At a time when social media strategies have become a must-have for businesses large and small, knowing how to use social media to engage customers is critical. In a recent release, social media expert Barry Libert, author of How to Harness the Power of Social Media to Attract Customers, Motivate Employees, and Grow Your Business, provides these strategies for using social media to build connections with customers.

Mind your online and offline manners. How you say something-be it online or off-is as important as what you say, and can help make the difference in gaining fans, friends, and followers, Libert says. Australian telecom company Telstra requires employees to participate in the company's social media functions, but also trains each employee on how to appropriately participate, basing its guidelines on responsibility, respect, and representation, Libert says.

Include customers in key decisions regarding products or services. Instead of developing on customer focus groups, try engaging customers in a two-way conversation via social media to innovate products and services, Libert says. For example, PepsiCo created a "DEWmocracy" campaign to decide what the next flavor of Mountain Dew flavor should be. Power to the people, indeed!

Develop ways to reward loyal customers. "Apple is the poster child for rewarding fans," Libert says. "Anyone can develop an app for the iPhone or iPad. Now, just three years after the release of the iPhone, the app craze has become a $2.5 billion yearly earnings extravaganza for the company-and that's just Apple's share of the rewards. In fact, individual developers are offered a 70/30 profit division-in their favor!-to create apps based on their individual views of the community's wants and needs." These folks are emotionally and financially connected to Apple-as well as to each other, Libert says.

Publication Date: Monday, January 03, 2011

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