Does your business have a social media presence? It’s important for building your business’s modern brand, and it can help you connect with current customers and reach out to new ones. But before you obsess over how many likes or followers your profiles have, think about how this engagement stacks up against other methods you use to communicate with your customers. Social media is important, but it isn’t the final word on customer communications. With any social media, engagement tends to be superficial or largely one-sided. You can keep your customers updated with promos, pictures, and events, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll get many sales or even interactions. You might post updates and receive few likes or comments, or your customers might comment on posts and never get responses. Your social media profiles will generate site visits, but it can be difficult to identify if your presence on social media is effectively driving sales, especially if your sales take place offline. 70% of brands on social media don’t consider their efforts at connecting social media engagement to be revenue effective – 56% say they struggle to tie together social media and business outcomes. When a customer favorites your tweet, there’s no guarantee that she’ll buy your product. Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are all experimenting with direct-buy features, so there’s hope for the future, but right now, it can be difficult to push your customers towards purchasing products with the limited contact afforded by social media. Customers may reach out to your business, but if they’re asking questions or posting complaints, it’s difficult to answer quickly or solve problems as they develop – you’ll likely be apologizing for incidents after the fact, and airing your dirty laundry for all to see. Other means of communication, however, can provide real, active engagement with your customers. Using instant message, for example, is a great way to keep in touch with customers, both remotely and when they’re in your physical establishment. Having your virtual number saved in a customer’s contact list is a much more personal connection than a Facebook like or Twitter follow. Instant messaging your customers lets you directly engage with them and creates more opportunities for sales leads. Communicating with your customers over instant message creates real engagement. When someone sends you a text, it puts them in contact with a real, live human, not just an online profile. It’s much more active than the minor, impersonal act of liking a status, and it immediately starts a real conversation (unlike on social media, where customers can struggle to make contact). Occupying a spot in your customers’ contacts also allows for more timely engagement: when your customers are in-store, they can text you to ask where the duct tape is, as opposed to writing on your Facebook wall that they couldn’t find what they were looking for once they’ve left. As a bonus, if your customers opt-in, you can send them marketing materials via text, which have a 36% click-through rate. Even if they refuse, you still have an open channel of communication so they can text you again whenever they need to get in touch. Though it takes a little more effort to get your number into customers’ contacts, it’s worth it to secure real-life, active interactions. 99% of SMS messages are opened, and a full 90% are opened within 3 minutes of delivery. Meanwhile, your Facebook updates are probably getting lost in your customers’ news feeds. In our modern digital world, it’s important for businesses to maintain a presence on social media – you can’t afford to ignore that. But there are still ways to connect with your customers offline, that provide stronger opportunities for conversion. Instant messaging allows you to really connect and communicate with your customers – secure your virtual number with OwnerListens today!