SEMA eNews Vol. 13, No. 11, March 18, 2010

Easy Ways to Keep Up With Your Customers Online

  Titan blog
  Titan Motorsports' blog is one way the company is attracting enthusiasts to its site and staying connected with its customer base.

While you may not find yourself posting about what you had for breakfast this morning on Facebook or Twitter, your customers are likely using these services to express theirselves, receive news, review products and conduct personal research. The days when your customers would simply go to your website for the latest news and product information are long gone.

Instead, social media networks, such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook, are channeling this information out to the world at a blazing rate. From a business standpoint, social media is important—it allows you to personalize your interaction with consumers while differentiating yourself from the thousands of other businesses competing on the web.

With information being published through so many sources, it can become difficult to track content without having multiple windows scattered around your computer's desktop. Rather than devoting a full-time employee to monitor this content, there are now companies developing specialized products and services to help streamline your social media interactions and help make this sea of information manageable.

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An easy and effective way to keep your customers up-to-date on new releases and company news is a blog or a web blog. One of the tools available is Word Press, which offers many great free themes and plug-ins for the ultimate customization to power your blog. WordPress can be downloaded from www.wordpress.org; installation instructions are available on the site as well. Once you’ve got your blog setup and customized to fit your brand, two simple automation techniques will allow you to broadcast your blog postings directly to your Twitter and Facebook followers.

The first service, Twitterfeed.com, exports your blog postings directly to your Twitter account simply by inputting your RSS feed and providing access to your account. A similar task can be performed on your Facebook page by entering your RSS feed in the Notes tab, which publishes a brief synopsis and thumbnail on your wall with each new blog posting.

While blog and forum postings help get news and information out, using social media to the fullest allows you to see what current and future customers are saying about your company and products. Companies are now developing products that harvest this information to allow for easy display and interaction with your social media accounts in one convenient window. One product available that can help collect and organize this information is a program called Seesmic Desktop.

After merging a similar competing product Thwirl in 2008, Seesmic was developed and improved into an easy-to-use “one-stop” console. Seesmic Desktop is a free program that coincides with Adobe Air framework allowing you to monitor and interact with multiple Facebook and Twitter accounts in one convenient window.

Accessible through both Macs and PCs, the console features various views and customizable columns to help organize your workflows. The console displays individual accounts in separate columns while offering capabilities of condensing and hiding duplicate postings. This becomes a real benefit when managing multiple accounts with the same followers.

Seesmic does more than just display your social feeds in one convenient window. Features such as integrated interest groups, trend watching, searches and notifications allow you to track topics and make for easy interaction. Interest lists and groupings allow you to easily locate your potential followers. This helps you generate a more specific group of followers to reach out to. Finding keywords in users’ postings can be saved and refreshed for instantaneous discussion updates. Users’ postings can be searched via keywords and then saved and refreshed for instantaneous discussion updates.

Scouting Twitter for user feedback on a new product, event or topic can easily be viewed in the same window. These search queries can also be saved for access and review at a later date. Alert notifications can be set to notify you of new postings and/or messages using visual or audio notifications, all of which can be customized to various levels. Postings can include automatically hosted photos and videos, as well as shortened text and integrated URL addresses. These are all useful and key features for frequent social media users.

As new platforms and technologies come to market, the need to adapt becomes an increasing challenge and a necessity to stay relative. As experiences with products and companies get reviewed by people all over the world on public forums and social media platforms, the need to quantify this data and address issues will become increasingly more difficult to manage.

The programs we use to manage these feeds will work to adapt with the changing of social environments, all while trying to remain easy to use. Keeping customers up-to-date, tracking the response to our products and services and even making sure we’re one step ahead of our competition at any given point is what ultimately makes the most of our social network. Social media is here to stay. —Baadal Deliwala, Nikki Contenti and Wes Bourne, Titan Motorsports

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