Why all the hubbub about social media? Many businesses today still do not have a social media presence. However, the reality is that social networking can bring a whole new dimension to your business. Social media, when used effectively, can provide unique benefits to your company.
Through social media, you can:
- Build your brand and reputation
- Differentiate your company and products from those of your competitors
- Compete with larger companies
- Create public trust
- Attract new business and website traffic
- Reach a large audience on a low-cost budget
There are many social networks at your disposal. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and SnapChat are generally the most widely used. You should take a strategic approach to choose which networks are best suited to your business and do a little groundwork before making your decision. Survey your customers to find out what networks they use and do your own independent research as to the different types of social accounts and the demographics associated with each network to determine the best fit.
Each channel has different users and you will need a unique strategy for each. What works on Facebook might not be right for LinkedIn or Instagram. Consider the gender and age bracket of the client base you hope to attract. For example, certain networks are more popular with Millennials, while others appeal to a more broadened demographic. Also, take a realistic look at the time involved in managing your social media accounts and don’t take on more that you can handle. Do not open accounts unless you are prepared to integrate their management as part of your everyday business – a neglected account will make your business look badly organized and, ultimately, be counterproductive.
Once you have your social media accounts up and running, make sure your new accounts are integrated into all of your business communication and marketing material. Keep your social media content varied, authentic and professional. Remember, social media is about interacting with customers and potential customers on their level, communicating relevant information and branding your business and products. The following will help you keep your social content on the right track and help to avoid a social media faux pas (and any damage to your reputation that may follow!):
- Post regularly and keep it positive and upbeat. Avoid the negative.
- Respond to comments, questions and complaints quickly and with respect.
- Monitor your accounts by using software tools to check sharing, liking and favoriting and adjust your posts accordingly.
- Check, verify and proofread everything before posting or sending.
- Show respect for other’s opinions which may differ from your own.
- Do not be rude.
- Do not criticize the competition.
Your social media presence should be a reflection of your brand, your services and/or products and the way you interact with your customers. It may often be the “first impression” a potential customer has of your business. Ultimately, you are using social networking to grow your business by sharing information to attract a larger audience and, ideally, a larger customer base. Keep these simple principles in mind and, with a little practice, it will become an integral part of your business and you will reap the benefits.