How Customers can help market your business
There are some great ideas for engaging customers in this article by Jon Schepke from Search Engine Watch (SEW). Sure it focused towards the American market but the general themes are applicable to most countries. The main points are:
- More and more users are reading reviews on-line before they purchases services and this trend continuing towards local businesses.
- Open a communication channel with your customers; enjoy and profit from the good and learn from the bad! Twitter is an excellent mechanism to do this, but be genuine both publicly and via direct messaging. There is an added bonus in that both Google and Bing use Twitter to provide input their search results.
I am not sure that all local markets have developed the sophistication in terms of local searches for local people. That is certainly true in Normandy, my neck of the woods.
However for the anglophone community who don’t process local knowledge it is essential. Equally there are tourists and business travellers who don’t have local knowledge looking for a bed for the night or somewhere to eat.
Review sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor provide not just a route to receive praise and criticism, but also for engagement. For instance, if a room did not come up to scratch, it is a chance to put things right, and turn a bad situation into something more positive.
Then there is the check-in phenomenon:
Check-in sites like FourSquare and Gowalla provide more opportunities for engagement and make special offers. Whilst these small start-ups by comparison to the likes of Google and Facebook Foursquare has announced a distribution deal with Groupon, the daily deals site.
Google have their own offering Google Places with the primary benefit of being able grow your Search Rankings organically.
Google Places has some interesting features such as being able present special offers to potential customers.
It has now been integrated with Google Hotpot, the user review service which is a ranking factor.
Facebook have their own location-based service allowing their users to check-in, you’ve guest it Facebook Places. Facebook are rolling out a deals based service to complement place with a social emphasis.
- Following the Nokia/Microsoft deal, Nokia are evolving Navteq to deliver social location services.
The big social driver is Facebook. Once Facebook getting to grips with mining their user’s data, they have the potential to give Google and the other search and engagement channels a serious run for their money. If this happens local business will need to channel effort into ensuring their voice is heard, and their customers are truly engaged.
Using social media as channel between you and your customers gives you the opportunity to promote your business in a genuine and personal manner. It also creates a feedback loop allowing you modify you activities to better suit the needs of your customers, and the gauge their reactions to your changes.
You are close to your product or service. You understand your local environment. Use these things to your advantage over the faceless soul-less multinational who is just paying lip service to the idea of customer engagement.
Let them tell other people how great your business is. Equally show you are passionate about your business and engaged with your customers. Then you are not a lone voice in the wilderness but a multitude singing your business’s praises!