Interfacing with customers in the virtual arena may seem easy simply because your business has access to such a huge consumer market. Unlike running a brick-and-mortar store that only really caters to people within a limited geographic region, operating a business in the online arena offers you the opportunity to attract a global market if you so choose. But in some ways it can be a lot more difficult than you might imagine. The tricky part is attracting the people who might actually want to buy your product, and you’ll first have to get their attention in order to do this. With a whole world of competitors trying to do the same, you’ll have to shout pretty loud to be heard. Of course, most consumers don’t like to be bombarded. So what you really want to do is find ways to engage them on a seemingly personal level. Here are just a few creative ideas to get you started.

  1. Online blog. One of the best ways to keep customers engaged with your brand online is through regularly updated content. And while it can be difficult to come up with creative and meaningful ways to update your website, a blog is much more accommodating in this regard. Most businesses start a blog with the idea of adding value for their customers by offering tutorials, commenting on industry news, and basically posting food for thought. Quality here is of the utmost importance for two reasons. First, you have to keep your customers engaged, and fluff simply won’t do the trick. But you’re probably also using your blog for SEO purposes, and with Google algorithms favoring quality content, you won’t get far without it. Of course, you also need to update regularly if you want to keep loyal readers hooked.
  2. Social media interaction. It’s not enough to create profiles on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and whatever other social networking platform happens to be the flavor of the month. If you want these platforms to provide you with the opportunity to engage customers you’re going to have to put in the time, and this means interacting with your followers. Not only will you have to post frequently and keep it interesting, but you need to make sure to reply to comments, questions, and concerns in a timely manner if you want to use social media to your advantage.
  3. Instagram videos. Although Vine did it first, Instagram may get the last laugh with their short-run video options that make the standard photo experience a little more fun thanks to clips that are just a few seconds in length. In truth, you can use either of these platforms in a slew of creative ways to spread your name and encourage dialogue with consumers.
  4. Viral videos. If you’re having trouble engaging viewers via Instagram videos (the short format won’t be ideal for every business) you might want to think about launching a viral campaign that includes some kind of call to action. Of course, the main goal is to get the video shared. But everyone loves a good mystery and they might be willing to investigate if your viral campaign is compelling.
  5. Apps. It doesn’t get much more interactive than creating themed apps that deliver added value to customers and provide them with incentive to engage with your brand. When you’re just starting your online efforts, launching your website, joining forums, and listing with brilliant directories are all steps you’ll want to take. But once you’ve established an online presence you’ll have to get creative in order to continue expanding the scope of your virtual operations. And hiring a developer to help you come up with clever apps is one great option.