Social media marketing should be about customer service.

In the past few years, social media has become its own career field. Businesses in every industry are looking for social media specialists and managers and consultants, for anyone with the Answers about using social media to win over the masses. The thing is, these businesses—and the people they hire—are all about “social media marketing,” as though the only thing social media is good for is advertising.

They’re not quite wrong; social media is great for advertising. It’s good for getting the word out. But social media is so much more, and most businesses haven’t figured that out yet. Most businesses haven’t actually figured out how to use social media for marketing.

Here’s the thing: the best marketing is word-of-mouth advertising. To create word-of-mouth advertising, you have to have fans. To get fans, you have to make and keep your customers happy.

TL;DR: Effective social media marketing is based on customer service.

The best social media marketing campaign starts with—and this might be really obvious—being social. It’s about communicating with your customers and building a reputation as an open, honest business.

Basically, if you want to maximize the potential of your company’s social media accounts, put them in the hands of your customer service specialists, your community managers, or anyone else responsible for wooing your customers.

Put these people to work answering questions on social networks. Respond to more significant customer concerns in a company blog post and link to it on Facebook and Twitter. Publicly thank specific users their contributions to your business or for asking really good questions. Introduce your employees.

If you can humanize your business and connect with your customers on a genuine, personal level—no small feat, especially for bigger companies—you can make them fall in love with you. And once you’ve done that, you’re in. Your customers will do your legwork for you.

Make your social media campaigns about customer retention and satisfaction. Charm your customers. Befriend them. After all, if you can’t satisfy your current customers, pouring all your resources into attracting entirely new customers is a waste of time and money.

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