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There’s no denying the power of social media. Although social platforms were in their infancy just ten years ago, today 77% of Americans use at least one social network. Rocketing statistics like that mean one thing: social media is a must for businesses of any size — What a great opportunity to tell your story, drive brand awareness, generate new sales, and foster customer loyalty. (And the list goes on!)

Feeling behind? Don’t worry, it’s never too late to get started. Here are four tips for how you can leverage the power of social media to deliver amazing customer experiences — instantly.

 

Tip 1: Identify your “secret sauce”


Engaging social experiences must be designed and built from the start. To do that, you need to look at everything your business does through a customer lens and then use that as a way to identify your company’s secret sauce. In other words, what makes your company stand out: your customer service, a product, or maybe even a unique business model?

Once you’ve figured that out, get creative and think of all the ways you can bring this to life on social. Your goal here is to create those “wow” moments that surprise and delight customers, giving them a reason to want to share and engage with your brand in meaningful ways.

And finally, don’t rely solely on your marketing team to push this strategy forward. Empower everyone in your organization to play a role in your brand’s social media experience by using company hashtags, sharing posts, and engaging directly with customers.

Here are three companies that engineered new ways to stand out on social:

  • Casper relies heavily on word-of-mouth marketing and invites customers to share their unboxing experiences on YouTube. Some of these videos have amassed 700K+ views.

  • Domino’s Pizza launched the capability for customers to tweet their orders, an announcement and functionality which instantly went instantly viral.

  • When Trello launched its Gold edition — offering trendy features like custom themes, emojis, and stickers — its rabid user base turned to social to share the excitement.

 

Tip 2: Be where they are

Once you’ve identified your “secret sauce” and built a social strategy around it, it’s time to get your message out in front of your customers. That means determining which social channels your customers and prospects use most — and then using those same channels, too. How?

  • Search for mentions. This tells you where your current customers are and on which channels you can support them. Mine for mentions and search branded hashtags, keywords, and @ mentions to get a sense of what your customers are doing and are most interested in across various social media channels. You can do this natively on each channel or by using a social media monitoring tool.

  • Find relevant conversations. This is a great way to engage prospects. I like to keep a constant pulse on all #smallbiz conversations. When I see someone having a problem, I can send relevant content or connect them with the right people. Sure, it’s a sales and marketing tactic, but it also shows your brand is listening and cares about service.

  • Make social support a priority. Did you know that 88% of consumers are less likely to purchase from a company that leaves questions on social unanswered? That means you have no choice but to make social support a priority and map out a social support strategy that address your unique customers’ needs effectively. This includes training your support team on social (and vice versa) and equipping them with all the tools they need to be successful.

 


This chart shows which social channels companies are using most and can provide insight into where your company should dedicate its attention. Note the differences between which channels B2B and B2C brands use: B2C brands tend to rely on more visual-oriented channels (i.e. where photos and videos are king) while B2B brands typically focus their social efforts on channels that make it easier to share information.

 

Tip 3: Be proactive

Don’t wait for your customers to start conversations with you. Be proactive on social media across all fronts: sales, support, and marketing. Find out what your social community cares about, then actively begin conversations around those wants, needs, and expectations. This is what creates value for your customers and ultimately builds long-term customer loyalty.

You’ve also got to be proactive about the mistakes your brand might inevitably make. When customers get upset or are unhappy with the experience they have with a brand, they often turn to social media to share their frustrations. According to Gartner, failure to respond via social channels can lead to a 15% increase in churn.

To prepare, you must have a
social crisis and escalation plan established before your brand ever gets active on social media. Also, make sure your processes and support tools are integrated, so anyone can help a customer quickly. For example, tools like Service Cloud help you deliver customer support across all channels — including social media channels!

 

Tip 4: Connect and personalize


The true advantage of social media — and ultimately your end goal — is to form personal connections with your customers. Doing so is a proven way to build brand advocates, a stronger community, and lasting loyalty.
 

Differentiate yourself by doing more than just replying to messages and comments. Start conversations, create hashtags, solve customer problems, build a community, and more. There are limitless things you can do to activate and engage your customers through social media.

One way to build community is to create an “innovation space” — something akin to Salesforce Ideas, where customers can submit ideas, vote on their favorite ideas, and offer reviews. This is a great way to collect insights and create a public process for implementing customer feedback. Social listening tools like Salesforce’s Social Studio can help you take this a step further. Customer feedback is gold, and social channels are a great place to get it. Then, once you combine that feedback with the right data, you can take action on that feedback in ways that allow your business to meet customer needs better than ever while building increased brand loyalty at the same time.

 

Looking for more great social media tips?

We’ve got plenty to share! For all the latest-and-greatest ways to use social media to deliver amazing customer experiences, our recent Dreamforce session: Expert Tips to Succeed in the New Era of Social Media will be uploaded here. Once you watch it, tweet us at @SalesforceSMB to let us know what you think.

Salesforce can help you find customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can grow faster than ever. Learn more about Salesforce Essentials, our out-of-the-box solution for small business, follow us on Twitter at @SalesforceSMB, or keep up with us on LinkedIn at Salesforce for Small Business. Join the conversation with #SalesforceEssentials.