Social media has been a powerful tool for small business for nearly a decade, providing a way to reach a target audience easily and effectively without sacrificing the bottom line. However, despite the buzz about what social media can do, actually getting off the ground takes a little more strategy than you may realize. Here’s what you need to know about how to use social media to grow your business.
Build a Robust Presence
When turning to social media for business marketing, it’s important to commit. Despite its ubiquity, social media isn’t the kind of marketing method you can utilize in your spare time; in order to keep followers interested and engaged, you’ll need a strategy that provides a consistent stream of information and opportunity.
When setting up pages and profiles, be sure to include as much information as possible for customers to use as a resource. This means filling out your name, contact information, an About section, adding pictures, and posting regularly. Your page is a reflection of your brand, so make it worthwhile.
Diversify Your Options
Social media has grown drastically over the last several years, with a variety of large and extremely popular platforms taking over the industry. You may only use a few, one, or possibly even none in your personal life, but your business needs a presence with all of the heavy hitters.
Instead of registering with Facebook alone, consider including accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest as well. The more profiles you have, the better your reach will be, allowing you to target the largest possible array of potential customers. Each platform serves a unique purpose as well, giving you the freedom to diversify your opportunities and postings for a more strategic approach.
As you progress with each platform, you’ll find that different kinds of posts succeed in different places. While text posts like advertisements and sales announcements are popular on Facebook, images drive Instagram and Snapchat. As such, you’ll need to vary what you’re posting and where you’re posting it.
However, no matter where or what you’re presenting on social media, it’s essential to maintain a consistent tone and identity. Your social media is a reflection of your brand and your ideas, so every post needs to align with your objectives. When your approach gets too disparate from one platform to another, your customers are going to be confused – and that’s not a good way to drive sales.
For some businesses, social media blurs the line between personal and professional. Due to the dissimilarities between social media and traditional marketing avenues, it’s compelling to treat your business profiles in a way similar to social profiles. However, for most companies, this is an inappropriate approach. There’s a big divide between your personal life and your life at work, and your social media tactics need to reflect this.
While personal profiles allow for postings about anything, professional pages need a little tailoring. Cell phone photos of activities and events may be enough for your personal page, but photos of products should be professionally shot. This is also true for language; text speak and abbreviations are okay for chatting with friends, but proper English lends credibility in business interactions. Keep content virtually exclusively related to your business and resist posting about anything that could offend customers or reflect your brand incorrectly.
Strive for Engagement
While social media is a great way to share information, it’s best used to drive interactions with your target audience. In the days before the internet, customers rarely had a chance to connect with business owners and executives, but social media narrows this gap, creating a connection between companies and consumers that can be very effective in building loyalty.
In general, your social media posts should be made with engagement in mind. Don’t make just views your goal; instead, prioritize comments, likes, reactions, and shares. Increased interaction means increased visibility, boosting your audience and building your presence. To do this, incorporate polls, quizzes, images, and questions into your posts to give customers a reason to engage.
Preserve Your Reputation
Social media may seem like fun and games, but the things you say and do are all a reflection of your brand. Accordingly, posting controversial opinions or taking an aggressive tone with customers can have a negative effect on your reputation.
Take, for example, the now-infamous Amy’s Baking Company, the Scottsdale-based bistro that was eviscerated on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. The combative owners did not react well to the criticism, lashing out on social media, attacking customers, and creating a flurry of negative press. The drama intensified to the point that the company hired a PR firm, closed, rebranded, and reopened. In spite of their efforts, the restaurant has since closed for good with no plans to continue.
As Amy’s Baking Company demonstrated, poor behavior on social media is enough to take any business down. When posting, be sure to preserve your reputation by always behaving in a positive, helpful, and encouraging manner.
Share Necessary Information
Social media is a fun way to share to images, activities, and snapshots of your company in a way that helps customers get to know you better, but it’s also a virtual message board of sorts. If you have information to share that customers may need to know, like holiday hours for your store or an emergency closure due to weather, make sure these details are posted clearly. A few simple issues, like customers finding your doors locked without warning, can sully your reputation, turning once-loyal shoppers to the competition. Keeping customers up to date can improve your credibility and reliability as a business.
Don’t be discouraged if these posts don’t get much engagement. They’re still important and need to remain a part of your social strategy.
The world of business correspondence accelerated rapidly with the inception of email, and social media has only furthered this. Via social platforms, customers are able to get in touch with any business at any time, increasing communications and improving the flow of information.
As a business owner, you need to stay cognizant of the kinds of response times that matter to customers. Responding to a message a few days later is no longer an option; businesses need to be able to meet customer expectations. One study found that 39% of social media users expect a response from a company within 60 minutes, putting pressure on businesses to stay in near-constant contact. While you don’t always need to be able to respond this quickly, do aim to answer all customer questions and queries within 24 hours for optimal outcomes.
Creating a Strategy that Lasts
Social media isn’t a flash in the pan fad – it’s a highly popular concept that shows no signs of slowing down. In creating a social media strategy, it’s important to come up with a solid plan and ensure your ability to stick to it, giving you the ability to maximize the benefits available in Facebook, Twitter, and whatever platforms may rise to prominence in the future.
If you’re not sure about your abilities in the social media arena, professional assistance can help you learn the ins and outs of a successful social strategy. Working with experts can help you fine-tune your tactics, improve engagement rates, and ensure no stone goes unturned, maximizing the impact you can make across social channels.
Need help learning how to use social media to build your business? Contact Quick Marketing Group today to learn more about how our team can help you succeed.