How to: Use Social Media to Inspire and Empower Your Customers

Certainly, we can be passively compelled to do something, particularly through social media. We can be sold, we can be bought and we can be forced. But through none of these means are we necessarily doing so through our own impulses.

And then there are moments of inspiration. That light-bulb moment, or moment of euphoria in which we discover something profound, something brilliant. That moment in which our brains turn into ultra-focused machines hellbent on turning that source of inspiration into something amazing.

But inspiration isn’t easy, especially as it pertains to your customers and social media. Still, here are a few ways to not only help motivate your customers into communicating with you through social media, but possibly even inspiring them.

1. Make Them Feel Heard

People like when they aren’t talked over. When they are allowed to voice their own opinions, and feel listened to. This is something that pertains to real life, certainly, but it also relates to social media. Most businesses that initially approach social media without any prior experience might automatically assume that social media is solely about broadcasting. But that would only be half of the truth.

The other half is that it is also inherently about listening. It’s about allowing your potential customers and current fans to voice their own opinions and then reacting to those opinions. What if a customer or, in this hypothetical case, a few customers suggested that you kept your seasonal products around for longer than you normally do, and you actually did? They would feel like your business had actually listened (and would also probably feel awesome) and you would look like a king because you actually did listen.

2. Tell Them Stories

Stories are one of our most basic forms of communication and connection. They allow us to build and develop relationships with one another by sharing entertaining, interesting, or funny stories about ourselves. Stories also provide an excellent means for connecting with customers through social media. Think of the last time you shared a good story. Did people relate? Did they find it funny? Were they intrigued?

An excellent way to inspire customers is to share with them a story about your business, or about yourself. Something that might be funny, or shows that you overcame some obstacles in developing your business. But regardless of what sort of story it is exactly, it will prove not only that you are human — and let’s be honest, your customers thought you were a robot beforehand — but also that you are willing to share deeply personal tales in order to better connect your business with the people who are driving it.

Extra credit if you can develop a way to have your customers actively participate in this storytelling.

3. Letting Them Tell You What They Want

Making them feel heard is one thing. Customers might frequently post feedback on your wall, or responses to some of your posts, and its important that you maintain communication with them regardless of it that feedback is positive or negative.

But what if you actually provided them with a more personal and formal means of voicing their own feedback. Not too long ago, Starbucks came up with the brilliant idea of allowing customers to personally come up with product and experience ideas for their cafes and actually implementing some of those ideas. They labeled it My Starbucks Idea, and it has been hugely successful (and a great resource for Starbucks) since its inception. 

Now, I’m not saying that you should implement something as sweeping as My Starbucks Idea, but providing some medium through which customers can thoroughly voice their own suggestions and have those suggestions actually impact how your business runs would be huge. There is no better way to inspire your customers than to challenge them to come up with their own solutions on how to solve some of your problems and – wait, my customers are helping me solve my own problems!? AWESOME! Assuming you provide them with the framework in order to do so, of course.

But as we all know, inspiration rarely comes easily. It might come in the middle of the day, when we are tied down by work or school, or in the middle of the night with no writing implement in sight.

But fans and customers can be inspired. It is simply a matter of persistence, and giving them the means in which they can source that inspiration and feel inspired to respond.

And the best part of all? That inspiration, when it comes, will cost you nothing.