Any modern business owner with a concrete marketing plan will be using social media for business purposes. Yet simply having a Twitter account or Facebook page for your business is not enough – and many business owners don’t understand this. As a result, they don’t succeed at social media.
It is important to be savvy and to understand the array of social media marketing tactics that will make your use of social media enhance your business activities to build profitability and grow your brand.
Social media is, by its very nature, social. It is a clever way to engage your target customer base, and to facilitate a two-way conversation. Using social media purely as a platform for broadcasting and advertising does not build relationships with your audience – it instead needs to be a reciprocal experience.
Here are some concise tips for how you can best succeed at using social media for business purposes…
1. Identify and understand your audience
This is perhaps the single most important step for creating any marketing strategy, whether it is a traditional marketing activity or use of social media marketing tactics. You need to know exactly who your target audience is, based on the product or service you are selling, and how this audience is using social media.
For example, a professional person in their middle age will use social media very differently than will a university student who is in their early to mid-twenties.
2. Choose the right platform for your business
This relates back to identification of your target audience. Different social media platforms are used by different groups of people. Are your target consumers more likely to be using professional platforms such as LinkedIn, social platforms including Facebook and Twitter, or photo-sharing platforms including Pinterest and Instagram? The type of platform your target audience uses will guide you as to which social media system you choose.
For example, a fashion store will benefit enormously by posting images of its merchandise on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram (providing a “virtual runway” to showcase clothing and accessories), whereas a complimentary health service provider would be better served using Facebook or Twitter to link to specials, tips and blog posts on their business website.
A single business will not be suited to every social platform – so do your research to determine which two or three platforms will best serve your business and objectives.
3. Facilitate a two-way conversation
Social media is all about engagement. By ensuring your social media represents a two-way conversation, you are telling your followers that what they think and what they have to say matters to you – and making a consumer feel like their opinion matters is a very powerful selling tool. Respond to Tweets, like comments and answer questions posed on your social platforms.
By connecting with your customers personally, they will be more likely to connect with your brand. Engage, listen and respond in order to humanise your brand and strengthen your business/consumer relationships.
4. Do not over-promote your business
Social media is a social platform and users don’t generally respond well to excess advertising or spam. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that no more than one in every 7-10 posts is outright business marketing for your brand. The rest of your post content should be comprised of useful, informative, inspirational, visually appealing or amusing material. This should be content that is compatible with your product niche and your brand philosophy and image.
5. Be present and active on social media – and ensure posts reflect your brand
Having a social media account for your business requires a commitment to be present and active on a very regular basis. This translates to posting and interacting with your platform at minimum 3-4 times each week, but ideally every weekday and at least once a day. Weekend posts can also be valuable as long as the content is light and rewarding to the audience in some way. All posts should reflect the attitude and philosophy of your brand, linking with the aesthetic you wish to present and promote.
This is where you can demonstrate pride in your product or service and showcase just what it is that your brand represents. Customers will connect with your business more readily when there is that personal touch that can only be affected via social media interaction.
Note however, that too many posts can be as detrimental as too few – if you clog up your audience’s notifications with a too much material, they might be driven away. It’s all a matter of finding the perfect balance and, again, this will to a large extent be dictated by your target audience.
6. Make your content valuable to your audience
Content that is meaningful to your audience will not only keep them coming back to your social page; it will translate to likes, shares, retweets and comments. These all combine to build your brand and grow your customer base.
You are placed as an industry expert for your niche, so let your followers know that by following and interacting with what you have to say, they are gaining insight available to only a select few. If users believe their own friends and followers will appreciate a post, they will share it. Create a community on your social media platform. Show that community why they need what you are selling.
Asking questions is another great way to maximise the reach of your content. This will not only show that you are inviting feedback; it generates comments and sharing, and enhanced interaction on your page. People love to have a voice – and the benefit to your business is not only via greater exposure, but also the response of social media site algorithms.
7. Respond to negative feedback
For every hundred satisfied customers, there is going to be someone who for whatever reason is not so thrilled with some aspect of your business. Whether minor or major, negative experiences are the ones that create the most noise, and one bad review can undo the work of dozens of glowing recommendations. With the extended reach of social media, it has never been more important to respond to negative feedback in a positive way:
Respond appropriately and quickly
Acknowledge the issue rather than denying it
Provide an actionable solution – for example, provide a phone number or direct email address to facilitate a resolution privately and away from the social media platform.
If you have indeed made an error or oversight, admit it directly, offer a considered and measured response, and don’t try to hide the mistake. Never argue (remember “the customer is always right”) and always be sincere. Acknowledge that the consumer has reason to be upset and apologise in a sincere and empathetic way.
8. Provide superior customer service
Customer service is critical to any business and consumers are increasingly connecting with vendors via social media for customer service purposes. By offering social media connected customer service, businesses are perceived as being accommodating and forward-thinking.
By offering customer service on such a public platform, you are in effect demonstrating the commitment of your brand to delivering premium service. Word of this will spread.
9. Analyse business outcomes and act on them
You need to know at the outset exactly what your objectives are – have a clear plan for what goals you wish to achieve with social media. Keep to your plan, tweaking here and there to maximise its effect. Use social media analytics to measure the performance of your page – what are your most effective posts? Most popular tweets and hashtags? Biggest shares? Consider the results and plan accordingly going forward.
Using social media for business is the easiest way to engage with your customer base and to grow your brand. Businesses are understanding more and more how intrinsic social media has become to their growth and success. Make use of these social media marketing tactics to get started on your journey to the next level in business.
You can also stay ahead of the game by keeping up with the latest social media trends.
If you would like nail your social media campaigns, take a look around our blog. There’s plenty of information on all social media platforms.
But if LinkedIn is your preferred social media channel, we’ve got a free LinkedIn eCourse to help you get the most out of the platform for your business.