Social Media as a Tool for Business
Everyone has at least heard of the “social media” buzzword. Things like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs have become an everyday part of life for many of us. For most, it’s a terrific way to waste time while at work. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. At its core, social media offers an easy and effective way for business to connect with customers. However, don’t expect a Social Media campaign to “ring the register” right away. In it’s purest form, Social Media is about building relationships. After all, the heart of any marketing strategy is just that – building stronger relationships with your customers and your community. A well-run Social Media campaign will then in turn help turn those relationships into sales.
Here are five tips and tricks to launch your business’s social media campaign.
1. Do Your Homework
Many business are eager to jump on the Social Media bandwagon, and are rushing to it without any real plan. Not all social media sites serve the same purpose, so crafting a strategy to suit your business is essential if you expect to see any real return from a social media campaign. The best thing to consider is what social media tools your customers are using. If you’re a retailer, use Twitter to send out special limited time coupons. If you’re a restaurant, use Yelp to gain personal reviews and boost your ratings (thus attracting more customers). If your more of the B2B type, use LinkedIn to connect with industry specific associates. If you have a lot of knowledge to offer, consider hosting a blog on your website that offers valuable “how to’s or interesting stories.” All social media are better suited for certain types of business. Do your research, learn what other like-business are doing well (or not well), and craft your social media approach.
2. Social Media is Dynamic
In order to be effective, social media cannot be static. Just like a website, social media is not meant to be an online brochure. Rather, a social media campaign should be an ongoing narrative. Upload current, interesting, and relevant information regularly. Give people a reason to keep coming back. Social media sites offer a unique advantage to easily and quickly keep people informed on recent developments…so utilize it.
Similarly, don’t expect people to become followers of your campaign just because you’ve signed up. Actively pursue and persuade people join in.
3. Social Media is meant to be just that……Social
Simply using a Facebook page or Twitter account and a sounding board for company announcements is not going to get people excited about your social media campaign. Rather, people want to follow because they want to participate. That is, they want to be part of the conversation. Ask your followers for input, and stimulate conversation. Not just at the “you to customer” level, but also at the “customer to customer” level. Remember, an active audience is a captive audience. Monitor conversations. Find out what people like and also don’t like about your businesses products or services. Use that feedback to improve your business. Even if people aren’t talking specifically about your business they may be talking about subjects pertaining to your industry as a whole. Customer feedback like the kind social media can offer is immensely valuable, so use it.
4. Offer Incentives
Once the glitz and glamour of your new social media campaign wears off, you’ll need to find ways to keep people interested. Novelty alone wont keep followers around, incentives and utility will. If people realize that ongoing participation will yield rewards for them they are more likely to participate. Any easy way to accomplish this is by offering periodic specials exclusive to your social media followers. If your rewards are effective, people will talk about your brand, leading to more social media followers and in general more customers.
5. Social Media is just one piece of the puzzle
Your Social Media campaign does not occur as a replacement to, or separate from your overall marketing strategy. Social Media should instead be an integral complimentary piece of your greater plan. Ask people to follow you in your e-mail newsletters, on your website and in your printed collateral. Similarly, use your Social Media presence to drive people to your website, or advertise your new publication. The best marketing approach is one that utilizes ALL forms of media.