By Mary Lou Denny
Customer issues move at light speed through todays Web, putting comments and questions about your products and services out there for all to see; sometimes they even go viral. While Web users can speak to your self-storage brand in real time, you have an equal opportunity to shine through your social customer relationship management (CRM), staying ahead of the curve and becoming a customer-care leader.
According to Social Media Marketing Industry Reports, more than 88 percent of marketers are incorporating social media into their marketing plans. Companies that embrace social media are better able to build, monitor and defend their reputations.
It all starts with taking the time to listen. This goes well beyond monitoring. By understanding the facts and emotions driving conversations about your self-storage brand, you can interact in a way that builds passionate brand admiration.
Facebook has grown to more than 800 million active users. If you looked at the social-media giant as a country, it would be the third largest in the world. Its users share more than one billion pieces of content weekly. Its interesting to note that more than two-thirds of Facebook users are out of college, and the fastest growing demographic is men and women over 35.
These users who like your brand are five times more likely to click links to your website. These brand advocates can spread your message; 13 percent post updates about brands every day. Develop your company fan page and use this as an opportunity to engage with your potential and current customers.
On Facebook company pages, its common for customers to ask questions. Unfortunately, many businesses simply dont address these concerns or even maintain their highly visible social-brand presence. Its actually easy to deepen customer relationships with a simple one-sentence answer that can lead to further dialogue.
Furthermore, surveys on Facebook are a great tool to spark interaction. Putting photos of your self-storage facility also encourages more traffic to your page. You could receive many responses that can assist in driving product and service development or refinement.
Twitter allows you to converse with influential customers within 140 characters. Of the 140 million tweets daily, 20 percent mention a brand, company or product. On Twitter, you can also directly answer or provide Web navigation to satisfy tweeted questions.
To gain an edge, you can proactively search phrases and hashtags in the Twitter firehose to participate in broader topics related to your industry whether theyre about products, trends or various related areas. This gives you a chance to jump into a conversation immediately and build yourself as an expert in your industry.
YouTube has more 90 billion videos viewed monthly. There are many types garnering attentionfrom animals and kids to demonstrations to company-branded videos. One way to take advantage of YouTubes popularity is by videotaping customer testimonials. This will enable your company to stand out as one that offers outstanding service.
Wherever youre answering questions or providing guidance, you can always bring in YouTube as a tool, sending customers to your channel for informative videos. Your range of videos can focus on addressing popular user questions or a helpful guide on how to pack items for self-storage. You also have the ability to address trends and promote your organizations people and service aspects.
LinkedIn group discussions and tweet chats are a phenomenal way to listen to your audience en mass. You can demonstrate your service orientation, leadership and innovation to key contacts, or invite a large number of customers, prospects and influentials.
Available software tools can make the basic listening aspect easier and more efficient while also providing some insight into customer sentiment. These include Radian6, Hootsuite, Wildfire and Social Mention.
One very valuable product of your social interaction and customer understanding is the creation and advancement of ideas. Throughout your social-media channels, ask open-ended questions and solicit likes and dislikes. When you receive answers, continue the conversation by digging deeper to further the relationship.
By infusing proactive social CRM as an inherent part of digital efforts, your attention to the customer will stand out, showing your self-storage business as an attentive, high-quality brand.
Mary Lou Denny is executive vice president of Walt Denny Inc., a full-service public-relations, advertising and marketing agency specializing in the home-products arena, digital marketing and social media. For more information, call 630.323.0555, visit www.waltdenny.com.