Starting an Online Conversation with Your Customers

These days, putting together a basic website for your small business isn't enough. If you really want to unleash the power of online marketing, you need to engage your customers and increase your online visibility. By starting conversations with your customers online, you can interact with them to increase their satisfaction and to enhance your company's overall reputation. Fortunately, there's no need to spend a fortune to do this. There are several free online platforms that make it easy. Social networking sites are particularly useful. Online review sites are worthwhile options as well. Below, you'll find tips on using Facebook, Twitter and customer review forums to kick-start online conversations with your customers.

 

Facebook

 

There are more than 800 million active users on Facebook. Needless to say, it pays to be active on the popular social networking site. After establishing an official page for your company, you can use it to engage your customers and to attract new ones. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should avoid spamming people. Posting press releases is a good way to keep your fans updated on news coming from your company.  Draw fans in by posting questions or by asking people to submit photos, stories and other content. You can encourage these interactions by throwing contests.

 

Twitter

 

The possibilities for customer interaction are endless with Twitter. Get started by creating an account for your business. You can jump-start conversations by creating saved searches for terms that relate to your business. Start to follow businesses, media and individuals with aligned interests. This will help you to build a targeted audience of followers. These steps will help you to keep tabs on what people are saying about your company and its products or services. Take the time to respond thoughtfully to complaints, comments and compliments. Post links to your blog, press releases and new content on your website. Do what you can to assist people who are voicing trouble as it relates to your brand. From time to time, post thought-provoking comments or questions that are relevant to your business. This will encourage your followers to engage with you and retweet your content to their circle of followers.

 

Online Review Forums

 

While you generally can't control what people say about your small business on customer review sites such as Yelp, your active participation can make a huge difference. First, you should make a point of being an active user of the site yourself. Post reviews of other local businesses and read other people's reviews. Set up a business profile and link it to your personal profile. Include links to your website, blog and social media profiles (Facebook and Twitter). Respond to reviews of your small business in a fair and even-handed way. Get into the habit of posting specials and discounts to your business profile. Conversing with your customers online is a great way to show potential customers that you appreciate customer feedback and aim to satisfy your customers.

Staying mute online is one mistake that you don't want to make. Right now, many of your top competitors are engaging in online conversations with your target audience. Why give them the upper hand? It's quick, easy and fun to interact with existing customers and prospective customers online. Improving your online visibility doesn't require a major time commitment, and it's sure to bolster your existing online marketing strategy by a considerable degree. On top of that, it allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of what's being said about your company and your industry.


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