Even if you've been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you should still know or have heard how important social media is to the life of your business. A huge percentage of business owners are still hesitant to add social media to their marketing strategy. Whether you're controlling your social media or not, your business is already being talked about by your customers. It's time to join the conversation.
Here are 10 ways to grow your business using social media:
1) Stop living in denial
First thing first, social media is here to stay. According to a recent study by BIA/Kelsey, 74.5 percent of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) reported using social media to promote their businesses -- more than any other category of media. Your competitors are already using social media to win over your customers, engage with their customers and to grow their business. If you're a little more social savvy and have an active social media presence, remember to always stay ahead of the curve by learning and adapting to all the quick changes in social media.
2) Join the conversation
Social media will continue to be the driving force for businesses that want to effectively interact with their customers in real-time. When a customer has a complaint, question or praise about your business, they will voice it on their social network of choice. It's your job to make sure you're identifying the networks your customer spend their time and seek to actively engage and create conversations with them.
3) Stay true to your business
Business owners always ask, what should I be posting or saying on social media. The short answer is to stay true to who you are and what your business stands for. Customers can tell when you're faking it and will not engage with you. Stay true to the message and content you post. Follow the 80/20 rule when posting on your channels. 80 percent of the time, focus on other messages and content that's not directly about selling but relates to your industry, business and target audience. The other 20 percent should be about your services, products, offers, sales and discounts. You might also find that you create the most buzz and sales because of the 80 percent. Not being sales pushy, will open your business for more engagement, sharing and interaction from your customers.
4) Be in the know
Social media is changing quickly. Something that's the hot topic today might not be the same tomorrow. Being in the know will give you a leg up on what to plan for and how to use change to help your business grow and stay ahead of your competitors. In the ebook, the big buzz of social media changes, it explains all the changes that happened in social media during 2014, that you can use as social media blueprint. This is a great resource to help you create a more strategic marketing plan for 2015. Download the book here.
5) Choose the right channels
Using the right channel is essential to creating a two-way conversation with your customers. Most importantly, you do not need to be on every social network. Find out where your customers spend their time, and where people talk about you the most, and utilize those specific channels to invest your time and energy. It's better to master 3 channels, than being inconsistent on 6 channels.
6) Create a plan
Creating a strategic approach to how you manage your social media will save you lots of time and resources. First you should create a weekly schedule that you will evaluate monthly to determine what's working and not working. The weekly schedule can be as simple as saying, on Mondays, I will focus on this and on Wednesdays, I'll do this. With a weekly schedule in place, you will know exactly where to put your focus. Second, create a content and event calendar. Use that to list all upcoming holidays and special events related to your business and build content around that information. The more you post, the more you'll discover which content, timing and frequency is right for you.
7) Develop a crisis plan
Being prepared in the time of a social media crisis can be the difference in making a bad or a good reactive decision. Knowing exactly what to do when a customer uses derogatory words to bash your business on social media, as well as how to control a social media blunder caused by your own actions, will keep you sane. Develop the plan, share it with your staff and document the process. Taking these steps will help everyone in your business that handles social media, marketing and PR to be on the same page.
8) Developing multi touch points
To grow your business effectively, it's recommended to use multiple touch points of your social media and digital strategy to achieve a specific goal. If your goal is to drive online sales to an ecommerce website, you need to use each touch points effectively. On Facebook, start by investing in "Like" ads to grow your fan page with targeted consumers. Do this by launching the ads and target people that live in the country, state or city you sell your goods or products, choose the target audience of who is and will be buying your product and then use 'interest' by selecting potential consumers that follow your competitors or show interest in the type of goods or products you're selling. This will effectively grow your page with real potential consumers.The content you now post on your page will be a lot more interesting to your audience because they can relate to it. This will significantly increase your brand awareness. Next is to activate your fans to customers.
Now that you have the right people on your page, your next step is to post your products on your page with a very clear call to action driving them to that exact product checkout page on your website. Use a high quality photo, write a short and enhanced description of the benefits of that product with a link to buy it. After you post it on your fan page, use the boost ads to increase the visibility of that post from 4% to over 50% of your fans seeing it. So what you've done is, picked the exact audience you wanted, engage them with related content and then serve them with products that they will want to buy. That's a win-win situation, and that's only on Facebook. Now do a similar approach on Twitter. You'll see how quickly you grow your sales. There are other touch points to include that can activate your sales, including email marketing, retargeting ad campaigns and search ads. At Sociallybuzz, these are the things we do for our clients.
9) Make a great impression
Making a great impression on social media requires two parts: visuals and text.
Visit each social media profiles and make sure that avatars, cover photos, bio and profile info is up-to-date and complete. A completed profile shows professionalism, cohesive branding and a signal to visitors that you're serious about engaging.
Customers should feel proud about sharing your content and social profiles with their friends.
10) Don't be afraid to delegate
If your business is starting to grow fast and you're out growing your in-house social media and digital team, the next move is to hire an outside social media or digital company to help take you to the next level. Doing this will require you to do your homework on the company you hire to make sure they understand your voice and can talk the talk. They must understand your culture and target customers, and most importantly know how to nurture, engage and sell to them. This is a very important step in moving forward and will require you to trust that company you hired. Don't hire them, then set it and forget it. Create an open line of communication that includes bi-weekly meetings/calls, transparency of your goals, your contribution and monthly insights showing the progress of these efforts.
Change in social media is inevitable and it will come whether you accept it or not. In conclusion, I want to share a book on change with everyone. I read this book for the first time about 6 years ago and it was a vital part of launching Sociallybuzz. I continue to read or listen to the audiobook every chance I need a reminder of why accepting and predicting change is important. The book is Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.