Part VIII: Social Networking’s Role

By | August 31, 2011

Note: This is Part 8 of a 9-Part series based on the book “Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry”

Social networking is certainly one of my favorite passions. I truly believe that it can help print, mail, fulfillment, and marketing services providers in many different areas — including marketing, sales, customer support, and HR. However, many companies still primarily view channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn as ways to simply distribute press releases.

While there certainly is a place for using social networking channels for distributing news, they can absolutely help companies in other areas.

Here are 3 ways that your company may be able to find success through social networks:

  • To Provide Customer Support:We have probably all done it by now. Maybe it was to an airline or a restaurant. Perhaps it was to a manufacturer or retail store. For one reason or another, the company treated us in a way that we didn’t appreciate. Thus, we turned to social networks such as Facebook or Twitter to express our complaint to others. While it might simply feel good to let out some steam, don’t we feel much better if the company does something to react to our public grievance?The same thing could be happening to your business right now. Someone could be displeased with a print job, the time it takes to get a call back from a sales rep, or the lack of information on your website. If those folks complain on social networks, you certainly may cringe. But at least you’ll have the opportunity to know about the complaint and then address it!

    How can you know if someone’s complaining about your business online? There are absolutely tools and services that can help you.  For example, you could use Google Alerts to set up notifications for your company name. You could use Twitter’s search feature. Or you could partner with a 3rd-party.

    No matter what the case, social networks give you the ability to listen to what people are saying and then quickly take action to provide some sort of customer support to them.

    Of course, social networks also allow you to proactively provide customer support. Through your social networking accounts, you could provide links to how-to-guides that provide suggestions and best practices for ordering a print job. You could provide links to other resources and case studies that may inspire a customer or prospect to do more business with you.

    If your customers are on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, then you should absolutely be there to provide support when they need it.

 

  • For Finding Leads:This one may sound obvious, but I do not believe that companies are using social networks enough to actively find and connect with leads.One way that this can be done is to search Twitter for terms and phrases that may indicate that someone needs help with a print job. While you certainly could search for variations of the word “print”, you also could look at companies that are exhibiting at upcoming trade shows or hosting seminars. No doubt, they may have printing needs. Social networks may allow you to quickly connect with them.

    Also, LinkedIn offers plenty of opportunities for sales reps to engage with potential prospects across the verticals that they may sell to. If you take the initiative to join and contribute to the Groups that your target audience participates in, you may increase the chances that they’ll turn to you when they need your services.

  • For Finding & Recruiting New Employees: When a printer is transforming their business to offer additional marketing services, they may recognize the need to find and invest in employees that may have slightly different skill-sets than they’ve looked for in the past. You may need someone that has website design skills, that can write prolifically, or that has a passion for social networking! One way to find these people is via social networks.It’s fairly easy to search for students or recent graduates from schools that traditionally produce people that are interested in the graphic arts and printing communities. Once you find them, you may be able to find out what other passions or talents they may have, and then you’ll have the opportunity to engage them in possible employment discussions.

These are just a few of the ways that companies could use social networking to improve their business. If you’ve had any success with these, I’d love to hear about it!

To learn more about my book, “Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry”, visit  my book’s website.

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