Business has always been a social affair. From the time the caveman tried to sell a stone wheel to his neighbor while visiting around the warming fire, folks have used social occasions to promote goods and services in an informal, friendly atmosphere. Today’s internet based social gathering spots accomplish the same goal. They are different only in that they are more powerful and further reaching.
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 its 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
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. Consider what social media tools your customers are using. For example, 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 you’re 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. 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, it must be dynamic. Just like a website, it is not meant to be an online brochure. Rather, a social media campaign should be an on-going 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.
Similarly, don’t expect people to become followers of your campaign just because they’ve signed up. Actively pursue and persuade people to join in.
3. Social Media is meant to be just that……Social
Using a Facebook page or Twitter account as a sounding board for company announcements is not going to get people excited about your social media campaign. 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. An active audience is a captive audience. Monitor conversations. Find out what people like, and don’t like, about your 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 will not keep followers around, incentives and utility will. If people realize that ongoing participation will yield rewards for them they are more likely to participate. An 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 should not be a replacement to, or separate from, your overall marketing strategy. It should 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.