Customer expectations have changed. In the digital age, consumers demand more from brands, which means that attributes like responsiveness, authenticity and adaptability are more important than ever before. Earlier this week, at #Inbound14, Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of Likeable Local, addressed strategies that brands can employ to meet these new expectations and make their companies more “likeable.”
Kerpen started by encouraging the audience to imagine a world where they could build a successful brand that delights customers and prospects with a few simple practices. He then asserted that this world is here, and he is able to show the audience how to do this.
He cited three key social media realities businesses need to understand when laying the foundation:
1. Social media is not free – it costs time.
2. Social media will not bring you instant results.
3. Social media cannot make up for a bad product or service.
After laying the groundwork, he outlined his presentation with 7 simple social concepts to drive results:
3. Tell. Don’t sell
4. Be authentic
6. Provide value
7. Be grateful
Listening is the single most important skill in social media, business and life. For many years, marketers were really good at the talking part of communication but less good at the listening part. Social media gives us the opportunity to listen at sale. In the past, marketers could do market research or focus groups. Now, social media is all of these things bound up in one platform.
He advises brands to listen to their prospects. It’s not always about marketing messages or sales messages, it’s about listening and demonstrating empathy. This builds brand identity and trust.
In addition to prospects, brands should listen to their customers as well. By paying attention to what your customers are saying, you can find out what they’re looking for. However, Kerpen advised brands not to plug their services – this can make you appear desperate and self-promotional.
Listening isn’t enough on its own, you have to respond. Kerpen compared ignoring a tweet or Facebook post with hanging up on a customer. Responsiveness, he claimed, is no longer optional, even if you don’t like what the person is saying. To this end, Kerpen suggested that brands listen, apologize, solve and thank customers even if their posts are negative. This led him to the assertion that the four most important words in social media are “I’m sorry” and “thank you.”
Tell. Don’t sell.
Twenty years ago, companies told their stories with TV spots, billboards and radio ads, but these methods can be expensive and slower when compared to today’s opportunity with social media. In social media, you can tell your brand’s story in a matter of minutes. More importantly, if it doesn’t work, you’ve invested next to nothing in it, so companies can rebrand their social media narratives as often as they like. By telling stories about your company, marketers can put a human face on their brands, increasing likeability.
Kerpen began with the concession that authenticity is much more challenging for large companies than it is for smaller ones. People connect to real, he claimed. This point is about consistency. You have to be you, both online and offline – in public and in private.
Although traditional advertising is kind of dated, social and search advertising are decidedly on the rise. Social advertising allows for hypertargeting that allows companies to reach out to actual prospects, not just random people. The idea is not to reach a million people, but to reach the right handful of people.
Give away value
When you give value away for free, you can create customers for life. Whether its content, samples or promotional products, people are more likely to remain loyal customers if they are initially converted with free value.
Say thank you.
Great advice from a leader in social media. To find out more about Dave Kerpen, visit his website at davekerpen.com