The companies that do well on social media do a great job of making potential customers feel welcome whether they visit online or offline. Often, it is small actions that have a big impact on how people feel visiting your business. When you can make a visitor feel welcome, you can easily turn them into a customer.
- Before You Start: You have one or more active social media accounts.
- Learning level: 4 | Creating Solutions
- Article Last Updated: Saturday, March 2, 2013
How Do Your Online Visitors See Your Business?
Recently, I walked into a local business for the first time. It was a factory showroom, so the space was functional and minimal. But a sense of warmth, of welcome, and friendliness oozed in the space.
How did they accomplish this with a bare cement floor, white walls, and almost no furnishings?
First Impressions Matter
When I walked into the space, I found a small table loaded with essentials: business cards and brochures. But it also provided pens (so I could take notes) and a selection of candies including breath mints.
At first, I was alone in the space, on my own to discover the items on display. Soon, someone came from the office and asked how they could help me. They invited me to look around and asked if I wanted anything to drink, and offered me a list of beverages including both hot and cold drinks.
A few minutes later, another employee walked into the space, and when he discovered me there, again offered me something to drink.
By the time I shook hands with the person I was meeting, I had encountered four employees who all welcomed me and offered me something to drink. In those few minutes while I was waiting, I had formed a strong opinion about this company, their brand, and their business culture. And I decided that I wanted to do business with this company.
All of this in a bare bones factory showroom space.
Make Your Visitors Feel Welcome
So what does this have to do with social media?
One of the key success factors for social media is your ability to make people feel welcome. That’s hard to do in a digital space. You get some control over your website through colors, layout and the words you use. But on sites like Facebook, everyone gets the same basic blue page, like a room with minimal furnishings.
How can your business really communicate your personality online so that potential customers feel welcome? Here’s a few ideas:
- Talk to people. When someone comments on your blog, replies to a tweet you sent, or comments on your Facebook post, make a friendly response.
- Anticipate their questions. Since the dawn of the internet, websites have posted frequently asked questions (FAQs). Make sure that you provide answers to common questions in logical places.
- Anticipate their needs. Like putting pens and breath mints at the door, what do your visitors need? Every business has different clients with different needs. What about an overview of how you work with clients? Or publish a chart that compares your products or services so people can easily see which one best fits their needs?
- Make it easy to become a customer. If you have a physical location, don’t just provide your address, add a map or a map link. On your website, provide a contact form that requires the information you need and gives them an expectation of how soon you will respond. On social media, provide links to your website and contact form.
When possible, do more than they expect from you. In my showroom visit, the pens were a nice touch. But the breath mints and candies exceeded my expectations.
This doesn’t have to cost much or take much time. I didn’t get free or discounted products–I got mints. Saying hello and offering me a drink took less than a minute of time away from their jobs. The gestures were all small, but all right on target.
A little switch went off in my brain. I realized that I was dealing with a company who would provide outstanding service and attention to detail because of how welcome I felt in those first minutes.
Turn Visitors Into Customers (And Fans)
If you want to build a thriving online community of fans who rave about your business to their friends, you need to exceed their expectations. You need to delight them with the small details that show you care about them and that you are paying attention.
In other words, it’s not enough to just do your job well. In the social media age, you need to figure out how to make your community members feel welcome. And you do that by putting yourself in their shoes and anticipating what they need from you.
Your turn: Have you visited a business or social media site that immediately made you feel welcome? What did they do to welcome you and delight you? What have you tried with your own customers? Share your experience and insights here.
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