Social media is an extremely powerful marketing tool that can help push your business to success. Here are some of the things you need to know to make it work to your advantage.
What is social media?
The use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue. Simply put, social media marketing is creating and maintaining customer relationships using the internet.
Why use social media?
Customer relationships have always been built on great customer service, listening and responding to concerns and making your customers feel important. New customer relationships come from having current customers refer or sell your brand to their connections. All of these functions of marketing can be done successfully and easily through social media. It is an ideal tool for listening and responding to current customers as well as for reaching out to new customers.
How will it benefit my company?
Strong and engaging social media efforts have been shown to create valuable customer feedback, increase loyalty and create new customers and referrals.
The currency in social media is to create value for your audience. Determine what your customer wants from you and that is the value you need to provide. Many companies are able to create a community around their product or service for their niche audience.
Social media is not the place to push your broadcast media. Posting sales messages, TV spots and links to your website will quickly alienate your audience and prevent the growth of your audience and the creation of an active community who feels like they are participating in your brand.
Listen to the conversation
A business cant truly understand how to engage customers if they don’t know what their customers care about. Review sites, blogs and other social channels, as they are a gold mine of valuable information regarding what your customers really want. Do your research!
Respond to you audience:
Communicating with customers can be challenging given the limited time and resources of a small business. In order to effectively manage social media and the dialogue with customers, many small businesses establish times when they will respond to posts or push out new content.
Create value for your audience:
Once comfortable observing and understanding what customers are saying online you should begin creating content. It is also important to have content on your social media pages before you start adding fans and followers. Potential followers are going to look at the page to see if they want to follow you, so you need to give them a reason,
Make your best fans feel like heroes:
As you have no doubt experienced, it is many times more profitable to spend marketing dollars to keep your best customers versus acquiring new ones. With very little effort, loyal customers can be mobilized to ignite referrals, generate positive air cover, shift opinions, and help soften the impact of bad reviews. This could include things such as rewarding them for referrals or sending them bits of interesting information they can broadcast like new menu items, upcoming sales and holiday discounts.
Ask your fans to talk about you
Due to the emergence and adoption of social media, customers now have the ability to broadcast sentiment about the businesses they visit and services they use to thousands of people instantly. Each customer can generate new business, craft a brand image and inspire loyalty through tweeting, blogging, reviewing, following and so forth. Given your business limited time and resources this can be a highly valuable asset if manage appropriately.
Wash, Rinse and repeat:
Engaging with customers through social media is not a one-way street, nor is it a one-time event. The process described above is a continuous one. As your business circles the process wheel, you will find better opportunities to communicate with customers, new ways to create value for them and even new product or service ideas that you can offer that your customers are already clamoring for. If you treat social media as a feedback panel and a customer service tool and never as another one-way advertising medium, you will find that it justifies the time and energy that it will require.
Consumers consider Facebook the place they go to catch up with their friends. Brands need to recognise that, for them, this is not the place to try to be a friend, but instead to try to help their fans to talk to friends about their products/service. Facebook is where you identify your own strongest fans. Gather their input, ask for feedback and then activate them to be a brand advocates to their own lists of online and real-world contacts.
Good post includes pictures and blurbs about your business or industry, customers enjoying your products, info about your products and brand, events, funny comments or videos and any interaction from fans and customer. Encourage your customers and fans to make their own posts and videos.
Facebook is not about you. It is about your fans and what they come to Facebook to get. As a brand, it becomes your job to help them find things they want to say, do, or share with their own friends and reward them for interacting with you. The most common method is to run contests, but don’t overlook the power of liking, reposting, commenting and otherwise recognising fans for their participation which is cheaper than doling out prizes.
Negative comments or feedback on Social Media
Never delete or remove negative comments (except those that contain profanity or offensive speech). Instead, we want to solve that problem or answer that comment in a helpful manner in this public forum so that it can be seen by other users where it may serve as on FAQ or a strong endorsement for your product, brand or customer service.
A good process is to accept responsibility when applicable and apologise, also when applicable. Next, provide a solution or answer or link and then move the conversation offline.
Twitter is like blogging, but much more succinct. It should be used to provide short, powerful, action-packed posts that drive users to longer-format content, other social media sites, or specific pages on your website ( or partner sites). The number of clicks that many brands are seeing proves Twitter to be a traffic-driving powerhouse.
Similar to you blog, Twitter should be helpful and informative as well as powerfully user-oriented. Additionally, be sure to search for mentions of your brand, competitors, industry terms and personnel. Then, respond to these people directly. Twitter is regarded as having the most real-time activity of the major social platforms, so embrace that by starting dialogue with real people.
The tweets you create will be visible to anyone who visits your profile. This means it is critical to keep context in each post, usually by retweeting the post you are responding to or linking to broader conversations. Because visitors won’t see both sides of your conversation, you can position your brand as helpful and responsive, which will encourage your followers to treat you that way going forward.
LinkedIn is a social media site targeted to business people and professionals. It is directed at helping professionals maintain and make connections, stay up-to-date on industry trends, and find a job or fill a position. LinkedIn is a great tool for making new business connections or staying in touch with other professionals. Many users utilize linkedIn to stay in touch with connections made through other networking events, such as trade shows, seminars etc.
Your personal profile should be professional and up to date. Many users consider their LinkedIn profile an extension of their resume and have similar information on their profile. Posts you make should be relevant to your industry or profession and typically pertain to more business-related information. Your company profile should be related to your industry and contain valuable information for readers. Many companies use LinkedIn to help leverage their expertise in their industry or market.
Ensure your personal profile is up-to-date and complete, giving a true representation of your professional career.
Your business profile should also be complete, up-to-date and truly represent what your company does.
Make new connections to build your network and attract new customers and followers. When someone follows your company or adds you as a connection, their network sees it. If you choose to join groups, make sure to actively participate in them.
Obtain recommendations for yourself and for your company and provide recommendations for others with whom you have worked.