Social media has become a staple in the marketing plan. It’s a piece of your strategy that now cannot be ignored to market and create conversations around your product or service. However – innovative companies and thought leaders have been using social media for more than just marketing, here are some ways they are using it and you should likely be as well.
If you have ever dealt with the hassle of calling in to a customer support line (and really, who hasn’t?) and waited for a long time just to speak with someone on the phone, then you have experienced a pain that most consumers have. Frank Eliason, Sr. Director of Comcast National Customer Service has taken this into account and along with a team, assists customers with general support issues in real-time over Twitter. Why is this so innovative? Well, it’s real time and it’s entirely possible that you will receive a response to your question much faster by just sending a message to @ComcastCares.
Comcast is certainly not the only brand to pick up on this trend; they have been one of the more notable ones however. Depending on your startup and the product you are offering – customer service via real time communication may be one of your most valued assets.
Zappos is a perfect example of this – their social company culture, and practice of putting the customer first has gone a long way to secure them a loyal following. According to a Zappos presentation from April 2009, Zappos receives 6,000+ phone calls a day, 400+ live chats per day, and over 1.1 million opportunities to interact per day. This gives them an extraordinary opportunity to capitalize on each one of those interactions, and build their brand. However, I think it goes beyond ‘customer service’ that phrase gives off the impression of trying to appease an angry customer. Where Zappos really gets it right is they listen, and then proactively reach out to engage customers and potential customers as often as possible.
Polling / Quick Feedback
Some social media platforms can be excellent for quick feedback. By being able to put out a quick poll or asking a question about something that you don’t know you can often receive an answer within minutes versus possibly hours.
This concept is similar to the above, but stretches beyond it in many aspects. When you are building a startup that does not have the luxury of much outside investment, you need to stay as lean as possible. Some startups have taken that to the next step by interacting with their potential customers and essentially having them design the product.
So what does social media have to do with that? Well we already know that it allows you to connect with others rapidly and spur up conversations easily. This allows you to form a group of people in your targeted market who can quickly offer feedback to either confirm your idea, or offer suggestions and a direction that you may not have thought of. While I think Twitter, Facebook, and blogs all play a key part in this – if you find someone local, go buy them a coffee. The relationship you will build by doing so will thrive even more and that person will become even more important to helping build out your product.
Here are a couple resources to help you further learn customer development and how it may apply to your startup.
Happy starting up and good luck!