Dave Kerpen is the CEO of award-winning social media agency Likeable Media and the author of Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, & Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (& Other Social Networks). I asked him to provide a list of the top ten ways to be more likeable online, and these are his recommendations:
1. Listen first and never stop listening
Twitter search allows you to listen to people talking about you and your competitors. Better yet, try searching for keywords that people would use before they hire you. If you're an accountant, search on Twitter for the words "need an accountant" in your city and you'll literally find your best prospects.
2. Engage, don't sell
As tempting as it might be to answer that person on Twitter or LinkedIn with, "Hey, I'm an accountant, call me", resist. Just as you wouldn't aggressively pitch someone at a cocktail party, you shouldn't online. Instead, engage in a conversation.
3. Offer value
How can you help your customers and prospects? Can you answer that person on Twitter who needs an accountant with a link to an article about "How to Find a Reliable Accountant?" Better yet, can you write that article and share it? The more expertise and value you provide people through social media, the more they will remember you as the go-to source for help—and share that with their friends.
4. Respond to negative comments
There's a temptation to delete negative remarks or complaints from your Facebook Page or blog. But if you delete someone's comments, they will only get louder somewhere else. The two most important words in social media marketing are "I'm sorry." Apologize, and fix the problem, and turn that complainer into a fan.
5. Respond to the positive comments, too
The next two most important words in social media marketing are "Thank you." People that take the time to say nice things aren't to be ignore, they're to be encouraged! Give them opportunities to spread the good word about their experience, and thank them sincerely.
6. Surprise and delight
This has always been a tenet of good business, but in social media, it's even more important, because the entire world is watching when you surprise and delight a customer online. Give away free stuff, reward people randomly, and have fun with your followers.
7. Ask questions
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are like the world's largest focus group, there for you 24/7. You can ask questions to get lots of valuable feedback about your product, or opportunities, or challenges. Plus, people like knowing that you care about what they think. In social media, it's more important to be interested than interesting.
8. Share stories
People love stories—about how your company started, or about an interesting customer or staff member, or program you did. Keep the stories short and simple, and use multimedia. A picture is really worth a thousand words, and a video is even better.
9. Be honest and transparent
You like when people are real with you, right? And you hate when people seem fake? In the same way, the more you can open yourself up, be authentic, vulnerable even, and share what's going on, the more people will respond to you on social networks.
10. Don't sell
Just make it easy and compelling for your customers to buy. If you've done a great job listening to people, engaging with them, and educating them about your business through storytelling, when they have a need that you can solve, you'll be there for them. Or when their friends or followers have that need, they will recommend you.
Thanks to Guy Kawasaki / Open Forum