10 Ways to Improve Your User Experience via Social Media

Written by Matt HammondJanuary 26, 2011

Social Media provides both consumers and marketers with an unprecedented ability to interact and form larger communities of discussion around specific industries and even specific products.  By properly embracing social media, companies can identify trends within these communities to improve the user experience of their customers and potential customers alike, resulting in increased sales and customer satisfaction.

Here are 10 things your company can do to improve your user experience by harnessing the power of social media:

1. Listen Before you Leap

Before you go out and start setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts to generate buzz, seek out the leading blogs and forums relevant to your industry and specifically read the comments sections within these resources.  You can learn more from comments made by the community than any specific blog posting itself.

Make a list of priorities expressed by your industry including priorities for decision making and the most pressing support issues being discussed by your target audience and design a Social CRM strategy to incorporate support for these topics. By understanding the specific priorities being discussed by key influencers and prospective clients in your industry, you can tailor marketing and support programs into your product offerings that will resonate with specific client sentiments used in making ultimate conversion decisions.

DO: Searches on Twitter and look into Facebook Groups to see what the online community is currently discussing.

DON’T: Jump into launching social media campaigns without first understanding the landscape of your industry in the world of social media.

2. Refine Marketing Messages to Meet Social Media Demand

Without having to re-engineer or modify your existing product offering, companies can dramatically improve the reception of their product offerings in the social media sphere simply by focusing your marketing messages to address the specific concerns and demands expressed by the social media community in your industry.  

Before you start promoting your products through social media, create pre-written copy and sales materials that addresses the priority topics being discussed.  This will not only ensure your marketing messages are relevant to consumer interest, but will also give you a leg up in Search Engine Results (SERPs) for the hottest topics in your industry. 

DO: Use additional feedback mechanisms such as surveys and polls offered in Facebook, Twitter, and other social media resources to get feedback and direction in creating your own social media marketing messages.

DON’T: Assume you know what your market wants based simply on what’s currently selling: edging out competition in a globally competitive market requires the ability to predict what the market will want in future releases: let your target consumers show you the way.

3. Control What You Can, Be Responsive to What You Can’t

Once your product is injected into the public spotlight, the pros and cons of your offering will inevitably become an immediate topic of discussion on relevant blogs and forums – especially if you outright mention your products as part of the community dialogue.  But companies cannot simply seed these conversations and hope they blossom into fruitful gains in the corresponding sales channels.  How a company manages the responses to their messages within social media is an equally important aspect of how well their customers trust and feel connected to the brands they support. 

For example, responding to a critic of your product in a way that demonstrates you value their feedback can both quell their animosity towards your product and even foster a sense of appreciation that your company is listening which might earn you a second chance with this potential customer.  

And while it is somewhat dangerous to outright censor your critics, most forums and comment sections allow the public to “flag” or otherwise report abuses, for example, if your competition is deliberately flaming you without just cause.

DO: Establish a culture of being receptive to feedback, your detractors will be less vigilant if they feel they are brought into a process of helping to improve something than if they feel ignored or rejected.

DON’T: Ignore criticism – be responsive to detractors and embrace their feedback and you earn both trust and the ability to win over converts in the future. 

4. Social Media is a Battlefield

While the specific tactics described here may be revolting and downright unethical to some, it is at least important to recognize that social media is fraught with liars and unscrupulous individuals who will use any method imaginable to gain an edge in your industry.

The point here, to borrow from Sun Tzu’s Art of War , is for a general to use all of the strategies available to him in defeating his enemy, including deception, trickery, and all-out assault.

Is social media, this can take the form of outright flaming a competitor’s product using false identities to pose as dissatisfied clients; posting fraudulent testimonials posing as satisfied clients; making statements that are complete lies about a company or its management; flagging or deleting posts that are complementary to a competitor’s products; or even posing as a representative of another company and issuing false, or even satirical, statements on behalf of that company.

DO: Recognize that all these tactics are in play and be aware of how your competition may be using them.

DON’T: Fail to recognize the ramifications of libel, false advertising, and the cost of losing consumer confidence if you are caught engaging in these practices.

ALSO DON’T: Openly engage in name-calling or other offensive behavior as it will only discredit your company’s professional reputation.

5. Be the Authority: Control the Channels of Communication to your Customers

Carry the conversation with your clients about your products to social media channels that you have some control over.  If you do not already have an opt-in Newsletter system that allows you to directly send updates to your customers you need to make this a priority.

Offer prospective clients an incentive, such as a free report, for subscribing to your newsletter, and use this newsletter to deliver useful information that serves your community beyond just your marketing messages.  A supplementary blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page will help build the following of your social media persona, and help focus your users to engage with you directly through social media platforms you exert some level of control over.  Encourage users in other blogs and forums to join the conversation on social media platforms you control with direct links to these resources (also good for SEO).

Failure to establish a presence on these channels yourself will leave your community looking elsewhere for answers they have about your products, and can often lead to the creation of impromptu communities being formed about your product over which you have no control or authority over.

DO: Provide and promote social media spaces which you exert some level of control over for your customers to interact with each other.

DON’T: Let your competition set the agenda and location for social media debate.

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