Social media is the great equalizer. Anyone can set up a page/account and post their opinions, their milestones, photos, etc. (with some restrictions, of course). The same is true for businesses. They can set up accounts/pages on social media whether they are brand-new startups looking for their first customers or a huge corporation like Coca-Cola. And using social media for marketing is a method of tapping into a large marketplace of potential customers if it is done right. Doing it right involves eight steps.
Things you'll need
- Social Media accounts
- Target Audience
Begin by Identifying Your Target Audience
It makes no sense to just set up social media accounts everywhere. Find out what social media your current customers use; look at your competitors and see what social media platforms they use. There is also a lot of research out there that provides very clear data about which platforms are most popular with specific demographics.
Choose the Two Most Popular Channels
Set up Use of a Social Media Manager
This is not a staff member necessarily. There are a number of online management tools that you can use – free and fee-based. These tools will let you monitor everything that is happening on your accounts, get notifications when your brand is mentioned anywhere on social media, schedule your posts, calculate visits. Much of this management is so that you can engage with your customers and visitors and establish and maintain relationships with them. But the other point is you do also want to know whenever your company is mentioned anywhere on the web, so that you can check comments and feedback and respond to them. There are a number of sites, for example, to which consumers post reviews of companies – you will want to know if you are the subject of these, and you may even want to ask happy customers to post a few. Check out management tools that might work for you – Hootsuite, Topsy, and Sprout Social are just a few.
Let Your Presence Be Known
Let your current customers know that you are now on social media. Ask them to access your posts and to share them with their communities. Promote your social media channels on all of your communications.
Expand Your Reach
This takes time and patience. But gradually, your following will grow.
- Follow related businesses on social media and begin to like and comment on their posts.
- Set up reciprocal arrangements with related niches to promote each other’s pages through sharing
- Ask followers who like your posts to share them with their communities.
- Offer incentives for people to share your posts – a hefty discount or a freebie
- Hold contests with prizes that people will find valuable – these are quickly shared.
- Ask customers for photos and stories about the use of your product or services. Post these as often as possible.
- Use as many visuals as possible – photos, videos, memes, etc.
About Those Posts – It’s All About the Relationship
You need a variety of types of posts in order to keep your page engaging. At least 80% of them must be non-promotional, that is, they do not relate to promoting your business in any way. Your goal is for visitors and followers to see you as a real person with a sense of humor, with the ability to inspire and educate, and someone who shares their “humanness” with followers. In addition to the suggestions above, think about the following:
- Showcase your customers
- Showcase your team
- Become involved in a social cause and post your support of that cause with photos and stories
- Establish recurring themes – joke of the week; inspirational quote of the week
- Run surveys and polls and quizzes – people like to have their say and they like to take quizzes. Admit it. You have participated in these yourself. They have a big draw.
- Include special offers on your products or services – the ticket to take advantage of them is to share them with their friends. (remember – only 20% of your posts should do these kinds of things).
Respond, Respond, Respond
You have to check your social media channels a couple of times a day. Why? Because followers are commenting. And you want to read those comments and respond to them quickly. This lets followers know you care about what they have to say.
- If comments are positive, you want to express your appreciation.
- If comments are negative, you want to provide a public response that lets all followers know you care and that you want to address any complaints or issues they may have. This buys a lot of goodwill.
Be Very Regular
Once you start posting on social media, you cannot stop. People who come to your page expect the next joke, quote, or whatever. They come to see what is new. If you start posting updates every day on Facebook, then you have to follow through and do it every day. If you post on Twitter two times a day, then you must do that every day. As you fall off, so will your followers.
Wait for New Customers
Social media marketing is different from any other type of marketing. While traditional advertising focuses on products, social media focuses on relationships. Those relationships result in trust. And trust results in sales, when a consumer is seeking the product you sell. Relationships take time to build. Be patient, entertain, inspire and educate, be consistent, and, above all, respond.
Some good tools for you: