The position of community manager and social media marketing manager is one of the top recruited roles in today’s market. Companies don’t have big marketing budgets and they want to listen and engage with their customers to help them make their future products and services. No matter what industry you are in, talking with your customers is key and talking where your customers “hang-out” is even more important. That’s why getting a twitter account, signing up for a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, or other social networking sites that your customers hang out in is your top priority in 2009 and beyond. When I was at Yahoo!, our CMO at the time Cammie Dunway (now at Nintendo) used to say let’s “surprise and delight” our customers with a phone call, email, knock on their door, whatever it takes to make our brand in their mind one that actually listens and does something about it. So I ask you, reader of this blog, when was the last time you actually talked to your customers? Not in a focus group but a real conversation on their terms. Sure your product manager might be an innovator but is he/she really communicating with his customers on a daily/weekly basis. If not, make him/her. Times are tough and you gotta get your product launches right the first time and not rely upon the next version to release your enhancements.
Here are top three ways in which you can start listening and engaging with your customers:
- Setup daily searches on Twitter and Google to see who is talking about your brand, industry keywords, and competitor keywords. Optional, if you have budget, look at tools from Techrigy, Scoutlabs, Radian6, or Visible Technologies.
- Setup a process internally with your customer support, marketing, product management, and pr before you start communicating. Let people know what you are doing and how you plan on communicating and reaching out to your customers. They’re might be some culture shock but it is in their best interest. One option would be to start off with a 2-4 week trial run before you go all out, show those results to management, revise and then get approval for a bigger campaign depending on your overall strategy.
- Since you are starting social media within your company, you need to start educating those around you. Setup brown-bags teaching them on the tools you use and the data you see. Teach them a whole new way of communicating in a honest, truthful, & personable way.
Got any questions? Are you a community manager? Let me know what worked best for you in listening and engaging with your customers. Add a comment below.