You have heard the buzz and been told to do it for sometime now; Get involved with social media. Where do you start though? Social media is everywhere from LinkedIn to Facebook and beyond. Customers and potential customers do not interact with the world around them anymore.
People post everything that goes on in their lives be it minor or major on twitter feeds and in status updates. They hardly communicate with their friends, so what makes you think they will thumb through the phone book or even do a Google search for your services?
Word of mouth is still the power behind most business and that likely is not to change. What has changed however is the “mouth” that the word comes from. Companies can be crippled by bad online reviews and Facebook troubles. For an example of this, have a look at this recent news story. Potential clients and current ones need to know that you understand their needs and are there when their need arises.
There are many examples of companies staying relevant and becoming integrated with their public. To further the point of the importance of the reliance on social media by consumers, have a look at a few surveys at SurveyGizmo or Google consumer surveys. There is a reliance on using social media for finding goods and services. It is no longer an option whether or not you need to be involved with social media; it is now the bare minimum you can do to get by. Choose not to be involved at your own peril.
So, getting to the point, here are small business tips you can use to become involved in social media.
What Not To Do
- As you may have read before, customers are prone to become angry and nearly hostile if they feel they are being taken advantage of online. If another customer has been victimized or been taken advantage of, mob rule can quickly take over on the internet.
- Stay ahead of problems and monitor the internet about your company. This includes internet searches and Facebook and LinkedIn searches. If you find a problem or someone has a complaint about your services, address it and do what you can to solve it before it snowballs. Here are several small business marketing tips and actions to NEVER do.
- Never censor online posts on your company Facebook or other media site. There are exceptions, such as vulgar content and if there is a violation of terms or conditions. Customers hate to be censored or otherwise feel that a business is trying to cover up an incident.
- Never attack a client no matter how belligerent they become. This seems to be understood, but sometimes internet users say things that are mean spirited and or slanderous. Do not get drawn into the fray. Address problems; offer to solve them if any arise and stay as diplomatic and customer service friendly as possible. Do not become the next Meme (it is possible to have a good Meme however) or internet company scandal.
What To Do
- In a word, research. Knowing your audience or your clientele is essential to build a network. It will take time to find out some of their habits and tendencies, so stick with it. Start a Facebook and get involved. First, find out what companies are doing it right. It does not have to be a company that is in the same field as you, just a company that customers.
- Start conversations online. Communicate with friends that add you, and do not just post things about specials or discounts. It is ok to post about a new product or service; just do not let that be the only thing you post. Post relevant (and vetted) articles that may be pertinent to your field.
- Here is a list of social media tips and “definitely do’s” to get you started.
- Interact. Do it frequently and make yourself seem like a caring, human company.
- If there is a questions to you written or posted on a Facebook page, make sure it is answered quickly. If there is a problem, it is urgent that you get a head of it and if it is a query or question, you have to address it fast. Customers want businesses that not only understand them, but that go out of their way to help. If you do not answer their question and answer it fast, they will take their business somewhere else.
- Stay focused. If you are going to have more than one social media account, that is fine. Just make sure not to bombard fans or followers with redundant content. Use one source to post the bulk of your communication. It is good to diversify, but it you are focused on posting your weekly or monthly discounts, or your newsletter, that makes one destination a “go-to” place. If customers have to search multiple platforms and sources for what they need or want, you can guarantee that will go somewhere that has what they need in one location.