For anyone considering social media for business it can be overwhelming. No sooner do you have your Facebook page sorted, the algorithms change and your posts don’t get seen as often. You set up your Instagram and then Snapchat is supposed to be the new thing. Plus some platforms fizzle out and become less popular.
Marketeers are often quick to jump on the next big thing in social media. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. If it’s not a new social media platform like Snapchat or WhatsApp, it’s new buzzwords like Social Selling. How can you unsure that you aren’t wasting your time and are best positioned to reap the benefits from these tools?
Here’s how to get started:
1. Know your customers
It’s no good setting up any social media accounts without knowing your customers, so that you can find them and others like them online. What demographics do your customers fit into and are these groups using social media? If so, which platforms are they using? Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest are all good, although you may find that your audience favours some more than others.
Track which customers are your biggest fans and return to purchase most often or spend the most. Ask them why thy like your store, what social media they use and what they’d like to see from you online. Over time you may find that the customers online differ from those coming into your store. Pay attention and give each group what they need in ways that appeal to each.
2. A Good Offering
It's no good driving footfall to your door if you don't have the right offering for these people when they arrive. Do you stock products that customers you are marketing to will want and at prices that are right for them? Are they displayed attractively and is your store the right type of environment for them? If you know the profile of your biggest fans what can you do to make your business and your offering even more appealing to them?
3. What Makes You Different?
As well as knowing your customers you must know yourself and how you are perceived. Niches are the key to success in business these days. You can’t be all things to all people. What is your unique selling point? Remember, good service is expected as standard these days. What is it that motivates your fans to buy from you? What makes you stand out from the crowd? Knowing this will help you attract more of the right customers and it will also drive engagement on the right social media networks. For Blue Eyed Sun it’s “gorgeous handmade greeting cards for design-led shops.”
4. Communicate your Specialness
It's all very well having a great USP (unique selling point), but if you don't tell your customers about it you are missing a trick. Communicating your uniqueness consistently across your marketing will help get your story across when you are using social media for business. Keep it simple, clear and concise. Remember to mention what makes you special in your bios when you set up your social media accounts. If you can say what you do and who it’s for then even better.
5. Your website works
Surveys have shown that you have less than 8 seconds to engage with visitors to your site before they move on or choose to stay. Once you have spent time and money driving customers to your door you want to make sure that they don't leave because of something that you haven't got working on your site. If your website is slow loading, not up to date, has broken links or doesn't deliver on what is expected then people will leave very quickly. It's worth focussing on what you want customers to do when they visit your website and then making sure everything on it funnels them towards this goal.
6. A well trained team
If you send a load of time and energy driving people to your business and your team don’t deliver then you are wasting resources. Make sure that your staff are on message with your brand and understand what the business focus is. Then give them the support and tools to be able to deliver satisfaction to your customers and resolve issues fast and satisfactorily. If you are delivering products make sure that you have good operations and logistics set up to get your products to customers quickly. Amazon have set the bar very high for all of us. Do your best to make meeting high expectations standard procedure for your team.
7. A useful blog
Blogging has been the backbone to all of the social media and digital marketing activity for Blue Eyed Sun and our wedding stationery business, Ivy Ellen. Customer focussed content helps drive traffic through these platforms to your website and enhances your SEO (search engine optimisation) so that you are well ranked on Google. Try to avoid just writing about yourself and selling your products on your blog. People want to read informative articles on subjects that interest them or they find amusing. None of us like to be sold to, even though most of us like to buy.
8. Performance Tracking
You need to analyse what’s working and what isn’t on your website so that you can adjust accordingly. Sign up for Google’s free analytics tool at www.google.co.uk/analytics/. Google will send you a short piece of hidden code that you can have your website developer add to your website for very little cost. This fantastic tool will provide you with an incredible amount of data on how many people come to your site, how they navigate through it and where the come from to find you. It will show you which social media sites are driving the most traffic and help you to improve what you do.
9. Social strategy
Always listen first when you start using social media for business. Are you in the right place? Watch what works and what doesn’t before you post. What do you like to share and engage with online? Don’t just blast sales messages out, remember that interaction is more important on these networks than broadcasting. Plan out when you will broadcast your social media messages and run tests on the times of day that best suit your audience. Also plan when to check in and read the tweets and messages of those you follow in your industry. Remember to leave them a like, a share, a retweet or a message to let them know you were there and to engage with them.
10. Engaged fan network
The more engaged you are with your loyal fan network offline the more likely you will be able to take this onto social media. You can easily connect with your customer email database when you set up your accounts on these platforms. Good customers who are already online are more likely to share you with their friends and the wider your audience will become over time. It's great to have a lot of followers, but a small network of engaged followers is more powerful and will give you better results.
Whilst it’s important to set up your business brand on social media, remember that you and your team are the faces of your business. People like to buy from people so be aware of the importance of your own personal brand online and use it to help your business along.
One of the biggest shifts I’ve personally had to make when using social media for business is towards network thinking (which is open, random and supportive) and away from the institutional thinking (which is closed, selective and controlling). What this means for you practically is that digital marketing is more about community and engagement. You can be selective about who you follow and engage with, but you will often find that opportunities arise from unlikely and random places so it’s worth following most people who follow and engage with you. You cannot control the internet so it’s also best to be a nice, helpful and friendly person online.