Unless you live under a rock, you obviously know an increasingly popular way to reach your customers is through social media marketing. If you are not diving into the realm of social media marketing, you may be missing out on the best opportunity to drive higher engagement and conversion rates for your business. As part of a broader customer engagement strategy, social media can be an effective and cost-efficient tool for marketing, sales, service, insight and retention.

Social media marketing allows you to identify your customers, and their needs, creating opportunities for you to engage your clientele, and create a strong, trusting relationship.

Customers who engage with companies over social media spend 20 percent to 40 percent more money with those companies than customers who do not engage according to a Bain & Company report. The ever-rising number of smartphone users also makes social media a competitive mobile shopping tool.

Social media is a communication channel that allows you to reach your customers directly — to tell your story and educate your customer. Merchants can engage with thousands of consumers and prospects. Once you do adopt social media marketing into your business practice, you can measure social engagement to continually fine-tune your social media marketing plan and keep building opportunities for customer care and profitable gains.

Social media mediums such as Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Yelp, and Swarm allow for you to interact with your customers on a minute-to-minute basis.

Some social media activities that encourage rich opportunities for customers to engage with your business may include:

  • Contests
  • Communities
  • Polls
  • Games
  • Engagement-oriented activities
  • Ask visitors to share their favorite experience with a product
  • Request product reviews and new product ideas

In order for your social media activities to be meaningful to consumers, activities should meet the following criteria:

  • Appeal to the egos and needs of your participants
  • Target the right audience
  • Interactions should engage and excite
  • Maintain a balance of freedom and control

Get to know your customers using these tools to gain a better understanding of their behaviors, preferences and needs. Rather than being motivated to sell your customers more, you should instead take actions to meet their needs and wants by listening to what they have to say, and take action based upon their input.

Additional tips for a successful merchant-consumer relationship:

  • Listen, act, and deliver engagement that establishes trust.
  • Help to establish trust by requesting and ensuring contact information will remain private and confidential and not be sold or shared- in todays fast paced digital world, privacy and security is a must when conducting business over the Internet.
  • Use this informationg to start a one-to-one communication stream via email and social media apps.
  • Strive to deliver additional value to keep your customers engaged and happy.