GRSML Lunch: Engaging Your Clients & Customers

One of the most lauded aspects of social media is its potential for fostering customer interaction.  Social media provides marketers with multiple avenues to engage their clients and customers, as well as monitor reputation and brand.  Currently, there are two primary tools for customer engagement: Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter.  Each provides a unique way of interacting with the general public. Both can provide leverage, but it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both of these popular social media applications.

Twitter

As anyone who watches CNN or any major news broadcast can tell you, Twitter is all the rage these days.  Twitter, in a nutshell, works similarly to Facebook status updates—with one key difference.  Users have the ability to reply to ‘updates’.  This makes Twitter a great way to provide dialogue between a brand and its customer base, but it does not come without its potential problems.

Advantages

+ Two-way messaging: allows for conversation and interaction

+ Ability to search for specific words or phrases: useful in brand/reputation monitoring, market research

+ Can be used to build a brand or persona for a business: puts a human voice and personality behind a brand

Disadvantages

– Opens up avenue for public criticism: be prepared to respond and know how to respond effectively

– Can be time-consuming: frequently updated accounts are more likely to attract followers and spark conversation

– Identity crisis: do we create a corporate Twitter account or a personal account?  Do you speak as yourself or as a corporation?

Facebook Fan Pages

Another popular method for businesses to engage their customer base is Facebook’s “Fan Page” feature.  Like Twitter, it is a free service that allows businesses to create what is essentially a corporate Facebook profile.  It works similarly to your own Facebook profile, but with a few key differences.  And once again, just like Twitter, there are advantages and disadvantages to Fan Pages.

Advantages

+ Multi-media: ability to feed a blog through the page, send “updates” to fans, add photos, create events, etc.

+ Potential to go “viral”: as users become fans, the action will show up in their friend’s feeds hopefully attracting more fans

+ Large audience: Facebook is growing by 700,000 users a day

Disadvantages

– Does not promote dialogue: generally more one-way and informational than conversational

– Time consuming: publishing notes is involved and requires manual HTML formatting

– Fans are not automatically notified of new content: little incentive for return visits

Ultimately, Twitter is the winner for promoting true conversation and interaction.  Don’t get me wrong: Facebook Fan Pages do have incredible potential, but need some tweaks and updates to fully realize the potential that exists. Its clear both forms of social media have their place in the business world.   Both services provide a way for your customers to interact with your business and feel as though they have a voice and someone who is listening on the other end, which ultimately encapsulates what social media is all about.

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