Small businesses that ignore the potential of social media as a way of listening to and engaging with their audience will fall behind their competitors.
Gareth Jones, chief thinking officer at thechemistrygroup.com, said customer interaction can be vastly improved if small businesses use social media correctly.
He listed feedback on products and services and the chance to fix issues and improve experiences as just two of the advantages of social media. Followers and fans can also become involved in product innovation and creation, Mr Jones added. "And that's now, in 2012 – think of the possibilities that will emerge as the social infrastructure matures over the next decade."
Mr Jones said Skype has had success in creating a customer community that sees users work with the product development team to innovate the product and service. "These customers are getting involved and more importantly sharing their positive experience, creating YouTube videos promoting the company and even going as far as developing apps and technology that the company uses – for free," he explained.
Engaging with customers on social media
Small business social media strategies may not be able to compete with those of big corporations such as Skype, but there is still a lot that they can do to leverage the power of engagement via these channels.
It is important small businesses listen to what is being said about them on Twitter, but it is also crucial for them to participate in discussions. Joining in on conversations allows them to showcase their experience and thought leadership, as well as increase brand awareness and potentially generate leads.
Social media users are also increasingly becoming accustomed to asking questions and giving feedback via Twitter, Facebook and so on, so small businesses should be prepared to respond quickly and efficiently to such messages.
Research shows around 84 per cent of people complaining to brands online would give the business in question another chance as long as they are responded to.
What are your top tips for engaging with customers on social media?