As a business owner, you’ve probably been told that you need to have a social media management plan in place. However, you may be wondering whether investing time in social media will have any real impact on your business. In truth, a growing number of consumers look to social media for everything from product recommendations to community events. Ultimately, this means that all businesses can benefit from having a healthy social media presence on the web.
An Increase in Community Recognition
Social media is a great way to showcase what you have to offer to potential customers. A well-crafted social media account can act as a window to your brand. It gives your potential customers an inside look at what they can expect when they visit your business. You can use your social media channels to highlight your products, services, and even your team members. Use your social channels as an opportunity to show potential customers how you differ from your competition.
Aside from gaining new business, social media is a great customer relationship management tool. Because there is so much competition out there for consumers’ attention, even past customers need ongoing incentives to visit a business. Use social media to keep past customers up-to-date on your offerings, promotions, and special events. Social media is a good way to keep previous customers engaged, helping to earn their repeat business.
Take Customer Service to Another Level
One of the biggest draws of social media is that it provides customers with a direct line of communication to your business. Many consumers enjoy the ability to directly message a business via Facebook and other social channels. Although some consumers aren’t keen on placing a phone call to a business, social media allows them to contact you 24/7.
If a potential customer reaches out to your business online, use it as an opportunity to make a great first impression. Be sure to reply to any messages as quickly as possible. This may be difficult to do if you don’t have a dedicated community manager on staff. Consider hiring a social media consultant to help keep your fans engaged.
Improve Your SEO
Many business owners are not aware that there are ways that their social media accounts can rank on the first page of popular search engines like Google. A well-tailored social media account will be given favorable positions on search results. That being said, if your competitors are utilizing social media and your business is not, you could be losing out on a great deal of potential business. Once users visit your social media profiles, they may move on to view your company website as well, which will benefit that website’s page rank. Social media backlinks are an easy, free way to improve the SEO of your company website.
Save on Your Marketing Budget
In the past, print marketing like newsletters, mailers, and flyers were commonly used to promote businesses. Ultimately, print marketing is costly and ineffective. One of the best things about using social media marketing to promote your business is that there are virtually no start-up costs. At this time, none of the major social media networks charge users to create business profiles. You may decide down the road that you want to invest in extras like paid advertising, but you can get started with social media today with no money out of pocket.
Choosing The Right Channels
When creating a social media plan for your business, your first decision will be about what channels you want to utilize for your online presence. A digital marketing professional can make recommendations as to which social media channels are best suited for your business. Instagram is very popular with boutiques, restaurants, and other businesses with tangible products. Professional service providers might find that they find more prospects on LinkedIn. However, by far the most popular social media channels across all industries is Facebook.
Facebook continues to be popular among businesses for many reasons. First, Facebook has a huge user base that is extremely diverse. That means no matter what type of business you own, chances are your customers are on Facebook. Second, Facebook allows businesses to share a variety of content including text, photos, and videos. This gives businesses the flexibility to share the type of content that best resonates with their core audience. Facebook profile layouts themselves are extremely detailed compared to other channels, allowing you to share more details about your business. No matter what social media channel(s) you decide to utilize in your marketing plan, you’ll want to make sure you follow some best practices to ensure you get the ROI for your time and effort online.
Social Media Cheat Sheet – 5 Steps For Getting Started
1. SET UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS CORRECTLY
The first step towards social media success is to set up your accounts correctly. Make sure that your social media profile is complete and includes vital information about your business like your hours, location, contact information and a link to your website. Once a potential customer finds your business through social media, they will want to know how to contact you. If this information isn’t readily available on your profile, chances are they won’t look any further. Another important element of your social media profile is your company bio. Ensure that your company bio is well thought out and adequately describes your business and what makes you unique.
2. MAKE SURE YOU STAND OUT FROM YOUR COMPETITION
Aside from a well-written company bio, everything you post on social media is an opportunity to stand out from your competition. It’s important to find your unique voice online and work to keep that voice consistent through all of your social media posts. Take some time to decide how you want your audience to see you. Do you want to appear as a company that is straight-laced and professional? Or do you want to want to express yourself in a more casual, light-hearted manner? Facebook and other digital marketing best practices come down to storytelling. Using your social channels to tell the story of your brand is the best way to turn followers into customers.
3. AUDIT YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION
Most consumers will check to see if a business has online reviews before visiting them for the first time. If you’re new to online marketing, there may already be reviews of your business circulating the web. The three most popular sites for local business reviews are Yelp, Google, and Facebook.
You will want to audit these channels to see what your customers are saying about your business. Because online reviews are a great way to gain insight into your business, you’ll want to pay attention to them. Most importantly, reviews show you feedback directly from your customers. Online reviews tell you a lot about what you’re doing right and where your business can stand to improve.
Although it sounds counter-intuitive, even a poor review can be good for your business. No matter how dedicated you are to customer service, there will eventually be a customer who has a bad experience. If this customer shares about their experience online, use the opportunity to show potential customers how you handle problem situations.
Strive to reply to negative reviews swiftly and professionally as possible. Apologize to the customer for coming up short of their expectations. Let them know what you’re going to do to fix the situation. Most importantly, remember that consumers look favorably on companies that are able to admit their mistakes and handle them gracefully.
Generally, the more positive reviews you can gain for your company, the better. Put a system in place to encourage customers to review your business online if they’ve had a pleasant experience. You can accomplish this by adding a review request on the bottom of a receipt or email.
4. FOCUS METRICS THAT MATTER
Many business owners focus on the wrong things when it comes to measuring their success on social media. One common myth is that you should strive to have as many followers as possible. However, having a large number of followers does nothing if you don’t have an engaged audience. Instead of focusing on “likes”, businesses should turn their attention to other important success indicators. Ultimately, factors like engagement and conversions are more imortant in the long run. There are many useful analytics tools available that can help you measure the success of your social media efforts.
5. DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL ALONE
Not every business has the time to focus on social media or the budget to hire a full-time digital marketer. For these reasons, many businesses choose agency managed social media profiles for their digital marketing needs. A professional social media monitoring agency can make sure that you’re getting the maximum ROI from your online profiles. Some social media services you can outsource include content creation, community management, and digital advertising. A professional social media consultant will help you create engaging content and a steady stream of new customers.