Engaging a customer base is of course a very important part of social media. It is vital, truly, to the overall success and long-term growth of a given company/brand's following and fan base in the social media space.
I say "of course" because there is the presumption that everyone reading this already knows this... at least they better.
One such company/brand that truly understands and is reaping the rewards of engaging an audience via social media is Atlantic Station - an Atlanta-based mixed-use experience center mall that is one of the biggest outdoor mixed use malls in the entire country.
At the end of last year their Facebook fan page likes were a little more than 13,000, which is respectable for sure but not where they wanted, nor needed to be. Now, they knew their target market is people in the 18-49 demographic, especially women, but they felt they were not reaching nearly enough of them via their social media efforts. They knew there were countless of others in this demo they simply were not reaching.
The challenge was to develop a strategy to do just that... to reach the thousands of people in their target demo they were currently not reaching via social media.
So they decided to bring in some outside help, in this case Barnes Creative Studios, led by Steve Barnes - himself a former Director of Social Media Strategy at Vitrue, one of the world's leading Social Media Software Companies.
Working with the folks at Atlantic Station, Barnes and his team developed a strategy whereby - instead of merely selling fans on the mall itself via posts/Tweets, they would infuse other topics as a way to engage them.
Topics such as: (along with a sample post for each)
Pop culture/Current events
For Barnes it was a relatively easy strategy to develop after learning who the target demographic was: "Women are power when it comes to making decisions and steering the wallet," said Barnes. "Atlantic Station is in a unique position of having to do a lot of promotion for all the stores on their property and I thought the strategy of tying in pop culture, community outreach as well as local content was a no brainer. The important element was not to 'sell' to their audience but to engage them and provide useful information about Atlantic Station retailers at the same time."
Well see for yourself in the incredible growth of Facebook fans alone:
In addition the local media picked up on one of the stories - the potential smoking ban, which led to additional exposure for the mall itself, none of which would have happened had it not been for the Facebook posting in the first place. Atlantic Station will soon announce their decision on the smoking ban which will be based on the community input received.
So, the social media campaign brought Atlantic Station some press coverage and increased their Facebook fans, both of which are nice.
But what about the bottom line?
What did the campaign do for the mall in terms of revenue?
Mark Toro, Managing Partner at North American Properties, the company that owns Atlantic Station: "Since the launch of the campaign, our sales are up more than 4 times the national average and we have not spent a nickel on traditional media."
So, how do you engage your customers and prospects via social media?
What do you think are the best practices for engaging a customer or prospect via social media?
How have you used social media to increase sales?
Chime in... very interested to hear your thoughts.
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review, Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,Twitter, LinkedIn or his website.