Lots of people say that in the world of social media it’s your job to engage with customers. You have to talk to them, be accessible and give them something about yourself to hold on to. I guess that’s true. However, I think businesses have to go even further than that. I think if you want customers to evangelize your brand and be loyal to you, you have to do more than just talk to them – you have to woo them. You have to make your customers swoon.
As a small business owner, how can you get customers to swoon? Here are 11 practical suggestions.
1. Monitor the social networks for people talking about your company. When they’re saying positive stuff, say thank you. When it’s negative, get more details and then say thank you. When they’re asking questions, answer them and say thank you. When you find people talking about your company, respond.
2. Show up places they wouldn’t expect. Your customers have certain places where they hang out on the Web, even outside of Twitter and Facebook. Find their local watering holes and be there when they need you. Don’t hijack their conversation or try to sell your services; just be part of their world and let them know you’re there.
3. Create a blog, write content designed to address customers’ problems. Check your site logs, customer e-mails and/or complaint section to identify your customers’ biggest issues/problems/concerns. Write content that will take these issues away. Solving someone’s problem and making them look good is the best way to make them fall in love with you. Women have known this for years.
4. Plant small surprises. Whether it’s a surprise Thanks For Commenting page  for new commenters, a small gift included with their order or chocolate sent on their birthday, offer a small gesture that your customers wouldn’t expect. You’ll rock their world and tie that unexpected experience into their perception of your brand.
5. Start relevant conversations. Whether it’s on your blog, a social media site like Facebook, or in a competitor’s forums, start conversations with qualified experts about topics relevant to your customers. Don’t use these conversations to sell; just share your advice and act as a helpful member of society. If your customers want to know more about how you can help them, they’ll know how to get in touch with you.
6. Guest post on their favorite blogs. You love bacon. And you get really excited when you find other people who love bacon. Why? Because you feel an instant connection with them because you already have something in common. Guest post on your audience’s favorite blogs and show them you love their favorite blogs as much as they do. It will create an affinity that never existed before.
7. Admit you don’t know everything. Woo your customers by asking them questions. Hold polls. Ask for constant feedback. Invite customers in and make them part of your sales process.
8. Be responsive. When someone takes the time to e-mail you, leave a comment or write you a letter, respond. Timely. Always.
9. Write for your audience, not for the search engines. The search engines may bring you traffic, but they don’t bring you customers. To find customers, you need to solve their problems and give them something they can use. That’s what your content should focus on–not on what’s popular or what search the engines want you to write about.
10. Make your blog and website accessible and easy to navigate. Don’t make your customers feel stupid. They’ll leave.
11. Build your own network, but don’t lose sight of your core readers. Go out and build your small business. Grow your network, create relationships and network your way into powerful partnerships. But don’t lose sight of the people you’re trying to reach. They are your core and the people who, at the end of the day, matter most to your business.
Those are some ways I think businesses can woo customers and turn them loyal to your brand. What’s worked for your company? What programs do you have in place to attract and retain customers?