This is a question that I ponder for clients on a daily basis, but always have the same answer regardless of where my thoughts take me.

‘Do you listen to your customers?’ I ask,

‘Do you open stores where your customers shop?’

‘Do you encourage your customers to tell their friends about your products and services?’

Invariably the answer almost always comes back as a resounding ‘Yes’.

So my response is you should be considering some forms of social media as a way of engaging your customers, while developing your brand and customer service propositions, as part of your overall marketing mix.

New media is nothing to be afraid of and can be rewarding if you remain well informed about your choices. It’s important that you take the time to understand the different social media sites available to your customers and how they are interacting with your brand on them. It’s like anything; you need to know what it is going on first before making other informed choices.

On the point of your customers are interacting with your brand on social media. When I hear ‘oh but we don’t have a Facebook profile, or a page or account on such and such site; I respond with, it doesn’t matter, you don’t have to be active for your customers to be. If your customers want to talk about your business, share your products, refer and rate you (good and bad), they can, will and already are. So the decision to get involved and see what is being said and to learn from this experience is the first task you should undertake as a business. Know where your customers are, what social media sites they are on, what is being said about your business and make some decisions about what options you have to do something about it. You can either go back to having your head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening or at least become passive and begin to observe what your customers are saying.

In consideration of the next question I am usually asked, I shall explain what social media is… Social media is an online community of users, with shared interests who create share and consume content between each other.

In my view, it’s really no different to any other forum where a product or service offer might be discussed, around a group of friend’s family or co-workers, except it does have the added ability to enhance the conversation with richer content, and reach more people faster than traditional Word of Mouth ever could.13

The benefits for business are great in that you can now engage in the conversation directly, where previously you easily couldn’t. You can object to incorrect information by participating yourself. You can create content to share with your community and likewise can observe the kinds of content that is being created about your brand. Good or bad this can certainly set the tone to help you improve your A Game and give the customer what they want and help your business and customer experience improve immensely.