1. Public Relations:
Social Media is an ideal place for businesses to address any PR issues that may arise. While engaging in social media on a site like Twitter, if a PR issue comes up; your community manager can address the issue almost immediately and turn what could have been a PR disaster into a PR success story.
2. Customer Service:
People leverage social media, to be social (duh). When they’re on Facebook, or Twitter certain customer service issues may come up. More and more customers are tracking down business in social media because they EXPECT you to be there. They will seek out someone at your company and expect to be addressed. If you have a community manager dedicated to listening and addressing issues, this can turn someone into a brand advocate almost immediatley.
If your customer finds value from either following you on Twitter, being a Fan of your Facebook page, or Installing your Facebook Application, they will only become more brand loyal. Bring something to the table, and you will reap the rewards.
There’s never been a better time for Research and Development. If you listen closely you will glean priceless information from your user base. They will offer insights that no focus group would ever offer. You have fully engaged brand advocates that WANT you to be better. If you listen to them, you can open lines between your customers never before opened. Dell developed a new laptop based on a recommendation of a customer!
While engaging with your customers you can also leverage social media to exchange ideas with others in your industry. Social Media can serve as an ongoing, fertile “conference” if you will. Engage with competition and learn.
6. Thought Leadership:
One you start to engage with your community via social media, don’t stop there. Generate content that’s origional and appropriate, ask for opinions and feedback and always be available. Define yourself as a thought leader.
7. Customer Acquisition:
Twitter is great if used properly. I stress in my posts to be careful, and not fall prey to “jamming promotions” down peoples throats. What I don’t mean to say is that Twitter is off limits for promotions and new customer acquisition. It’s ok to offer “Twitter only” coupon codes, and Limited promotions via your Facebook Page. These tools can be very powerful AFTER you have appropriately engaged that community.
8. Define your Social Media Strategy:
Get involved and engage with your consumers, but do so with some thought attached to what your goals and objectives are. It’s OK to say you want 500 new customers in 3 months. Just make sure (again) that you do so appropriately, or the social media ecosystem will chew you up and spit you out.
Leverage tools that are FREE to listen to the community: Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Social Mentions, RSS
Create benchmarks to help you outline your social media strategy and start measuring. Audience, Engagement, Loyalty, Influence, Action