth recommendations begin. You’ll gain a stronger, more loyal customer base – at a relatively low financial investment.

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