By Christopher Kourtakis, director of sales and marketing, 360° Industry Solutions — It is hard enough as a business owner to keep up with the day-to-day tasks of running your business. Add in new sales and marketing practices and there is not enough time in the day to do everything. Now, with digital profiles and social media, you need to understand that your relationships with customers, staff and other business contacts go beyond the walls of your dealership and that those relationships extend long past the hours of your facility.
Whether you agree with the idea of social media or not, millions of people around the world are using social networks in their everyday lives. Pleading ignorance or saying you are too old to learn how to use it are no longer acceptable excuses in today’s world. If you own a business, social media literacy is a must.
A few tips that can help you better understand social media and allow you to interact with your customers are listed below.
Engage your customers on social media. Don’t ignore a customer’s friend request, accept it and create a new connection. If you are not comfortable with customers seeing your social contacts and your family, use the “list” feature of Facebook to create a “customer” category. Set privacy options to limit what you share with customers. Don’t forget to connect with customers on Twitter, LinkedIn and other personal social sites.
Create a Facebook page for your business. Invite your customers to “like” your page. You can even offer an incentive to do so. Make sure to post engaging comments and content-rich articles. You can even offer coupons and bonuses to your Facebook fans. Don’t just create a fan page because everyone else has one. Create an online culture that will help your customers love you, love your products, love the services you provide and ultimately love your business.
Don’t be afraid to connect with staff online. There are differing opinions out there among human resources professionals about whether managers should connect with staff on social networks. Instead of creating animosity or hurtful feelings, accept them as a contact, but In the same way that you can create a separate lists of friends on Facebook for customers, limiting what they can access, you can do so with your staff. You want to create and cultivate healthy relationships with your staff that will build trust on- and off-line.
Develop a social media policy “with” your staff and not “for” your staff. Encourage staff conversations and questions concerning social media topics. If you are still not entirely convinced of how social media is useful for a business, ask your staff to help you. Instead of imposing rules on them about what they can and cannot post or how they must or must not interact with others, engage them in conversations about what makes sense for them, for you and ultimately for the business.
As a business owner or manager, do you incorporate social media into your everyday routine? What are you doing at your facility to encourage your staff to interact with customers in the digital world?