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7 Ways to Use Social Media to Provide Better Customer Service

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The use of social media has exploded for all sorts of businesses, and because it's so cost effective, it holds particular attraction for entrepreneurs. Considering using social media to provide customer service? Here are some tips on how to do it effectively.

Build Your Email List

The beauty of email marketing is that it is the perfect way to build prospects that have decided they want to hear more from you and about your product, service, or advice. Take advantage of it, grow your list, and watch your customer base grow. Use networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to grow you email list. Here's how.

Offer Enhanced Resources

One of Google+'s best features is "Hangouts" which is a free video chat and screensharing feature that you can use to conduct meetings with your remote teams or even create additional resources for your customers on how your product or service works. Events are easy to schedule and set reminders for. And the great bonus is that there are hundreds of millions of Gmail users already. If you can entice any of those people to interact with your content on G+, you can benefit from additional exposure in their email inboxes. More on Google+ here.

Create Short Tips

Networks like Pinterest, Vine and Facebook are tailor-made for short video presentations. If you are a chef, consider making a video with cooking tip. Are you a personal trainer? Use images or videos to demonstrate key exercises. In the IT business? How about a Vine series on important security tips? All of  these will help you provide a superior customer experience.

If visual assets suit your business, consider Tumblr as well. With its highly social and visual interface, and a user base that has collectively created over 100 million blogs, Tumblr is well positioned in regards to other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. A key question to ask: is my audience using Tumblr? If the answer is yes, it might be worth setting one up.

Track Pain Points

Identify the terms potential customers might use when thinking about your goods or services. If you are an IT consultant, you might make a list of common complaints like "printer problems" or "computer crash." If you are an art teacher, you might track words like "painting" and the name of a local museum. More on tracking here.

Stay in Touch with Your Best Customers

Obviously, Facebook has long been prized by marketers for its ubiquity and reach. As of January 2013, Facebook has 1.06 billion monthly active users and continues adding them quickly. And entrepreneurs love Facebook's marketing platform, which allows them to "bid" for clicks and impressions and build a fan page quickly. Once your community is built up, use it to stay in touch with your best customers chief concerns.

Put a Face on Your Business

Though it's a niche network that's mostly geared toward job seekers, LinkedIn is worth your time. Make sure your profile has your business name in it, including all possible abbreviations, and is complete and open to the Internet. That will help your performance in search results. Additionally, consider setting up a company page -- you can outline your products and services there in a handsomely designed interface, as well as including video and even contact info for salespeople and customer service.

Employ Tools to Automate the Process

Many tools exist to monitor the social media sphere for mentions of your business. Two free tools are Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Set up "keyword" alerts and you'll know the second your business is mentioned. More robust tools like Radian6 allow you to access a sophisticated tool set to listen to social media conversations about your business.

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