Living in the 21st century means having access to and using social media for various purposes, customer relationships management included.

This computer-mediated technology has long evolved past being a personal communication tool only; it is now a prerequisite for every business that wants to build meaningful customer relationships that stand the test of time.

According to the study published by J.D. Power Associates, 87% of those surveyed stated that “their online interaction with the company ‘positively impacted’ their likelihood of a purchase from that company.”

Factor in the improved engagement and boosted sales, and you are given rather impressive odds of gaining new customers and retaining the old ones by building a social media presence of your own.

How do you use it to your advantage? You connect with your customers personally and show that you care about their experience with your brand.

Here are the in-depth instructions on how to stay authentic while bringing the relationship with your audience to the next level.

1. Don’t make them wait – prompt replies are very much appreciated

Let’s face it – no one likes to wait. Customers on social media aren’t an exception. The over-the-phone “stay on the line, your call is important to us” is just as disappointing as the digital ghosting you’re engaging in when you leave queries unanswered.

It helps put yourself in your customers’ shoes and question whether you’d shop from that company again if they weren’t concerned with providing you with a timely response (spoiler alert: you wouldn’t).

So, make an effort not to leave any messages on ‘seen’ or, worse, not opened at all. Instead, make sure to get back to your potential client in under 30 minutes; that’s what Conversocial’s report from 2018 on “the state of digital care” suggests.

Be it on Facebook or Instagram, customers who have to follow up on the query that remained ignored aren’t a good sign.

This automatically reduces the chances of going through with their purchase and recommending you to their friends and family.

Mind you; this is a big loss for everyone who recognizes the power of word of mouth and the value of a good reputation.

2. Get up-close and personal (but not too personal) when chatting and posting

There’s nothing worse than a generic, copy-pasted reply that screams, “I didn’t care enough to read between the lines and get back to you with a helpful response.”

Thus, you must take the time to read through the queries and create a conversation that would make the customers feel heard and seen.

There are a couple of ways to add that game-changing personal touch to conversations you have with your customers:

  1. Always address them by their first name; it doesn’t get more intimate than that.
  2. Sign off the conversation with your name to showcase that you’re a real human rather than a robot behind the chat.
  3. Talk to your customers like you would with a friend you’re helping to make the purchase – use a friendly tone that isn’t too pushy or indifferent.

The same goes for content you put out on social media.

It’s best received when you personalize it via sharing some behind-the-scenes clips and the not-so-rainbow-and-butterflies moments like professional struggles that make you ever so relatable to the general audience.

3. Make them see the real people behind the brand

This goes hand in hand with the previous point about personalizing the user experience. To take it one step further, demonstrate that you’re not solely profit-oriented – you’re a team of human beings who are empathetic above all else.

Show that you’re willing to listen to what they have to say and create meaningful customer relationships based on trust and loyalty.

Using personal stories of your staff is one way to do it. They allow customers to see beyond the products or services you offer and get a glimpse of everyone’s contributions to the company.

Add personal details like a photo and a short bio of each employee and bingo – you’ve put a face to your brand that, you best believe, will help customers remember it.

The other strategy you can employ is to relate what your company has to offer to the customer experience.

Aesthetically-pleasing posts don’t cut it anymore; you have to incorporate a personal message that will resonate with the audience on a whole different level.

Set out to illustrate how users can benefit from using your product by providing real-life scenarios of it in action.

4. Own up to your mistakes

No company is perfect – mistakes are a part of the process that shows that you ventured outside of your comfort zone and tried to improve your business, no matter if it was the operations or the marketing side of it.

What demonstrates that you learned from them is owning up to them and not repeating the same pattern again and again.

When it comes to customer relationships, mistakes are bound to happen.

Misunderstandings are a common outcome of communication, which means that you’ll have to grasp early on the importance of taking responsibility for them and apologizing, even at the expense of lost revenue (but never at the cost of a lost client).

Take it from JetBlue Airways, whose customer service staff handled the complaint related to a flight delay in a timely fashion and with grace and was quick to offer a solution to the issue.

Their strong Twitter game accounts in big part for the right public image the company created for itself.

5. Involve your customers in content creation and let them share their story

There are endless perks to including your customers in the process of creating content for your brand’s social media accounts.

Not only do you save up on transferring this authority to your most loyal buyers, but you also allow them to share their stories. And we all know that people like voicing their opinions on the internet.

With social media spending expected to rise by 73% over the next five years, it’s a smart financial decision to grant permission to the people who support your brand the most – your customers – to generate content on your behalf.

Coined as User-Generated Content (USG), the term has gained popularity among well-known brands like Starbucks, Adobe, and Old Navy.

They don’t shy away from including their customers’ photos featuring their products in their social media accounts.

They can be either reshared or posted as a separate post or a story – either way, this public endorsement helps companies build the so-called social proof that leads to boosted engagement and sales.

6. Host contests with attractive rewards

Who doesn’t love freebies? We’ll wait until you come up with an answer.

For the time being, let us introduce you to the concept of contests, one of the most effective social media marketing tools out there.

Designed to help drive traffic and give back to the community, giveaways are a must-have for businesses of all sizes.

They can take the form of a preference-based questionnaire that has to be filled in by the contestants to be eligible for the prize or a “tag 3 friends in the comment section for a chance to win..” caption prompting your social media followers to spread the word about your brand.

You can make it a monthly or a quarterly practice – depending on your budget – as a way to improve customer engagement and gain leads.

Alternatively, you can host competitions when you hit a particular milestone like acquiring 50k followers on Instagram or reaching 10k website sign-ups.

Whatever route you decide to take, don’t forget to show your appreciation for the given support. This goes a long way in securing your place in the market and standing out from the competitors.

Note that promotion prizes must be directly related to your company. It sure feels good to have thousands of entries when you’re giving away an iPhone, but those who partake in this promotion aren’t likely to stay once the giveaway is over.

7. Offer discounts and other perks to loyal customers

Just like competitions, discounts and promotion events are alluring for the majority of customers. They make you feel like you’re getting a good deal – which you are – that is exclusive to you and other loyal users only.

What’s more, they can serve as the final sales funnel stage that persuades the customer to no add to cart button and complete the purchase.

To grow your online presence on any one specific social media platform – say, on Twitter – you can only run the promotion for your Twitter followers.

By promoting it on your Facebook and Instagram, you are more likely to fetch your followers from one platform to another without having to spend extra on lead generation. It’s a win-win.

8. Balance out your content to cater to different customers

Last but not least, we have the not-so-obvious tip related to the diversity of the content you create for your social media accounts.

You might be thinking – what does it have to do with customer relationships? Since diversification directly impacts post engagement, it has an apparent influence on your follower’s type of interactions with your content.

For this reason, it’s essential to produce all kinds of content that will appeal to a variety of audiences.

We’re talking about photos with long-form captions that educate, ‘how-to’ videos with explicit details about the product or service, and live Q&A’s with captivating behind-the-scenes processes.

You can also share quotes related to your business and short-form interviews with staff that bring them closer to the customers. The only limit here is your imagination.

Don’t sleep on the opportunity to outperform your competitors

It’s tough out there, but it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed.

With the right tools in your hands – social media included – you can obtain new customers and retain the old ones without spending a fortune on ads.

Put the focus on customer relationships and do your best to maintain them. The rest will follow.