Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and others used to be a great way to build community and interact with your customers. This latest crop of social networks made reaching out to customers instantaneous, easy, and most importantly, free. Not surprisingly, social media started getting a bigger share of companies’ marketing budgets and—for many smaller brands—social virtually supplanted other customer outreach efforts altogether.
Then, as suddenly as it appeared, the “free lunch” of social media was over—it quickly changed to “free appetizers” and then finally “full-price appetizers.” The corporate meal-deal ended just as marketers were really starting to understand the upsides of a social community for engaging and messaging their biggest fans and customers. There’s no going back, but here’s how to move ahead.
Is your social community really yours?
In an effort to monetize the billions of eyeballs visiting them, consumer-focused social networks started tweaking their algorithms to reduce the reach of marketing messages from businesses in favor of more personal posts by friends and family.
The move relegated brand posts to obscurity, if not total oblivion. Messages that once engaged customers (and helped companies build their brand) are now rarely even seen by customers unless the brand pays the social network. The folks over at Eat24.com found this out the hard way—their incredibly entertaining posts simply weren’t getting seen by many of their “fans,” so they quit Facebook, saying:
“Even if we could figure out your mysterious, all-knowing algorithm, it’s constantly changing, so what works today might not work tomorrow. Posting something that most of our friends see is like biting into a burrito and actually getting all seven layers…never gonna happen.”
Algorithms that change without warning mean someone else is deciding which of your messages, if any, are being seen by your customers, and that lack of control is bad for your brand. As Eat24 found out, cultivating your brand’s community on someone else’s social network—even a “free” one—still has repercussions and hard costs to your company.
Why cultivate your own brand community.
The rise of social networks showed brands the many benefits of having an active place where customers can come to interact in real time and have a conversation with the company. In fact, people now expect it. Brands that don’t have a social community will find customers moving to competitors who value them more.
Customers who might want to evangelize your brand want more than static online forums or email contact forms—they want a community to be part of. They want a place to share their passion for your brand. And only a social community does that.
Beyond what it gives your customers, your own branded social community has very real benefits for your company, too. You get a venue to message your most fervent fans without worrying if they saw the message or not. And you get free, full access to all the data generated by those customers.
Social communities help you manage customer issues more easily and effectively, too—by giving your customers a place to air issues or grievances, people are less inclined to air them on the major social networks, which prevents potential PR problems.
Community-building in your own backyard.
Smart brands are starting to realize that they can’t just piggy-back on some other company’s network if they want to own the customer experience. Social community is something companies have to provide for themselves.
That’s where our industry-leading enterprise social software, tibbr, comes in. This cloud-based community platform can be deployed quickly and easily. In addition, tibbr can be “themed” to complement your existing brand’s graphic standards so that it looks like you built it yourself.
What a tibbr social community does:
- Builds customer trust
- Encourages brand evangelism
- Increases customer spending
- Reduces support costs
- Improves first-contact resolution
- Decreases customer complaints
- Helps retain customers
Once implemented, tibbr gives you total control and ownership over the content and data created or shared using the platform; all your community-building efforts are never wasted.
It’s your community, so keep it.
Everyday, successful organizations are proving that an enterprise social platform can build community and communication between companies and their customers. See how tibbr can help your company be more responsive and engaging, and help your customers be more loyal—sign up for a free tibbr trial now.