Is your social media program about asking, or answering?
Like Sonny divorcing Cher (or was it the other way around?) there’s a schism coming in social media between companies using it for marketing, and companies using it for customer service and CRM.
Thus, one of the first questions I recommend you ask about your social program is whether it’s true mission is to gain customers, or retain the ones you have. And at the execution level, it’s an important distinction.
If you’re trying to gain customers, your social program is more about content creation, influencer identification, and virality. Sample tactics include writing blog posts, sending promotional tweets, creating and posting videos, and blog commenting.
If you’re trying to retain customers, your social program is more about listening, problem resolution, and turning customers into advocates. Brand communities, contests, most social listening, and non-promotional tweeting fits into this category.
Match Your Social Media Tactics to Your Social Media Goal
The problem we’re faced with today is that very few companies seem to be thinking about their efforts in this way. Instead, we find solely self-promotional Twitter programs (I’d argue this is flawed and Twitter is the de facto tool for customer retention).
We also find Facebook fan pages that try to explain product features (wrong again, as it’s unlikely that non-customers are going to fan your page, thus talking about features is preaching to the converted).
Conversely, many blogs are too community-oriented, taking an overly insider approach, given that new research from my friends and clients Compendium Blogware shows that search drives 60%+ of total traffic on 80%+ of corporate blogs. People coming from Google don’t know who you are yet, so you can’t treat them like a Facebook audience that’s already drinking your Kool-aid.
Of course, this isn’t entirely an either/or scenario. On Twitter for example, if you’re tweeting about your company’s new product, you’re engaged in a customer gain event. But, if one of your followers tweets and asks you to solve a customer service problem, and you answer back, you’re engaged in a customer retention event.
But, figuring out which of these is the primary reason you’re active in social media, and how to allocate resources accordingly is going to be a major issue, as norms, software, and staffing around each approach are starting to diverge.
Sure, you can use social media for both customer acquisition and customer retention, but which is your PRIMARY goal?