Social Media continues to evolve. It seems to be changing every month with new platforms, new trends, and applications. So you have your business on Facebook and Twitter and you think you are doing just fine in the world of social media. But are you really? Here are a few facts with business and social media. As Facebook becomes more of a "We want your money" operation, more and more people are drifting away to find the free platforms for their business to reach their masses. If you want the goodies now on Facebook, you are finding you have to cough up some dough to get it. Facebook's recent audience network launch program means for the business, the days of something for nothing is over.
What is becoming more popular for target marketing is video and images. Many of the Fortune 500 companies are moving in this direction for advertising and marketing. Images tell a lot and young shoppers especially are using this to their advantage and in their shopping habits. Pinterest and Instagram are picking up not only more users but advertisers as well as they pull away from traditional desktop platforms. Mobility, video, and photo images is 3 key words you as a business need to grasp and embrace for marketing and advertising. Video and still images have helped push Instagram, Pinterest, and Vine to new heights. Another popular tool for the young 15 to 25 crowd is Snapchat. While advertisers and still trying to figure out how to capture this new hot platform, Snapchat has become very trendy to this key target market.
While I am not saying you should not still keep a solid market plan in place for Facebook and Twitter, businesses need to be open to new platforms and monitor social media trends to capture that market share. keep up regular engagement conversations with your customers and stay connected. Remember, spending your marketing dollars in an empty room is not only fruitless, it is silly. Capture your market share and stay abreast of technology changes. Be a leader in the social media circle. Reach your goals.
Is marketing efforts too much for small business? Those who are "Mom and Pop" type operations typically get overwhelmed with marketing. Trying to do too much among all those channels of marketing (social media, advertising, print as well as on-line) can get very confusing and costly. Small businesses will spend over 20 to 30 hours a week allocating not only the employee but the owner as well. Trying to be everywhere they think their customers are is a crap shoot unless the small business steps back and research their place in their market share. Multi platform marketing as a small business owner takes patience and you may be surprised you don't need to cross-channel at all depending on your location, your competition, and your customer base.
If you are dishing out money to market professionals to help you promote your business and not seeing an effective ROI on your investment or trying to do it all yourself with that same negative result then you are obviously spinning your wheels and wasting good hard-earned money. If you are not engaging a professional your errors could include:
Not knowing how to use the tools
Spending too much time
Your customers are not on the channels you selected
Not measuring the analytics correctly
Social Media platforms and advertising outlets is not a drop an ad here and a tweet their type of marketing. You need to know your customers and what you are selling and to whom. If you are paying a firm or agency to do it for you with a negative ROI then you need to sit down with them and find out why. If you are doing it yourself with wasted hours of a small base of clients looking at your sites then ask your customers directly what they want or survey them. Marketing for small business does not have to be painful just effective. Take a few steps back and breathe. Then take baby steps.
OK, so you are familiar with Social Media as a platform and you know you need it to get your branding out there to the masses. Great. But how are you going to do it? What is your game plan? How are you going to win? While there are many with the old phrase "It worked for me!" how a small business markets their brand depends on many variables. There are however a few key and simple plan of action items you can embrace. Here are a few tips I have come across and have engaged as best practices with my clients.
OK, so you got your Facebook landing page up. That Twitter Account is rolling. You even posted a few Instagram Videos. You spent time, maybe even invested in assigning an employee to mange your social media. So where are all the customers? Why isn't anyone interacting with my business? Is anyone even out there? Putting your brand out there and expecting instant results takes more than just creating the platforms. It does take work. It also takes interaction and response. Here are a few reasons why you be failing to attract new customers or clients.
1. Advertising or interacting? Social Media overall is not the place to advertise your business. While maybe running a coupon or announcing an upcoming event is OK here and there, your platforms are to engage your client base about relevant events such as new products or services that may relate or effect what you provide. Create interaction with your streams on social media but do not make it an advertising wall. It turns people away.
2. Updating your content? How often to you go to your platforms and update your content or answer your followers questions? You should check in daily or at the very least, several times a week and add or respond to your followers. To say "We are on Facebook or Twitter" just to say you are on there without doing anything is really a waste of your time and your followers and gives a very poor representation of your brand.
3. Social Media means being social. Make your content to where it will create conversation or be forwarded on to others. This helps with your analytics and branding being spread out there in cyber space.
4. Autopost or not to autopost. Using software like Hoot Suite or similar is great and I am guilty of this as much as the next person. We get busy. However it is always good to try to individualize or at the very least check in on your individual platforms and make them personal by adding unique posts and respond to your followers. Your email can be set up to where someone responded to your post so you can at least answer them or say "thanks" for forwarding your post.
5. Responding? Are you responding to posts? Someone asks you something or says something negative are you responding? You must. If they say something negative about your business answer them. Don't delete and say stick it buddy. They have a reason and they need addressed.
6. Tracking and gaining followers. Use analytics to track your ROI. Social Media within itself is a part of your business strategy. We don't do it for fun or because the younger generation is doing it. We do to market our brand. Track your time and investment and see how it is growing your business. As my title says. If it is not you are doing something wrong. 9 of 10 times it is because you don't put any effort into it. If you don't have the time, hire or appoint someone within your staff to manage it or take your platforms down until you do have the time. Having dead space is worse than having something there just because my competition does. Use Google analytics or something similar to track your activity. It is just the same as websites I see of businesses that are nothing more than a place holder. No fresh content, the staff pictures are outdated, the business has moved or remodeled and their website has content from 5 years ago. Would you do business there? Same with your social media. Be fresh, be responsive, and don't use your platforms as a "big sale" advertising gimmick. Good luck.
We have all been there. The customer is not happy. They want your product or service discounted or even free. So when is saying you are really sorry appropriate? Is the customer as the saying goes, "Always right?" We do not like bad feelings, bad press, or with today's social media, a blast saying don't do business with so and so because they shafted me. Many times we do owe an apology because we did in fact screw up. We missed the boat. An employee did something wrong, the product was defective, the service was performed wrong, we did not smile right, it could be a number of things. In this competitive world, we have to sometimes save face and take the loss and say we are sorry. How can I make this up to you?
Then you have the typical customer out there who is always looking for a freebie, a law suit, or anything to capitalize off you. They make their living at it and you just got picked today. In my research and past experience in business, here are some simple tips for you to kick around.
1. Is the customer's demands reasonable? If you find the complaint small or within your company's policy then by all means fix it. If not, telling them you are sorry is not needed. You did the service or sold the product to the best of your and the companies' ability.
2. Always take time to understand the complaint and tell the customer you will look into it if it does not involve you directly. Maybe the complaint is an afterthought or does not even involve you or your business directly. Third parties sometimes cause the complaint. Just caring sometimes will fix the complaint.
3. If you get someone like I mentioned above, Mr. or Miss "I want this for free by golly I will sue you to get it!" then you need to also be firm and contact your legal team and many times, a simple letter from them to your irate customer will calm the waters fast. It may cost you some money but your reputation and your brand is worth the damage control with these type of people. Remember, social media is world-wide and one bad rap can go viral in a hurry. You need to ask yourself. "How important is my reputation and my business?" A few hundred bucks here is well spent.
Twitter is a business social media tool. If you do not think that, think again. If you are using it for your business, are you taking full advantage of the capabilities of Twitter? Here are a few tips on using Twitter to engage your customer base and perhaps add to that. Twitter as well as other social media platforms are an extension of your brand. You may have set office or store hours but social media is your marketing arm that is open 24-7 365 days of the year. When you are not there, it should be selling for you. Let's get to my points.
Photos: Twitter now allows photos. Using interesting eye-catching photos will draw attention to your tweets. Make them fun but not stupid. Don't make them overbearing either like "Buy Now!" Use them to show your brand or for "inside" events. Allow interaction with your followers as they may want to know more about the photo.
Reply: You get tweets with questions or comments, take time to reply. Yes I am guilty of this sometimes but if you pick up followers, follow back. You get a nice comment, thank them. You get a question, answer them. This builds rapport
Don't blab on and on: Twitter max characters are 140. Keep your posts to that or less. Attention span today with social media is less than 3 seconds under most cases, especially with young followers. They don't care nor have the time to read all your stuff. Try to keep it short
The "Other Guys": Follow what your competition is doing. If you sell widgets, see who else is selling widgets in your market area. If they have 500 followers and you have 75, you need to get on the ball and figure out what they are doing right and what you are doing wrong.
The Technical Stuff: Learn how to use the tools of Twitter. Consider adding HootSuite so you can automate your tweets. It is free or you can move up to the business paid platform. Learn to use # hash tags to broaden your "hits" on your tweets. Learn to use the . (period) to allow all your followers to see your tweets instead of the @ symbol which is a single reply. (Unless you really want to just reply to one follower obviously)
Good luck with Twitter and I hope these points were of value to you!
You may be already using the main 3 for social media (Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, but there are other resources out there that you may be missing. Social Media is more than creating a site and then sitting back and watching. You have to interact, respond to posts, and keep your content fresh. Having platforms means maintaining them . Besides the above mentioned platforms, I would like to share with you, some others that you may have overlooked that will help with your branding and marketing efforts.
A recent article stated that now over 115 Fortune 500 companies have embraced Instagram for their marketing campaigns. So what is your business doing? Instagram which started out offering only picture uploads now
accepts video with up to 15 seconds of content. This app (similar to Vine) has become a favorite for both consumers and businesses alike. So what do you get out of using Instagram? Demand generation, real-time (or close to it)
branding of your product offerings or services, and much more. Instagram allows you to post your products on sale, a service you offer, or an event you may be creating. It is simple to do. With your smartphone now a studio within a phone, you have your camera, your sound and if you need, you can even download editing software for your pictures or video. Most of these too are free. With ever shrinking advertising budgets, marketing your brand with Instagram is a very inexpensive way to promote.
Using hash tags with Instagram is also increases your search engine hits. Using a minimum of 4 to 10 hash tags will generate hits for you via search engines and increase your views. #Sale @ Bobs or #big sale are
simple examples. As to when to post, remember that social media applications are 24-7. Do not think that just because your business is 9 to 5 that you only post pictures or videos the same time. People today are very social media savvy and will check Instagram evenings and weekends as
well. Always keep that in mind. Try Instagram with your next marketing project and see what this neat app can do for you. Facebook now owns Instagram and yes you can post direct to FB landing page with Instagram.
It used to be customer service was that desk everybody lined up or that "special" phone number you called when you had an issue with a product or service. For some businesses it still is. Today however these two items have been combined or replaced by social media platforms to allow their customers to interact and receive answers to their problems more quickly. Having social media platform allows your customers to feel they are important to you
(which obviously they are) and it gives them a feeling their voice is being heard. So why does your business need a social customer service platform? Here are a couple of key reasons in my opinion and experience why you need to catch up with the technology.
NEW BUSINESS: When your social media team (Be
it your own employees or a contracted service) interacts with customers, you create a relationship of happy customers who will tell others. It also allows you to offer special offers to them to make them feel good about contacting you.
Also new business is created by offering tips on other products that you can offer by qualifying their needs.
BUILDING VALUE: It is no secret if you use social media with your business, you are looking very visible and savvy for doing business. With younger customers who have money to spend, you are tapping into a market which
shows that social media interaction creates spending by as much as 40%. Your social customer service platform acts a spring-board.
PREVENTIVE MEDICINE: Offering a social customer service platform builds good will with your customers and stops the bleeding of "Nobody will help me" syndrome. This builds your reputation of caring about what your customers think, what you can do to help their situation, and allows word of mouth to spread via their own personal social media outlets that your company is great to deal with and fixing issues.
Whether your business is a Mom and Pop or a large
operation, developing a customer social platform is not a huge investment. Saving your customer base by offering an outlet for their voice to be heard when an issue crops up will pay dividends in the long run. You can use Twitter, your business Facebook Page , your web site, or run it through your CRM tools. Bottom line, make your customer service social!
If you are using social media to promote your business and yet your business is still unproductive, failing, or customers still are bailing by the droves, don't blame social media, blame yourself. Sound harsh? Facts are facts. Here are some reasons I have found through my own visits with fellow business owners, research, and on hand experience why social media is good as only the people behind it executing the content.
1. Value Are you providing good valuable content
that has interest to your followers? Do you create content that allows interaction or are you only thinking of yourself of what you like? Create content that will make them want to come back for more or click on other links that leads to what you do or products you sell.
2. Analytics Do you take time to measure what you post and see if it is effective? If what you do is not monitored or measured why are you wasting your time with that content? Take time to invest in a measuring system such as Google or a similar program and see what is working for you.
3. Who is posting for you While having a young person or an employee post content for you is cost-effective, do
you monitor what they post? What they may think is "cool" or informative may not be what you or your customers want. Do they have your business model at heart? Watch what they do, hire a professional or do it yourself. The newbie might be excited and think they know it all but they
may wind up posting who they got trashed with last night or dated accidentally on your professional platforms and you, my friend, will have mess. Make sure they know what they are doing.
4. Sell yourself and the business on Social Media.
It's OK to suggestive sell and promote your business (not you) on your platforms. Offer a special, talk about a product that you offer. Don't be a blow-hard, don't be egotistical that you know it all but offer to your customers, your service and your expertise in a professional manner.
Using social media can be a fun and rewarding experience to gain trust, customers, and friends when done in the right methodology. Have a plan and execute it properly.
Good luck and now go make some money!