Most would agree that being withdrawn from the social media world is unheard of. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram, no blog, and no LinkedIn – Do you even exist? The same could be said of companies and businesses. In a 2014 study conducted by BrightLocal, 79% of consumers said they researched a company in question not only through their website, but through Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, blogs, BBB ratings, etc. Without the ability to create a positive image for your company through these media platforms, the company’s reputation is left up partially to chance and partially to consumer opinion. To add, if it’s an online-only business, it can be difficult to gain customer trust without assistance from the social media platforms. Adding social media to your business plan is one of the smartest things you could do.
Have a plan before you start & create measurable goals.
There’s no point in using a social media outlet if you don’t measure its effectiveness. A report published by Texas Tech shows that businesses who engage on social media channels have higher customer loyalty than those who do not. Learning about each one of these individual channels is the first step to creating a successful social media plan, and realizing how each one can be put to use in terms of your business goals is the ultimate outcome. You don’t need to be on absolutely EVERY social media platform out there; just the ones that can benefit you the most. In fact, being active on too many platforms can be detrimental, unless you have the manpower to maintain and update all of those platforms everyday. Starting simple is the easiest way to get involved, so a goal such as “gain 45 Twitter followers” is very smart and realistic.
Be consistent and be a good social citizen.
But don’t rely on one application of social media! Each outlet has its own strengths and weaknesses, so pinpointing those qualities helps to create a continuous message across all of your platforms. Keep your message on target, stick to your brand, and stay business-focused. If you make a mistake, always apologize for it. Multiple times, and across multiple platforms. If you publish something incorrectly, fix it, but make a note of it. And above all else, make sure you thank your customers for supporting your business!
Give great content; be engaging.
Use creative techniques to engage your audience. Make it personal, because one size does not fit all! Communicate regularly via each and every platform with your networks. Do NOT spam your social sites with tons of advertisements and blatant marketing techniques-consumers can see right through that. Instead, use the information you’ve learned about your audience to make a connection with them. Find out common interests and post relatable topics to your platforms. For example, if the business is a bakery, post a link to a blog about how to create awesome fondant designs instead of talking about the bakery’s product. Furthermore, programs such as Engagor give brands and businesses the opportunity to interact and engage with more people in real time.
Listen and interpret.
Persistence can most often be mistaken for pushiness. While it’s important to reach out to consumers, you don’t want to overwhelm them. Instead, try listening to what your network is telling you. In reference to customers, many will tell you, “they don’t know what they want!” – This is partially true. But if you listen closely enough, you can interpret what they’re asking for into something useful for the company/business. This is where research comes into play and where we can see its level of importance. Research allows the business to see where its customers are coming from and what they are asking for. Social media platforms make this about a thousand times easier (ok, not an exact number-but you get the point). If you know what your customers really want, they’ll never be unsatisfied.