One of the most wonderful and effective ways that you can engage with your clients via social media is by helping them to build their own businesses. Your efforts in this regard will trump free donuts any day of the week! We can do this by promoting their business to others within our networks and we can also accomplish this task by helping to keep them informed about news that can affect their businesses. Both of these methods involve stepping outside of the conventional box. As such, few if any of your competitors will be taking this approach to selling. While the cream floats to the top, the coffee grounds always settle at the bottom of the cup. You get to be the cream.
You can deploy these suggestions for your great repeat customers (we want to keep them that way and even increase that activity), customers who potentially could become great repeat clients, or your top targeted accounts. I would suggest that you may wish to do it for all three. Let’s take a closer look at some free tools we can use to help us to facilitate these processes …
Post from their web pages – Easiest way to promote your customer and help them to build their business. Be sure to add a personal comment!
Like, comment etc. on their articles and pages – Helps with their SEO and Facebook likes and Google Plus 1’s will also appear in your news feeds.
Auto-Feed their blog – There’s a lot of discussion regarding the merits (or lack thereof) of using tools to auto-feed posts to networks. Doing so does not allow you to add personalized comments that are specific to that particular article (some will allow you to add a short prefix and/or suffix to the post) but, I tend to be pragmatic. Used in moderation and appropriately, why not? Is it better to miss the opportunity altogether or to deploy a little technology to make me more effective? I choose the latter and you can use free tools like TwitterFeed, dlvr.it, or HootSuite to help you with this task. Your client will need to have a blog and you will need to determine the feed address. If they have a “subscribe to” or “RSS” button, right-click on that icon and copy the link. You will then use that to create the feed. Chrome does not like RSS (they prefer Atom) so use this RSS Feed Extender extension to subscribe to blogs and send them to your reader if you would also like to do that. You can then go to your reader settings and see the blog feed address.
News.le is a very interesting new service that allows you to upload your email, LinkedIn, and Facebook connections and it will then scour the internet for mentions of your contacts in news articles. Let me repeat, News.le is looking for their name in articles vs. “mentions” of their names on social updates. News.le is not looking for articles that they themselves have written (unless they include something like “by Craig M. Jamieson” in the body of the article) so what you get is articles in which they are named or are quoted. This is a huge difference and a huge plus. Furthermore, each of your contacts will now have a page (beautiful UI, btw) displaying all of these found articles along with a Twitter mention and their Twitter update feeds. Sharing tools are also built-in to each article.
What might you find? How about: announcements regarding job changes or promotions; articles citing them as experts; and awards they may have received. Holy engagement opportunities, Batman! Here is how our own Neal Schaffer appears on the service…
Paper.li – First create a list of your best clients and target companies in Twitter. Next create a newsletter in Paper.li, title it something like “My Highly Recommended Companies” and Paper.li will automatically create and distribute a daily newsletter (via Twitter) of articles and tweets from these folks only. Nice!
Create custom keyword searches/lists/alerts for opportunities for them – You can do this within the social networks themselves or deploy tools like Google Alerts or SocialMention. Once you find the opportunity, you may engage with the individual on your client’s behalf, forward the opportunity to them, or both. Certainly, you will want to make them aware of your discovery. You will also want to facilitate connecting the two!
Google Reader – I’m a huge fan of Google Reader and I actually like it’s utilitarian interface. I can also install and use at least most of its features on either my iPad or my Android phone although there are several other apps that you can also use to bring Reader to your mobile or tablet devices such as Flipboard. Regardless of which interface you choose to read your articles, your actual reader is where you will go to set up your feeds and folders. The steps you will need to take …
- If you don’t have an account with Google Reader, get one.
- Create separate folders for each customer or create folders by general article topic. For example, articles relating directly to the product or service that you provide as well as articles related to the products and services that multiples of your clients provide.
- Create Google Alerts based on keywords that will find articles that will be of interest/benefit to your clients and have them fed to your reader and to the appropriate folder. You also have options to send alerts to you via sms or email but, for this application, they should go to your reader.
- Find news sources that will provide great pertinent information related to #3 above and subscribe to their blog feed and have those new articles fed to your reader and to the appropriate folder.
Here come the fun parts. Review your reader several times per day. If you find an article that would promote your customer or their business, without even leaving reader you can share that via: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and you can even use your Buffer account. If you like HootSuite, you can even create a Hootlet link. If you find an article that would be of interest to your customer, don’t just email them a link, send them the article! Assuming that you have a Google account that includes contacts, you can email the entire article to anyone who is on your contact list.
Once again, if you are looking for the best ways to engage with your customers, develop tighter relationships with them, gain more referrals (“I suggest that you talk to Craig. He not only provides a great service, he actually helps me in a multitude of ways to increase my business!”), and increase your own revenues at the same time … this is certainly one way to do that? Perhaps you have some of your own favorite techniques that you would be willing to share with others by leaving a comment below?