By Sara Collins
Social media offers an amazing platform to engage with your customers and really get to know who they are and what they need from your brand. Whether you’re just getting started with your strategy or looking to refine your current one, it’s important to use your social platforms to find effective ways to connect with your customers.Try these five tips to connect with your audience and turn them into loyal followers: • Add Value: You won’t build a lasting follower base by clogging their feeds with product promotions. Of course it’s alright, and even encouraged, to post content about your sales, promotions, new products, events, etc., but don’t make that your only social content. Show your customers that you’re interested in them by starting conversations. For example, on Mondays, ask how their weekends were. Also, find relevant news stories, pictures, and even promotions from other (non-competitors) businesses that might interest them. If your social accounts add value to your customers’ lives, they’ll keep reading what you have to say. • Provide Customer Service: Social media marks the beginning of an era when people don’t want to call your customer service line or email you with problems, : they want them resolved instantly. Do your best to meet this need by offering customer service on your social media sites. Assign an employee to keep a constant eye on your social sites, so they will be able to see and respond to customer posts quickly. People are constantly connected with social media sites, so they expect a quick reply. Waiting an entire day, or even a few hours, to address an issue could make a customer believe you’re not interested and don’t appreciate their business. • Poll Them: Use your social sites for market research. Find out what types of products your customers would like to see from your company in the future. When you come up with a new product idea, post it on social media and allow your customers to give feedback. This can be very helpful, as it’s a quick and easy way to gauge customer interest in new products. It also shows loyal customers how much you value their opinion and want to please them. People love it when their favorite brands make them feel included. • Offer Incentives: Show appreciation to your loyal followers by providing giveaways, coupons, and exclusive invites to events at your business. For example, if you run a restaurant, choose a Twitter follower at random each week to win a coupon for a free appetizer. Or if you own a boutique, extend invitations to your Facebook followers each season to an event showcasing your new arrivals. This makes your followers feel like they’re part of something special and shows them how much you appreciate their support. • Listen: Take the time to learn about your customers by checking out their social media profiles, reading content they post, and seeing what other businesses they’re following. You can really learn a lot about your customer base this way. For example, if you’re a personal trainer and you see a lot of your clients posting things about their upcoming weddings, creating a bridal boot camp might be a good business venture. Or if you run a bakery and notice the majority of your clientele posting comments about your local football team, it might be a lucrative idea to make baked goods with the team logo on them for next week’s game. Social media sites are an invaluable tool for brands to get to know their customers on a deeper level. Create a social media strategy that engages your audience and shows them that you’re interested in what they have to say. Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping users find the best online brokers.