Okay, so you have a business and see that the competition are using social media to help promote their products and services. You need to be on there too….don’t you? It’s what all the ‘kids’ are doing and the best way to drive business through your door…isn’t it? Well yes…and no. You’re going to need a strategy, or at least an idea on what to do and perhaps what NOT to do. Think about where your customers are online, where do they ‘hang-out’? Is it on Facebook (around 33 million of us on there in the UK alone)? Are your customers avid Tweeters? Or do you work in the B2B sector and would benefit from learning how LinkedIn could help your business grow? It could be a combination of all these. Plus Pinterest, Google+, Blogging etc etc What you need to understand is being on all of these platforms could help, but wouldn’t it be more beneficial to concentrate on 1 or 2 of them?
If you have an idea on the platforms you customers and potential clients are using, you’ve set your profiles/accounts up ready for the masses of people to come to you and start interacting and demanding your products and wanting more information and telling there friends….but this isn’t happening is it? How do you tell people you’ve arrived? Well social media has to work hand-in-hand with traditional marketing methods too. Email current clients, customers, suppliers and stakeholders notifying them that you are now tweeting. Have the URL of your LinkedIn profile printed on literature you can hand to these people. Are you an e-commerce business? Why not offer a 10% discount to those that are currently buying from you if they ‘like’ you on Facebook? Thinking about linking your social media accounts from your website, and don’t just hide them away at the bottom, put them in the header, next to your big brand logo, flashing lights and all! So, you’ve established which platforms you should be using, you’ve got people following, liking and connecting with you on there, not what? What do you tell them?
If you keep throwing up a like to your home-page pleading with them to buy these people who have welcomed you into their social media family are going to want a divorce. And they’re keeping the kids! Think about what people would like to see and hear. New products, discounts, promotions, offers are going to be greeted but also try to understand that you can use these tools for so much more. Market research, ask questions from people and get them to be critical, it’s the easiest way to turn your business from being ‘okay’ into one people will spend with. Customer service, if someone writes on your facebook wall suggesting a product is faulty or they have an issue with your services, don’t delete it and pretend it never happened – everyone has a voice on social media (plus a button on their keyboard named ‘Print Screen’), bad news and poor customer service could quickly escalate and give people the perception that you don’t care for your customers, you just want their cold hard cash…and that’s not you. Is it?
If it is, social media might not be the tool for you. I suggest you go and stand on a box with a megaphone point to your shop door and tell everyone how great you are. Would that work in real-life? No? Than you wouldn’t do that socially either now would you? There’s much more to consider too. Timing. Not often an issue people think about when using these tools but give this some thought. When will your potential customers and clients be online? Is this during the day? Evening? Pre-9am travelling into work and using twitter to pass the time? If you are updating first thing in the morning to ‘get it out of the way’, it’s likely that no one is even going to see your updates. Step into your audiences shoes and try to gain an understanding of when they will be ‘logged-into’ facebook.
Worried now that you should be updating your social networks when you might be elsewhere? Don’t be. They are many tools and apps available to help you schedule information to go out (although this can be seen as being a little robotic), but be wary that if someone replies to your messages you might want to respond ASAP too. Timing and measuring your updates (how many comments, likes, retweets) will help gauge when and what to post too. Something American Apparel with hindsight might have reconsidered: http://mashable.com/2012/10/30/american-apparel-sandy/ The one best piece of advice on formulating your strategy….think about the individuals (your audience) who are going to be seeing your updates.