It is no longer enough to have a website with simple landing pages of content in order to be an “online business.” Any business that plans to make an impact online must master the art of blogging and social media if they want to build a relationship with a connected, wired community. Here are three lessons from sites that can teach you how to leverage your online appearance and connect with your audience.
Lesson 1: Utilize Your Industry Know-How
Target’s blog provides content full of insider insights into how their company functions rather than bland promotions of their products.
The blog includes thoughts and opinions from people who hold lead positions within the corporation. Employees who hold positions such as lead project engineers, buyers and store employees contribute to the corporate blog and deliver their tricks of the trade.
By leveraging the resources that the company already has (industry know-how), Target is able to maintain a blog that other high level execs can consistently turn to for industry information. Even better, the blog content is available for no extra costs to Target, because the people writing for it are already employees of the company.
Lesson 2: Do Your Part In The Community
Whole Foods markets itself as, “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” and their blog articles usually target women. Posts range from articles like “12 Heart-Thumping Chocolate Recipes” to “Cooking With Grass-Fed Beef.” The design and graphics are eye-catching yet subtle.
They also promote customer interaction through forums where visitors discuss cooking tips, special diets and new recipes. Whole Foods is a company that is very active globally within different communities. Through the Whole Planet Foundation they have partnered with Popchips to donate five-cents from every bag you purchase to communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia. With their Local Producer Loan Program they donate, “up to 10 million in low-interest loans to independent local farmers and food artisans.” By providing and taking an interest in the people who invest in their stores, they create more interest and a stronger initiative for their customers to support them. And by making these programs available to the general public they drive more traffic to not only their brick and mortar stores but to their social media and web presence.
Starbucks is another charitable company. They have the Global Month of Service, a program where employees donate their time for an entire month to helping out within the community. Through this program they have been able to assist in refurbishing a high school in Los Angeles and revitalizing a community center in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Lesson 3: Show Interest In Your Customers
Nuts About Southwest was voted best corporate blog by PR News Platinum Awards in 2007 and entered into their Hall Of Fame in 2010. Their blog posts and videos have been featured on various heavy-weight media sites such as USA Today, PRWeek and Heraldnet.com. They even have a section dedicated to the feedback from their customers called Luv Mail. It’s a collection of letters, emails and phone calls that customers sent in to show their appreciation for the company.
They owe much of their success to their social media team, which helped the company reach more than 1,444,400 followers on Twitter. The company has used Twitter to increase revenue and traffic to Nuts About Southwest. Also through social media they promote future discounts and address customer complaints. On January 31:
@Danaiche0le: I liked my flight with @Southwest Air today…UNTIL THEY LOST MY LUGGAGE WITH THE BRIDESMAID DRESS I NEED TO WEAR THIS WEEKEND!
To which Gabe Briones, the Customer Relations Specialist and Social Media Advocate for Southwest Airlines responded,
@southwestgabe: @Danaich0le sorry to hear that. Did they take a report in the local baggage office?
@Danaich0le: @southwestgabe, yeah & 8+hours later, I’m still waiting..
@southwestgabe: @Danaich0le please keep us posted. I’ll see if we can do something for the trouble. Please follow DM confirmation#.
Fortunately, Gabe was the first person to respond to her complaint and attempt to resolve the issue. If Southwest Airlines did not have such a powerful social media team the issue of a lost bag could have turned into a much bigger incident with over 1 million viewers.
People love companies that show an interest in them, not industry giants that are only interested in their wallets. The new popular way to increase traffic to your company’s homepage is by incorporating a blog. But, if you want customers to continue to make daily visits to your blog or social media page you have to give them a reason. The reasons can range from discounted products to a strong desire to support a company that’s involved within their community. As long as you do your research, engage and respect your customer, you should always have a strong following behind you.