Using social media for business isn’t exactly the same as using it for pleasure, however, there are some similarities. So, if you’re new to this social media for small business thing, don’t fret. It’s not difficult once you know the basics.
Once you’re in the social space, you’ll begin to see the benefits to interacting with customers and potential customers alike. And although you may be tempted to jump in with both feet (after all, you’ve been using Facebook for years), it’s definitely a good idea to learn how to use social media for business before you go out there and start posting.
In many ways social media is temporary, but as we’ve seen many times before, mistakes can follow you around for years. So be careful, follow these 10 tips for a successful campaign, and have fun!
1. Understand the Importance of Social Media in Business
Many small business owners have trouble understanding the need for social media. Small business owners are pulled in so many different directions that it can be difficult to make time for something that doesn’t provide a clear and instant return on your investment (whether it be time or money). But whether you realize it or not, social media is reputation management, and that is extremely important if you want to make money online. Also, when a developed audience is properly addressed, ROI can be instant, and it can be awesome. Social media and business should always go together.
2. Know the Social Media Sites for Business
There are some social sites that are built for business. LinkedIn is a great example. However, that doesn’t mean that business-centered social sites are going to be right for your business. Many of these sites are ideal for companies that sell B2B or target professionals, but if you aren’t in these categories, it won’t do you any good to post there. Figure out where your audience hangs out and create your strategy around this site.
3. Listen to the Social Chatter
Before you start posting, and put your proverbial foot in your mouth, pay attention to what is being said in your space. What are other businesses like yours posting? How are they interacting with their audiences? This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should copy what they’re doing, it might mean the opposite, but you should pay attention to the things that people respond to and those they don’t. This will help you formulate a strategy.
4. Research Your Market (Know Your Customer)
You can start learning more about your target customer by paying attention to competitors on social media. Look at who is following them, and who among those followers are most engaged. Depending on the network, you may be able to get a feel for what those people like and the pages they find important. In addition to the customer profiling you’ve done in your marketing strategy, this is a good way to get a feel for your audience. It’s important to know who you’re talking to before you start talking.
5. Learn How to Provide Value
If you listen to the social chatter and research your market, you should have an idea of the type of content that your audience will find interesting. Now, it’s time to provide value. It’s one thing to regurgitate the content that others provide. There’s definitely value in curating good content. But it’s another thing entirely to produce the content yourself. If you can publish cartoons or surveys or quizzes that people will want to share, your social sites will get a lot more attention.
6. Connect with Your Audience
Now that you know how to produce the right content, your goal is to start conversations. When you post content, try to encourage conversation. Ask questions. You might be surprised about how a simple question can spark engagement. Just don’t be offended if you ask questions and no one responds. It happens, nothing personal.
7. Be Consistent
Social media isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. It requires consistent attention. Some liken it to a plant that needs water and light every day in order to grow. Others think of it as a friendship. If you are only there for your friends when it’s convenient for you, well, you aren’t being a very food friend and you’re not likely to keep your friends around long.
8. Set Alerts and Listen Some More
In order to talk about all of the things that are happening in your space, you need to be informed. Try to be among the first to break relevant news, and if you can’t be that quick, at least add something to the conversation. Visit Google.com/Alerts to set alerts for relevant keywords in your niche. If you can relate your product or service to the current news (in a way that’s flattering, of course), all the better.
9. Build a Relevant Audience
If you need help building an audience, resist the urge to outsource this job to the lowest bidder. There are some great contractors out there, but if you don’t know what to look for, you can end up doing more harm than good. The best way to build an audience is to do so organically, but if you have some money to spend, consider testing ads. Most social sites allow in-depth targeting that can be very beneficial.
10. Use Your Cultivated Audience’s Attention
Once you have the right audience and are posting quality content to keep them engaged and entertained, it’s time to sprinkle in your sales message. This isn’t an overt, over-the-top hard sell, though. Think of how you would pitch your product or service to a close friend.