6. Learn to Listen
It's easy to fall into the "broadcast trap" where you spend too much time talking about how great your products are or how fabulous this week's sale is. In a social network you have to stop broadcasting and listen to what your customers have to say.
People use social networks to converse, and the best way to build strong a social relationship with a customer is to be a "friend" who can listen.
7. Be Social
You can demonstrate good listening skills and boost participation by responding directly to questions and comments in a timely fashion. Just like an offline conversation, you should also ask for opinions and direct questions to customers within your social group to make them feel valuable.
8. Respond Often
Successful social media marketing depends on your own ability to respond to customers in a timely fashion. You want to show customers that you are a "reliable friend," so stay active and participate in all conversations related to your company or area of expertise.
If you see new questions or comments, be sure to answer immediately. This is also a great way to "be social" by asking questions back to the customers to keep the conversation going.
9. Provide Value
You'll find that just your own conversation and participation is not enough to keep a continued interest in your social network, especially if you choose to create your own community instead of joining an existing one.
There has to be value in the interaction for people, and you will need to provide the reason for people to stay and participate in your social network. You have converse with customers on a regular basis, but you also need to provide ways for customers to connect and befriend each other to firmly establish your social community as a popular online destination.
10. Offer Exclusivity
Your social network should not just be about deals, but there is nothing wrong with making your fans, friends and followers feel special. One way to do this is to offer rewards or promotions exclusively to social networking customers.
Keep in mind that promotions are an immediate call-to-action, and while you may have short-term success it doesn't mean you will attract quality social customers. Instead of on-off deals or coupons you can try a rewards-type program where only your best advocates and best social customers qualify for the reward.
Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.
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