Social media has become a very important tool in today’s business environment. Once regarded as places where disgruntled customers blew off steam, social media is now the go-to source for product, service and business recommendations. Social media is a significant peer influencer. One source says 71 percent of consumers are likely to purchase an item based on social media referrals. Using social media to engage customers or to find and convert prospects takes time and effort. But it is increasingly important that small businesses find ways to connect, engage and drive actions. Here are some tips on how to make it work for your business.
INTEGRATE MARKETING CHANNELS
Find a name, or ‘handle’ that is available on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other social media outlet you may choose to employ. Consistency is important, so a business owner may have to be a bit creative, especially if the business name has common elements, like Jones Bar and Grill.
Then, prompt people with visual clues throughout your marketing channels, especially your website. Add “Follow” buttons on your static website banners. Add social share buttons alongside content that you want to promote such as blogs or events. Embed an RSS feed on your site.
Finally, don’t forget to include your social media handles on emails, business cards, store signage and other channels.
PLAN YOUR CONTENT
What you should post about on your website and social media will vary greatly from business to business, and it takes time to gauge. It depends in part on what customers respond to: a sale, an anniversary, a special event.
As a general rule, people follow brands on social media:
- To obtain promotions and discounts
- For the latest product information
- Customer service (feedback, complaints, queries)
- Entertaining content
- The ability to offer feedback
A predictable schedule will make it easier for the business owner and easier for customers to follow. For example, perhaps Mondays are the day for an exclusive promotion for social media followers, Tuesdays are the day you go behind the scenes, Wednesdays are the day you offer helpful tips, and so on. Even if a business only chooses to post one or two days a week, be consistent.
A VISUAL IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Look for ways to integrate images and other rich media content into your social media posts. Using media like YouTube videos, photos and infographics can increase engagement dramatically. Encourage your customers to post pictures as well.
SOCIAL MEDIA AS A CUSTOMER SERVICE TOOL
Customer service is a very important aspect of social media. Monitor and respond to questions and complaints posted on social media. Share feedback with the person(s) responsible for that aspect of the business.
Do not ignore this vital function of social media. One major customer satisfaction survey firm says businesses which respond to complaints posted on social media earn a significant reputational bump, and those that solve the problems listed earn even higher ratings. Businesses that are not prepared to listen to what is being said to them or about them simply aren’t being social.
It takes time to figure out what works. For example, a business might consider using polls and surveys to engage with followers. But if their network is still small, they might not get useful results – yet. Keep trying new things.
Measure the impact of your social media efforts. Use third party apps or Facebook’s Insights tool to monitor click-through rates. Compare those across posts to identify trends about the type of content that is popular with your customers. Use this data to inform and adjust your content strategy.
For more information on using social media and growing your business, contact the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County. Conveniently located in Camarillo, California, we’re here to help.