Home Depot is interesting right now. While most retailers do the lion’s share of their selling in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Home Depot’s just about to be busier than ever. Why? Because they’ve been listening to their customers, especially on social media. The brand follows and interacts with 33,800 people on Twitter, and engages regularly with their 1.3 million Facebook friends.
They’ve used this interaction to understand two things:
- People don’t have the money to pay contractors to do home repairs and hence have to do things on their own.
- Winter’s taken a tremendous toll on roofs, siding, gutters and exteriors.
Another thing that Home Depot has learned is that their customers appreciate guidance and instruction on how to do basic home repairs. Combining these insights has allowed Home Depot to use messaging that both acknowledges the problem and drives the public to their stores for the answer: a powerhouse combination that will generate profits.
You can do the same thing in your business. Obviously the scale is different, but bear in mind that on any given day, Home Depot’s not talking to all of their followers: only a small percentage actually connect.
Truly engaging with your customers on social media means having conversations with them. Go to your follower’s profiles and investigate who they are. Read their posts. Comment when appropriate (note that some platforms, such as Facebook, won’t allow you to do so as the company). What are they talking about? What are their challenges? A gourmet retailer who discovers his followers are always short on time could capitalize on this opportunity with messaging and incentives for the cook in a hurry.
One of the most common failings we have as small business owners is that while we realize social media gives us a great platform for sharing our message, we overlook the value that lies in using social media to better research and understand our customer base. This does take time, but so does every aspect of successful brand building.
The more you know about your customers, the more effectively you’ll be able to serve them. Great profitability flows from better service. A few minutes devoted regularly to learning about your customers will do more to build your brand than any seminar or workshop you might otherwise take. Try it! What have you got to lose?