Sell Social to Win Big on the Web

Everyone knows that social media is the “it” thing to do nowadays: consumers,businesses, and marketing consultants are all reaping the rewards of social media involvement. But companies large and small are finding multitudes of other ways to engage customers socially, and drive traffic and convert leads into sales.

Nothing can totally equal the vast audiences that your firm can reach via Facebook or Twitter. But for potential customers who may not use social media or who haven’t found your handle or URL yet, you’ll have to try to reach them through one of these other social formats.

Email marketing

Email marketing is surprisingly under-utilized by a lot of industries in 2014, and now’s the time when technology has given us the power to utilize it especially well. Since its inception, email marketing has been a sort of one-way street where companies talk at consumers, and possibly throw them a promotional bone every now and then.

This year, however, email marketing has evolved into a dialogue format. Companies who are using it effectively have captured a bump in customer loyalty and new customer conversion.

The formula is simple: Write what customers want to read, create rapport, and request interaction. The traditional “to whom it may concern” approach has been replaced by greater candor. Customers appreciate a less self-serving pitch in corporate emails.

Instead, they’re seeing friendly birthday greetings, invitations to cool events, and other perks. If email marketing has benefits for your operation, the customer should never see it directly.

Benefits should tilt in the customer’s favor; your win will come through loyalty and positive word of mouth.

Video marketing

In 2014, people want to be able to skim content and find what’s most interesting to them. Having to read long, laborious paragraphs is more than just uninteresting; it is flat-out not going to happen with most of today’s web users.

Maybe your company has stepped up its game and added a few new photographs: Good for you! However, today’s reach toward greater engagement requires another step in media-richness: video.

Posting an awesome narrated tour of your state-of-the-art facility, or offering cheeky product tutorials for your cool new line of loot are guaranteed to engage customers more fully. Videos are social in that they allow customers to see the places and faces that comprise your brand, and develop a deeper familiarity and sense of connection to you.

Blogging interactively

Blogging is another formerly one-way street that’s being converted into a two-lane highway in 2014. Initially regarded as one more avenue for self promotion, just like social media, television, print ads, email, and web content, blogging has evolved.

Companies used to employ their online blogs to toot their own horns, and consequently they turned off customers. Now, more companies are getting it right by blogging valuable content for customers: stuff that might not even mention the firm’s latest promotion or product.

The savviest social marketers, however, take this a step further by inviting comments instead of blocking or disabling them. Even further, company representatives are commenting back and creating a dialog, which motivates readership.

Companies are following and even promoting customers who show off the brand on their own websites or profiles, which further encourages these individuals to promote the firm. All the blogging mayhem can be linked and redirected to social media, of course, but now it has a social flow all its own.

Promotional microsites

A microsite is an offshoot of your current website that serves a unique purpose such as promoting a specific new product, introducing a new company location, or promoting an upcoming event. The microsite usually has its own URL and may even look fundamentally different from your main website, but it will include cohesive elements that bring customers back to your brand.

The idea here is to create a different way for customers to view your company, since most microsites are highly interactive. Compare Red Bull’s regular website to its flightlab microsite.

How can your brand engage customers? Some tricks and tools

Plugins. There’s an array of useful back-end plugins you can use to help socialize your website, for example the ones that integrate social media icons and those which allow for the customization of contact forms. BlueHost’s blogger Tiffany shares a list of the best social plugins here.

Brand cohesion. Your brand should clearly be the same “person” at all times. All brands have identities, and whether yours is traditional, tech-savvy, ultra-feminine, or rugged, it should consistently come across that way in every communication with customers. Nobody likes a two-faced friend.

Demographic targeting. Know what kind of people you are reaching. Would you talk the same way with your grandmother as you do with your best friend or little nephew?

Empathize with your audience and create discussions and avenues for communication that serve those individuals best.

Treat your brand persona and social reputation from a consumer’s perspective, and use these rapport-building tips to encourage conversion and elicit loyalty.

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About the Author

Drew Hendricks
Drew Hendricks is a tech, social media and environmental addict. He's written for many major publishers such as National Geographic and Technorati.
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