Summer is here, and chances are you have at least one wedding on your calendar. Something about the warm weather and blue sky drives many couples to stand before the world and pledge their love for each other.
We ought to do the same with our customers. And with social media, we can. When you think about effective ways to manage customer relations on Facebook and Twitter, think marriage. It's more than a metaphor—use it as an operating principle.
Here are five rules you can take from the realm of romance and relationships and use to court your customers.
Listen. This is the first, and perhaps most important, rule. The major cause for unions falling apart is simple and tragic—people don’t listen to each other. Listening is hard, particularly on platforms like social networks that invite constant comments.
When a customer posts a nasty comment, it’s tempting to just ignore it. But as anyone who has been in a relationship knows, ignoring problems never makes them go away. This is particularly true on Facebook, where a record of grievances remains, a testament to the customer’s dissatisfaction and your inaction. Address customer comments. Reply as soon as you can. Be polite and helpful and transparent. The negative comment may stay, but so will your response.
Communicate. To communicate effectively, listening is only one part of the equation. You’ve got to be vocal about your needs. If you want your customers’ opinion on something, ask them directly. If you want them to support your new product or service, tell them to "Like" it. This straightforward approach may strike some as blunt, but, more often than not, it's the best way to engage.
RELATED: Low Cost Ways to Show Customers You Care
Move the relationship forward. Let’s consider two scenarios. In the first, you show up on your anniversary with no flowers, no gift and no restaurant reservation. If you’re lucky, you end up with a table somewhere and endure the knowledge that you've slightly hurt someone's feelings. In the second scenario, you show up with an enormous bouquet and a thoughtful note, have dinner at the hottest spot in town and are seen as a hero.
The only difference here is planning. Social media is limber. Things move fast, but that makes planning even more critical. Make a habit of sketching out your next few posts or tweets. Look at the calendar and see what upcoming events might appeal to your clients. Be prepared.
Invite all your friends. If you had a big wedding, you would invite all your friends. When it comes to social media marketing, your friends are going to read the content you put forth.
By friends, that could mean your actual friends in real life, who should be the first ones you engage. But it should also mean natural allies, like people or companies who share your passions and your sensibilities. If your business has a particular worldview or core set of beliefs, for example, reach out to others who see the world the same way. It’s not just good karma; it’s also great for business.
RELATED: Is Creating Viral Videos Easier Than You Think?
Make a commitment to spend quality time together. This may sound obvious. It’s not. Too many couples don’t spend quality time with each other. This is why we have date night, a habit of choosing one evening each week and dedicating it to reconnecting. Do the same on Twitter and Facebook. Have regular features going up at regular intervals, then make an effort to contribute as frequently as you can thereafter. It’s this kind of commitment that makes your customers feel respected and loved, and motivated to love you back.
Get more tips and advice from these social media articles.
Photos from top: Getty Images, Thinkstock