Social media is an increasingly important tool for building brands, connecting with customers and boosting customer loyalty and engagement. All of these factors can work together to increase awareness of your brand and drive new business.
Mashable asked C-suite execs from companies like Virgin, Ford and IBM for their best social media advice, which is listed below, straight from their mouths. Which tip is your favorite? Let us know — and leave your own tips — in the comments below.
Think About Community
“Encourage a social culture: Culture and change management is the foundation of true social business transformation. Create a social business agenda, an integrated plan to be more competitive and have a measurable ROE (return on everything) an organizations does socially. Embed social into business processes — to fully evolve into a social business, organizations need to foster social behaviors, thinking and technology into the fabric of the company, i.e. customer service, HR, marketing, operations. Hire a social media strategist/manager: This person is essential to serve as a community advocate and works with employees to understand the value of social media. They are also responsible for protecting the reputation of the brand online.”
Sandy Carter, vice president, social business evangelism and sales at IBM
“The thing that I try to stay focused on is what is it that’s resonating with the community. Don’t get distracted. There’s so much activity going on in the market, the challenge for [CEOs] is to pay attention to our relationship with the consumer and stay focused on that.”
“As people increasingly use social media in their personal lives, businesses need to dive into these communication channels to enable their customers to communicate about – and with – brands in a true dialogue. Retailers should allow customers to share, comment on and discuss products and services openly. Why? Because online recommendations, ratings and reviews are a tangible source of increased sales. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but ultimately, it’s that openness and honesty (including some bad reviews) that people are looking for. Believe or not, even bad reviews will increase time on your site and ultimately drive sales.”
“As a blogger, Twitter user and seemingly well-rounded social media CEO, what advice do you have for other founders and CEOs looking to use social media sites effectively? I know that calling me “well-rounded” was a fat joke, but I’m going to overlook it. I guess my main observation is that social media users can smell inauthenticity in much less than 140 characters. Enjoy yourself, have fun with the conversation, be yourself. You can’t fake it.”
“Understand the EQ and the IQ of everything you do, and for Pete’s sake give a crap of the life time value of your customer and or community.”
“We have a huge opportunity, a whole new world of people we weren’t able to speak to before. Figure out the best way to do that for your brand and what fits in with your DNA. I’ll go back to something Oscar has told me frequently: ‘We are not all things to all people, but we should always try to be more things to more people.’ I think that’s the way to do it.”
“Be authentic and organic. It can’t be forced or it won’t work. And most importantly, have fun.”
“It’s critical for brands to always be leaders, to always take risks and experiment. There’s this notion that a lot of brands have of not wanting to be first on a particular street or in a particular media space. That has to change, because the brands that are not being leaders in social media are being left behind very quickly. I also think that [social media] is a unique space, and you have got to make sure the people who are most connected, the ones who access it every day, are empowered to be leaders in this environment. Often they are the youngest members of a team.”
“We mix it up with posts about product, posts about content and questions about topics of the day. Last year, for example, we posted a design-your-own shoe contest inspired by the Double Rainbow guy, who was blowing up that week on YouTube. Some of what we do is planned, but a lot of it is spontaneous. You have to be flexible and ready to talk about lots of topics — just like at a dinner party. We’re also learning a lot about posting tactics –- time zones, language, regional relevance, etc. I go back to what I said earlier –- you have to have the courage to let go and not try to control the conversation or broadcast advertising messages every chance you get. Be respectful of the time between purchases of your product by adding value and contributing to the conversation. When it comes time again to purchase, your relationship with them should pay off.”
“Retailers: let your loyal fans or followers have exclusive access to sales, offers or new lines for a limited time. This is not only a great way of rewarding your brands advocates, but also creates buzz by encouraging consumers to share, like and tweet your news and products to their extended network.”
Mr. Tomoya Ishikawa, Executive Officer and Head of Creative and Web Design Department at Rakuten