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Building real relationships with your customers will empower them to do work for you through crowdsourcing, engage them to become brand advocates, allow you to scale social media initiatives, and leverage them for new product development.
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There used to be ways to cheat the system to attract traffic to your website, rank well on Google (SEO), and attract Likes on Facebook, but those approaches no longer work. As the companies that govern these platforms such as Google and Facebook get smarter and better, there will be fewer and fewer shortcuts to do these things. Brands will have to now rely on building real relationships with real people through genuine and authentic interactions with them.
Beyond achieving the metrics above, forward thinking brands may be able to capitalize on a huge upside potential from building authentic relationships with their customers. For example, customers that are engaged and appreciated will be much more likely to defend your company on Twitter when they see someone speak negatively about it. They may offer valuable insights into what your customers care about which reduces research cost, improves the product and speeds up new iterations of product development. Consumers that have real relationships with brands will also be much more likely to answer questions or help fellow customers with customer service related questions. This creates more engagement, a better experience for everyone, allows the brand to scale their social media efforts, and reduces cost.