We follow on from Part 1 of Talking to your customer with tips for growth using social media. For those of you not already engaged with social media, it is a very powerful tool to grow your brand and your business.
There is a mountain of information and hints and tips around using social media to build your brand and your business. Without going too deep we’ll cover off what we think are a few major points we believe you should know when talking to your clients through social media.
There are hundreds of social media platforms available. Some are business-focused, other more personal-focused. There are image-sharing sites and sites where you can create your own blog (if you do not already have one on your website). The key for your business is to find the platforms that will work to build your audience.
Some of the more commonly used for business are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+. There are others to investigate depending on your business area such as Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Stumble Upon and maybe a blog.
Don’t try and do too much too quickly – aim to grow slowly
It’s tempting to leap into social media with guns blazing and great intentions. But all too quickly it can become overwhelming and time-consuming, leading to the inevitable abandoning of your audience/followers. Remember, for most of us social media is not our core business – it’s a tool to assist in marketing and sales plans so it pays to be realistic about the amount of time you can spend on it away from your core business. Most of us don’t have a spare hour a day to invest in social media so think small and focused to begin with. By starting small and growing slowly you can quickly test and review your activities, it is not enough to have lots of likes or re-Tweets if they are not converting into revenue for your business.
Create a plan or schedule – be consistent
The best approach to social media success is consistency. Like doing your BAS and paying your staff wages, social media needs to be approached with consistency. Start a Google doc, excel spreadsheet or other document and write down what you want to achieve and the platforms you want to target. Identify how many posts/Tweets/blogs etc you realistically have the time to source or write per day or week and make a schedule. This schedule can then assist your staff or consultants when you are unable to complete the scheduled tasks and need to off-load them.
Content – it’s a two-way street
It’s not enough to simply thrust your brand message into the social media world and expect great results. It’s a very busy place and encouraging conversation or sharing your ideas will usually produce better results than continual one-way messages. Be respectful, courteous and listen to others and join the conversation – you will be surprised how quickly your voice will be respected.
Make social media work with your website
This is one of the more basic elements. There is no point in being busy in the social media world if it doesn’t connect back to your website where you have full control over your brand and message. Make sure your website is connected to all the relevant social media platforms, as well as individual articles and original content.
Make the most of existing content
Further to the point above, if you produce original (especially authoritative) content for your website and maybe produce an e-newsletter, make sure you fully utilise that content. Your e-newsletter subscriber list will invariably differ to your social media connections so get the most from your networks and share your content with both your website and your social media communities.
Have a plan for when things go wrong
As annoying as it is, humans make mistakes! As you start your foray into social media or increase your social media activity, think about what you will do when something doesn’t go to plan. You may inadvertently post, Tweet or upload something people find offensive or distasteful, or just generally disagreeable. Or, you may engage in a conversation that gets out of hand. Do your research and look at how other organisations behave when things went wrong. The key here is to act quickly and nip the problem in the bud. Timing is everything, so be prepared before something goes off the rails.
As we said in the introduction there is a Google-world of information out there about how to engage with social media to help your business grow.