Social media has the potential to help build brand name recognition and amplify word-of-mouth advertising for your business. Both important pieces that can help sales, especially in a local environment.
However, reaching your target audience requires more than setting up your business profile on a few choice social networks. Having a social media presence won't magically or quickly:
- build awareness of your brand or business
- drive traffic to your website
- generate sales for your business
Like any other type of marketing, to see results, social media requires time, planning, patience, persistence and, more and more, an investment of cash. It also means your products and services need to live up to your brand promises. If they don't, social media is likely to hurt your business rather than help it ... but this is true whether you are active on social media or not. People share online about their experiences with products and services, whether the businesses representing those products and services are online or not.
That said, social media is a cost-effective marketing tool for many businesses, small and large alike. Well executed, social media can help grow brand-name recognition, your reputation and customer loyalty. When your brand is more widely known, with a good reputation, you are more likely to be in the running for new business than those businesses who are not known in your service area.
If you are new to social media or you are not seeing the success you would like, here are 7 important areas to pay attention to when managing your social networks:
Know your target audience.
- Understand who the target audience is that you want to reach.
- Learn what social networks they are most active on.
Choose wisely the social networks you will be active on.
- Don't try to do it all - unless you have the resources to do so.
- Learn about the social networks you choose to be active on and how they work.
- Choose the right social networks for your business and your available resources.
Set up complete social network profiles before you go public.
- Create a branded website address for each social network. Ideally, one that is consistent across all of your business networks (e.g. twitter.com/SuesPlumbing, facebook.com/SuesPlumbing).
- Use high quality images for your profile picture and any other images (e.g. cover image).
- Use your branding elements (fonts, colours, images, tag lines) where at all possible. These allow your business profile to clearly stand out and be recognizable as belonging to your business.
- Complete any about areas and descriptions.
- Include your website, contact information and the addresses of other social networks (as space permits).
Share content that appeals to your target audience.
- Share content that your target audience will see as helpful, interesting, valuable and/or humorous to them.
- Post regularly to each social network. Research what works best for each one and share accordingly. Monitor and adjust as appropriate.
- Use visuals that are high quality and text that is well-written.
- Take advantage of Social Media Management Tools for pre-scheduling at least some of your posts and for an easy way of monitoring, managing and tracking activity.
Respond to those who comment on what you share.
- Respond to comments and inquiries in a timely manner. Each social network is different and consumer expectations are high in this area.
- 'Like' (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+) or 'favourite' (Twitter) comments, where appropriate.
- Don't ignore challenging or awkward questions or comments. Handle them with tact and diplomacy and avoid becoming defensive or being seen as rude. Tact and humility will win respect for your brand.
Invest time and money to reach your goals.
- Social media may appear to be free but it really isn't. More and more an investment of cash, in addition to time, is needed to really see results. Especially for Facebook Pages.
- When it comes to Facebook, invest cash to get your best content, from your target audience's perspective, into the newsfeed of your target audience and beyond. If you don't do this, you may be spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere. To reach fans in their own newsfeed, most businesses will need to pay to promote at least some of their content.
- Consider advertising to expand the reach of your business on social media.
- Add your social networks as clickable links to your email signature
- Have icons and links to your social networks on your website
- Show links to your key social networks on each of your different social networks
- Include your website and social network addresses on your print material (including statements, invoices, quotes, newsletters, flyers, business cards)
The beauty of social media is that you can share content that is helpful to those you hope to reach, while at the same time building brand name recognition for your business and greater trust with your target audience. This allows your target audience to see you as a resource and makes it much more likely they'll think of you when they're ready to buy what you are offering.