Other than the natural instinct to make it as easy to contact you as possible, what other reasons might there be for making the effort to branch out into social media? At the Connections '08 conference, I took lots of notes. Here are some excerpts from those notes:
- "Relationships with customers are one thing that competitors can't copy."
- "79% of customers buy from companies that they are in a relationship with, rather than just on price."
- "About 30% of email addresses go bad every year."
- "22% of Internet users are using social media instead of email."
- "Facebook - must be on it to understand what is going on."
Those random notations lead me to some ideas about why businesses might want to have a social media presence to help with customer acquisition. If about 30% of email addresses go bad every year, then you can't count on email alone to keep in touch with your customers. It makes sense to have other channels available.
Relationships with customers and personalized marketing campaigns are clearly important - how can social media help to build those relationships? Blogs can help a great deal by humanizing your company through informal communication that allows transparent feedback. Blogs are also a great way to possibly get on social networking and bookmarking sites without you having to do anything - for example on our Webinar Resources Blog, at the bottom of each post is a Share This chicklet. If you click it, you will see dozens of chicklets that a visitor to this blog can use to share our posts using the service of their choice. This is just one of many ways that the people who really like what you're producing can do some of your marketing for you by their own free will.
If 22% of Internet users are using social media instead of email, as effective as email is, it's clear you are going to have to reach those particular customers some other way. If your customers are looking for you, it's important to be where they are. If you are using a social networking service, are fellow users on that service manifesting their relationships with different causes, organizations, brand names or products? Can you get any ideas from how they are doing it?