In the last decade, there has been a massive increase in the number of users of social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others. Many people are spending at least a few hours daily online, and most of this time is spent on social networking websites, interacting with their professional and personal network. So marketers including local businesses cannot afford to ignore social media websites as a marketing channel for promoting their products and services, for interacting with customers and also dealing with customer feedback, especially if it is negative.
Many people are interested in purchasing specific products and services, however they are finding difficult to find suppliers locally since there is no information available online and the people they know socially, professionally may not be aware of a particular local business. So social media is a good way for a local business to make prospective customers aware of the products and services which they are selling. The business can open an account on the social media website for free, and provide details of its services and products, so that customers can easily find the local business. There is no fee to be paid for opening a social media account, and no technical skills are required for publishing information about the business, updating it periodically.
Increasingly, people are using the internet for researching products and services, before making a decision on whether to purchase the product or service. They are more likely to make a purchase if the business is listed online, has some reviews. While negative reviews may reduce the possibility of a purchase to some extent, the prospective buyer may still go ahead with the purchase if the business is able to defend the negative review, or there are other factors which make it worthwhile for the buyer to make the purchase. For example, if the product requires after sales support, a buyer may take the risk of purchasing from a local business, though it has some negative reviews, since getting customer support from non-local businesses will be expensive.
Social media is a very effective way for companies to get feedback from their customers, since increasingly internet users are posting both positive and negative feedback on their experience on the various social media websites. While the positive feedback can be used as a marketing tool for the local business, and can be included in the testimonials page, the business should have a positive attitude while dealing with negative feedback on social media, use it as an opportunity to improve themselves. In some cases, the customer may be having a genuine grievance, which the customer support staff did not deal with properly. In this case, ensuring that the matter is resolved satisfactorily, could help the business retain the customer and also ensure that prospective customers do not let it affect their purchase decision.
Unlike online businesses, which have customers worldwide, local businesses usually have a limited customer base. So it is important for the business to use social media to ensure that people in the area are aware of the products and services being sold, these local customers are satisfied.