It’s clear that the real benefits of social media for business are maximized customer engagement and participation. Ideally, customers would be regular visitors and contributors to your site, forming their own relationship with the brand or company itself. So let’s look at the kind of content that can help you generate the return traffic you desire. Before you can do anything, however, you need to know your customers and what they are interested in, as discussed in post four. Once you’ve figured them out, you can begin to design your content to fulfill their wants and needs

For example, everyone loves a bargain. Running specials and competitions on your site is a surefire way to bring customers back for more. Try to be creative in these promotions, make the prizes fun, interesting and tailored to your customers interests. If you remind your customers that the special offers are always changing, they’ll be sure to check for updates frequently. Don’t forget to ask for feedback, it’s important for your customers to see that you care. Dan Ostrow, in his post about gathering feedback with social media, suggests adding surveys and polls to your Facebook or blog, or posting videos on YouTube that ask for responses. These are easy ways to bring the opportunity for feedback to the customer, after all, they’re doing you a favor.

Not only promotions, but all of your content, needs to be updated regularly. Frequent updates show your customers that your company is serious about your brand and supplying customers with relevant and interesting information. In her post about why regular updates are so important, Sarah Worsham claims this constant content is a must if you want your site to be seen. People are hardly just scanning web pages anymore, you need your page to be shared, shared and shared again. This means you must develop relationships and loyalty with customers so they feel comfortable spreading your word through their mouths, which in this case are their blogs, Facebooks, Twitters, etc.

Your social media site should also provide a way for your consumers, both current and potential, to engage with other consumers, not just your brand. In this video from Businessweek, technology expert, Omar Wasow describes the importance of creating an online community to allow your users to connect with other customers who care about the same things. He uses Nike and Bank of America as examples of two companies that have successfully created online communities for their users to engage.

Alex Blum, CEO of KickApps, makes a good point about fostering customers’ trust and maintaining the authenticity of your brand by keeping social media in-house. When engaging in conversation on a company’s site, customers expect to be dealing with someone who is knowledgeable about the company’s goals, products and customers. If customers knew the “representative” they were speaking to was not really a representative of the company at all, their trust in your company, satisfaction with your products and loyalty to your brand would not be the same. Keep customers loyal, satisfied and returning by providing quality information from an in-house professional.

Return traffic can define the success or failure of your social media strategy. Think of it as the difference between saying “thanks for coming” and being able to say “see you tomorrow.”

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