How to Use Social Media for your Business
Social media has become the cornerstone of interaction. Not only are individuals talking to each other, but businesses are using social media platforms to communicate with their customers.
Having a strong, well thought out social media strategy is essential to your company’s success in the online world. According to Forbes Magazine, only 18% of shoppers do their research in-store. This means a whopping 82% of your customer base is looking for you online.
Given almost 2 billion internet users have a social media profile, it’s time to get your company on board with social media.
To get started, narrow down which social media sites you’d like to consider using. The pros and cons below can help you determine which sites are best for your company.
If you can send your message in 140 characters or less, Twitter is perfect for you. Companies that are looking to engage in quick interactions with their customers will likely find this site works for them.
Pro: This site is great for flash sales and updates that you want to pass around by word of mouth.
Con: You need to post fairly regularly to stay on the radar of the other users.
We all know Facebook as the site that started the social media revolution. As a business, you can create a personalized page with your contact info, photos, and a description. You can also send and receive private messages from your customers.
Pro: Everybody has a Facebook page, so when your page pops up in the search results your potential customers will be able to access it easily.
Con: Facebook may be on the verge of going the way of MSN Messenger and MySpace. Now that everyone and their grandparents have experienced it, many users are on the lookout for something new.
If your business takes a lot of photos, offers products online, or is aimed at young adults, consider setting up an Instagram account.
Pro: Users of this site can not only post photos and videos but also interact with other users.
Con: Many of the users are teenagers and young adults, so a company that is aimed at older adults may not get the desired response.
This is a great platform for businesses that are highly visual. This site allows you to upload videos you’ve created, which provides you with the chance to show off your creative skills.
Pro: You can include as much advertising as you want for your website and any other social pages.
Con: There is little opportunity for interaction with your customers. Viewers can comment on your posts, but there isn’t a way for you to connect with them directly.
If your company offers a professional service, this is the place for you to be. LinkedIn started as a networking platform for professionals, and many still use the site for everything from job searches to finding their next go-to company for a variety of services.
Pro: You can create a more in-depth profile, and share more details with those who view it.
Con: You’re likely to miss the basic user who performs a Google search.
Choose the Right Platform for Your Brand
As you can see, not all social media sites are created equal. It’s important to pick the right combination of platforms for your social media campaign. Having a presence on multiple sites allows you to experience the positives of each site, while at the same time balancing out the negatives.
Before you start setting up profiles on every site, there are a few things to consider:
· Does the platform allow you to interact with your customers the way you want to?
· Are the users of the site part of your target market?
· Are you able to manage the account on a regular basis?
· Does the platform meet your needs in terms of how much information you want to share?
· Is the main type of media (e.g. text, video, etc.) used appropriate for your company?
Being selective about which sites you join will keep you from becoming overloaded. Every profile you make needs to be monitored and updated regularly, and having a profile on every social site you can find will be overwhelming. This results in customers slipping through the cracks, and a bad reputation for you.
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The kind of customer service you offer online shouldn’t be any different than the service that is offered in person. The increase in social media use has led to more customer service issues being handled online. Logically, if a customer will research you online, they’ll give you feedback the same way.
Any experience a customer has had – either positive or negative - can be posted on your social media sites, so it’s important that you have a plan in place for providing online customer service.
First, have a standard message you can send to encourage a private interaction.
Discussing a problem with your customer where anybody can read it is the online equivalent of having a very loud personal conversation in a crowded room. To save your dignity – and theirs – develop a template message you can send to invite them to discuss the issue privately.
This can be as simple as thanking the customer for the feedback, and providing them with an email address. If your customer has given you praise, leave it where everyone can see it. A recommendation from another user is great publicity.
Then, designate a person to handle customer complaints.
If your company is small and you can handle customer complaints yourself, that’s great. If not, appoint someone to deal with them.
While reading posts about sarcastic customer service representatives might be humorous, you don’t want to be that company. Select a rep who is responsible, mature, and capable of interacting with upset customers with a positive attitude. The customer might not always be right, but it’s always right to treat them with respect.
Also, don’t forget to respond to positive feedback. A simple “thank you” goes a long way to show a customer that you’re paying attention to what they say.
Lastly, be consistent. Make sure that all posts are addressed in a timely manner. Ignoring someone’s post for a week is no different than leaving someone standing alone in your store.
Engaging in social media for business will open opportunities for your company that would otherwise be unavailable. Using these tips will provide you with a strong start to using social media.