Why many businesses are missing the boat with social media (and how to make sure you’re not one of them!)
Social media and blogs reach 80% of all active internet users in the U.S., and businesses are flocking to social media to market themselves. However, many of them are not leveraging the platforms to their potential. Here are seven tips to help you find success for your business with these tools.
Not using social media: Many small businesses are concerned that they aren’t sure how to use social media tools, or do not have the time to effectively manage social media campaigns. As more and more consumers turn to social media and search engines to make decisions on what to buy, where to eat, shop, vacation and more, businesses that avoid social media are missing out on tremendous opportunities to connect with customers and prospects alike. If your team is lacking the knowhow or the time to manage social media, find help. Dream Local Digital has a wealth of resources to assist you.
Not being part of the conversation: Some businesses believe that starting to utilize social media will “invite” controversy or bad reviews, and that ignoring it is a proper strategy. However, in today’s environment, businesses will be talked about on social media whether they like it or not. Coca Cola, in fact, did not start their Facebook page, two fans did. When the page quickly reached 2million fans, the Company realized they needed to take control of the page and it is now one of the largest in the world with over 55million fans at this writing. Social media is word of mouth on steroids and in public, and each business should take the management of their brand and reputation online seriously by being part of the conversation, and understanding what is said about them where online and responding appropriately. Before social media, when the average person had a bad experience they told ten other people. With social media, that number increases exponentially. The average person has more than 225 friends on Facebook alone. There are several tools available to allow you to monitor what is being said about your brand and where online, and it’s important for businesses to take control of their reputation management.
Use the right networks: While Facebook is the largest (more than 1 billion active users at this writing), and for most businesses the most important network, each social network has different strengths and abilities to reach your potential customers. Pinterest or Instagram may be the best choices for jewelry or fashion, Foursquare is powerful for deals and loyalty programs, LinkedIn is strongest for business to business, and Twitter is strong for customer service, discovery, and promoting content. It’s important to understand each network and its strengths, and how you can best deliver your brand messages to your audience.
Develop clear goals and have a plan: When first starting out with social media, building brand awareness and audience are primary goals, but they could also include reaching new target markets, developing loyalty programs and engaging with customers, customer service, and more. Have realistic expectations and goals, and match them to your overall marketing plan for your business. Also, have a strategic plan on how to use social media – what messages will be posted where, when? What target audiences are you trying to reach? Successful businesses have well-thought out strategies and do not post on a whim on social media. You wouldn’t whip out a TV commercial at the last minute, and you shouldn’t do that for social media posts either.
Know your customer, and how to find them online: One of the beauties of online marketing, particularly with social media, is the ability to specifically target niche audiences. On LinkedIn, for example, you can target your message only to specific industries, companies, or job titles. On Facebook, you can target users by geography, interests, and other key demographics. Unlike traditional advertising that more than likely needs to have broad appeal, you can be specific with your audience and connect with the on a deeper level. This requires business owners to be specific. Who are you trying to reach? Out of your entire product or service line, what is the most profitable to you and who buys that? Where do they hang out online?
Become an expert and resource: The most successful businesses online utilize social media to become a resource and establish their expertise. What questions are you best able to answer for potential customers? What are frequently asked questions in your industry or about your business? What objections do you need to overcome in the sales process? Create social media (and potentially blog) posts on these topics and promote them. It will build credibility, brand awareness, increase your rankings in search engine results, and drive sales.
Measure results: The adage is true “what you measure, moves”, and social media marketing provides detailed reports and statistics on results. Utilize the reporting available on the networks (Facebook Insights are the strongest across networks), and also review the Google analytics of your site to gauge traffic being driven to your site from social platforms.
Not sure how to do this for your business? Need help growing your business with social media? Write firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you a free social media review with recommendations and tips just for you and your business!