If your company is ready to dive into the social media waters, which tools such they examine first? Blogs? Facebook? Twitter? Wrong. Try Google.
Before you can launch a successful social media strategy, you must begin monitoring existing conversations about your company. This has several advantages:
1 – It lets you be proactive in responding to complaints from customers. Want to impress a customer that’s blogged about a problem they are having with your product? Leave a comment 15 mins after their post goes up, then follow up with an email attempting to help them with their problem. If you are sincere in trying to help that customer, you’re almost assured of flipping her from being an angry customer, to a passionate advocate for you.
2 – It helps create evangelists for your brand. See above. Not only are you giving angry customers a reason to become a fan, but you’re validating to your existing fans why they love your company. If Bob is passionately promoting your company on his blog, but stopping by his blog and leaving a quick ‘Thank You!’ comment, you validate why he loves you to begin with.
3 – It increases your brand equity. By actively monitoring the blogosphere and other social sites, your company can develop a reputation of reaching out to and helping customers. Also, as you gain a reputation for being responsive, it helps set you apart from competitors that aren’t as responsive.
4 – It makes you more familiar with social media tools and sites. Once you begin monitoring the blogosphere and social media sites for company mentions, you’ll begin to better understand how ideas spread in this space, and how blogs work. You get a better understand of how your customers are communicating with each other and how those interactions change based on the site they are on at that moment.
Remember that monitoring what customers are already saying about your company and your space simply improves your chances of communicating effectively with those customers.