Companies seeking economical ways to win customers should also consider refining their customer outreach strategies by hiring social media specialists. L.L. Bean, the Freeport, Maine-based company best known for its sturdy snow boots, recently assembled a 10-member team to interact with customers on Facebook, Twitter and product review websites. Their focus is to answer questions, respond to complaints, alert shoppers to new products and reinforce the brand's message.
Of course, starting a social media team from scratch isn't exactly cheap, but compared to running focus groups and conducting surveys, it's a reasonable customer service expenditure. "Monitoring social media passively -- listening in to what people are saying about you -- and then taking proactive actions when needed is a good idea," notes Wharton's Fader. "It's a big step to go there, but once you're there, it's very low cost."*
Treat them well, train them well
Treat you social media marketing team well, and you'll have a very important asset to your business. Believe it or not, your ideal candidate is NOT you. Your time as a business owner or manager is better spent on developing your company, planning and managing the many facets that go together on a day-in-and-day-out basis. A better option: find a social media marketing professional that can manage your social media presence on a shepherd's schedule (that is, 24/7) and that is committed to your company brand and culture.
Don't hire an intern
Hiring an intern or just anybody won't do. Hiring an intern to do your social media is like hiring the shepherd's 10 year old son to tend to the sheep while dad's away for 6 months. Hiring an intern suggests that you have no plan or strategy for marketing your business. Outsourcing temporarily can bring some enthusiasm for a short season, but after that, what really have you accomplished? Instead look for these skills in a social media pro:
- Trained in keyword search and SEO practices
- Up-to-date on current social media marketing trends and best practices
- A very strong writer
- Knows how to network and is not afraid of finding answers
- Continually learning about social media key analytics
- Thinks like a producer and knows how to create content on an ongoing basis
- Knows how to think beyond the tweet to create an overall customer experience
- Able to float through internet space and distinguish the best opportunities for your business
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