By Dulce Gonell-Holderby, Training Account Manager, Signature Worldwide
Did you know that Skittles candy has more than 16.7 million likes (fans) on Facebook? California Pizza Kitchen has more than 112,000; just five months ago, the number was less than 30,000. And what about Under Armour? It now has 700,000-plus fans and its Facebook pages have some of the best graphics I have ever seen for fan pages…talk about “Charged.” Check them out.
Why is all of this Facebook and social media stuff so important? And why should you devote staff time and resources to it? It’s simple. Companies have changed the way they interact and do business with people. The Internet and various social media platforms give us the ability to interact with anyone who chooses to engage with us.
This can be for personal or business use. From a customer’s perspective, it can be interesting and exciting to engage with a person or a brand online. An example would be a tweet and a photo I received from movie director Jerry Bruckheimer during the Super Bowl, from his skybox! How cool is that? I also received a few tweets from the former CEO and business magnate Jack Welch. How is that possible? It’s because I signed up to follow them on Twitter. I get a glimpse into what they are thinking and doing, when they feel like sharing it with others.
Businesses today need to be involved in many different avenues to both reach their clients and to be reached by their clients. There is no “ONE” place to be. Facebook is one place, but Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, Yelp, and other sites offer businesses and their customers the opportunity to interact with one another. In fact, it allows us to get personal in ways we never could before.
California Pizza Kitchen interacts with its customers so well that whenever it offers an online coupon, they run out! The company touch its customers through many methods, including e-mail, Facebook postings, Twitter, and its Website.
Here is a comment from one of its Facebook followers:
“Everyone at theDealyosigned up for the California Pizza KitchenExplorer Club on Facebook about two weeks ago and we just received a $5 off $15 coupon in our e-mail. It’s a great start to our Saturday.”
CPK also posted a new combination pizza and appetizer on its Website, and in less than two days had more than 100 comments from customers. So here is what it received: exposure, publicity, feedback, and its own customers telling everyone else about this great new product. In other words, the company wasn’t telling you how good the product is, the actual customers were telling us “you’d better go out and get it, it is that delicious,” Furthermore, it is well known that when an existing customer says something about a business or product vs. the owner of the business itself, it carries far more weight and credibility with prospective customers.
That is just a sample of how social media works for businesses. You empower people who are passionate about your business to talk about it everywhere and with everyone.
Ramon De Leon really understands how social media works. In Chicago, he is a managing partner for six Domino’s Pizza stores. He uses social media to interact with his clients. In fact, he uses it so well that he prints feeds from Twitter and Facebook and puts them on the thousands of boxes of pizza that are delivered or picked up from his six stores every month. Every time someone gets a pizza, they interact with other customers who like being Domino’s Pizza customers. This can be contagious. While others tweet and post things on Facebook, he is communicating with his customers, and they are communicating with him. And De Leon is getting tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of impressions encouraging customers to think about Domino’s Pizza. What did it cost him? Minimal time and money to print the messages and stick them on the box. He didn’t have to pay to reach the customers because he has been using social media platforms to do that for him.
In addition, De Leon took it one-step further. One day he received a complaint from a customer. He and his manager created and posted a YouTube video, in a short time frame, which apologized to this customer. How out of the box is that? Do you think that customer was blown away? Do you think the many others who saw it said, “WOW, now that is someone who cares about what customers have to say”?
It’s a fact that people are going to say good things and bad things about your business. If you deserve the bad comments, then use them to improve your business, get your staff moving in the right direction, and make those changes that will make your business better. Everyone understands that “stuff happens.” As long as you have far more glowing, positive reports, you are OK. However, if the majority of your comments from patrons are negative, then you are getting a reality check or, as I like to say, a slap in the face. Wake up and change things immediately, or your business may suffer greatly.
The most important part of your social media strategy is that you are engaged and responsive to your customers. If they take the time to write and make comments, then be sure to respond regularly and find ways to thank them by providing outstanding, legendary service.
There are many tools available today to use in communicating with your customers. You may feel overwhelmed at first, but that is OK—just pick a starting point that makes sense for your business. Consider asking members of your team who are already knowledgeable or engaged in social media to assist you by being a voice of the company.
If you decide to engage, you could find ideas on how to better run your business and how to further delight your customers. In other words, giving and receiving feedback from your customers just got easier. After all, having an ongoing two-way dialogue can lead to positive changes that have a great impact on your business’s bottom line—something any savvy professional will love.
Dulce Gonell-Holderby is a training account manager for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit www.signatureworldwide.com. You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.