In the age of social media, business to consumer interaction has become more accessible and important in shaping public perception than ever before. Gone are the days of seeing television commercials and hearing radio advertisements about the latest and greatest product. As those days have gone, so have the days of logging complaints on a devoted email address or an automated consumer hotline. Now, with the expansion of social media, businesses have to answer directly to their consumers with the public watching. Here are 3 simple ways to use the evolution of social interactions between consumers and businesses to your advantage.

1. Customer Engagement

In today’s market for goods, the key to being a successful company is providing a good product/service and making your customers happy. Now, with the use of social media outlets, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others, consumers can instantly express feelings of elation or dissatisfaction with a product or service for the entire online community to see. A simple example of this is restaurants. When I go to a restaurant for the first time, the first thing I do is visit their social media platforms and search for reviews. If I spot negative reviews with no response I am immediately concerned. On the other hand, I am impressed when businesses offer solutions or assistance to problems addressed by their customers. Thus, consumer engagement on social media channels dictates the need for parallel business engagement on the same channels. Be sure to reply, retweet, and answer any questions or critiques that may be posted on your sites. If your customers feel like they have been heard, you are moving in a positive direction.

2. Relationship Building

Before the age of social media, relationships between businesses and customers were as elementary as chewing the fat with a local small business owner over the weekend. Nowadays, big businesses and small businesses alike face the difficulties of having to address an online community encompassing millions of existing and potential clients. This is why it is important to never underestimate the power of your online relationships with consumers: THEY ARE WATCHING YOUR EVERY MOVE! One goal you should strive for as part of building a relationship with followers and consumers is to incorporate daily positive interactions with them.    Social media platforms are the easiest and most cost-effective way to do so, while at the same time, they provide an opportunity to educate and provide information about your business. Making personal posts, and, among other things, offering tips for cool, alternative ways to use your products can also increase positive feedback.

3. Creating a Visible Personality

Creating a likeable personality can go a long way in keeping your business relevant and engaged in a fast paced world. We have come a long way from the advertisements that give you limited space and time to relay messages about your products.  With the utilization of social media, the ability to create a likeable personality is at your fingertips. The steps are simple and easy to follow: 
1) Be yourself 
2) Respond to customer’s comments and concerns
3) Post frequently

In addition to all the basics, your online personality has a large-scale impact on the popularity of your company. It is important to be yourself and make people laugh! Use your social media outlets to promote events, ask questions, and use user-generated content, such as reposts. Using pictures from your followers and reposting them can go a long way in creating visibility and likeability. It is also important to recognize which behaviors can help to raise brand affinity, or establish a deep connection with customers. These can be identified as traits such as eco-awareness, innovativeness, and philanthropy. Cultivating such a positive business personality that matches your company's values can assist in targeting new, like-minded consumers and developing a good rapport with them.

It is evident that the evolution of social media has made the experience for the consumer a lot more hands-on, offering the opportunity to “like,” “follow,” and “share” particular companies that are forward-moving and are continuously innovating. This has put a big burden on businesses to either be on top of their social game, or be trampled by the herd. At the same time, it has provided those same businesses with an outlet to connect with their customers on a personal level. Without a social media presence you are likely stuck living in the Carter administration. Be aware that a bad social presence is worse than none at all, but, an EFFECTIVE and ENGAGING social presence will make the growth of your business that much more fluid.

By: Jonathan Greenberg

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