Over 3 billion people in the world use social media, which is roughly 40% of the global population, according to Mashable. The majority (2.7 billion) are mobile users who have the ability to connect anytime and anywhere.
Who Uses Social Media?
Well, pretty much everyone. So, what about the United States? According to data from the Pew Research Center, approximately 70% of Americans use social media, much higher than the global average. Facebook is the most popular social media platform, capturing 68% of adults. However, 35% of adults use Instagram, 24% use LinkedIn, and 24% use Twitter. Many adults are active on more than one platform.
Understand Audiences to Target Customers
All of this social media interaction is great news for companies looking for ways to build relationships and close leads using social media. Regardless of your audience, a social CRM can help you more effectively reach it.
It’s important to know which platforms are more popular among various demographic groups. For example, according to Pew, 74% of women – compared to 62% of men – use Facebook. Therefore, while this platform would be effective for reaching either gender, knowing that 12% more women than men use Facebook means that you’re very likely to find success using this platform to reach women.
If you’re targeting consumers by race, 43% of black adults–compared to 38% of Hispanic adults and 32% of white adults–use Instagram.
For companies targeting consumers by educational attainment levels, consider this: 42% of adults with a college degree use Instagram, compared to 29% of those with a high school diploma or less. Also, 50% of adults with a college degree use LinkedIn, which is more than double the 22% of those with some college, and 5 times the 9% of those with a high school diploma.
In addition, urban adults are more likely to use some sort of social media than suburban and rural adults.
How to Use Social Media for Customer Relationships
In the 21st Century, social media management is part of customer relationship management. You need to be where your potential and repeat customers are. Social CRM takes the guesswork out of finding your target audience on social media and helps you develop an effective process for building relationships and closing deals on social media.
You need a social media presence. Your company should have a page on most of the major social media sites, but you need more than just a page. You need a vibrant presence on social media. You should be sharing information about your company, and also sharing valuable information about issues that your customers care about. Social CRM can help you gain access to customers and build their engagement in these ways:
Share original content
For example, if you’re a cybersecurity company, you can share posts about the benefits of using your company, but if all you do is promote your company on social media, you’ll soon turn off readers and followers. Instead, some of your posts should cover related topics, such as how to stay secure when online, the top Internet scams, and privacy laws.
Curate the best content for your readers
An accounting firm can share posts on ways to save money during tax season, how to choose the best HR software with built-in payroll, or how changing laws affect bookkeeping compliance. These companies would also benefit from investing in content curation: sharing related posts from well-known organizations like the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and major news outlets.
Engage and retain
It’s also important to engage with your followers. If someone posts a question or even a complaint, don’t ignore it. Try to respond as soon as possible, even if your response is to provide a link to the appropriate department for their query. Whenever you receive a complaint, start by apologizing – even if it’s not the company’s fault. Never get into an argument on social media because it will only create bad press for your company.
On the other hand, it is just as important to respond quickly when someone posts about your company’s great products or services. A simple but personable message helps to increase customer loyalty, such as, “Thanks, Mary! We’re glad you enjoyed your stay at our hotel.” This reinforces Mary’s positive view of the hotel, and it also results in an additional post or Tweet for her social media connections to see. As a result, they may be more likely to consider you when they’re looking for a hotel.
Social media presents a unique opportunity for companies to build direct relationships with customers through online conversations and interactions. Make sure your team takes advantage of this.
Social Media for Lead Generation
Social media can be used for lead generation when you share reports or eBooks and share a link to download the guide in exchange for contact information. These leads come pre-qualified, as they have shown direct interest in your product and made a conversion by offering you their high-value contact information.
The major social media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, have tools that allow you to create private lists to identify people who are customers or clients, and lists for potential customers or clients. Lists can also be created for groups of people who have provided positive feedback. Providing your social media contacts with a group or channel to share information and receive special deals can really increase their engagement with your brand.
Terri Williams is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She has covered business and tech topics for a variety of clients, including The Economist Careers Network, Intuit Small Business Blog, Investopedia, The Houston Chronicle, Daily News Energy, and Homeland Preparedness News. Follow her on Twitter @Territoryone.