Social media should play a key role in generating revenue and brand awareness. This can come very directly and indirectly, often depending on the sector, type of business and who its customers are. Using social media commercially is very different to using it in a personal capacity as it is from traditional marketing. If your business isn’t putting resources into social media marketing, you could be forgoing great value opportunities, but if you are, you need to make sure you’re generating some return. Whatever your social media prowess and business stature, having the basics nailed is seriously important. Let’s take a look at them.
Social media: the basics
Even before you start learning how to use social media in a commercial capacity, you need to do this:
Be clear on your aims
In order to shape a strategy you must first be clear on the purpose of your social media activity. These goals should equate directly to return on investment; not the fluffy stuff like follower and fan numbers. Have a clear idea of how you want your business to be portrayed – brand and voice are everything.
Trust us, it is seriously hard to make progress using social media if you don’t have clear social media goals in place. Only then can you begin to think about what you might do in order to get there and how to measure your success.
By definition, social networks are providing the media channels through which businesses can be ‘sociable’ by interacting with it’s target audience. This obviously represents an opportunity for brands to communicate far more effectively with these individuals than simply broadcasting self-promotional messages – they might as well buy some bilboard space! Besides, they’re only likely to be annoying people going about their daily social networking by trying to sell something to them.
So, it’s better to use it like a personal account? To engage with people on their level? Yes and No. This depends, somewhat, on the ‘voice’ of the brand and to what degree the brand is already established or known ‘offline’. What do you use social media for on a personal basis? Keeping up with what celebrities? Posting pictures about what you’re eating for lunch? Perhaps it’s about sharing random thoughts and comments about your day, a funny quip or two. I bet there’s very little direction with your personal content. Does it have a purpose?
Listen to your audience
It’s not all about you! You need to be listening, watching trends, and ready to join in with conversations that link to your business area. You need to demonstrate passion and interest in your industry as well as being the experts in the field. Can you utilise social media as a customer service tool or to generate useful feedback for your business? Are there potential collaborators you can liase with?
Stay up to date
There is always room to improve and broaden your knowledge, and social media can help you do that. By following people and interacting with them it can help you enhance what you already know. By sharing information with your online following; you will be constantly demonstrating to consumers that you are the experts in your industry.
Engage with you audience
Rather than being restricted to phone calls, letters and emails, social media presents a new way to communicate with your customers, and attract a new audience. Everything you post is in the public eye so everyone can see how you treat your customers and target audience. Social media provide the perfect channel through wich you can build a brand and generate sales without ‘selling’
If you’re not a massive, well known brand that gains fans and followers by the day and has a large offline presence too, you’re likely going to have to work far harder than you would a personal account. The skill is being innovative and creative in your content and being at the heart of discussions within your industry. All of this becomes far clearer once you have created your parameters – exactly what it is you are trying to gain by being on these ‘social’ networks.
So this is the really important bit:
Remember you’re here to influence people
It’s the 21st century; the digital age. Gone are the days when people opened a book to find out information, it’s all at the tips of our fingers in the internet. The same goes for finding products and services that people may want to use or buy – we run an internet search. But, by no means, is our research is less thorough. On the contrary, people utilise the wealth of information available to them to make an as informed decision as possible when it comes to spending their hard-earned cash. We want reviews of businesses, we want to know what experiences others have had with them but we also want to see what the business has to say for itself. More and more consumers are checking out the Facebook and Twitter pages of companies they are looking to buy from.
Don’t get left behind
Are you a business that has a number of competitors? Do you know if they have an online presence? If they have a well developed online presence and are active on social media, they will appear more personable than your brand. If your audience is one that will be frequenting the internet either in their spare time or for work, you could be missing out on the opportunity to gain their business.
Make sure you have accounts of relevant social media platforms. Almost all businesses can benefit from a Facebook and Twitter account so they’re a good place to start. Make sure it looks the part and is complete, including graphics. Really think about how you want your business to come across to its audience and create a strategy. Check out more posts from our blog for help on what you should be posting on Facebook and Twitter. And if you really want to be a whizz on Twitter, check out Tweet to the Top and #Winning at Social Media.