It surprises me when I talk to people—especially folks in the print service provider community—and they tell me that they are waiting for this whole social media thing to blow over. They see it as a distraction (which, admittedly, it can be) that will likely fade once the new bloom is off it.
Here’s the thing: Social media is not going away. The platforms will probably change and how people engage via social media will evolve, but social media are already as entrenched as any other tool in our communication arsenal. If printers want to stay ahead of their customers’ needs and provide them with 360 degrees of customer service, they better begin to take advantage of this new communication platform.
But why invest in a technology that is difficult to tie directly to an ROI? Because when it comes to social media, there’s more to the story than directly making money. Social media engagement offers the perfect opportunity to control your brand and provide your customers with superior service and support. It provides you a platform to gather a loyal community of followers.
Maintaining a brand and image can be difficult to manage in this age of instant communication; damaging stories can spread around the world in a matter of minutes. By setting up Google alerts, printers can monitor the Internet for any mention of their businesses.
Imagine someone is unsatisfied with a print job for whatever reason and venting about it online. Whether it’s a blog post or a tweet, the printer can contact that person in the social realm and potentially mitigate the problem before it grows out of hand. Odds are too, that the customer will be impressed that the printer took the time to intervene and that extra effort might be the difference between losing a customer and keeping a loyal one. If you’re not online monitoring things like this, it’s time you get on it!
Social media is about more than brand management; it’s a great way to share information casually—about a particular job or something personal.
• Salespeople often get to know their clients on a more personal level and talk about kids, spouses, sports, interests and activities. This kind of interaction is pretty much built into a Facebook friendship!
• The same social tools can be used to touch base with clients on a more professional level—to keep up with them on the progress or completion of a project.
• Social media lets you casually stay in touch with past clients, garner some feedback and ensure that when they are planning a new project, it’s you they come back to.
Social media can be a powerful tool if you put in the time and effort to maintain relationships. Once you get a feel for it, it takes very little work—re-tweeting others comments, replying to tweets, uploading photos, adding your two cents to a conversation, or maybe even blogging about your experience can go a long way toward increasing your brand awareness.
For more information on this topic, check out this session at the upcoming Vision 3 Summit
:Social “Security”—Cementing Client Relationships with Social Media
Social media has leveled the playing field for small business, giving them potential access to an audience that was once reserved only for companies that could invest in television or major publication ads. This session will show you how you too can jump into the social media stream and build a solid reputation as a trusted resource for your clients.Julie Shaffer, vice president, Digital Technologies, Printing Industries of America, heads up the Digital Printing Council (DPC). She specializes in training, consulting, PDF color management research, Web-to-print implementation, and more. She is the co-author of the Social Media Field Guide, a recently published book for the printing and graphics industry on social media tools and applications.