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Becoming a Social Brand in a World of Social Customers

Good morning, Blogosphere!

It is another beautiful morning in Bellingham – the sun is somewhat shining, the seagulls are chirping (what sound do seagulls actually make?), and I’m here to discuss with you, once again, the power of social media.

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Okay, this picture isn’t actually from today, but my view looks very similar to this right now and I love it. 

Now, as you know from last week’s post (where I discussed different platforms and class four of Hubspot Academy), there are plenty of ways different social media platforms benefit a business – chances are, your audience is definitely on Facebook, Twitter is a great way to gain an audience by means of hashtags and short-but-sweet posts, and Snapchat has a lot of growing popularity with businesses and users alike. As we’ve learned from Hubspot, social media is all about knowing your audience, asking them questions, and listening to what your audience has to say not only about your brand, but other things that interest them as well.

What is being a social brand, you ask? Well, according to Michael Brito’s talk with Hootsuite about the Shift to Social business, we have all become social customers. As I’ve said before, word of mouth is amplified online. So it’s important for businesses to become social brands – companies, products, and individuals alike should all focus on using social media to connect and engage with their audience online. And Hootsuite is there to help.

Hootsuite allows its users, especially businesses, to listen to their audience way more effectively and efficiently than just checking each platform individually. So many of us have a morning routine similar to this: wake up, make coffee, and check your different social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, etc). We’re social customers. With Hootsuite, everything is in one place, and it is a useful tool for businesses – they can see what their audience is talking about, what their different buyer personas are sharing, analyze what content they’ve posted is doing well (or not so well), and work on becoming great social brands. It allows us to be omnipresent! I watched SCMD 160 and 162 of Hootsuite University, and both were crazy helpful and interesting.

Hootsuite emphasizes the relevance of your online community – a group of people rallying around a shared, common interest. For businesses, building a community revolves around engaging in conversation, becoming a resource, and advocating for your customers. It’s incredibly valuable for an online community to be seen as a sort of focus group – you can find out what your audience wants (both content and product-wise), listen to what they have to say, and add value to your customer’s lives by sharing meaningful content with them and providing the best customer service possible. Twitter and Facebook, once again, are the most popular for this: Hubspot emphasized this on their blog, mentioning how brands should really delight their customers and make them feel special ASAP. “Social care” is the new customer service trend, and responding quickly to negative feedback (and positive!) is here to stay. Regardless of the platform, it makes for easy and awesome customer service – your audience wants a response now, and social media lets you engage with them instantly. According to Hootsuite, there are four different types of social media engagement that help you grow your online community:

  1. Proactive engagement: seeking out your audience and responding to themFacebook_like_thumb-624x534
  2. Negative feedback: unhappy customers, who you need to address (and fast!)
  3. Customer support queries: questions and answers about your product
  4. Shared content

Proactive engagement is something Hootsuite and Hubspot both emphasize continuously – going out and finding your audience and connecting with them via interesting content (like shared interests and valuable information that is pertinent to their lives) is far more effective than pulling them in with traditional methods alone. Social media is all about two way communication, and it’s key for a business to do a LOT of listening. Michael Brito made another point that I think is huge: the only thing worse than not listening is listening without taking action. Social media allows businesses quick and convenient feedback, and to maintain brand and audience loyalty, it’s key that they take the time to respond effectively to what their audience is saying (as my mother likes to say, actions speak louder than words).

Seeking out your ideal, social customers is made simpler when you can do so on multiple platforms at once – remember, different people and personas prefer different types of media, and viewing all these sites together allows a business (or just one user) to figure out how big their reach is on one platform. Gone are the days of being too dependent on one platform! We can be omnipresent in a very simple, easy way. Just keep in mind that your audience and potential customers may be spending their time on one site in particular (and there’s a good chancScreen Shot 2015-01-26 at 4.58.50 PMe it might be Facebook) so be careful to monitor your analytics to discover which one that might be. Then, use your knowledge of great content (80/20 rule, people!) to your advantage to appeal to and engage with your leads and audience in order to become a better social brand.

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