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The Power of Requests and Questions: Using Social Media to Ask the Right Questions Makes You a Successful Entrepreneur

The Power of Requests and Questions: Using Social Media to Ask the Right Questions Makes You a Successful Entrepreneur

Here’s a question for you: Do you use social media for your business? You probably said yes, right? But here’s another question for you: Do you use social media to connect with your customers or your peers? You said yes again, right? But this next question might get you to start thinking: Do you ever use social media to ask your peers or your customers what they actually want from you? If you have said yes to the question above then well done. You won’t need to read the rest of this article. But if the above question has made you question your usage of social media, then you will find this article of good use.

The Common Mistake

A common mistake amongst many fresh faced entrepreneurs is that they only use social media to gain exposure for themselves. They hardly ever interact with their customers or with their peers. If you are only using social media to gain exposure for your business, then you are using social media the wrong way.

But before you get to learn how you can use social media to ask the right questions, here’s an interesting statistic that was written by Iris Vermeren in her article “Marketing: How to Provide Great Customer Service Via Social Media”:

“Research shows that nearly half of all US consumers use social media to ask questions, to complain or to report satisfaction and a third of social media users prefer social media customer service to a phone call.”

In other words, social media has become a very powerful medium for people to express their opinions.

And here’s another statistic which shows that more people are checking their Facebook profile very regularly on a daily basis. A report published in the Daily Mail said Facebook’s smartphone app was visited, on average, 14 times a day.

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Many businesses have become aware of this statistic and they have started adding their own e-commerce page on their Facebook business page thanks to Shopify’s Facebook Store App. This gave people the convenience of shopping without ever having to leave Facebook.

But the best way to get the most out of social media is to harness the power of asking. As mentioned in my previous article here on Lifehack called “The Power of Requests and Questions: How Asking Makes You A Successful Entrepreneur”, successful entrepreneurs have the ability to ask. And this skill can easily be transferred to social media.

How to Ask on Social Media

Ask Your Customers for Feedback on Your Product or Service

Andrew Pressault’s article entitled “How to Use Social Media to Engage Your Customers and Build Your Brand” mentions that by asking the right questions, you build strong customer engagement.

One way to engage your customers is by asking your customers for feedback on your product and service. The feedback you receive can help you understand your customer’s needs and wants. Plus, by giving your customer a chance to give feedback shows you value their opinion.

If your customer feedback is not very positive, don’t be too disheartened. Getting critical feedback can help you to try and improve your product or service. There are many ways you can gain feedback. You can ask for feedback through posting either online polls or surveys on your social media business page.

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Ask Your Customers What They Want

Besides asking for feedback, taking the time to know your customers will help you understand what they really want. Asking for this valuable information can help you meet new customer demands by either improving your product or creating a entirely new one.

You can find out about your customers wants and needs by giving them the opportunity to express their opinion via free text in your social media surveys. Free text boxes gives your customers the freedom to write what they want and in great detail too.

Ask Questions About Current Trends

Thanks to social media, you can find out what your customers are talking about by keeping up-to-date with the latest trending topics. So, if you have seen a trending topic that is of interest to your target market, you can ask your customers (or followers) for their opinion on the topic. This helps you build strong customer relations and raise brand awareness.

And with Twitter recently announcing a partnership with Google, commenting on the latest trending topics can help you raise your profile. It is a great way to gain exposure to any potential customer who is googling to know more about the latest trend.

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Ask Unhappy Customers Why They Are Not Happy About Your Product/Service 

As mentioned earlier in this article, almost half of US customers go to social media to complain about a product or service. When you become aware of a customer who is expressing their dissatisfaction, you need to be able to handle these situations with care.

The best way to do this is to ask your customers why they had a bad experience. Asking the right set of questions will help you resolve the issue. Here’s an example of a mobile network company dealing with a complaint on social media:

virgin mobile complaint handling

    (The above example was taken from the article: “Marketing: How to Provide Great Customer Service Via Social Media”).

    Ask Your Peers For Advice

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    Just like you, your peers use social media to raise their online profile. The best way for your peers to raise their profile is to be helpful. So use this knowledge to your advantage. If you have reached a road block in your entrepreneurial venture, then you can ask your peers for advice. Thanks to social media, you can contact your peers more easily.

    In most cases, your peers, whether they are your colleague or well-renowned industry expert, will be happy to help you with your request.  But before you start making your request, there’s something you have to keep in mind. Your peers will be bombarded with loads of different requests, all at the same time, so they may not be able to respond to your query. But don’t let this deter you because there is no harm to asking them for advice in the first place. When you make your request, be polite and respectful to them.

    You can make your request by sending your peer a private personal message to their social media profile. In your message, don’t go straight in with your request. Give them a positive comment on their recent work which relates to your request. This shows that you acknowledge and respect them and helps you build rapport.

    Conclusion

    Social media can help you raise your profile if used the right way. Rather than using social media to gain exposure for your business, you can harness the power of asking.

    This article has shown you how you can use the power of asking on social media to gain customer feedback, to find out what your customers want, to ask your target market for their opinions on current trending topics and to resolve any issues. You can also use social media to ask your peers for advice so you can further progress with your entrepreneurial venture.

    So use the power of asking on social media. You will be surprised at how far you can get.

    Featured photo credit: Universidad de Montemorelos via flickr.com

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    Published on March 20, 2019

    How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

    How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

    Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

    As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

    While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

    What is a Mission Statement?

    Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

    In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

    “Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

    In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

    Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

    While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

    First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

    While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

    While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

    “To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

    This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

    What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

    When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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    Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

    When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

    • What we do?
    • How we do it?
    • Whom do we do it for?
    • What value are we bringing?

    Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

    After all, that did check off all the boxes:

    What we do? Provide widgets.

    How we do it? Online.

    Who do we do it for? The consumer.

    What value we bring? The best widgets.

    The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

    Compare that mission statement to this one:

    “We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

    What’s the difference?

    Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

    Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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    You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

    A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

    Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

    1. Keep It Brief

    Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

    You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

    2. Have a Purpose

    A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

    Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

    3. Include a “How”

    Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

    How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

    4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

    This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

    Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

    5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

    It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

    Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

    6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

    Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

    7. Think Long Term

    A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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    8. Get Feedback

    This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

    Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

    9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

    You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

    First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

    And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

    For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

    The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

    It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

    First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

    If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

    Strategic Planning

    A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

    Measuring Performance

    By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

    Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

    Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

    Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

    As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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    Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

    To Hold Management Accountable

    By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

    So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

    If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

    To Serve as an Example

    This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

    After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

    Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

    Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

    Final Thoughts

    Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

    Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

    That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

    By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

    More Resources About Achieving Business Success

    Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
    [2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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