Many times when visiting with people about social media, it is discussed as a tool for acquiring new customers. This is often the case in traditional marketing and advertising as well. Ironically, for many industries, it costs more money to acquire new customers than it does to sell to current ones.
So, the question is, why do we constantly make social media about customer acquisition when there are plenty of other opportunities elsewhere?
For example, there are many great examples of social media being used to support current customers. Take Best Buy as an example. It's @twelpforce Twitter account is used to provide technology advice, and support, to current customers and supporters of the Best Buy brand.
Another example of social media being used to support current customers is Whole Foods Market out of Austin, Texas. Their Facebook page is full of activity that surrounds the lifestyle and interests of Whole Foods customers.
Whole Foods has built a great community that supports its current customers by encouraging them to take more stock in the brand, and shop there more.
Current Customers First
Now, you could definitely argue that there are certain customer outreach benefits to both of these examples. And, of course, your right.
Best Buy is showing potential customers that it will be there with them in the long haul, and Whole Foods is demonstrating its commitment to the values of it's core audience. But, when you really take a look, these businesses are gaining trust because they are supporting their current fanbase.
The simple fact is that we buy things from people and brands that we know, like, and trust. Anyone, and I do mean anyone, can make a one-off sale if they throw enough time and money at the problem, but as the saying goes, it takes a real company to build a brand.
Social media is quite literally the best tool we have ever seen for connecting customers to the companies that they buy from. It is an amazing tool for developing relationships with current customers and giving them the tools necessary for sharing your brand with others. But, sometimes we get so distracted by thoughts of "more customers" that we loose focus on the community that is already around us.
Supporting Your Customers IS Marketing
It can be easy to forget that everything we do in business is, in some way, a form of marketing. Right down to the way you answer your phone, or the way you run your Facebook page. If you use your social media presence to make your current patrons even happier than they are already - new prospects will take notice.
Best Buy and Whole Foods know that if they build a great community of happy customers other people will eventually want to join them. We all desire to belong somewhere, so give them a place to go!
Current Customers Are A Mouthpiece For Your Brand
Any business knows that word of mouth marketing is a powerful force, and also one of the most difficult ones to acquire. Let me ask you, who's is going to share your brand with others? Current customers, and fans of your Facebook page, are probably some of the most likely candidates for word of mouth sharing.
When you focus on your audience and give them things that develop their brand loyalty, and build their trust, they will share that trust with their friends. The idea is simple, let your current customers find new customers for you.
Current Customers Buy More
A good salesmen knows that current customers are new customers if you are willing to sell them more. Why spend all of our time chasing new customers when there are people that already trust you with money in hand? This isn't only smart social media, it's smart business.
The same rules that govern traditional sales and marketing work online too, we just need to put them to work.
They Will Come
If your social media presence is working properly, you should already be seeing the seeds of a forceful online community. Now isn't the time to start digging up new sales leads, now is the time to starting watering that community. Start doing things for the communities sake, and not the sales sake and you will be rewarded with exactly what you set out for.
Never underestimate the power of community. Build one, and you will certainly see a return on your social media investment.