Lately I have been researching social media networking just to see if I’m doing things the “smart” way. I want to utilize my social networks in the most efficient way possible without slacking on any of them. What I found useful was an article that listed tips for growing your business through social media. Clearly we all want our social media sites to produce more customers for us so I thought to myself, “of course I want to know these tips!” I read through all seven of them and found them to be very useful. I’m using them as a reference from now on when I feel myself getting off track. Here are the tips that really helped me; I hope they help you as well!!
While most of the platforms themselves are free, RG Logan, director of strategy at Carrot Creative, points out that social is an increasingly “pay-to-play” endeavor. Logan suggests that businesses serious about entering the social space allocate a marketing budget specifically for social media. “It’s quite difficult to break through if you’re not putting money behind your efforts,” he says. Last year, Facebook admitted that the average brand post is seen by just 16% of the page’s followers, and paying to promote boosts your reach and thus your impact.
For businesses that don’t promote via paid channels, it’s especially crucial to get the word out about social efforts by taking advantage of as many avenues as possible — add social media widgets to your company’s website, put Facebook URLs or Twitter handles on business cards and email signatures and post flyers in-store that clearly direct customers to your social pages.
2. Pick Your Platform(s) Wisely
Not every business needs a presence on every social platform. Certain businesses will flourish on visually rich sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube, while others may have more success with Twitter’s 140-character format.
The best advice for businesses that are trying to take things online and create a presence is first to watch — instead of jumping in — and look at pages that you like and make active observations about what’s going on. Also, if you’re not comfortable on one of these streams, don’t sign up.
3. Create a Community of ‘Insiders’
One of the biggest appeals of “liking” a brand on Facebook or following your local coffee shop on Twitter is the promise of being in-the-know about events, promotions and special offers or discounts. In addition, social media provides brands with a unique opportunity to show their audiences a behind-the-scenes look of their businesses.
Along with a community-centric attitude and promoting your pages, it’s important to listen to the fans and followers who take the time to find you online, and take their suggestions or feedback to heart, even if the comments are negative.
4. Social Is Not a Hard Sell
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Social channels are not the place to force your brand messaging on unsuspecting fans. Online audiences are particularly wary of thinly veiled advertising labeled as “content.” This can be a hard pill for businesses to swallow, particularly for enthusiastic small business owners that want to share their innovative new concept with as many people as possible. I love hearing about my company and how awesome we are, so why wouldn’t everyone else? This attitude is a terrific way to drive fans to “unlike”.
Adopt a content strategy that appeals to audiences’ emotions. It’s a balance. Focus on emotional analytics as well as numerical ones. Pushing out content that is strong, conversational, and that especially evokes an emotional response will build stronger engagement and audience growth. People are more likely to comment, retweet or share “feel-good” content that elicits memories or positive associations. You’re marketing to humans, not robots.
5. Social Is 24/7
Customers are likely going to be online during off-hours (nights and weekends), and the ideal social strategy doesn’t shut off completely for hours or days on end.
Social media is an extremely powerful avenue for everything from customer support, customer acquisition and building long-term relationships with those who are passionate about what we do. From advice and resources to user and merchant stories, new and trending products to promotional contests and giveaways.
Posting on social platforms on a daily basis is one way to engage with the online community. That’s not to say every small business needs to hire round-the-clock surveillance of its social accounts, but going completely MIA from 5 p.m. on Friday evening until 9 a.m. Monday morning may mean missing out on potential business, or fueling the flames of an upset customer by seemingly ignoring his complaints.
6. Sweepstakes and Giveaways
One of the easiest ways to attract a social following is to offer your customers incentives to “like,” follow or connect with your business. Hosting a sweepstakes or contest can generate valuable buzz about your business, create brand affinity and entice potential to check out your site.
BUT while you’re attracting a wide audience, you risk sacrificing the quality of those leads, and may end up with a low-value customer who doesn’t care about your brand in the long-term. Brands and agencies must accept the fact that not everyone who participates is going to be a brand loyalist, but know that you now have the ability to nurture them toward loyalty in the long run via content and worthwhile experiences.
7. Agency vs. In-House
There are differing opinions about who should handle your brand’s social media efforts.
On one hand, hiring in-house ensures that your brand messaging is on-point, and having a member of your own team managing a social presence ensures information is more likely to be accurate, timely and cohesive with your brand’s unique voice. On the flip side, many small businesses simply don’t have the time, resources or know-how to dedicate themselves to social, and handing the reigns over to professionals who are well-versed in online marketing strategy may prove effective.
Brands should keep social media in-house if they are willing to dedicate appropriate resources internally to creating content. This means having full-time staff to drafting copy, designing content, analyzing content and optimizing that content. It’s really important that social media isn’t treated like a side job, or you’ll get side-job results.
Hiring an agency may be an excellent investment for companies that are overwhelmed, out of ideas or already spread too thin. However, the brand must be willing to place its trust in the agency, as well as maintain open lines of communication and approve content in a timely manner.