Only a week after launch in November, 61 percent of the world’s most popular brands and companies were already utilizing Google+ as a form of social sharing. Although the results may vary based on the particular brand, the base message is simple: we are continuing to utilize the social Web as a way to connect with consumers and formulate our brand.
With Google+ joining the social networking atmosphere, it gives brands another reason to deal the transparency card into their overall business model. Think about it this way: the more open you are with consumers, the more they will trust you, which could lead into more loyal relationships. Whether you’re a small mom and pop organization or a giant dating site, full transparency is never a bad thing.
So, how can brands, big and small, embrace social sharing on Google+, while at the same time providing full transparency?
Honesty is king
Being honest with your customers, whether you have a large base or a smaller hub, is the first step to complete transparency, as well as improving consumer relationships. Think of Google+ as an all-in-one social network, with the power to maintain these relationships through things like Circles, Huddles, or the simpleness of just posting company news and updates.
Let’s break this down a little bit. Say you had ran a small, organic produce shop. Google+ would be yet another way to provide complete transparency on things like company values and organizational structures. Add your customers to specific Circles so you can keep track of groups like regulars, investors, or vendors (you’ll be able to provide more targeted communication this way). Always post important details, like new products, cool press placements, and company shake-ups. That way, you stay transparent, while your customer stays informed.
Interact in time of crisis
Say that same organic produce shop is facing a huge outbreak of E. coli to its products. What do you do? Remain private about the whole thing and expect customers to just find out on their own? Probably not. Complete transparency in this space is not only encouraged, it’s pretty much a requirement since your reputation, as well as your customer’s health, is on the line. Although this is an extreme example, the theme is the same in any crisis: interaction and communication is key.
This is where social sharing on sites like Google+ increases your organizations transparency. Post a statement, record a video, start a discussion, and above all, answer questions. Start a Huddle if need be. Further, act quickly when you share socially. There could always be another party willing to spin the story.
Make your customers feel important
What’s the one gripe many consumers have about big brands? That they are just a number or a statistic. When it comes down to it, there’s no real connection there besides consumer to product contact. Sites like Google+ give brands the power to make the customer feel important, which could lead to more mutually beneficial relationships.
So, your produce shop could perform weekly Huddle sessions with interested customers, start conversations after you ask questions, give away discounted products, ask for opinions on company matters, etc. Basically, you should make consumers feel involved in the creation of your brand or product. By doing so, you humanize your brand and achieve transparency, which is something many of us are trying to get out of our favorite company’s in the first place.
What do you think? Do you use social sites like Google+ to improve customer relationships? How?
Heather Huhman is the Community Advisor for BeenVerified. BeenVerified’s mission is to make public records easy, accessible, and affordable for everyone. Connect with Heather and BeenVerified on Facebook and Twitter.