The 3 Basic Steps to Social Media Success

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Social Media is continuing to gain momentum, and it will continue to disrupt how customers make decisions. To be a part of this disruption, you need to start with the very basics of understanding how social media works. Knowing what is on your social is key to effectively building, engaging and growing your business using social media.

Here are 3 basic steps to being successful with social media: 

1) Listen

Listening is a fundamental part of developing a two-way social media communication strategy for any business. Listen and respond, or listen, evaluate, then respond. If you're utilizing the latter formula, you'll be more successful with your social media development than the former. The term 'Listen' in social media has become a "buzz" word among social media experts, gurus and marketers. Some businesses are using this term and not truly understanding the meaning and the responsibility that comes with listening.

To truly communicate with your audience using social media, you need to listen, think (evaluate), then respond. If it's a question about your business, products, or service from a customer on your social media channel, make sure you're listening to what they are really asking and respond accordingly. If it's a conversation, listening to what they are saying and then join in. Don't join in because you're following a trend or because you heard all these experts say you must talk to your customers on social media. Listen because you sincerely want to engage and build a two-way communication with your customers. 

2) Monitor

Monitoring your social media presence is different from listening. Listening as mentioned above pertains to the communication you develop with your customers and potential consumers. Monitoring relates to taking that communication and analyzing the chatter between your brand and customers. Understanding who you're talking to on Facebook versus Instagram, and why customers are leaving better reviews on Tripdavisor vs Yelp. Monitoring tied in with listening will provide you with the data you need to develop the right strategy to keep your customers engaged. According to the EXPERIENCED blog "57% of consumers are actively taking steps to avoid brands that bombard them with irrelevant communications, with 69% having unfollowed brands on social channels, closed accounts and cancelled subscriptions."

Even though it might seem like the trust towards brands is diminishing, it's clear that customers still count on brands to be present on social media. Consumers are still using social media to share their experiences with the businesses they value and the ones they don't value. Whether to complain or to praise that brand, customers want their voice to be heard, and they want you to listen. Monitoring and seeing what channels your customers spend their time to engage with friends and share or complain about your brand will help you to develop the strategy needed to keep them engaged. In addition, seeing the reviews customers are writing on Yelp or photos their posting on Instagram about your brand will help you to develop the right message and relevant content to treat them with care and attend to their individual needs.

Having the right tools, like SproutSocial, that can configure brand keywords using Twitter search operators to filter out irrelevant messages and zero in on the keyword matches that are most relevant or the social media and reputation app from Sociallybuzz to monitor and respond to reviews on Facebook, Yelp, Google Places and Zomato (formerly Urbanspoon). Google Alert is also a great tool to receive instant alerts to your email of mentions about your brand or competitors. If you prefer a more human approach, using a social media agency like Sociallybuzz's managed services of high-touch, people-powered approach to manually monitor and engage with your customers can give you the time to focus on growing your business, while still having the luxury of knowing that at any time you know what's being said on your social media channels, and that a human is there to represent your brand's voice.

Regardless of which tools or services you choose to monitor your social media with, just make sure monitoring plays a major role in your social media strategy. 

3) Communicate

Now that you understand how to listen and monitor, the next step is to learn how to efficiently communicate with your existing and potential customers. The right communication starts with crafting the right response, creating the right messaging and developing the perfect content. When breaking through the clutter, think story and communication, not ad. You'll know you're developing the right message and content to complement your brand when you can get your customers to communicate with each other about your products or services.

Responding to feedback:

Crafting the right response to a customer feedback, whether positive or negative can be a little challenging. As a business owner, you love your business and if someone say anything about your business, it's normal to go on the defense. Just remember it's not personal, it's just business. The right response to a negative review can be the difference between losing that customer forever along with future customers that might read their review and your response or regaining the trust of that customer and building loyalty with new consumers. Staying silent is worst than not responding and will look like you just don't care about your customers. Your response to a negative review must be three things: One, It must be sincere. Two, it must address each issue that customer had, and Three, it should then offer a solution. On the other hand, responding to a positive review should serve as a chance to thank your customer. In either scenario, you should be using feedback as a way to grow your business.

Creating the right message:

You don't have to be a superstar wordsmith or have a major in copywriting to create the right message for your business. You know your business better than anyone else and if you've been around long enough, you should know what your customers like or dislike. Posting on social media is about telling a story. A story that at all costs should avoid overselling. Talk about your products, services, people and business culture in a fun and creative way that will show that there is a human behind your brand and not a selling machine. Use your words to connect with your customer's emotion to build trust and loyalty.

Content:

Content will help you to emotionally connect your customers to your business. Whether it's a 15-second video of a chef preparing a dinner special, a photo of your team saying 'thank you' to your customers or user-generated content that fits in with your story, remember that great content that communicates your brand in a way that your users can relate to will lead to success. Knowing how to develop in-house content and repurpose approved content using customers' photos is an affordable way to get great content. In addition, when taking photos for social media having the right scenery, symmetrical shot, composition or just a very creative imagination can help you capture the perfect visuals and will help bring your social community closer to your business. Having great content is imperative and it can make or break your social media strategy.

This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.