Another way that you can use social media is to monitor customer complaints and negative publicity and act to address an issue as quickly as possible. Social media can be tied in to your existing customer complaints department. You can, however, also gain tremendous goodwill by acting quickly to provide a replacement or refund for a defective product without requiring the customer to make a formal approach.

Reputation management is a term used to describe the process for protecting a company’s brand and good name. Having a presence in social media enables you to monitor how your company is perceived by the public. If negative comments are being made on social media, whether fairly or unfairly, it is important that you address the issue as quickly as possible. Even when you are at fault, honestly recognizing the problem and apologizing or making recompense quickly can create goodwill and improve your company’s standing in the mind of the customer.

One of the best aspects of the rise of social business is that it does not require a company to have the personnel or budget of a multinational. Social media websites are free and are relatively painless to get set up. Photos and other content can be created and uploaded from a smart phone and the websites can be monitored in the same way. Many free applications will provide notifications when a company or brand name is mentioned and monitoring of the sites need not be an all-consuming role.

The most important thing to remember is that there must be a two-way interaction, a dialogue, between the company and the user. Social business only works if the business itself is listening and engaging with its customers. Offering occasional incentives and offers is a good way to thank social media users for their loyalty and interest and shows that you value them; responding quickly to customer issues and complaints is another. Sometimes simply providing relevant information to customers to solve their problems in this way can build loyalty and lead to a long lasting relationship.

Whether we like it or not, it appears that social business is likely to become a permanent feature of the business landscape because of the importance of social media in customer’s decision-making. Today, when people want to buy, they find out about the product or service online. A recent study found that over 80% of customers stated that they found social channels trustworthy sources of information and reviews. Significantly, a similar percentage also stated that they changed their purchasing decision based on information they found online from other users of the product. This means that creating a presence on social media, for any size business, is almost a necessity – it provides a means of engaging with your customer in a very direct way and builds long-term value for your business.

Social business means going further than merely having a presence on social media sites. It means actually engaging with customers by listening to their needs and desires and responding accordingly. Using social business techniques effectively means you will build your customer base, brand, and reputation and add value to the products and services you sell.

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