Imagine you’re a restaurant owner. As you’re walking down the street, you overhear someone telling a friend how terrible the service is in your establishment.

Do you respond? Probably not. Approaching strangers in person can be awkward.

However, with social media, you can respond thoughtfully to all customer feedback, allowing you to take the reins on how your brand is perceived.

For businesses large and small, home-based or a multi-national, there’s really no excuse for a lack of social media presence. Where else can you not only read what you’re customers or clients are saying, but respond and interact with them too? If you’re gun-shy about starting a social media campaign for your business, below are a few reasons it’s a good idea.

Building customer relationships

The cornerstone of a social media campaign is simply being social. Interacting with your customers through platforms such as Twitter and Facebook helps build strong relationships that will make them customers and keep them coming back. As a restaurant owner you might engage customers about new menu items, ongoing specials or reminders to make reservations for special occasions. Responding to customer comments and mentions will allow them to see the individual behind the brand.

Building your brand

It’s important to stake your claim in the social media world by setting up accounts with your company’s name. Facebook Vanity URLs and Twitter handles are both first come, first served. This means if you don’t claim your restaurant’s name on these sites, someone else could. Even if you aren’t quite ready to dive in, it’s best to grab the account name you want before someone else does. For larger companies, this is a critical step to keep individuals who are unassociated with your company from taking control of your brand.

Service recovery

In day to day instances, it can be tough to approach a stranger who has had a negative experience. Social media makes it easy to respond to a negative comment and turn it into a positive experience. Monitoring keywords and mentions can help you solve a problem before it escalates. It also gives customers a direct line to you (or someone in your company), who can help them with their issue. This immediate contact is vastly preferable to a form email with an auto-response as it makes customers feel their voice is heard. A little responsiveness goes a long way!

Extending your reach

Social media is a great way to enhance traditional advertising by extending your reach. For instance, if you ask customers to visit your Facebook page, they can easily share that page with their friends, who share it with their friends….and you get the idea. Suddenly an ad for your restaurant with a small reach is extended exponentially. The best part of social media is the shareable nature of the platform

It’s free (and easy)!

It costs nothing but time to set up your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. Additionally, monitoring, scheduling, posting and interacting are made simple with free software like HootSuite and TweetDeck.

Now that you know how important a social media presence is, what are you waiting for?

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