Your Business and Social Media
Social media impacts on how businesses connect with existing customers and potential clients.
It is also re-defining how businesses are marketing and branding themselves. Social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, are continuously encouraging individuals to share content and connect with each other. Businesses have an opportunity to be part of this process by actively engaging with people in these channels.
Social media provides a convenient, cost-effective way for businesses to talk directly to their customer base, improving customer service delivery, engaging with their target audience and generating a loyal customer base.
Social media tools may assist businesses to save time and money by providing alternative methods to meet customers’ wants and needs. Rather than running expensive face-to-face surveys, door knocking, focus groups and televised advertising campaigns, businesses are increasingly utilising social media.
Within minutes, a business can establish a Facebook page, start micro-blogging through Twitter, and broadcast to the world via YouTube.
How do I know if social media is right for my business?
Businesses should carefully consider the type of product or service they are selling and the most appropriate communication channel for them before launching into social media.
For example, businesses selling straight to the consumer (B2C) typically attract higher levels of interaction on social media platforms. If you own a clothing retail shop, Facebook and Twitter may be the perfect way to increase engagement with your customers.
However, if your business sells directly to other businesses (B2B) and you sell a specialised goods or service, the investment of time and resources on social media might not be of benefit to you.
Social media along with print, TV and radio, may play a part in your overall marketing strategy. Consider who your target audience is and the most cost effective and efficient way to reach them. Once you can answer this, you will have some idea of which communication channels are best for your business.
How Can I Use Social Media Effectively?
Using social media effectively involves establishing and maintaining a loyal online community. In order to do this, businesses need to listen to discussions within this community. Find out what their concerns are and what interests them and become an active part of these discussions.
Best practice shows that businesses should be using social media to engage with customers in a meaningful, transparent manner. Communication should be mutually beneficial and social media should be treated as a dialogue, not a monologue.
Many businesses use social media to engage with their customers, to learn about them and what they want. They can find out in real time what their customers are thinking, what products they want created and what they think of the business.
To be seen as credible in the social media sphere, businesses need to be open to positive and negative feedback. Online communities are often critical.
However, they will praise a business offering good value of one that builds their loyalty through active engagement.
No business avoids making mistakes, the key is to learn from those errors, accept constructive criticism and implement new processes to resolve any existing issues.
How to build your social media strategy
Many social campaigns fail due to the lack of commitment required to be successful. Often business owners will sign up to a host of services, find them too time consuming to maintain and eventually give up on the process. Choose your social media channel carefully.
Initially it is ideal to subscribe to just one service. Increase subscriptions as you become familiar with the services available for your business.
Focus on your Social Media Content
One of the keys to social media success for businesses is to develop, create and share content.
Create content that is related to your business offering, whether a service or product. This content can take the form of a post, blog, tweet, video or picture. Think about your social media community and your customers and choose content that they will find useful or interesting. Take the time to engage with your customers and align your content accordingly.
Social media content allows you an opportunity to build your profile as an expert in your field. Write ‘how to’ blogs, that provide advice and tips. Engage your audience by sharing ideas and asking for opinions — but make sure that you respond to them. Social media is all about two-way communication.
Create a content schedule for your business that outlines the type of content you aim to share, and when.
Businesses should be serious about entering into social media and create a digital media strategy. They should plan how best to integrate services over time, make a commitment to the plan and execute it.
Only use social media platforms you are comfortable using. A manageable way to get started is to choose a single platform to focus on. For example, create a business blog and commit to posting regular articles. Blogs are terrific for driving traffic to related business websites.
Or open a Twitter account and devote an hour each week to sending out tweets and retweeting messages from followers. Another option for businesses could be to spend 10 minutes each day focusing on building a presence on Facebook or Linkedln. The key to success is to be consistent, timely and relevant.
An understanding of how each social media channel works is important. Research them before developing a social media plan to ensure that the messaging for your business connects with the target market effectively.
For example, Twitter is a very immediate form of communication and messages are often spread across the user base extremely quickly. Twitter messages are short, sharp and to the point. Twitter is a great platform to use for building relationships, answering questions, resolving complaints and sharing interesting or useful links.
Facebook, on the other hand, requires a different approach. Facebook messages need to be tailored to the audience to ensure that the audience engages with your business. Building engagement with your content will help ensure that your posts and messages are seen in your audiences’ news feeds.
The common link between all social media platforms is honesty in communications. Invite current and prospective customers into a conversation and build a relationship with them.
Build up Your Social Media Presence Over Time
Don’t give up. Constantly monitor Google Analytics and evaluate activities, working out which activities and tactics is driving traffic to the business website. It is also a good idea to keep an eye on what competitors are doing, but don’t stray too far from the original website.
Most importantly, continuously listen to the needs, comments and discussions of customers in every forum —online and in person.
Contact SME Design to ascertain whether a social media strategy could benefit your business.