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Use Social Media to
Engage Customers

Social media can help you attract new customers, strengthen relationships with existing customers and generate referrals. The key to making this happen is using it to engage customers — as opposed to “promote” to them. This means having a conversation with customers, where you find out their needs and help them see how your business can satisfy those needs.

Before you start Tweeting or developing a Facebook presence, it’s important to be clear about your goals. Are you trying to generate YouTube views? Clicks to your Web site’s home page? Are these business goals or bragging rights? Engagement is growing the number of clicks that each customer makes once he or she reaches your Web site. Fortunately, there’s a proven process, AIDA, that you can follow to guide customers to complete an action on your site. The AIDA process — attract attention, get interest, build desire and take action — has successfully guided direct-mail marketers for decades. Here’s how it can help you use social media.

Attract Attention
Before you can make a sale, you must attract the attention of your target customer — and, on the Internet, this means attracting the attention of search engines. Search engines and social media are a perfect match. When you consistently post YouTube videos and blog entries that speak to your audience’s interests, you attract attention. Write for your audience, but be sure to include relevant keywords and eye-catching headlines, so search engines know how to index your content.

When you add your comments to a blog post, be sure to include a signature line with a link to your Web site. And be sure to gather incoming links to your keywords from customers.

Get Interest
Where you direct the link is the key to success in the AIDA process. When customers click on a link, they are saying, “I am interested. Tell me more,” so be sure to respond. You can do this by linking to a relevant landing page that lets them gather information about specific product groups or upcoming events. Then, engage them by allowing them to self-select from a focused set of options, such as downloading detailed product information, grabbing a short how-to video, signing up for an in-store event or getting a copy of your latest newsletter.

It’s likely that interested customers will want to take some time to study the information they gathered from your landing page. Make sure to capture their e-mail addresses on your landing page. An interested customer will give you his or her e-mail in exchange for quality information.

Build Desire
Don’t be surprised when customers leave your Web site after gathering information from the landing page. This is why it’s essential to know how to follow up with them. Send an e-mail with a link to another relevant landing page, where you can use stories, testimonials and case studies to build their desire to take action. Help them see how your product or service will benefit them. If you offer warranties and guaranties, summarize them on this page. You may have to do additional follow-up, so be sure you can contact them to address any questions or concerns they may have.

Take Action
Before you begin the directed marketing process, establish your goal. Ultimately, what’s your desired action? Is it to make a sale or schedule an appointment? Make it clear and easy for customers to complete the action. Be sure to confirm that the action was completed. And, follow up the transaction with a thank-you card or a phone call to continue building the relationship. MI