Customer Engagement – Are You on the Sidelines or in the Ring?

I did a quick survey of the 200 or so of you that subscribe to this blog, less than half of the organizations have a twitter or a facebook account (that I could find) and almost none had a blog. So with customer engagement becoming ever more important my question is are you on the sidelines or in the ring?

The days of relying on your organic rank, or your PPC rank, are over – customers are way more savvy these days and I believe as a company you need to engage them beyond just your website.

Tom Griffiths of GapYear.com made some interesting comments recently at the ATEC Conference in Oz:

“The future spend of travellers is really influenced by other travellers, not brochures and guidebooks. Things have changed. In 2010, they don’t need us. It’s no longer about coming on to our websites. If we’re going to sell to them we need to engage them.”

The mentality  has become “I can switch you on and I can switch you off and if you don’t engage with me, you’ll lose me.”

So my question is what are you doing to stay engaged and if you’ve made a conscious effort not to get into the whole social media hullabaloo what are your reasons? Would love to know.

4 thoughts on “Customer Engagement – Are You on the Sidelines or in the Ring?

  1. Fascinating – this arrived in my inbox just as I had asked the question on facebook – to Twitter or not to Twitter.people and places has a facebook page and we have a blog http://blog.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/.
    We believe that briefing future volunteers is not complete unless they are briefed by past volunteers – warts and all – but Twitter? Im not sure I’m clever enough to keep it rolling – so for now I’m sticking with the blog and facebook – am I wrong? Most responsible volunteer recruiters are small – where do we find the resources to keep this all up to date?

  2. It is tough to stay on top of all of the social media platforms! But, I do think it is necessary. I’ve made some tremendous business contacts in the last few weeks on Twitter because it is relatively easy to find groups that are interested in the same topics as you. With Twitter, you can keep it streaming in the background and just pop in occasionally. I’m not expert but I think is is less about finding more resources and more about using the resources that we have creatively to stay on top of it all.

    Here are our sites:

    http://www.edgeofseven.org
    http://www.twitter.com/edgeofseven
    http://www.facebook.com/edgeof7
    http://edgeofseven.wordpress.com/
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/eringuttenplan

  3. We have started our facebook and twitter pages for Rustic Volunteer and Travel. Some weeks we have a hard time keeping up with them but we are doing our best. We have talked about starting a blog and we plan to within the next few months. I think we have made some good connections on twitter and facebook and we have learned much from others on these networks. Thanks for the thoughts. It reminds us how important social networking really is.

  4. Our social media is actually at 4 points:

    1. Facebook with a customized Welcome tab. We take seriously the interactions each week. When we have fewer than 1000 “fans” or now “likes” we really didn’t see an ROI at all…even a subjective one. Now, we receive weekly leads and actual applications directly from Facebook. We will continue to build this out and use it more.

    2. Twitter. Our followers are only two types: a) travel/blog writers and b) competitors. I don’t think our demographic cares too much about Twitter and while we use it occassionally, and mostly to retweet important info, we no longer talk about our programs or “goings on” because some competitors simply copy us, lower the fee and somehow call it their own.

    3. Blog. We have some Blog posts that get 25-30 hits. Others 4000. We’re adding a lot of video now, and we’re learning what posts are going to be popular and what posts are going to gain us traffic. It’s probably the 2nd most important vehicle for communicating that we have.

    4. Pending new website. Our new website, which debuts in July, has social media built into it. Each program page, for example, allows people to post comments about the program even if they are not going. And, each page allows users to sign in from our site to their Facebook page and “like” something they have seen on our site.

    I will disagree with you slightly, Alexia, about organic rank and PPC rank. And here is why. Selling on the Internet is about inbound marketing, not outbound marketing. What people are now “savvy” about is the PPC ads on Google, as an example. 75% of Google searches are from the organic side of Google. Only 25% click on a PPC ad there, and those are 75% not really interested.

    So if your site uses PPC and your traffic rank is, say, 400,000 and GeoVisions does not use PPC and our traffic rank is, say, 450,000…we have better traffic by 75%…that is, more interest since organic is INBOUND and PPC is OUTBOUND, that is, you are “pushing” a message for people to click rather than develop your brand and your story and your mission so people are attracted to that.

    And then you have the organizations that advertise $160 programs. That again drives up traffic but that simply is not sustainable if, after people arrive, you add app fees, do not include necessary insurance, and charge for other misc. items that then drive up the fee. In the short run…great. In the long run…not sustainable and furthermore, not socially responsible, which I think was the purpose of this post in the first place. So forgive my rant.

    If you engage in social media to being a conversation with someone, keep in mind that it is “social.” And in the end, people want to know they arrive at your site from your inbound efforts, not your PPC efforts…or the come on everyone knows is, uh, just a come on. That isn’t social. It’s dishonest and it doesn’t help “the” field.

    Great questions, Alexia. Keep ’em coming.

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