Why It Pays to Be Likeable–And 7 Ways to Get There

Date: August 23, 2013

Part 1 of 2

Social media brings a wealth of opportunities to build your presence. An NFIB webinar recently explained how.

In a world of "Likes," it pays for a business to be likeable—friendly, approachable, understood—not just in the traditional sense but also in social media.

In a recent NFIB webinar , Dave Kerpen of social media advisory group Likeable.com offered seven tips for upping your presence online. A New York Times bestselling author, he showed how businesses are achieving amazing results with creative social business strategies, exploring what today's consumers expect from organizations and ways you can exceed customer expectations.


Listening is the single most important thing you can do in business—listening to customers, prospects, staff—and social media lets you listen at greater scale than ever before. By paying attention to social chatter, you can hear which people are seeking your services, right now, in your very city. Respond with value—a relevant article, an infographic —and they’ll come to your door.

RELATED: How to Use Twitter to Monitor Consumer Trends and Tastes


In social media, responsiveness is no longer optional. If you see a complaint and simply delete it, you're telling people that they don’t matter, that you are not listening. Response is imperative, Kerpen explains.

How to respond to negative feedback? Promise publicly to make it better. Let everyone know you care and then take the conversation private, working with the dissatisfied individual to solve the problem. Put in play the four most important words: "I'm sorry" and "thank you."

It can be hard to apologize, if only because of the fear of legal retribution. But that is something for big corporations to worry about. Small businesses can always find a way to apologize without admitting liability: "I'm sorry you had a bad experience." This is more than just warm sympathy. It's an effective marketing tool, Kerpen says. (For a contrary perspective, see "Why You Shouldn't Apologize to Customers" )

3.Tell, don't sell.

People want a compelling narrative, not a sales pitch. Gone are the 30-second hits that once characterized radio and TV advertising. Social media lets you expand. Take advantage of it to spin the tale of your humble beginning, the challenges you have faced and overcome, your community partnerships and the charities you support, Kerpen offers. These are the stories that inspire customers and make them want to stand with you.

RELATED: 6 Places to use Storytelling in Promoting Your Business

4.Be authentic.

Don't be afraid to be vulnerable, to show the real you even when that inside glimpse may expose imperfections. For example, says Kerpen, if you own a cupcake store and you love Duran Duran, make a fabulous Duran Duran cake and post those pictures. It may be goofy but it's you, and people will respond to that. (It worked for Cupcake Royale.)

RELATED: Should You Be the Face of Your Brand?

5.Advertise – better.

Social media is not the end of advertising. Rather, it's a new beginning, with the ability to hyper-target. LinkedIn lets advertisers sort targets by job title, skills, and location. That means an architect can specifically target local real estate developers, while accountants can identify area CFOs. There's power in that. Facebook goes even further, sifting members by job title, interest, gender, age, marital status, etc. The site boasts 1.1 billion members. With nano-targeting, you can find exactly the 100 or 1,000 that you want.

RELATED: How to Set Up Facebook Ads

6.Provide value.

To be likeable in social media, you need to give it away for free. Deliver content, hand out free product, produce ebooks and webinars, Kerpen suggests. Maybe some of that content will help the competition, but so what? You'll generate gratitude and interest, and ultimately build up a customer base of people who already know you, like you and appreciate you for the help you've given them.

RELATED: 10 Tips for Handing Out Business Freebies

7.Be grateful.

All it takes is a simple post on LinkedIn or Facebook: "Thanks for eight wonderful years!" People want to feel appreciated. Customers, staff and vendors all will respond to simple words of gratitude. The nonprofit Donors Choose did a study that found donors who got thank-you cards were 38 percent more likely to give again. Added bonus: Sitting down to write a personal thank-you note will make you feel good about yourself and about your work, says Kerpen. There's tremendous power in a simple expression of appreciation.

RELATED: 6 Creative Ways to Show Customers You Appreciate Them


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Dave Kerpen

Dave Kerpen is the CEO of Likeable Local, a social media software startup for small businesses, as well as the chairman and former CEO of Likeable Media, an award-winning social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm with triple digit revenue growth for 4 consecutive years. Likeable Media was named to both the 2011 and 2012 Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States. In 2012 Likeable Media was named one of Crain’s Best Places to Work in New York City. Learn more at http://www.davekerpen.com 

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