The internet is an invaluable asset for businesses looking to tap into a wider audience. Businesses that are looking to gain wider appeal or acclaim can use online tools to expose products and services to a new market. And now social media can be accessed on computers, tablets, smart phones, IPads, IPods — in short, people are running these apps as they walk down the street, in their cubicle at work, on the treadmill at the gym or during their bus ride. This means endless opportunities to grab potential customer attention and keep users entertained during those empty stretches of time.
Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram can act as visual helpers for customers, and serve as an interactive way to receive feedback and advertise sales. Also, the more prominent a business makes its brand online, the more likely customers will stick around; its important to make a brand “colorful.”
The first step to establishing an online presence is to set a social media strategy; businesses should create goals and decide on their vision for what they think is manageable to maintain profiles online.
There are a few things to consider:
-How many times a day/week do you want to post status updates?
-How many tweets do you want to dedicate to advertising products?
-What visuals do you think it is necessary to post of your brand?
-What social media channel is best suited for the business?
A lot of maintenance is required when entrepreneurs create business profiles online, simply because social media is a conversational platform. The online conversation moves extremely fast; creating a profile opens businesses up to questions, comments, and concerns. Businesses need to be prepared to respond and stay on top of their postings.
Create a realistic schedule for times during the week that is manageable to post and upkeep different platforms. Different platforms require different maintenance; posting pins to Pinterest will target a different audience and thus require less time than a highly interactive Facebook page. Post frequently and consistently.
A Few Tactics That Businesses Should Consider Using
-Advertise contests, promotions, and coupons that can be used in-store. This way, businesses can drive traffic to their location.
-Use links for outside sources, partner sites, or the company site. Social media is a way of creating conversation.
-Use analytics and metrics to determine traffic to pages and track progress; this can be used as a measure for what needs to be done to improve social traffic.
-Research competitors. What content is popular for them? This isn’t about copying; it’s about capitalizing on their ideas by crafting similar (hopefully better) content.
-Make any text and content on social media easy to read and short and sweet. Businesses should remember that internet attention-spans are vastly different than those of someone reading a book. Users lose interest in lengthy amounts of dense text. Keep it bite sized, informative, and preferably funny.
-Shape content around holidays and events; businesses can definitely see spikes in sales depending on the time of year— so fit social media content in accordingly. Depending on the city or Country a business is in, themed posts ring true and will be noticed and appreciated by customers.
“Social Media” Isn’t All The Same
Posting format can determine interest levels; studies have shown that using fill-in-the-blank picture captions or posing quirky questions on Facebook to customers promotes increased interaction and incentive to keep on coming back to their page. Visual layout is key in using Facebook.
Using a platform like a blog is a great way to include a lot of useful content; businesses that are looking to develop a relationship with their customers can use a blog to personalize their brand. This also allows a channel to expand on products, services, or opinions on relating issues to their target audience. Remember, again, to keep it succinct— bullet points, lots of spaces, and pictures will keep readers invested in the content.
Twitter is dialogue-specific, and forces succinct text through a character-cap. This is a great platform for business promotional tweets, alongside personal, quirky tweets mixed in. Using the retweet function, adding a picture, or extending thanks to customer comments can help make a business’ Twitter page signature and individual. Tip: when starting a tweet with a username, add a period before (.@John_Smith) this allows for everyone to see the tweet— whereas without it, only you, the user, and your followers can access it; the period opens up your tweet to a broader audience.
Depending on the business audience and brand, LinkedIn is a professional channel to create conversation with people in the industry or with similar likes and goals. This allows for a more focused dialogue. Encourage customers, clients, and partners to give your business a recommendation. This makes your business seem more reliable and credible. Browse the questions section of LinkedIn; answering questions helps establish a presence. Use tag groupings to isolate contacts who would interested in like-minded topics and conversation pieces.
For businesses that rely on video content or would benefit from visual marketing, YouTube is the way to go. Many businesses hope having video content on YouTube will allow their content to go viral—but the chances of that occurring are improbable, and shouldn’t be relied upon. How-to videos increase feedback through the comment function, and rank high in the video tab in Google.
For more image-based social media, Pinterest and Instagram can be appropriate. These platforms can be slightly more limited, as written content isn’t a main feature. In today’s mainstream society, however, images can definitely speak louder than words. These social media platforms target a younger demographic, and provide an easy way to comment, link, or Pin content that then shows up in their feeds later on.
Social media is just another way for businesses to connect with their customers and improve their products and services through online comments, feedback, and questions. This also helps entrepreneurs to distinguish their brand from their competitors and make an impact. Through pins, likes, followers, and friends, social media can help take any business to the next level – it just has to be approached the right way.