John Caplan, founder and CEO of OpenSky.com, shares his tips on how leveraging the webÂs social tools to build a community around your brand and engage directly with shoppers can grow your business. Â
As an entrepreneur, I know how important it is to build a community of people around your business.Â As a business owner who is passionate about growing emerging businesses, getting your business online to leverage distribution and build relationships is an essential tool.Â
At OpenSky, we strive to empower emerging brands to grow their businesses by engaging consumers.Â We make sure to communicate and constantly listen to the concerns, questions and feedback from our merchants and our members, which helps us build a platform that works for people we serve.
Leveraging the webÂs social tools to build a community around your brand by engaging and communicating directly with your shoppers can grow your business.Â Here are some ways to help you achieve this.
1. Social media makes it easier than ever to connect directly to customers.
Establish your brand on social channels Â Facebook, OpenSky, Twitter, Pinterest — where you can have active, real-time conversations.Â ItÂs not only a great way to share updates but often times, itÂs that real time feedback from customers that can help you resolve a problem before it impacts a huge number of people.Â This will serve as an effective way to give people a great experience because then they share it with their friends and their friends share it with friends and so on.Â There is nothing more effective for marketing than a truly happy customer.
2. ItÂs essential to listen to customer feedback on social outlets and respond right away.
Â However, as it important as it is, make sure that isnÂt the only way youÂre getting direct feedback from customers about how youÂre doing.Â Ask for it anytime an opportunity arises.Â From packing slips, to invoices, customer surveys and emails Â there are numerous opportunities to ask your customers for feedback and offer a place where they can provide it.
3. In addition to blogs and social networks, invite members of your community from customers to partners and vendors into your offices, stores or workshops.
Â Whether itÂs for a party, focus group, or to demo a new product Â creating the face-to-face connection can be invaluable for creating brand loyalty.
4. One of the most difficult and stressful elements of growing a business is expanding your products or services.Â
Adding a new feature or service can strain your core business and potentially alienate existing customers, especially in the beginning. Open the lines of communication and bring your community into your growth strategy by talking to them during the process.Â Working with your core customers early on to help them understand new products and services will keep you on the right track, provide valuable insight and make your loyal customers more forgiving of any mishaps in the road to success.