Creating a breathable space for customers through online social media is not much different from running a restaurant. The success of a restaurant doesn’t have too many key ingredients: good food, pleasant ambiance, engaging and attentive service. The distinctive way that you combine and serve those ingredients determines how often patrons return and how far and wide word-of-mouth spreads. Above all: keeping customers’ glasses full, steadfastly quenching their thirst, is what wins the day in the life of a restaurant.
However you use online social media, whether to make money or friends or to enhance knowledge or awareness or to just have fun, you have customers: your blog subscribers, your Twitter followers, your email contacts, your bookmark sharing partners, your forum participants.
In particular, if you’re using social media with a business purpose, then you not only need to provide bread and butter, and good food with good service, you also need to quench your customers’ thirst.
What does that mean, customer thirst? It’s your flow of content. It’s your responsiveness to fill unmet needs before your customers realize that they have one. It’s your presence. It’s the little things you do that make the online experience, the social medium, worthy of return customers and infectious word-of-mouth.
KNOW YOUR YOUR DRINK MENU
I don’t always practice what I preach but here are some little thirst-quenchers, or ways to quench your customers’ thirst, that I’d make a priority:
- In blogging: knowing when to refill your subscribers’ reader (post frequency)
- Monitoring what’s being said about you (Google Alerts, TweetBeeps, professional reputation services)
- Putting your interactors front-and-center when solving their problems
- Asking “what can I do for you?” No need to be that annoying and obtrusive waiter or waitress. (Subtlety works.)
- Offering usable tools that allow instant connection (Twitter, text-messaging, your cell (old school still works!))
The list is off-the-cuff. Make your own: identify the part of your service that involves water or wine or beer. What drinks do you serve and what can you do to keep filling them?
It’s often said that people are hungry for information. You might have a blog that serves remarkable food that more than feeds your readers’ hunger. But if they’re thirsty, it doesn’t matter how bitchin’ the food tastes. Thirst is a primal urge. If you don’t fill those glasses, people will find other places to quench their thirst. And fast.