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April 10th, 2014

SocialMedia_April07_CBusiness customers can be largely visual creatures; judging a company by how it looks. When it comes to social media campaigns if the content of your business posts is not visually appealing you may find it hard to engage your clients. The question is, what tools can you can use to create visual content, especially if you aren't a Photoshop expert or graphic designer.

In this day and age where compelling visuals are possible online, it is extremely important to learn how to create attractive visuals to aid your social media marketing campaigns. You at least need a working knowledge of how to enhance your photos and make them more attention-grabbing. There are a number of free or highly affordable tools out there that can help you do just that.

PIXLR - This advanced photo editor works like Photoshop, only it is easier to use and therefore ideal for beginners. You can create images from scratch or perform advanced image editing. Using fairly simple tools can maximize the potential of images. For quick editing, there’s PIXLR EXPRESS or PIXLR O-MATIC, which are free to use. Visit the PIXLR website to learn more and start use these programs.

PicMonkey’s Online Photo Editor - This photo editor can transform ordinary images into fantastic photographs in just a few clicks. Select the image that you want to modify and add special effects such as fancy text, or simply crop and re-size. The photos edited using PicMonkey can be uploaded on Facebook and other social media platforms. PicMonkey is free to use so you can just go to the website and start editing away. For added frames and special effects there’s a premium version you can upgrade to for USD $33.33 per year.

LiveLuvCreate - This website can be used without any charge and offers a variety of design layouts and graphics. Using this platform you can edit your own images and there are also a ton of images created by users on its library that can help give you inspiration. Among the tools available are borders, filters, and photo effects, as well as fonts, colours, and styles. Visit the website to set up an account and start editing your images today.

Canva - If you want to create your Facebook cover photos from scratch, or if you want to design some blog images, this is a free application that might prove useful. This tool is very convenient and can be used to create business cards, invitations, posters, and presentations. Visit the website today to start creating your own visuals.

Quozio - If you are into quotes, Quozio lets you upload famous and favorite quotes, visualize them, and then share them on your social network. Simply enter an interesting quote and then select a background image. Instead of simply posting what’s on your mind, you can make a quote more attractive and appealing by transforming it into a visual using this free app. Visit the site today to visualize your next quote.

Whether you are posting on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network, your content cannot come alive without the use of quality graphics and images. If Photoshop does not work for you, these other tools are ideal substitutes for creating appealing graphics for a variety of social media platforms.

Make sure to share your own list of top photo tools for everyone to see! And, if you would like to learn more about leveraging social media in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
February 13th, 2014

SocialMedia_Feb10_CMarketing is an incredibly important lifeline and function of nearly every business. With successful marketing a company will likely be more successful and able to grow. Nowadays, social media has become a large part of marketing, especially platforms like Twitter. While at first glance, Twitter is easy to use, there is a one big mistake many companies make that can harm the reach of their content and posts.

Social media is an always evolving idea, so what works one day won't necessarily work in the near or foreseeable future. Combine this with the various changes and features of the different social media platforms and it is nearly impossible to master every service.

When it comes to Twitter, one of the most popular features is using @username to bring the tweet to the attention of the user and to tweet about them. When you do this you and the person will be able to see it, along with people who follow that person.

What is the #1 mistake Twitter users make?

The problem is, many people put the @username at the beginning of the tweet. What this does, as we stated above, is only make the tweet visible on your feed, to the user and their followers. Why is this a problem? Well, it comes from how most businesses use Twitter. They use it to share content, e.g., a blog article or a video, etc.; to essentially tweet about the person, not at them. You see this in many tweets, for example, "@microsoft's new blog is great. Read it!"

While you want to share the content with people other than those who created it, putting @user at the front of your tweet actually limits the audience to the person who created the content and their followers - in other words the opposite of what you intend, unless Microsoft is your target audience of course!

How do you avoid mistake tweets?

If you are looking to tweet about someone or the content that user has created, using the @user is still a good idea because it will bring to the content-creator's attention that you are sharing their content. This is a great way to form relationships and even have these individuals and businesses share your content. In turn, this can help increase the potential of your content being seen by a wider audience.

For many tweets it makes sense to put the @username first as it helps make the overall tweet easier to read. The problem is, this will also limit your audience. So, for those who want to have their cake and eat it too, so to speak, add a period before @username e.g.," .@microsoft's new blog post is great. Read it!".

What this does is ensure that the tweet isn't addressed only to the user, but can be seen by everyone.

Looking to learn more about utilizing Twitter or any other social media as a part of your marketing strategy? We have a lot to tweet about and can help you tweet too.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
January 16th, 2014

SocialMedia_Jan13_CSocial media is now so common that it's expected that a company has a presence on at least one network. Because of the high level of use, sites have started to enter a more mature phase, where users are finding other ways to leverage the services. We will undoubtedly see a change in the way businesses use social media platforms in 2014 and new trends emerging which companies will be acting upon.

Here are five social media trends we believe businesses should track throughout 2014.

Successful content will become more helpful

One of the key rules of marketing is that you need to create content that is relevant to your target audience. If you can't show how your company, service or product will help the customer there is a high chance that they won't invest, or will look elsewhere.

Throughout 2014, we should see a shift of strategy with companies using social media to engage with customers to leverage data and create content aimed at being helpful to 'fans' and followers. This might include tips on how to use products and visual images that show fans how to use products, etc.

The key idea business owners should grasp is that they should not be using social media to promote their company, but rather using social media to help. When you can help your followers, you will see more positive association with your brand and possibly even more sales.

Planning ahead will become increasingly important

It used to be enough to simply have a social media account, but now you need to also be active. As more companies break into social media, you will need to post more content on a regular basis.

Because many managers and business owners are busy, they often lack the time to concentrate on social media, especially as demand grows. This means that companies will have to start planning ahead if they want to be successful on social media. What this means is likely hiring a new employee, or appointing a staff member, to run your social media activities. You will also need to schedule posts and content well ahead of time, as well as set budgets.

If you just post occasionally now, or have a profile that isn't that active, the first step you need to take is to schedule a day each week where content goes out. Take a look at older posts and see what worked well with your audience and create similar content. Schedule the content to be posted at roughly the same time each day. Over time, ramp up when you post - try posting new content on different days to see how reactions and interest changes. The key is to stick with it, and you will begin to see some positive returns - likely an increase in Likes, Shares and Comments.

Content will need to be mobile

It's not difficult to see that the mobile device - smartphone and tablet - has become the gadget of choice for many social media users. Some have even gone so far as to stop using social media on their computers entirely. This trend will grow throughout 2014 and what this means for businesses is that they need to be creating content that can be viewed easily on mobile devices.

Because mobile screens are smaller, and many companies are starting to create mobile oriented content, we should see some more visually oriented posts, including both movies and images. At the very least you should ensure that your content posted on social media platforms can be easily viewed by users on mobile devices and your other social related sites, like your blog, can also scale to fit on smaller screens.

Social data will play a key role in company strategies

As the number of users on social media continues to grow, we are starting to see a trend where many users are basically using social media for everything. Because these systems are online, data regarding nearly everything is being tracked and made available to companies and users. This social data can be a huge help if leveraged properly. For example, it allows you to see what users like and dislike, and the content that works best in certain regions, and different dynamics, etc. You can extrapolate this information to your products or services e.g., if post on how to use your product is liked more than other posts, you can assume that the product is seen to be good.

In 2014, companies will increasingly come to realize that they have access to this data and will start to use it to plot their marketing and social strategies. If you aren't already tracking your social data, now would be a good time to start. It will also pay to learn how to analyze it and develop useful insight.

Social integration is the next step

The first step in social media was to get users, including businesses, online and interacting. Now that this is happening, it's time to move onto the next step. For businesses this means integrating social media into their company. In 2014, that's what we predict we will begin to see businesses doing in larger numbers.

This trend has already started with businesses linking their websites to social media profiles but we predict it will go even further with companies integrating social data and plans into the organization as a whole. This will likely be the connecting of social data with other streams of data to make marketing and overall business decisions. In other words, social media will become an integral part of business.

What do you think the biggest social media trend will be in 2014? Let us know today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
December 19th, 2013

SocialMedia_Dec17_CWebsites like LinkedIn have quickly become the most popular, influential and arguably most useful to business users. LinkedIn is a social network, so if you have a profile it is a good idea to interact with other users. However, it is slightly different than other social media sites in that it's mainly aimed at businesses looking to to connect with other businesses and professionals to connect with their colleagues.

To get the most out of your personal profile on LinkedIn follow our five top tips:

1. Specialize

A popular feature of LinkedIn is endorsement. You can view other people's profiles and endorse their skills. Some popular users have hundreds of different endorsements. The purpose of these endorsements is to highlight the important skills of each user.

If a user has say 30 so-called important skills that they are all endorsed for, it kind of looks like these aren't really that important. It is a good idea to pare down your skills and endorsements to 3-5 which you feel best represent what you have to offer.

2. Don't connect with people in order to grow your following

One of the main goals many users have with other social media networks is developing content that encourages people to essentially connect with the business. This in turn increases the reach and popularity of the business. With LinkedIn, connections and content are still the goal, only the type of desired connection is different.

You shouldn't be aiming to connect for the sake of connecting. Instead, try to develop connections that will help your business meet its goals and objectives. Some good examples of this include connecting with suppliers, colleagues and even other businesses you work with.

3. Think socially (What's in it for them?)

LinkedIn is really just online networking, and as with most forms of networking you are looking to build rapport and establish a connection. This is usually done by being interesting, which means creating content.

When creating content or developing your profile you should keep in mind that it is for the people looking at your profile and not you. With everything you write or create, try to keep in mind: WIIFT (What's In It For Them?). If you can create something that your connections and profile viewers will be able to benefit from, they will be more willing to listen to you when you actually need to contact them.

4. Look at your profile

As we stated above, your content and profile should be oriented towards your viewers and connections. Look through your profile and posts to see that the information does reflect this purpose.

Try looking at the different sections of your profile and focus on how you can help your connections. This includes giving detailed descriptions on your roles and how you helped the company or customers. Above all else, make sure your profile contains the information that is relevant to the people you want to connect with. If it isn't, you likely don't need it.

5. Join groups

Possibly the best way to get the most out of LinkedIn is to join groups. There are groups that cover nearly everything in the professional world. Try joining groups that are relevant to your profession and interests. There are usually some great conversations going on that you can really learn and benefit from. If you are an active member, you will become well known over time.

This is positive, as it makes other members more approachable and willing to listen to you, and engage with the content you share. Joining groups also gives you a great way to connect with people of varying experience. If you need the help of a specialist you can look through group members until you find an expert with the experience you need.

LinkedIn can be a useful platform for business users and if you are looking to learn more about how you can leverage it, connect with us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
November 21st, 2013

SocialMedia_Nov18_CThere is a common trend on social media of trying to make your personal profile difficult to find, perhaps because of issues about privacy and security. However, logic dictates that as a business this should be the opposite. You want to be easily found in order to connect and interact with your loyal and potential customers. The problem is, many businesses simply aren't easy to find on social media, something which could be hurting their overall success.

If you are struggling to make your existence known on social media, and missing out on those all important connections, then here are five tips to make you easier to find.

1. Use your actual name When it comes to social media, you want to be easily found. When your customers try to find you, they will almost always enter the name they call your company by. Therefore, your profile on social media needs to register this name even if it isn't your company's official name. Use the same name in various places on your profile e.g., in the About us section and even in your posts if it fits. If they can find more than one of your social media profiles (because you have used the same company name for all of them), there is a higher chance they will connect with you.

2. Become more recognizable We are highly visual people and when we see patterns, will normally begin to associate it with something. Many of us are also on more than one social media platform, so companies can leverage this in order to gain more connections.

Try having the same profile picture on all of your profiles too. What this does is make you and your brand more recognizable. If people are looking at other social networks that you have a presence on and they see the same profile picture, they are more likely to recognize you as the same company and potentially be more willing to connect with you. If you change your picture on one profile, be sure to update it on the others.

3. Create more social emails We don't mean start emailing people asking them to connect, as this will likely drive people away because they will think you are spamming them. Instead, try putting links to your social media profiles in your email signatures with a suggestion to connect. Because you likely send a fair number of emails out on a daily basis, having links to your social media profiles can help increase the chances of people reaching out and connecting with you.

4. Don't use multiple email addresses It can be tempting to use different email addresses for each social media platform - this can help track integration and engagement - but in truth, this can actually confuse people and could make more unnecessary work for those who manage your profiles.

Many personal users have only one email for social media, largely because it's easier to manage and quickly look at traffic. So, in order to make things easier for you or whoever manages your company's social media, it might make sense to just use one email address for all of your profiles.

If you have already used more than one email address for different social media profiles you have two options: You can choose to change the email addresses so that they are all the same, or you can simply link the other email addresses so that they are included in all of your profiles.

The most professional looking option is to pick just one email as it will reduce uncertainty as to what email address to use when customers want to contact you via your social media pages - e.g., email you about your products.

5. Make your website social Finally, you likely have a website. While many people will find you on social media, it is a good idea to include links to your social media profiles on your website. The reason for this is because it helps you build your brand image. It is a way of letting people know that you are not only on the Web, but also have social media profiles and that as a company you interact.

The most popular way to display your social media presence on your website is to include icons on the homepage, or in the footer. When you click on each of these, a new window or tab opens and takes you to the relevant social media page.

In general, the more locations you broadcast your social media presence, the higher the chance of gaining more connections. It follows that the more connections you have and the more active you are on your social media profiles, the greater consumer interest and engagement is, and the stronger your brand identity becomes. Over time, you should see an increase in sales and ultimately profitability.

If you are looking to learn more about how to leverage social media in your business, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
November 14th, 2013

2013Nov13_Facebook_CSecurity, both offline and online, should be something that is top of mind for business owners and managers, especially when it comes to interactive platforms like Facebook. While social media sites do generally have the user's best interest in mind, the developers of these systems do introduce changes from time-to-time. Recently, Facebook announced that they will be eliminating a security feature and this could cause some confusion.

If you have logged into Facebook recently, you may have seen a notice at the top of the News Feed page informing you that, "In a few days we'll [Facebook] be removing an old Facebook setting called "Who can look up your Timeline by name." Seeing this message could create a bit of confusion as to whether it is a big deal to take real notice of or not.

What did this setting do?

In previous versions of Facebook, starting from when Timeline was introduced, you could type in individual or company names to bring up their Facebook Timeline. This security setting allowed you to set who could find your Timeline if they entered your name.

Why is Facebook removing it?

Before the more recent changes to Facebook, such as the introduction of the new search feature, the only way to find Facebook users was to search for them. Now, users can be found in numerous ways and the most obvious is by using the new Graph Search (Facebook's new Search Bar).

Because of the numerous ways to find profiles, and the related security settings, Facebook has announced that they will remove this security setting largely because it is redundant. It should be noted that Facebook isn't removing the ability to search for users by name, just the setting that controlled who could see your Timeline.

What will happen now?

The biggest change is that now anyone will be able to look up your name and find and view your Timeline on Facebook.

Should I be worried about the removal of this privacy setting?

For businesses, this change is actually a positive one. All users will be able to find your Facebook Page, which is something you want. You are still in control as to who can see individual posts and updates. In general, your Page will continue to be visible, but the chances of seeing increased visits solely due to this development are pretty slim.

That being said, any change to the security settings on Facebook mark a good time to conduct an audit of your Page and Timeline. Log into your Page and press the Lock icon in the top-right. Take a look at security settings, including who can see what content. For many businesses, this should be public - as long as the content posted on the Page is aimed at being openly viewed.

If you are posting pictures or updates that you only want a select group to see, be sure to set the security settings when you create posts. This can be done by pressing the arrow beside Post. It is a good idea to look through your Timeline and ensure posts, updates, Likes, shares, etc. are shared with the appropriate people. You can do this by pressing on the cog in the top left and selecting Account Settings followed by Privacy and Activity Log beside Review all your posts and things you're tagged in.

Looking to learn more about the role of Facebook in your business? Contact us today to see how we can help.


Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Facebook
October 24th, 2013

SocialMedia_Oct21_CSocial media has become one of the best marketing tools for businesses of all sizes. While Facebook is definitely the most popular network, the other networks that connect with it like Instagram are equally powerful. Instagram for example, is perfect for creating visual content that you can share on other platforms or even your website.

Here are three ways your company can leverage Instagram for better marketing.

1. Post at the most opportune time Many social media platforms like Facebook, have a strategic time for you to post content in order to have a higher chance of getting your name and content in front of users. But with Instagram, the time is actually different.

Because Instagram is largely mobile based, users tend to be accessing the platform at nearly all hours. One would think that if users access the platform mainly from their mobile devices, optimal time to post content would be after working hours. But, most people use their phones throughout the day, so there really is no major difference; users are online at all hours.

Therefore, the best time to post is almost any time. This means you need to figure out when the best time to post is for your company. Try picking a time when you think your audience will be looking at their devices and post then. Keep track of how many shares, likes and comments you get. Be sure to do this for a few weeks, then try another time. Over time, you should find when you get the most interaction, which becomes the best time to post.

Also looking at your industry could help. If you are a restaurant who is only open for dinner, posting pictures in the evening may not be the best. Instead post in the afternoon, before you open.

2. Hashtag it! Like Twitter and now Facebook, Instagram supports hashtags. By adding one in front of the terms in the image or video's description, you will make your post searchable and could increase the chances others will see it. Unlike the other networks however, numerous hashtags could actually increase interactions.

That being said, not every word should have a hashtag. Instead, hashtag words related to the image or video and try to integrate them seamlessly into the description. By putting all of the tags at the bottom or first, you could risk driving users away, largely because they are jumbled.

3. Videos or photos? Instagram recently introduced videos, which have proven to be useful for many marketers. While this is still a new feature, the bigger companies are using it while the smaller ones haven't begun to adopt it.

If you can find a use for your 15 second videos, for example how to use your product, you could see an increase in traffic and interactions. Because you can also upload or link these to your Facebook and even your website, Instagram could turn out to be a valuable tool for short video promotions.

Of course, you can do this with photos as well, so be sure to try incorporate both features. There are also numerous filters you can apply to both your videos and photos, so be sure to look through them all to see what makes your content look the best.

If you are looking to learn more about Instagram and how it can help with your social media and marketing presence, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
September 26th, 2013

SocialMedai_Sep24_CIn order for a business to be successful, you must have a solid marketing strategy. These days that means having an Internet presence. While having a website is a good start, most marketing relies to some extent on social media. With a solid social media presence you can stimulate not only increased brand awareness but also achieve higher search ranking.

If you are looking to harness the power of social media and potentially increase your ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) here are five tips on how you can do so.

1. Relevant & interesting content When people look at websites and social media profiles, they are usually looking for specific information. When it comes to businesses, most people look at social media profiles to get a better glimpse into what exactly a company does and how they interact with the online world around them.

It is guaranteed that an interested user will look at your About page, so it is a good idea to include information about your company and what you do in this section. This is a great place to use keywords that usually don't fit well into the newsfeed. Try thinking like a customer and asking yourself, "What keywords would I type in a search engine to find my company?" Create a list and try to work them into the Description and About sections of all social media profiles you use.

Because these sections aren't set in stone, you can, and should, update them on a fairly regular basis. If you notice that certain keywords are becoming more popular, or users are using different keywords, update your content to match this. The key here is to try and always be aware of what information your customers - potential and otherwise - are looking for.

2. Promote & maintain discussions Search giant Google has publicly acknowledged that part of their advanced search algorithms have been written to look for social media pages and accounts that have discussion and commentary. In other words: If you create content that promotes discussion, there is a higher chance that your site will feature higher in search results.

It's important to remember that social media is a two-way street. When you post content that starts a discussion, you should be an active member of that conversation or debate. Try prompting users to explain their ideas and comments, or ask more questions to keep the discussion going.

3. Audit all of your links Links have become an important part of the Internet and social media. For an effective strategy, social media needs to be linked to your main Web presence - your website. This can be done by putting a link in your contact information and in your About sections. It is also acceptable to put links in some posts or tweets, as long as they are relevant to what you do. i.e., a post that tells users to check out your new website or page.

The reason for this is because search engines don't just look at websites for results anymore, they also look at social media and so much more. If you can find a way to show these engines that your profiles and site are linked, you should see a stronger overall presence in search results.

There is one caveat with links however: If you post a comment about something unrelated to what you do that includes a link to your website, this can be seen as a negative form of link building and you could end up being punished in search results. To that end, it is a good idea to go over your profiles and make sure all links work, and make sense. By having working links that are appropriate, you could see an increase in your location in search results.

4. Location! Location! Location! For many small to medium businesses physical location is still an incredibly important aspect of your online presence. You should make sure that you include your physical address, contact information and regional location. If possible, it is a good idea to include geo-location in your posts. For example, when creating a post in Facebook, press the button that looks like a pin in the bottom of the post window. This will add your location to the post.

The reason for this can be found in the way people search for businesses. Now, when people are looking for a business they usually conduct a local search i.e., printer in Denver which will return similar businesses in their local area. If you have your location on your social media profiles, the chances of you showing up in local searches is increased.

5. Be realistic While social media is important, it's not the be-all and end-all. In order to increase your search rank, you will need to work hard on your social media campaign. Posting relevant, interesting content on a regular basis and keeping conversations going takes time. Beyond that, you can't expect immediate results. It could take months or longer to see an increase, and even then it may only be slight, especially if you operate in a highly competitive industry.

While your rank may not improve in leaps and bounds, a solid social media presence will bring about an expanded brand awareness overall. Combine this with other business aspects, like excellent customer service, and you could also see increased loyalty and sales. If you would like to learn more about social media and how it can help your brand, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 29th, 2013

SocialMedia_Aug26_CWe're just going to come out and say it: Social media is chaotic. What we mean by this is that due to its continuously changing nature, it can be hard for most business users to keep on top of current trends. While many small to medium businesses are starting to develop a presence on various social media platforms, many aren't too sure about new ways in which they can capitalize on this new technology.

Here is an overview of five common social media trends that small to medium businesses should be aware of.

1. Visual content rules Being successful with social media efforts means that you need to have engaging content. Sure written content will get likes and interest, but it's visual content that seems to really engage viewers.

According to a recent study by Kissmetrics, "photos get 53% more Likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs than posts containing text only." If you don't already post visual content, like pictures and videos, it may be time to start looking into how you can do this. One great platform that enables this is Instagram. You can also take great quality pics from a smartphone and post them directly onto Facebook.

2. Search and social media are one and the same With the recent release of Facebook's Graph Search, increase of Google+ related content in Google Search, and Google now indexing various social media activity, it's quickly becoming essential for a business to have a presence on various social media platforms. The key point to be aware of here is that Internet search results will likely continue to pull results from various social media platforms, so, you need be active on several of them.

3. Social media monetization Businesses are really starting to realize the important role social media sites like Facebook can play in branding and advertising. Companies are starting to take advantage of paid advertising, like Facebook's Ads, that ensures content is displayed to relevant users or user groups. These paid advertisements have proven to be largely successful for many small businesses.

4. Social currency Social currency is the idea of capitalizing on resources that are discovered by having a presence on social media. Essentially this means leveraging your presence on social media to explore new customer related trends and gain insight into what your customers are doing online and what they want. You can then use this information to create new products, or content related to customer wants, that will not only increase engagement but potentially sales too.

5. Microblogging The popularity of sites related to microblogging e.g., Twitter, is still on the rise. The more popular microblogging sites are actually ones that are more visual, like Vine and Instagram. These short posts allow users to share what is going on through images. As we said above, visual content really is key. If you can create posts using these microblogging sites, you are in a good position to see an increase in engagement with your customers - they will enjoy seeing what you are doing, as long as you don't bombard them.

These are just five social media trends but there are many more. Which ones have you noticed and how have they worked for your business? Let us know and share your social media experiences.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 22nd, 2013

BusinessValue_Aug19_CA common reason many customers stick with a company and provide them their business is that the company offers great customer service. It's widely known that companies with poor customer service likely won't stay in business for long, so it is imperative that your company offers only the best service available. The question is, how can you do this especially since much of it is now done online?

Here are four ways to ensure that your company offers the best customer service - on and offline.

1. Ask questions It can be easy to discount customers as not knowing what they want or being overly demanding, but in reality, they are the ones supporting your business. Without your customers, you won't survive. One of the best things you can do to keep your customers is to get them on your side and invested in your company.

How do you do this? Ask them what they want and deliver on it. You should take steps to contact your customers - new and return - what they would like to see from you. If you run a small, local garden store and make an effort to reach out to your customers asking them what plants and material they would like to see you carry. Then, when you get your answers, try your best to meet the requests and communicate with your customers letting them know of the new products or changes.

Customers will see that you are listening to them and be generally more willing to return, often noting the great customer service. One of the best places to ask questions these days is on the platforms where your customers spend most of their time - most likely social media. Who knows, the proper question could net you next years big sale or product line!

2. Talk about both good and bad This tip is specifically aimed at your social media presence. It is now normal for customers to take to the networks to voice their complaints or unhappiness. If you ignore these complaints or sweep them under the rug, your brand and sales might take an unfortunate dive.

When you see complaints online, it would be a good idea to address these. Many experts agree that being candid and open while replying in a professional manner could go a long way in showcasing your customer service. If you can, try to engage them in a more personal manner like over the phone. If customers see that you are not only listening to their grievances but also doing something about them, you will most likely see an increase in loyalty.

3. Act Taking action is important for excellent customer service. If your agents or employees ask questions and are willing to deal with both the good and bad criticism, they should also be willing and free enough to act.

If you think about it, almost every company with excellent customer service has employees who take action to fix something when they see a problem. They don't have to go to their boss for approval, they just do. The key here is they need to communicate both with their teammates and the customers on what they are doing or will do in the near future.

Beyond that, utilizing social media and other online channels to monitor conversations is important. If you come across a complaint or request, following up and keeping the conversation going is great customer service. By communicating, acting and following through either online or offline, your company will show that you take customer service seriously.

4. Be approachable Think about the last time you were in a store and the staff were sitting around chatting. Did you feel bad about going up to one of them and asking a question? Nine times out of ten, unapproachable staff will cause lost sales. The same goes for your online presence.

If you have a website that is hard to navigate or customers have to go through hoops to find contact information, they will more than likely not even bother to contact you. This means you will lose the sale before you even know about it.

This also extends to your social networks. Because so many people use this medium to connect, it's important to be approachable here as well. If don't allow customers to comment on your Facebook Page or add suggestions on Google+ due to fear of spam or too many negative comments, then you could be turning customers away. Sure, there will be criticism online, some of it quite harsh but this could be a good thing especially if all interaction on social media is criticism. This shows that your customer service or product isn't working and is providing you with a way to identify what needs to be changed.

In general, don't delete negative comments as long as they are fair and try your best to respond to requests. This will indicate to customers that you care and can help convince them to do business with you.

If your company is looking for a better support system for customer service or ways to improve the connection with customers, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.