With over three billion people around the world using social media, customers expect to find your business on social media. In addition to a strong, engaging business website, your social media activity is one of the most important pieces of your marketing strategy you can use that will pay off much quicker and with higher ROI than any other type of traditional advertising. In fact, 97% of marketers are using social media and 78% of salespeople outsell their peers by using social media for business.
Whether you are a local clothing store, a professional accounting firm, or a high-tech manufacturer, at the end of the day people want to do business with people. Your brand image and capabilities can be featured in greater variety and depth when you are actively using social media as a major tool of your marketing strategy.
We previously covered How to Use Social Media for Your Business in some detail. In a world that has most recently embraced online channels for engaging and servicing customers (much due to the COVID pandemic), social media is a powerful tool to use in obtaining new business and deepening customer loyalty.
Here we will discuss the reason why it is so important to be active on social media for your business and provide some further tips on how to effectively use social media to get more customers.
First and foremost, social media is where you can lay the groundwork for brand awareness. Consider it the gateway to your website. Most often, driving traffic to your business website will be easiest from being active on the most appropriate social media channels for your business.
Social media provides your customers with the opportunity to see the personality and humanity of your business. Remember, people are on social media to be entertained or educated, for the most part, so have some fun and be creative with the options you have on social media to promote your brand. Your focus should be first on getting your brand image in front of as many eyes as possible, as often as possible, with content that can be used in several channels in several different ways.
Social Media Channel Options
If you are a business with a lot of products and photos of those products, leveraging Pinterest and Instagram are great places to start as these are visually focused platforms. Traditional social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the main platforms most businesses should have an active profile.
We suggest being active on at least three social media platforms to start with, then build out from there as your supporting content and resources expand. Remember, customers are very savvy and will do their research before buying, which includes seeing if your brand is active on social media.
Tell Your Story, Don’t Sell It
Social media is a place to share, interact, entertain and educate. People are on social media to explore and escape, but if you are on social media just to sell you will drive away your target audience. Leverage social media to tell your story. Tell customers why you are in business. Tell people how you support the community. Share information that will help them in their lives or business. Offer them insights and resources that will help them, and they will start following what you have to say in the future.
There is a time and place for selling in social media, but it needs to be subtle and needs to be balanced. Focus your attention on telling your brand story and providing knowledge that your customers did not have before but are interested in. Show your expertise through customer testimonials, educational articles and engaging how-to videos, and you will attract a much larger and loyal audience.
Use social media to tell your story (business and personal as a business owner) and demonstrate your expertise. Social media is a unique opportunity to not only plan (strategize) your engagement, but interact with your audience in real-time, with no physical barriers.
Understanding Your Customers
Always start with understanding your target audience. If you have already created customer personas for your business strategy, then that is a perfect place to start. Know what their interests are and what they may be viewing on social media. This will also provide you insight into which social media platforms are best for your business.
Educate and Entertain Customers
Be sure that the majority of your posts are NOT self-promotional. People don’t want to be “sold” during their visit on social media. You can provide some promotional content, but do not lead with this. You will attract more customers once you have them engaged with your content and become more familiar with your brand’s personality and activities.
Social media users want to be entertained or educated, so use social media to make them laugh, smile, think, and celebrate. If you know your audience, you should know what they are reading and watching. If you have a shared interest in animals, share curated (content from other sources) with them about animals. If you have a shared interest in health, provide infographics or videos of you explaining a key aspect of staying healthy. If you have a shared interest in the welfare of the environment, write a blog for your website featuring how your company helps protect the environment through your care in production and energy efficiency.
Find common ground where your audience interests are and how that ties into your business’s mission statement or overall product/service focus.
Answering Questions and Solving Problems
One of the best ways to engage and make an immediate impact is to answer questions and resolve issues customers may be having. Many companies use Facebook and Twitter as a platform to invite customer service issues and feedback. People will naturally use social media to share their opinions and provide feedback, so use these opportunities to immediately respond to the customer. If it is a question or concern that is appropriate to address via social media, post your response so others can benefit from the information. Or, if the customer issue is better addressed offline, request that the customer send a message directly to your company through either the social media platform messaging option or provide an email or phone number to invite them to contact you directly.
Your response time and how you handle both questions and complaints will help build your brand image and show your customers that you care about their satisfaction. You can also learn a lot about what you can do to update your services or products to better meet your customer needs.
Another advantage of social media is the free advertising! Yes, you read that right. If you are doing the right things (as outlined above) and are being consistent with your posting activity, people will want to Like and Share your content with their social networks. Especially content that is entertaining or educational. With each Like or Share your posts receive, your brand gets possible exposure to all the connections that customer has in their social network. You have an opportunity to turn customers into advocates for your brand with just one click.
Speaking of advertising, social media offers your business the opportunity to advertise at a very low entry point. For as little as $5-$10 you can start placing ads into your preferred social media channel, with capabilities to target certain demographics and have full control over the spending you do.
Just remember the rule of thirds in your social media posting strategy: ⅓ sharing industry news and tips, ⅓ interacting with others, and ⅓ promoting your product or services. Most of this strategy is free posting or low-cost to get the content you want your audience to see and engage with. Paid advertising is where you are seeking new customers and followers beyond organic results, where people find you in searches or shared posts. This advertising budget of your social media strategy is going to be targeted predominantly on promoting your product or services.
Low-Cost of Entry and Complete Budget Control
Establishing an advertising budget can seem impossible when you don’t have any idea if it will be successful. With social media, you have a tremendous advantage of being able to test your ads before spending a lot of money on them. Through controlled budgets and small advertising campaigns, you are able to try out various ad styles, images and messages to a small audience to see what is most successful, then invest in those ad campaigns that show better results. This absolute control over testing ads provides focused results and can provide you with more options than you may have originally thought.
Once you have a successful campaign you will immediately see your results, based on the call to action you placed. For example, if you advertise a sale you can have a link to your products page or a button to get your address. You can track what your customers are doing based on your ad and possibly get instant sales or appointments from just one click in an ad. Over time you will see what trends successfully and what leads to actual sales.
Understand Your Calls to Action
In social media, the “call-to-action” (CTA) is the action you want a viewer to take when they see your post or advertisement. It could be to simply Like/Follow your social media channel or it could be a link to visit your website. It also could be a Call Now or Book Appointment action button. Whatever your CTA, be sure you define it before creating your posts and ads. The viewer will expect the CTA to have a clear connection with the post.
You don’t always have to use a CTA button on your posts. Your advertising goal may just be to increase impressions (how many people see your post and brand) to promote awareness of your brand. So consider a mix of CTAs and ad formats that align with your marketing strategy.
Diversify Your Content To Attract More People
Social media offers a huge variety of posting opportunities, from simple text posts, to images, videos and more. People that are scrolling through their social media feeds will more than likely stop (or at least slow the scroll) when something catches their eye. Once you have their attention, you need to keep it. This can be done with thoughtful content planning, but does not need to be a time-consuming task.
The top post types that grab the attention of social media users are articles, videos, and images. Using these options can provide you more flexibility in sharing the information you have with people. You don’t have to create it all, but if you curate content (leverage posts, articles and videos from other non-competitors) to share information your audience may find interesting or useful, you can quickly diversify your social media channels.
You can take something about your business, let’s say a customer testimonial showing how you successfully helped a client, and use it in three different ways. You can post an article on your website about the story and link that on your social media channels. Then you can make an engaging and entertaining short video (there are many online video services and animated video options out there) to share the customer success story to your various social media channels. You can also create a series of posts (tweets) on Twitter highlighting a different aspect of how you helped a particular client. All these posts can reference the client to help promote exposure and engagement with a wider audience, and provide your customers with some free exposure as well.
Final Note: BE CONSISTENT
A final note for you is to be consistent with your social media activity. Understand what your objectives are for your social media plan and develop a posting strategy that fits into your overall business life. Social media can quickly consume your time so plan out your posts at least a month ahead of time (but leave room for spontaneous posts when appropriate) and utilize an online social media scheduling tool (such as Hootsuite, MeetEdgar, or Buffer, to name a few.) This will save you a lot of time and organize your posts so you can visually see when and where you are posting, and be able to balance your posting activity throughout the month. Also, consider investing in a social media manager or company that will do this for you full-time. It could be well worth the costs if the activity you generate from your social media posts lead to measurable increases in appointments, store visits, and sales.